Warning: Guys, keep your pants up!

Genesis 25:5, He sent them eastward. Ancient customs and cultures seems strange and foreign to us, even as many of our modern customs would doubtless have seemed strange to the ancients. What was behind Abraham’s banishment of his other sons? 

The Bible paints Abraham as a righteous man who was faithful to YHVH’s word including the Torah. He was also a very loving, hospitable and generous man. From this, we can safely say that whatever he did, it wasn’t evil, but was gracious, generous and was for the benefit of all parties involved. It is true that Abraham made some mistakes along the way such as having a son with Hagar. Romans 12:2 teaches us that there is a good, better and best or perfect will of Elohim for each our lives. 

Scripture reveals that Abraham wasn’t always in the better or perfect will of Elohim, just like all of us. Taking on extra wives and concubines was not the wisest thing that he could have done judging by the fruits thereof. The Bible in numerous places paints in graphic details the numerous family conflicts that arise when a men took on extra wives and concubines. 

Likely to keep peace in his large family, Abraham had to send these concubines and their children away in order to avoid conflict between them. This is what he had to do with Hagar on account of Sarah’s jealously. 

Even then, this verse states that the gracious Abraham blessed his other sons generously. It also appears that he sent them away to protect Isaac—the promised seed through whom all YHVH’s covenantal blessings were to come. This, again, was likely to protect the future Israelites from unnecessary conflicts with potentially jealous family members. 

As it was, the children of Israel still had on-going conflicts with the descendants of Ishmael, Esau or Edom as well as with Moab and Ammon, who were Lot’s children. To wit, the modern day Arab-Israeli conflict can trace much of its origins back to these ancient family feuds.

What can we learn from these lessons on Abraham’s life? Choose your marriage partner carefully. Resist the hormonal urges and social pressure to spread your seed indiscriminately through casual sexual liaisons or by taking on new marriage partners. The affects of doing so can have deleterious, multi-generational effects long after the momentary pleasure of the sex act have passed. If you’re widowed or divorced, move extremely slowly into new marital relationships with great care, if at all, considering the long term consequences it will have on your family and successive generations.


Lessons from Abraham’s Seeking a Wife for Isaac

Genesis 24:4, Take a wife for my son Isaac. Some Bible students see in Abraham’s sending Eliezer his servant an allegory of our Heavenly Father choosing a bride for Yeshua, his Son with the help of the Set-Apart Spirit. The analogy goes like this: When speaking to Abraham, YHVH refers to Isaac as “your only son…whom you love” (Gen 22:2). 

In this statement, it’s hard to miss the similarity with the well-known John 3:16 passage where Yeshua refers to himself as the only begotten Son whom his Father in heaven loves. Isaac is an obvious prophetic picture of Yeshua in that Abraham sacrificed a ram in place of his only son whom he loved on the very spot where, one thousand years later, the Temple of Solomon would be built and where sacrifices were made to atone for men’s sin. 

Moreover, this is the same spot later in biblical history where Yeshua himself was condemned to death and not far from there became the Lamb of Elohim who was sacrificed to atone for men’s sins. 

What even more amazing, the name Eliezer means “my El helps,” which many biblical students see as an allusion to the Set-Apart Spirit who helps or comforts us, and to which Yeshua refers to as the Comforter or Helper (e.g. John 14:16). It is the Set-Apart Spirit that is choosing and preparing a bride from among called and redeemed Israelites for Yeshua the Messiah, the Son of Elohim.

Genesis 24:6, 8, Beware that you bring not my son there again.Why was Abraham insistent that Isaac not be exposed to Babylon? What was there to beware of (shamar/RNA) meaning “to guard against, protect from, keep watch and ward, preserve, keep oneself from”)? The key is verse seven. What does this teach us about protecting our children and loved ones from the corrupting influences of this world? We must be ever vigilant like a soldier on guard duty to preserve and protect our children (or those under our spiritual care) from those things that could lead to their spiritual ruination. 

YHVH had led Abraham out of the spiritual filth of Babylon. In no way did he want Isaac to go back to what he had left behind. If Isaac had seen the prosperity and convenience of a Babylonian lifestyle, he might have been tempted to stay there—especially if he had found a suitable wife there. 

Abraham insisted that any potential mate leave Babylon and come to Isaac and not vice versa. 

