Thursday, November 26, 2009

Study Guide to Torah Portion Vayeitzei

Parasha Vayeitzei
·         Genesis 28:10-32:3
·         Hosea 11:7-14:10
·         John 1:19-51

The Torah Portion at a Glance

Jacob leaves his hometown Be’er Sheva and journeys to Charan. On the way, he encounters "the place" and sleeps there, dreaming of a ladder connecting heaven and earth, with angels climbing and descending on it; YHWH appears and promises that the land upon which he lies will be given to his descendents. In the morning, Jacob raises the stone on which he laid his head as an altar and monument, pledging that it will be made the house of Elohim.

In Charan, Jacob stays with and works for his uncle Laban, tending Laban's sheep. Laban agrees to give him his younger daughter Rachel -- whom Jacob loves -- in marriage, in return for seven years' labor. But on the wedding night, Laban gives him his elder daughter,  Leah, instead -- a deception Jacob discovers only in the morning. Jacob marries Rachel, too, after agreeing to work another seven years for Laban.

Leah gives birth to six sons -- Reuben, Shimon, Levi, Judah, Issachar and Zebulun -- and a daughter, Dinah, while Rachel remains barren. Rachel gives Jacob her handmaid, Bilhah, as a wife to bear children in her stead, and two more sons, Dan and Naphtali, are born. Leah does the same with her handmaid, Zilpah, who gives birth to Gad and Asher. Finally, Rachel's prayers are answered and she gives birth to Joseph.

Jacob has now been in Charan for fourteen years and wishes to return home, but Laban persuades him to remain, now offering him sheep in return for his labor. Jacob prospers, despite Laban's repeated attempts to swindle him. After six years, Jacob leaves Charan in stealth, fearing that Laban would prevent him from leaving with the family and property for which he labored. Laban pursues Jacob, but is warned by YHWH in a dream not to harm him. Laban and Jacob make a pact on Mount Gal-Ed, attested to by a pile of stones, and Jacob proceeds to the Holy Land, where he is met by angels.
 (adapted from

The Messiah in the Torah Portion

The Messiah speaks of our current Torah portion in John 1:19-51.  Here, Y’shua clarifies that Jacob’s vision of a ladder was actually a vision of Messiah Himself.  What does such a revelation mean?

Ya’acov / Jacob saw the vision of the ladder when he rested his head upon a stone.  The Hebrew word in this passage for stone is “eben,” spelled with the ancient letters aleph-bet-nun sofeet.  This term for stone contains the Hebrew word for son – “ben.”  This word is spelled bet-nun sofeet.  From the word play, we can see that when Ya’acov rested in the Son’s stone, he was able to experience the presence of Y’shua in a profound way.  It was an awesome manifestation!

Ya’acov’s ladder was more than just a dream.  It is an actual portal to heaven.  It is the place where angels ascend and descend to earth.  Jacob’s ladder – the person of Y’shua of Nazareth – is the gate to Father YHWH (Genesis 28:13).  A ladder is like a bridge that grants access to something higher.  This is the perfect representation of Y’shua.  We are told in Philippians 2:5 to “put on the mind of Christ / Messiah.”  We are also told in Isaiah 55 that “His thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways His ways.  For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are His ways higher than your ways, and His thoughts than your thoughts.”  As we climb Jacob’s ladder our life, our mind, our heart, and our will changes.  Our thinking is elevated and each rung takes us closer to being like Him. 

A ladder involves effort.  Y’shua is not an escalator that briskly pushes us higher.  We must make the effort to move forward with Him.  This effort is to first be made in “Tehillim” or prayer.  The sages of Judaism have recognized Ya’acov’s ladder as the power of prayer.  The Hebrew word for ladder is “sulam.”  The numerical value of it’s letters is 136.  The word “kol” has the same numerical value.  “Kol” is Hebrew for voice, as in the voice of prayer.  When we pray and seek YHWH’s face we can come into His presence and transcend the cares of this world.  Our worries and concerns change when we begin to see things from His perspective.  From the height of a tall ladder everything below seems so much smaller.  Through Tehillim we become one with YHWH’s thoughts we see the “bigger picture.”  Our huge problems are actually very small from the height of YHWH’s glory.  This exact place is named “Bethel” or “Beit-El” in Hebrew.  “Beit-El” means “house of El.”  It is understood that this exact spot was the mount that Abraham offered Isaac and the Temple Mount would later stand. 

After his dream, Ya’acov does something very strange.  “Jacob took the stone he had placed under his head and set it up as a pillar and poured oil on top of it,” Genesis 28:18.  This was the very first anointing in the Torah and a prophetic event that would culminate with Messiah.  Jacob’s anointing of a stone is foretelling of the Anointed Messiah.  When YHWH later speaks to Jacob He introduces himself by reminding him of this deed.  “I am the Elohim of Bethel, where you anointed a pillar and where you made a vow to me. Now leave this land at once and go back to your native land,' Genesis 31:13.  The Hebrew word for “anointed” in this passage is “mashach.”  This word is the exact Hebrew root of the phrase “Moshiach” or “Messiah.”  Y’shua is the Anointed One of YHWH.  “And we know how YHWH anointed Y’shua of Nazareth with the Holy Spirit and power, and how he went around doing good and healing all who were under the power of the devil, because YHWH was with him.”  Jacob rested in Moshiach, had a vision of Moshiach, and then worshipped Moshiach all in this week’s Torah portion.