Are we investing the necessary time and energy into our children to insure that they do not return to the spiritual Babylon from which we fled prior to our conversion, and that they find spouses who are willing to leave spiritual Babylon behind before marrying our children?

Genesis 24:12, Give me success. Scripture directs us to, “Trust in YHVH with all your heart and lean not unto your own understandings, but in all your ways acknowledge him and he shall direct your paths” (Prov 3:5–6). Explain how Eliezer, Abraham’s servant, did this in executing his responsibilities in finding Isaac a wife.

Abraham was a man of faith—even the father of the faithful (Rom 4:12, 16). Eliezer was likewise a man of faith. Abraham had taught him well, just like a son. 

How does Eliezer evidence faith? Simply this. He blesses Rebecca even before he knows who she really is (Gen 24:22) all on the basis of an answered prayer. 

Do we walk in such trusting faith, day-by-day, moment-by-moment? Are we teaching the little ones under our charge these same attributes as Abraham taught his dependents?

To read more about Isaac, in the search box on the main page of this blog (in the upper right hand corner) type in the key word “Isaac” to pull up my previous blog articles on this subject.


“Hand under my thigh…” Huh?

Genesis 24:2, 9, Your hand under my thigh. (Heb. yarek; see also Gen 47:29) Abraham’s servant literally placed his hands on Abraham’s testicles swearing an oath on Abraham’s projected progeny, even as in modern times we place our hands on the Bible.

Interestingly, the word testicle or teste derives from the Latin words testis meaning “testimony, testify and testament.” Yarek is the same word the KJV translates “hollow of his thigh” in Genesis 32:25 and 32, although, in this case, it seems to be referring to the tendon of the hip.

What Abraham had his servant do seems a bit indiscreet if not lewd in our culture, yet this was obviously an accepted custom in this ancient culture.

You see, the Hebrews were a very earthy, simple and basic people in their day-to-day life; there were not a lot of pretenses or veneers. Yet in their understanding of and walk with Elohim, they were deep and had a broad understanding as evidenced through the pages of the Bible. Moreover, because they had the Torah, they were much wiser and at a higher level spiritually than the nations around them who had rejected Elohim and who, instead, worshipped sticks, rocks, trees, idols and demons resulting in all sorts of idolatrous and licentious perversions. Paul talks about this in Romans 1:18–32.

What is the take away here?

The Psalms in a couple of places tells us that the fool has said in his heart that there is no God/Elohim (Pss 14:1; 53:1). As highly developed and advanced intellectually and technologically as our modern society may be, most of the intelligentsia and erudite of our day are a bunch of educated idiots or fools, who deny the existence of Elohim, while they mock the Bible. Instead, most them, being the highly rationalistic and materialistic people that they are, they worship their own minds, their own bodies and other material things all of which, by biblical definition, are idols. Moreover, they believe in unproven theories or mythologies like macro-evolution and they predict the end of the world in a few decades due to global warming or climate change. Like the ancients, many of them worship the same demons and sacrifice their children to the same demon gods (called abortion) as their ancient Baal and Moloch worshiping predecessors.

You know what? I’ll take the “crude,” earthy and basic Hebrews any day, who knew Elohim and obeyed him, had a deep knowledge of spiritual matters, and possessed wisdom and understanding of life issues over the high-minded intellects, who in all of their erudition have totally missed Elohim and in reality still worship sticks, stones, trees and material objects (e.g. homes, money, boats, cars, art objects, political power, education, their bodies) and believe in mythologies rather than the one true YHVH Elohim of the Bible.

I’m reminded of something that Paul the apostle wrote some 2,000 years after the time of Abraham (things hadn’t changed much from Abraham to Paul, and they haven’t changed much from Paul till now either, for human nature remains the same).

For the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God. For it is written: “I WILL DESTROY THE WISDOM OF THE WISE, AND BRING TO NOTHING THE UNDERSTANDING OF THE PRUDENT.” Where is the wise? Where is the scribe? Where is the disputer of this age? Has not God made foolish the wisdom of this world? For since, in the wisdom of God, the world through wisdom did not know God, it pleased God through the foolishness of the message preached to save those who believe. For Jews request a sign, and Greeks seek after wisdom; but we preach Christ crucified, to the Jews a stumbling block and to the Greeks foolishness, but to those who are called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God. Because the foolishness of God is wiser than men, and the weakness of God is stronger than men. For you see your calling, brethren, that not many wise according to the flesh, not many mighty, not many noble, are called. But God has chosen the foolish things of the world to put to shame the wise, and God has chosen the weak things of the world to put to shame the things which are mighty; and the base things of the world and the things which are despised God has chosen, and the things which are not, to bring to nothing the things that are, that no flesh should glory in His presence. But of Him you are in Christ Jesus, who became for us wisdom from God—and righteousness and sanctification and redemption— that, as it is written, “HE WHO GLORIES, LET HIM GLORY IN THE LORD.” (1 Cor 1:18–31)

You know what? In light of what the Bible, the Word of Elohim, has to say on this subject, I really don’t mind being being a “fool” for YHVH Elohim-Yeshua!