Applying the Portion to Life Today
We read in this week’s Torah portion about the birth and naming of Ya’acov’s twelve sons.  Each name tells part of the parasha, each child’s designation speaks of his place in the family.  

In Biblical times, as it should be today, names carry great significance and importance.  Naming a child was something done with much thought and consideration because they are reflective upon a person’s behavior and character.  Just think about what comes to mind when you hear the name “Michael Jackson” and you will get the point.  “The ancient Israelites believed that names had mystical powers and that in many ways they reflected the character of a person,” says one source. Unfortunately though, if you pick up your King James Version or NIV and read through the scriptures the English names you find aren’t really the correct names of the individuals.  What you do find are poor substitutes and charades.  The words and names found in your Bible were not the words and names used thousands of years ago.

You see, the Bible was originally written in Hebrew.  When Hebrew is changed or translated into any other language MUCH is lost in the process.  No other language can adequately convey the message and inspiration of the set apart Hebrew tongue. Even English in all of its grandeur is a poor alternate for Hebrew.  That is why it is so important to learn to pray, read, and talk in Hebrew.  It is a great mitzvah/commandment to use the holy language in study and worship.  The restoration of the Hebrew language and the abandonment of gentile dialects are just part of the restoration of all things as spoken of in Acts 3 and Zephani’yah 3:9, “For then will I return to the people a pure language, that they may all call upon the name of YHWH, to serve him with one consent.”

Did you know that Joshua was never called Joshua?  And Moses was never called Moses.   While the Hebrew words of the Scriptures were translated into (poor) English “equivalents” the original names of the Biblical characters were transliterated or changed to something similar.  The Hebrew family of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob never heard the English names of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob.  This name changing that has taken place removes the Israelite identity of the people and creates a story of English speaking people with English sounding names.  When the name of a person is changed so is there character and what you think about a person.  For example the Hebrew parents of the Messiah were not the very English couple of Mary and Joseph.  Their names were very Hebrew - Yoseph and Miriam.

Converts to Judaism have for centuries adopted a Hebrew name that is usually used at religious activities and services, but can be employed all the time.  Many congregations hold “Naming celebrations” where the Hebrew name is announced to the public.  It is certainly not a bad idea to adopt and use a Hebrew name. Nor is it a bad idea to name your child with the holy tongue.  A Biblical custom has arisen of not using the child’s name until it is formally announced to the community at brit milah (circumcision) or a naming service.  The Rabbi or the father usually makes this announcement with the words “let him/her be known in the house of Israel as ____________.” 

The Messiah himself set the example for believers “on the eighth day when it was time for his brit milah, he was given the name Yahshua, which is what the angel had called him before his conception,” Luke 2:21.  Yochannan the Immerser, aka John the Baptist, was not named after his father as was one custom. Instead he was named at the time of brit milah the name an angel had given him.  This is yet another example for believers to follow.

The purpose of donning, having, and using a Hebrew name is profound for many reasons.  One of which is that a Hebrew name is reflective upon the Hebrew characteristics and lifestyle of a person.  Another aspect of this is that as others speak your Hebrew name they are calling forth the true meaning and worth of your new self.  Choosing a Hebrew name is a great action to take after a person comes to a revelation or unveiling of who they really are as an Israelite.  Many people in the Bible had their names changed by YHWH after their character was changed by an encounter with YHWH.  For example Avram became Avraham and Ya’acov became Isra’el.

Who have you become?  Are you the same person you used to be?

Has your encounter with the emet, the truth of your Israelite culture and identity made a huge change in you?  Could a Hebrew name reflect this change to those around you?  Pray about adopting a Hebrew name.  Yes, it is a little weird.  But, think about the profound meanings of a Hebrew name.  Wouldn’t a name change just be the next step towards your intimacy with YHWH and other Israelites?  Wouldn’t your new name tell more of the your restoration in the family of Israel?

The twelve sons of Ya’acov were named according to their place in the family.  Now follow the birth order and understand the struggles of this parasha through the power of the Hebrew names:
  • Re’uven - see, a son (named this as a reminder of the firstborn son, a sight to see)
  • Shimon – hearing (named this because YHWH heard the prayer for another son)
  • Levi – joining (named because Le’ah thought this child would join her and Ya’acov)
  • Y’hudah – praise (named this as the family praised YHWH for another boy)
  • Dan – he judged (named this as YHWH judged in Rachel’s favor and gave her a child)
  • Naftali- my wrestling (named this as a symbol of the wrestling between Rachel and Le’ah for Ya’acov’s favor and love)
  • Gad – good fortune (named this as a testimony to good fortune found by Zilpah, Le’ah’s slavegirl)
  • Asher – happy (named this because this child would bring much happiness to Le’ah)
  • Yissakhar – hire, reward (named this as a testimony to YHWH that he rewarded Le’ah for giving her slave-girl to Ya’acov to have relations with)
  • Z’vulun – living together (named this as hope that this son would cause Le’ah and Ya’acov to live together)
  • Yoseph- may he add (named this as a prayer to YHWH that another son would be added to Rachel and Ya’acov)
  • Bin’yamin – son of the right-hand (named this by Ya’acov at the death of Rachel)

 Portion Points to Ponder

  1. The Hebrew name for this portion is “Vayeitzei.”  What does this mean?
  2. Read Hosea 11:7-14:10.  How does this relate to the story of Genesis this week?
  3. Consider the words found in John 1:19-51.  What did you learn from studying this passage?
  4. How is Messiah Y’shua pictured in this Torah portion?
  5. What happened when Jacob/Ya’acov slept upon a stone pillow?  Does YHWH still speak to people through their dreams?
  6. Ya’acov dreamed of a ladder bridging heaven and earth.  Who / what is this ladder?
  7. The Torah says that the angels on the ladder where “ascending and descending.”  How is this order important?
  8. On what land did Jacob’s dream occur?  What is special about this exact place?
  9. When Jacob awoke he declared the presence of YHWH.  Do you remember a time when you awoke from spiritual slumber and spoke the praise of Elohim?
  10. Genesis 32:10 states that Jacob took nothing with him when left the land of Canaan.  If this is true, then where did the anointing oil come from that Jacob used upon the stone?
  11. The name of the city Luz was changed by Ya’acov to what?
  12. In Beresheet / Genesis 29 Jacob sees his future wife at a well. Ya’acov moved a stone to open the well so Rachel could water the sheep.  How is this account similar to Rebekah’s actions at a well?
  13. Ya’acov revealed himself as kin to Rachel.  How did the people rejoice?  Who did Jacob live with and work for?
  14. “Ya’acov served seven years for Rachel, but they seemed as only a few days.”  What is the number 7 symbolic of?  How does this passage from Genesis relate to 2 Peter 3:8, “a day with YHWH is as a thousand years”?
  15. A great wedding feast was held to celebrate Ya’acov taking a wife.  How did he marry the wrong woman?
  16. Laban said that his country’s custom was not to wed the younger daughter before the firstborn.  How is this birth order / birth right reminiscent of Isaac’s blessings to Jacob and Esav?
  17. Ya’acov worked 7 more years for Rachel.  Now, Ya’acov had two wives and two hand maidens.  Genesis 29:30 states that Ya’acov loved his second wife Rachel more than Leah.  Where in the Bible is such prohibited?
  18. Leah conceived and gives birth to Reuven.  What is the meaning of his name?
  19. Leah again gives birth and names her second son Simeon.  What comes of him and his descendants later in the Bible?
  20. Leah’s third son was named “Levi” or “Lewi.”  How is this name prophetic to the ministry of the tribe of Levi?
  21. Leah’s fourth son is named Judah or “Yah’hudah” in Hebrew.  Why is this name appropriate?
  22. Genesis 30 starts with Rachel being angry that she had not become a mother.  Ya’acov response shows that “children are a gift YHWH, the fruit of the womb is a reward,” Psalm 127:3.  What comes of Rachel’s envy?
  23. Bihlah gives birth to a son named what?  Genesis 49:17 says what exactly about this tribe? 
  24. With great strife Bilhalh wrestled to have a son named Naphtali?  Was Bilhah Jacob’s wife?
  25. Leah took Zilpah, her hand maiden, and gave her to Ya’acov “to be his wife.”  How many wives did Jacob have?  Was this a good thing?
  26. Zilpah gives birth to whom?
  27. What were the “love apples” spoken of in Genesis 29?
  28. Leah gives birth to 2 more children.  How do their names speak of her relationship with her husband?
  29. Rachel delivers a son named Joseph after YHWH hears her prayers.  Explain how the power of prayer is once again revealed in the book of Genesis.
  30. Ya’acov wants to leave Laban and go to his own land.  Laban doesn’t want him to leave.  What comes of the agreement for Ya’acov to only take the speckled sheep?
  31. Did Jacob deceive Laban concerning the farm animals?
  32. When Ya’acov listened to the voice of YHWH to leave Laban, he did so with a greater herd and more blessings.  How is this similar to when the Hebrew people plundered Egypt or when Abraham left the land of Avimelech?
  33. Laban catches up with Ya’acov after he tried to flee.  Laban isn’t happy his children and grandchildren are leaving.  Nor is he pleased that someone has taken his idols.  Why would Rachel steal and hide Laban’s gods?
  34. Does Jacob’s statement in Genesis 31:32 come true?
  35. How long did Ya’acov work for Laban?  Was Laban a fair employer?  Was Jacob a good employee?
  36. Laban and Ya’acov used a pillar to signify their agreement to be kind to one another.  What exactly did such a promise ensue?
  37. Laban begins his journey towards the Promised Land and is met by whom?

Friday, November 20, 2009

Torah Portion Toldot

Parasha Toldot
·         Genesis 25:19-28:9
·         Malachi 1:1-2:7
·         Romans 9:1-13

The Torah Portion at a Glance
This portion is Toldot or “generations.”  Yitzchak marries Rebekah. After twenty childless years their prayers are answered and Rebecca conceives. She experiences a difficult pregnancy as the "children struggle inside her"; YHWH tells her that "there are two nations in your womb," and that the younger will prevail over the elder.

Esav emerges first; Jacob or Ya’acov is born clutching Esau's heel. Esau grows up to be "a cunning hunter, a man of the field"; Jacob is "a wholesome man," a dweller in tents. Isaac favors Esau; Rebecca loves Jacob. Returning exhausted and hungry from the hunt one day, Esau sells his birthright (his rights as the firstborn) to Jacob for a pot of lentil stew.

In Gerar, in the land of the Philistines, Isaac presents Rebecca as his sister, out of fear that he will be killed by someone coveting her beauty. He farms the land, reopens the wells dug by his father Abraham, and bores a series of his own wells: over the first two there is strife with the Philistines, but the waters of the third well are enjoyed in tranquility.