Our (Yes, Yours and Mine!) Father Abraham…An Example of Faithfulness and Obedience

What is the relevance to you and me of studying the life of Abraham? Much! To start with, did you realize that when you came to faith in Yeshua the Messiah, you became a literal, spiritual-biological descendant of Abraham? That’s what Paul says in Galatians 3:29,

 And if you are Christ’s, then you are Abraham’s seed [Greek: sperma], and heirs according to the promise.

The Greek word sperma means “something sown, that is, seed (including the male “sperm”); by implication offspring; specifically a remnant (figuratively as if kept over for planting): – issue, seed.” Bet you never heard that preached in your church before, but there it has been, right in your Bible all along! The two verse just before that, Paul states,

For as many of you as were baptized into Christ have put on Christ. There is neither Jew nor Greek [i.e. Gentile], there is neither slave nor free, there is neither male nor female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus. (Gal 3:27–28).

So, according to Paul, the Jew-Gentile paradigm that the mainstream church has been teaching us for about 1,800 years is all wrong.The concept of Jews versus Gentiles shouldn’t even enter into our theological discussions! Paul doesn’t view the saints in the church as two separate people groups, for elsewhere, Paul calls believers who used to be Jews and Gentiles “the one new man” (Eph 2:15).

Moreover, Paul when talking to believers in Rome who were previously of both Jewish and non-Jewish ethnic origins, refers to Abraham as “the father of us all” (Rom 4:16). Paul reiterates this point in Romans 9:8–11.

So if Abraham is our father, and the apostle uses his life as an example of how believers are saved (read Romans chapter four), and of how to walk in faith before Elohim in obedience to his commandments (Heb 11:8–12), and refers to Abraham as our father, then perhaps there is something to be gained by studying his life as an example of how to walk righteously before our Creator.

And now, on to our study of the life of Abraham.

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Who appeared to Abraham?

Genesis 18:1, Then YHVH appeared to him. 

YHVH Calls Abraham

And YHVH appeared [ra’ah the common Hebrew word meaning “to see, look, behold, show, appear, observe, have vision, present oneself, be seen”] unto Abram, and said, Unto thy seed will I give this land: and there built he an altar unto YHVH, who appeared unto him. (adapted from the KJV)

There God became visible to Abram and said … (as translated in S. R. Hirsch’s Genesis commentary)

How and in what form did YHVH appear to Abraham? This is the question the Jewish sages have been pondering for two thousand years. On the one hand, the language of Scripture is clear and seems literal enough: “YHVH appeared unto Abram … and said …” Yet let’s now note what some of the most notable Jewish sages have to say about this verse.

Rashi, the greatest Jewish Torah commentator of the modern era, has nothing to say about this verse in his commentary. Baal HaTurim, another notable Jewish commentator, in his Torah commentary, does not discuss the nature of the appearance. The Soncino Edition of the Pentateuch has no comments on verse seven. The ArtScroll Bereishis/Genesis Commentary states the following:

And [YHVH] made Himself visible to Abram: The stress is strongly on this visibility. The expression states that, not only was the Voice of God heard, but God Himself, so to speak, appeared, emerging from invisibility to visibility; revealing Himself. This is of far reaching importance because the Torah thereby specifically refutes the view of those who deny actual revelations and consider them products of human imagination and ecstasy. The means by which God spoke to human beings is an eternal mystery. It is enough to recognize that He did indeed speak and reveal Himself to them in some tangible way. (Hirsch, p. 439; emphasis added)

Samson Raphael Hirsch, the great nineteenth orthodox Jewish scholar, in his commentary states,

God made himself visible to Abraham, and said etc. The whole stress lies on this visibility … Far from wishing to give even the very slightest idea of how God spoke to Abraham and to those chosen men to whom He revealed Himself, we still have to note what is actually told us here. The expression used says that not only was the Voice of God heard … but [He was] made visible to Abraham. (Genesis, p. 231)

Here the Jewish sages agree that YHVH literally appeared and spoke to the patriarch Abraham. If he could do this here, then why could he not send a “part” or “extension” of himself” (if you will) in the Person of Yeshua the Messiah?