Esau marries two Hittite women. Isaac grows old and blind, and expresses his desire to bless Esau before he dies. While Esau goes off to hunt for his father's favorite food, Rebecca dresses Jacob in Esav’s clothes, covers his arms and neck with goatskins to simulate the feel of his hairier brother, prepares a similar dish, and sends Jacob to his father. Jacob receives his fathers' blessings for "the dew of the heaven and the fat of the land" and mastery over his brother. When Esau returns and the deception is revealed, all Isaac can do for his weeping son is to predict that he will live by his sword, and that when Jacob falters, the younger brother will forfeit his supremacy over the elder.

Jacob leaves home for Charan to flee Esau's wrath and to find a wife in the family of his mother's brother, Laban. Esau marries a third wife --Machlat, the daughter of Ishmael.

(adapted from

Applying the Portion to Life Today
In this week’s reading, the scriptures recount a story of Esav selling his blessing of birthright and position as the first born for a simple bowl of soup.  “Once when Ya’acov was cooking some stew, Esav came in from the open country, famished. He said to Ya’acov, “Quick, let me have some of that red stew! I’m famished!”  Ya’acov replied, “First sell me your birthright.”  Esav said, “Look, I am about to die.  What good is the birthright to me?”  But Ya’acov said, “Swear to me first.” So he swore an oath to him, selling his birthright to Ya’acov.  Then Ya’acov gave Esav some bread and some lentil stew. He ate and drank, and then got up and left.  Esav despised his birthright,” Beresheet/Genesis 25:29-34.  Why did Esav do this?  Why was this exchange so important and tragic?  Did Esav trade his preeminence just because he was hungry or was there a deeper issue?  What is so bad about this event that because of this the scriptures say that Esau was “godless” and not worthy of following?

To answer these questions one must first understand the cultural and Biblical significance of the birthright of the firstborn.  The birthright of the firstborn is a central theme and part of the Israelite lifestyle and lifecycle.

The firstborn son of a Hebrew father is given special rights and is highly valued.  He is the heir to the family and head of the household when the father is absent.  The firstborn or “bikhor” in Hebrew would receive double the inheritance of the other sons when the father passed.  “The father must acknowledge the firstborn by giving him a double share of all he has. That son is the first sign of his father’s strength. The right of the firstborn belongs to him,” Devarim (Deuteronomy) 21:17.

The “mishpat bikhor” or “right of the firstborn” is to serve as a priest for the entire family and act as the family ruler.  This first child is to be dedicated to YHWH as the firstborn of every womb is YHWH’s possession.  “YHWH said to Moses, “Consecrate to me every firstborn male. The first offspring of every womb among the Israelites belongs to me, whether man or animal,” Shemot (Exodus) 13:2.  The bikhor is YHWH’s special and unique treasure that is destined to serve as priest and minister unto YHWH Adonai.

The bikhor is to be redeemed, or bought back, in a service called the “pidyon ha’ben” meaning the “redemption of the firstborn.”  This Biblical custom is found in Shemot (Exodus) 13:11-15.  Just after the last plague, which was the death of the firstborn of Mitzrayim/Egypt, the Creator called the firstborn from each family to serve as priests until YHWH’s plan called for the Levites to take up this position.  The bikhor were still dedicated to YHWH through a service of sacrifice and prayer, the pidyon ha’ben.  Y’shua the Messiah went through this pidyon ha’ben in Luke 2:22-40 and was set apart as the bikhor of his family.  After this service the bikhor were free to serve YHWH through their family rather than be raised by the priesthood and work as a priest for life.  To put it plainly, the firstborn is YHWH’s and is to be dedicated to service to YHWH.  This is either full time service as a Cohen or priest or full time service as the leader of a family that serves YHWH.

According to the Torah, Esav “despised his birthright.”  He evidently did not want the inheritance and the power and responsibility that comes with being the son of Yitzchak and the grandson of the patriarch Avraham.  Hebrews 12:25-17 tells believers that Esav was “godless” and therefore would not be the rightful heir to the promise of the faith.  Clearly Avraham’s blessing of dominion, multiplication, and place in YHWH’s plan was to be passed on to this son.

One might casually look at the story of Ya’acov and Esav trading the birthright and think that Ya’acov was being overly deceptive and took advantage of a famished man.  But this is simply not the case.  Esav did not sell his birthright simply because he was hungry.  “Esav sold his birthright, his mishpat bikhor, because he had not concept of its meaning,” said one Rabbi.  Again, Esav despised his position and inheritance.  This word for “despised” is “bazah” and from Strong’s Exhaustive Concordance and Dictionary this word literally means, “ a primitive root; to disesteem:—despise, disdain, contemn (-ptible), + think to scorn, vile person.”

Believers are to not be like Esav.  The temptation is present and the trade looks pleasing but we must be careful not to follow Esav’s example.  We must not despise our birthright, our destiny and inheritance as Isra’el.  Consider these verses…

“YHWH says, ‘Isra’el is my firstborn,’” Shemot (Exodus) 4:22.
“If you belong to Messiah you are a seed of Avraham and heirs according to the promise,” Galatians 3:29.
“I am Israel’s father, and Ephraim is my firstborn son,” Yermi’yahu (Jeremiah) 31:9

As a physical descendant of Avinu Avraham you are Isra’el.  As a believer in Messiah you are Isra’el.  Don’t be mistaken and don’t be talked out of it, you are Isra’el.  You are YHWH’s firstborn bikhor and you are YHWH’s special possession destined to inherit family leadership, serve as ruler, and minister as a priest.  “For you are a people set apart for YHWH as kadosh (holy) for YHWH your Elohim.  YHWH your Elohim has chosen you from out of all the peoples on the face of the earth to be His Own unique possession,” Devarim (Deuteronomy) 7:6. 