YHVH—Yeshua Appears to Abraham and Sarah and Promises Them a Son

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Did the pre-incarnate Yeshua appear to Abraham? Why circumcision as a sign?

Genesis 17:1, 22, YHVH appears to Abraham and establishes circumcision as a sign of the covenant. 

And when Abram was ninety years old and nine, YHVH appeared [VTR/ra’ah meaning “to see, look, behold, show, appear, observe, have vision, present oneself, be seen”] to Abram, and said unto him, I am El Shaddai; walk before me, and be thou perfect.

YHVH proceeds to lay out to Abraham the terms of the Abrahamic Covenant including circumcision and the fact that Sarah would give birth to a son with whom YHVH would also establish his covenant. When YHVH was done Scripture records the following in verse 22,

And [YHVH] left off talking with him, and Elohim went up [VKG/alah, to go up, ascend, climb, depart] from Abraham. (KJV)

And when He had finished speaking with him, God ascended from upon Abraham. (The ArtScroll Stone Edition Tanach)

And He ceased speaking with him; and the Glory of the Lord ascended from Abraham. (Targum Jonathan)

And when He had ended to speak with him, the Glory of the Lord ascended up from Abraham. (Targum Onkelos)

And be left off speaking with him, and God went up from Abraham. (LXX)

This text does not state how YHVH appeared or spoke to Abraham, just the fact that he did. According to the Hebrew rules of biblical interpretation (and the rules of common logic when reading anything), a scriptural text is to be taken at its literal or plain (peshat) meaning, unless the text itself suggests an allegorical (drash) or mystical (sod) interpretation. The Talmud (the Jewish Oral Law) states this in Talmud b. Shabbath 63a ( … that a verse cannot depart from its plain meaning”) and Talmud b. Yevamoth 24a (“Although throughout the Torah no text loses its ordinary meaning …”). Therefore, it is evident that YHVH appeared to Abraham in some tangible form with which humans are capable of interacting. If he did so once, we have to ask, cannot he do it again in the Person of Yeshua of Nazereth, the Messiah?

Let’s now note some reasons why YHVH chose circumcision to be the sign of the Abrahamic Covenant. Remember, physical circumcision is not passé, but is still a requirement for those desiring to be priests in YHVH’s future (spiritual?) temple (Ezek 44:7, 9):

  • It is a token or sign of spiritual things—a sign which always goes before us. (Gen 17:11)
  • It signifies purification of the heart from all unrighteousness by cutting away a piece of the flesh which would otherwise be a carrier of filth and disease.
  • It is a holy seal of righteousness—the foreskin removed is round like a ring. A ring signifies a bond or union and is worn constantly even as the seal of circumcision is worn constantly.
  • Circumcision occurs at eight days of age. Eight is the number meaning new beginnings. A new heart, a consecration of the person to YHVH; the commencement of a covenant. (Gen 17:12) 
  • The rite of circumcision is painful and humiliating. So is repentance and self denial of which circumcision is a picture.

From the penis flows the seed of life. Circumcision is a sign that the seed should and could be righteous and consecrated to YHVH.

In Romans 4:11, Paul teaches us that circumcision is a sign, mark or token, and a seal (placed on someone) or an impression or stamp made by a signet ring signifying ownership. Circumcision spoke of Abraham’s righteousness and the faith he had in YHVH and YHVH’s “ownership” of Abraham. A modern-day example of this would be the marriage ring. One can be legally married without wearing ring; however, a wedding ring is an outward and visible sign of one marriage covenant. The same is true of circumcision. It’s not a salvational requirement, yet it’s an outward sign of an inward spiritual reality.

The Scriptures make it clear that circumcision is not a requirement for salvation (see Acts 15) or else women couldn’t be saved. Circumcision is, however, an act of obedience that indicates one’s identity with the Abrahamic Covenant model of salvation and with the people of Israel. Additionally, the Torah makes it clear that circumcision is required for all men who desire to take Passover, and those who do not keep the Passover will be cut off from Israel (Exod 12:47–48), although in the New Covenant, circumcision of the heart is now the chief requirement (Rom 2:25–29; Gal 6:15; Col 2:11).