We must not loose interest in the privilege of being YHWH’s bikhor and we must not fall into the sin of Esav who despised his birthright.  Esav did not esteem the honor of being the son of Elohim.  What about you?  The sin of despising the birthright can manifest in many ways.  Just think about these few areas…Do you ever think that YHWH’s Torah is too hard to follow or too big of a burden?  Do you have any ant-Semitism hidden inside of you?  Have you accepted Israel as your identity?  Have you dealt with the false teaching that says the church has replaced Israel?  Do you live out your heritage and culture of Israel or are you scared of what others may think or say about you?  Do you ever feel that something the Bible commands you to do is simply “too Jewish?”  Is your lifestyle more like the world around you are is your life patterned after the Bible and it’s holy days and way of life?

As Isra’el you have been called to be in the family of faith.  The name Isra’el itself simply means, “one who reigns and rules with El.”  You have been given a special double portion inheritance from the Father through Messiah Y’shua.  What is the double portion?  “I have come that you might have life, and life more abundantly,” Y’shua said in Yochannan 10:10.  The Father’s legacy of life today is a way of living that has significance and meaning.  His legacy is also life in the hereafter – with Him in the realm of the Spirit.  This is possible through the Messiah, the firstborn of the dead and the firstborn resurrection.  “Y’shua HaMoshiach, is the faithful witness, the firstborn from the dead, and the ruler of the kings of the earth,” Revelation 1:5.  The firstborn blessings were to follow YHWH in abundance and then multiply and fill the earth.

When Isaac blesses Ya’acov he tells him to “be fruitful and multiply.”  This is a direct repetition of words spoken to Adam, Noah, and Abraham.  When YHWH instructed Adam and Eve to be fruitful, He used the word “parah.” This Hebrew term means to “grow, increase, bear fruit like a vine, and bring forth, to open.” This word parah is used many times throughout the Scriptures in reference to the fruit of a vine.  “Remain in me, and I will remain in you. No branch can bear fruit by itself; it must remain in the vine. Neither can you bear fruit unless you remain in me. I am the vine; you are the branches. If a man remains in me and I in him, he will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing,” John/Yochannan 15:4-5.

Fruit is nothing more than the life giving seed source of a plant. The primary point of the family is to bear the fruit, or life, of the Almighty Vine. You are to produce the same life as the Savior. Remember that the book of John calls Y’shua the ‘word made flesh,’ so the Savior is the Living Word or Living Torah. Therefore to bear the fruit of the Vine Y’shua is to bear the fruit of Torah. To resemble Y’shua is to live His life and resemble the Torah. To put it plainly, the family is to live out the Divine Will as revealed in the first five books of the Bible.

So, when YHWH told Adam and Abraham to ‘be fruitful’ He was telling them to connect to the Vine and establish their lives as a place where the Almighty would be honored and therefore bring forth life. This wasn’t all though. They were also to ‘multiply.’

The word for multiply in the Hebrew is “rabah.” This Hebrew term means to ‘increase, excel, enlarge, continue, nourish, store, to shoot out like an arrow, to cast together, to multiply, ten thousands.” First you are to bear the fruit of Torah and then you should pass on the Biblical heritage to others.  We are to multiply the fruit of Torah and others will follow.

YHWH is the Elohim of the family of Avraham, his children, and his grandchildren. Avraham was indeed fruitful when it came to imparting belief to his children! “For now YHWH hath made room for us, and we shall be fruitful in the land. And he went up from thence to Beersheba. And YHWH appeared unto him the same night, and said, I am the Elohim of Avraham thy father: fear not, for I am with thee, and will bless thee, and multiply thy seed for my servant Avraham's sake,” Genesis/Beresheet 26:22-25. And to Ya’acov, “Elohim said unto him, I am Elohim Almighty: be fruitful and multiply; a nation and a company of nations shall be of thee, and kings shall come out of thy loins,” Genesis/Beresheet 35:11. The same family mission given to Adam is passed to Noach and to Avraham, Yitzchak, and Ya’acov.  YHWH is calling out is bikhor – His first born son Israel to understand his identity and walk in the fullness of Torah.  As we understand the birthright of faith then we can be fruitful and multiply in the world.  Pray today for workers for the harvest, for the fields are plentiful but the workers – those who know they are bachor – are few. 

The Messiah in the Torah Portion
Y’shua is the firstborn of the firstborn – the head of the family.  Because of His love and life we have been made into the “ekklesia of the firstborn” or “family/congregation of the firstborn.”  It is Y’shua’s family, His congregation, “For those Elohim foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the likeness of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brothers. And those he predestined, he also called; those he called, he also justified; those he justified, he also glorified,” Romans 8:29-30.

YHWH sees Israel as His bikhor, and all firstborn are in need of redemption.  Israel is in need of someone to pay the price, to buy Israel back, and to make a sacrifice.  To meet this need the Father sent forth His bikhor Y’shua.  Y’shua is the redeemer and the sacrifice.  The Encyclopedia Judaica says, “Owing to his favored status, the firstborn was considered was considered the most desirable sacrifice to a deity where human sacrifice was practiced.”  Y’shua was the sacrifice that the Father used to redeem the firstborn Israel.  This sacrifice of death brought life and established Y’shua as the firstborn of the resurrection, “He is the image of the invisible Elohim, the firstborn over all creation,” Colossians 1:15.  Even the Psalmist refers to the Messiah as the firstborn in Psalm 89:27.

Study and consider this verse in light of your new understanding of Y’shua being the firstborn.  “See that no one is godless like Esav, who in exchange for a single meal gave up his rights as the first born,” Hebrews 12:15-17.  How can you praise YHWH today for His firstborn son Y’shua?

“For YHWH so loved the world that He sent His firstborn and only son.  That whosoever believes in Him would not perish but have everlasting life,” Yochannan 3:16.

Portion Points to Ponder

  1. The Hebrew name for this portion is “toldot.”  What does this mean?
  2. Read Malachi 1:1-2:7.  How does this relate to the story of Genesis this week?
  3. Consider the words found in Romans 9:1-13.  What did you learn from studying this passage?
  4. When Rivkah / Rebekah was barren and could not conceive, what did she do?
  5. What does it mean that the children struggled within Rivkah?  How does this show that life begins at conception?  How does this parallel the movement of John in the womb of his mother Elizabeth in the Newer Testament?
  6. Rivkah prayed to YHWH and asked why the children fought so terribly within her.  Then she listened and waited for a response.  What did YHWH say?  What did it mean then?  How is this message playing out in today’s world?
  7. Who were the twins?  What do their names mean?
  8. Esav was a mighty hunter.  Who else is described as such in Genesis 10:9?  Does this simply mean that these two were good at hunting down animals?
  9. Ya’acov was a “plain man who dwelt in tents.”  This description of Jacob is a Hebrew idiom with a specific meaning.  Do you understand this phrase?
  10. If Isaac loved Esav, could he have been all that bad?
  11. Esav is called “Edom” in Genesis 25.  What is the significance of this term?
  12. Who were/are the Edomites?
  13. Why was the blessing of the firstborn so important?  How is this concept spoken of in the Bible?
  14. In Genesis 26 there is a famine in the land.  YHWH appears to Isaac and tells him not to go to Egypt.  Why?  When would Isaac’s descendants go to Egypt during a famine?
  15. When Isaac moved around during the famine he told his wife Rivkah to tell others that she was his sister and not his spouse.  How is this similar to what Abraham did with Sarah?
  16. Did Abraham pass down a “lying spirit” to his son?
  17. What happened after Isaac spent too much time in the land of Avimelech?
  18. In Genesis 26, Yitzchak sowed in the land and was blessed with 100 fold return.  What is this number symbolic of?  Is a 100 fold return guaranteed for Bible believers?
  19. Envy caused the Philistines to plug up the many wells of Isaac.  How does James 3:16 show how envy stops the flow of blessing? 
  20. Isaac left the land of the Philistines and settled in the land of Gerrar.  What had previously occurred in this land?
  21. YHWH appeared to Yitzchak at Ber Sheva.  What was the Almighty’s message to Isaac?
  22. In Genesis 26 the enemies of Isaac come to him to make peace.  They recognized the presence of YHWH upon Isaac.  How does the presence of YHWH cause your enemies to live at peace with you?  How does this compare to Proverbs 16:7?
  23. When Esav took to himself two wives it caused grief to Rivkah and Isaac.  Why?
  24. From what land and nationality were Esav’s wives from?
  25. Again a meal involves a trading of blessing in Genesis 27.  Explain what occurred in this chapter and if Rebekah and Jacob were wrong for deceiving Isaac?
  26. Did Rivkah ever tell Isaac of YHWH prophecy that her older son would serve the younger?  Could this knowledge have made a difference?
  27. Jacob was concerned that his actions would make him to be perceived as a “deceiver” to his father.  Does the Torah teach that Jacob was full of deception?
  28. How are Rivkah’s actions to ensure the blessing was give to Jacob by Isaac similar to those of Tamar with Judah in Genesis 49?
  29. Describe the blessing that Isaac spoke to Jacob.  How are such words important?
  30. How did Isaac respond when he realized he blessed the “wrong” son?
  31. Why is the custom of speaking a blessing so special?
  32. Isaac does speak prophetically to both Jacob and Esav.  The blessing to Jacob is an almost exact repetition of what was spoken to Isaac.  What does Isaac say of Esav?
  33. Explain the meaning of Isaac’s blessing to Esav when he says “you shall live by the sword.”
  34. Who are the descendants of Jacob today?  Describe some of their character traits.
  35. Who are the descendants of Esav today?  Describe some of their character traits.
  36. Rivkah sends Jacob to her brother Laban to hide from the angry Esav.  What comes of such a visit to Jacob’s relatives?
  37. In Genesis 28 Ya’acov is told to not take a foreigner as a wife.  Whom should he marry?
  38. Isaac blesses Ya’acov and tells him to be “fruitful and multiply.”  To who were these words were spoken before in the scriptures? 
  39. The Torah portion ends with Esav adding another wife.  This was just no ordinary woman. Esav marries a daughter of Ishmael.  This dangerous mixing of Ishmael and Esav results in future trouble for Jacob and his descendants.  What people originate from the seed of Ishmael and Esav?  How do these people play a role in prophetic end time events?