Inspiring Life Lessons from Abraham

Genesis 12:4, So Abram departed.(cp. Gen 15:6, And he believed in YHVH and he accounted it to him for righteousness.) Abraham showed evidence of a circumcised heart in his belief in and willing obedience to YHVH long before he was circumcised physically. Heart circumcision precedes the physical act. The latter, like ritual of baptism for the remission of sin, is merely an outward expression of a preexisting inner reality.

Genesis 12:7, 8 (also 13:4, 18; 22:9 cp. 26:25; 33:20; 35:1, 3, 7), There he built an altar to YHVH. Altar is the Hebrew word mizbe-ach meaning “a place to slaughter for sacrifice.” Note that nearly wherever Abraham went in the Promised Land, he built a place to worship YHVH through sacrifice. Today, we make sacrifice to YHVH through our praise and worship (Ps 69:30–31; Jer 33:11; Heb 13:15,16) and with our lips by prayer (Hos 14:2). All that we do should be a living sacrifice to YHVH (Rom 12:1). The redeemed of the most high are now to YHVH a spiritual house and a set-apart and royal priesthood called to offer up spiritual sacrifices acceptable to Elohim through the blood of Yeshua (1 Pet 2:5,9).

Do we follow the example of our father Abraham and seek first the kingdom of Elohim and his righteousness (Matt 6:33) in all that we do wherever we go by building an “altar” — a place of worship?

Genesis 12:7, (also 13:4), Called on the name of YHVH. Call is the Hebrew word qara meaning “to call out, recite, read, cry out, proclaim, to summon, to invite, call for.” (See also Gen 4:26). The psalmist declares that YHVH is near to those who call (qara) upon him in truth (Ps 145:18), and Isaiah says that YHVH will answer the call (qara) of the righteous. The day is coming when YHVH will restore to his people a pure language so that they will be able to call (qara)upon his name of YHVH and serve him with one consent (Zeph 3:9). At that time, we will know for certain the proper pronunciation of YHVH!

Genesis 12:8, Bethel…Hai. Abraham pitched his tent somewhere between these two cities whose meaning is, respectively, “house of El” and “a heap of ruins.” Figuratively and spiritually, that’s where most of us find our lives—between the blessing and the curse, between the perfect and blessed will of Elohim as a result of our obedience to his will, and a ruinous place because of our disobedience to his will. For example, when Abraham left Canaan—the place Elohim told him to move to—and went down to Egypt (Gen 12:10), the results were ruinous—he almost lost his wife to the king of Egypt. Hai represents the place we end up spiritually as a result of being tempted by our flesh to disobey YHVH—the results of sin and disobedience.

Genesis 12:10, Down to Egypt. Abraham left the Canaan, representing YHVH’s perfect will for Abraham, and went down (not up) to Egypt, albeit to escape famine. Instead of trusting Elohim to provide for him in Canaan, he Abraham compromised and relied on his own flesh and went down to Egypt to seek food, which almost resulted in him losing his wife to the king of Egypt, and then to his being deported from Egypt. When we leave the perfect will of Elohim for our lives and trust in our own mind, it results in our “going downhill” spiritually.

Genesis 13:1, 3, And Abram went up out of Egypt … even to Bethel. The Jewish sages note the significance of this passage in that one always speaks of “going up” or “making aliyah” (i.e. ascending) to the land of Israel and Jerusalem. Going up from what to what spiritually speaking? Here the country Abram is leaving represents what spiritually? Where does he end up? What does the name Beth-el mean? Doesn’t this speak of the spiritual journey each of us is on as we leave the spiritual servitude, bondage and slavery of the world, flesh and the devil seeking to “dwell in the house of YHVH forever” as David states in Psalm 23:6?

Genesis 13:5–13, Abraham versus Lot. The account of Abram and Lot is very revealing concerning each individual’s character. One was greedy and selfish; the other was a peacemaker even to his own detriment esteeming others better than himself (or “in honor preferring one another,” Rom 12:10). Abram lived by the kingdom principles of give and it shall be given to you; whoever is greatest let him be the servant; and die to self in order to live. What were the end results of this approach in Abram’s life? Where did Lot’s orientation eventually get him? Loss or gain? Discuss and reflect on the motives and actions of your own life in this regard.