The Open Bible is a teaching series written by Daniel Rendelman of Emet Ministries.  Daniel Rendelman is the found and leader of Emet Ministries and the author of the book “Finding the Truth.”  He, his wife, and five children live in Newberry, South Carolina.  He can be reached at  Find more teachings, audio messages, videos, and music at

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Study Guide to Torah Poriton "Chayei Sarah"

Parasha Chayei Sarah
·        Genesis 23:1-25:18
·        1 Kings 1:1-31
·        Matthew 1:1-17

Read more in this series or download a printable version of this teaching by visiting

The Torah Portion at a Glance
Abraham’s wife Sarah dies at age 127 and is buried in the Machpeilah Cave in Hebron, which Abraham purchases from Ephron the Hittite for 400 shekels of silver.

Abraham's servant, Eliezer, is sent laden with gifts to Charan to find a wife for Isaac. At the village well, Eliezer asks YHWH for a sign: when the maidens come to the well, he will ask for some water to drink; the woman who will offer to give his camels to drink as well, shall be the one destined for his master's son.
Rebecca, the daughter of Abraham's nephew Bethuel, appears at the well and passes the "test". Eliezer is invited to their home, where he repeats the story of the day's events. Rebecca returns with Eliezer to the land of Canaan, where they encounter Isaac praying in the field. Isaac marries Rebecca, loves her, and is comforted over the loss of his mother.

Abraham takes a new wife, Keturah (possibly Hagar) and fathers six additional sons, but Isaac is designated as his only heir. Abraham dies at age 175 and is buried beside Sarah by his two eldest sons, Isaac and Ishmael.

(adapted from

The Messiah in the Torah Portion
It is from Genesis 24-25 that the traditional Jewish wedding ceremony finds its origins.  It is also in this passage of Scripture that we can learn about Messiah and His bride – the believing assembly.

For the wedding, Abraham’s servant Eliezer played the role of match maker by seeking out a bride for Isaac.  Not just any woman would do!  The better half of Yitzchak would have to be from the same faith and the same family.  Eliezer prays and receives favor from YHWH as Rivkah proves herself to be a bride worthy of marriage.  Then, Eliezer offers gifts to Rivkah when he proposes the marriage covenant.  He also provides additional gifts to the family as a type of bride price.  Rivkah accepts the proposal and immediately enters into the time of betrothal.  She and Eliezer journey home to Isaac as a type of engagement period.  When she approaches the homeland, she sees Yitzchak from afar.  Rivkah veils her face and then presents herself to him.  The marriage is consummated under the chuppah of Sarah’s tent and the two begin building their family.

When the caravan approached their destination the Torah states that Isaac was “in the field meditating.”  The posture and presence of Isaac in prayer show his overall devotion to YHWH and His bride.  When Eliezer was on the road working for a bride, Yitzchak was at home praying and believing for a wife.  So to, when Y’shua was on the earth, he spent much time meditating in prayer.  Luke 4:16 says that Y’shua “often withdrew to lonely places and prayed.”  Prior to his choosing the disciples and to his offering of his life upon the tree, Y’shua “went out to a mountainside and spent the night praying,” Luke 6:12.  Moshiach Y’shua would step away from the hustle and bustle of life and reflect upon the world, the Scriptures, and His impending sacrifice.  Both the Messiah and Isaac found power in prayer and meditative contemplation.  They both also found a bride.

The comparison of Y’shua to Isaac and Isaac to Y’shua must also extend to a discussion of the bride.  Rivkah was a willing and determined bride-to-be.  She served, loved, and even took time to veil herself.  As the bride of Messiah, the worldwide believing assembly of believers must follow this matriarch of Israel.   We are to be a people willing to serve like Rivkah served and trust like Rivkah trusted.  Hebrews 7:25 states that Y’shua is still making intercession for us in order to prepare his bride for the coming marriage. 

Applying the Portion to Life Today
Servant hood is a major theme in the Torah portion “Chayei Sarah.”  We read of Abraham’s servant who is sent to find a suitable helpmate for the chosen son Isaac / Yitzchak.  This servant is presumably Eliezer of Genesis 15:2, though the Torah never makes this distinction.  Eliezer readily accepts his task and long journey to find a bride from among the Hebrew people.  While on his way, Eliezer prays for favor.  “Then the servant took ten of his master’s camels and departed, for all his master’s goods were in his hand. And he arose and went to Mesopotamia, to the city of Nahor. And he made his camels kneel down outside the city by a well of water at evening time, the time when women go out to draw water. Then he said, “O YHWH Elohim of my master Abraham, please give me success this day, and show kindness to my master Abraham. Behold, here I stand by the well of water, and the daughters of the men of the city are coming out to draw water. Now let it be that the young woman to whom I say, ‘Please let down your pitcher that I may drink,’ and she says, ‘Drink, and I will also give your camels a drink’; let her be the one You have appointed for Your servant Isaac. And by this I will know that You have shown kindness to my master,” Genesis 24:10-14.

Eliezer realizes that the perfect spouse for Isaac would be a woman willing to serve.  Rivkah answer the prayer and offers water for Eliezer and his ten camels.  A parched camel can drink 14 gallons of water.  This means that Rivkah brought up 140 gallons of water and served them while running!  “So she quickly emptied her jar into the trough, ran back to the well to draw more water, and drew enough for all his camels,” Genesis 24:20.  Rivkah is chosen above all the women of the earth because of heart to sacrifice and serve.

In the Hebrew texts, the word most often used for “servant” is “eved.”  This phrase is used to describe Eliezer as a slave of Abraham and Daniel as a servant of YHWH.  In Nehemiah 1:10 an “eved” is seen as a worshipper of YHWH.  “Eved” is from the Hebrew root word “abad,” which literally means to “labor, work, and serve.”  Adam was placed in the garden to work or “abad” the Land.  Jacob served seven years for Rachel. Men aged thirty to fifty served in the Temple as worship.  Today, a true servant of YHWH will follow the pattern set by those in this week’s Torah portion and the term “eved.”

Eliezer was willing to go as his Master requested.  He didn’t fuss or fight Abraham.  He was glad to play a part in helping the family.  Judaism traditionally teaches that Eliezer was a disciple of Abraham and had learned the ways of Torah in the tents of Abraham.  We must be willing to follow YHWH and yield to his ways.

Eliezer prayed for favor.  He didn’t just get busy doing his Master’s whims.  The servant prayed and believed that he would be answered.  He knew his task was important and that it needed to be covered in prayer.  Our acts of kindness and compassion to others must be preceded with prayer.  Our willingness to serve should be coupled with prayers of success and blessing.  Eliezer took a chance to ask for confirmation from the actions of total strangers.  His prayers were answered exactly.

Eliezer, the servant, was served by others.  The actions of devotion by Eliezer were reciprocated when Rivkah saw the need and filled the need.  “Whoever can be trusted with very little can also be trusted with much, and whoever is dishonest with very little will also be dishonest with much,” Luke 16:10.  He was blessed for his servant hood and then Rivkah was blessed for her servant hood.  Rivkah served Eliezer without persuasion.  The process of service that Eliezer exemplified began again in Rivkah’s life.  Never in her wildest dreams could she have imagined that her simple act of fetching water would have led to marriage to Isaac.  Rivkah became a matriarch of Israel because of her willingness to care for others.

Finally, it is interesting to note that the Hebrew term for servant “eved” is spelled ayin – vet – dalet.  There is only a one letter difference between “servant” and the term “Hebrew.”  The word “Hebrew” means “an overcomer” and is spelled ayin – vet – reish.  The letters reish and dalet look very much alike, so it is possible to see the word play.  A true Hebrew is a servant.  Abraham was called a Hebrew or “Ivrit” in Genesis 14:13.  His family has followed suit in standing out in the world through service to others.  A true “ivrit” will serve, or love YHWH and other people.

Portion Points to Ponder

  1. What does the Hebrew name of this Torah portion mean?
  2. The portion recounts the death of Sarah and not her life.  Why was it named such?
  3. Read the Haftarah portion of 1 Kings 1:1-31.  How does this relate to this week’s Torah portion?
  4. Read the Newer Testament sections of Matthew 1:1-17.  Why were these passages chosen to correspond to this week’s reading?  What did you learn from these words?
  5. How old was Sarah when she died?  What is this number symbolic of?  How does this number relate to Queen Esther?
  6. Where was Sarah buried?  Where is this today? 
  7. Why did Abraham insist on paying for Sarah’s burial ground when he could have received it for free?
  8. Efron charged Abraham 400 shekels for the land and burial cave.  Was this a fair price?  What did this high price reveal about Efron?
  9. Abraham sent a servant to find a bride for his son.  Genesis 24 states that this servant “placed his hand under Abraham’s thigh” as he took an oath to accomplish his task.  What does this strange custom mean?
  10.  Gen 15:2 show’s that Abraham’s servant was named “Eliezer of Damascus.”  The name “Eliezer” means “mighty, divine helper or El’s helper.”  How did this name describe his actions?
  11. Abraham’s servant, Eliezer, had to swear that he would NOT find a wife for Isaac from the Canaanites.  Why?
  12.  Yitzchak’s / Isaac’s wife was to come from his father’s family.  Why?
  13.  How many camels did Abraham’s servant have?   Why is this number important?
  14.  Eliezer placed a type of “fleece” before YHWH concerning the bride of Isaac.   This was also done by Gideon in Judges 6:36-40.  Is such prayer necessary or acceptable today?
  15. Does a prayer fleece take faith or is such used in place of faith?
  16.  How does the fleece prayer compare to Ephesians 5:17, “Wherefore be ye not unwise, but understanding what the will of YHWH.”
  17.  The woman who draws the water for Eliezer is named “Rivkah” in Hebrew.  What does this moniker mean?
  18. Rivkah fed the camels countless gallons of water.  What does such an action say about Rivkah’s attitude and spirit?
  19. Where Rivkah and Isaac related?  How?
  20. Who was Rivkah’s brother?
  21. The servant Eliezer refused to eat with his host family until he had recounted the miracle of answered prayer that he experienced.   Do you regularly share the testimony of answered prayer with others?
  22. When told of Eliezer’s actions and the proposal of Rivkah’s marriage, Laban refrained from making his own comments.  He said, “This is from YHWH; we can say nothing to you one way or the other.”  How could using such a response today glorify YHWH?  Is this statement repeated throughout the Scriptures in one form or another?
  23.  Was Rivkah willing to go with Eliezer immediately or did she want to stay with her family?
  24.  As the bridal caravan approaches the homeland, Isaac is out “meditating in the field.”  He lifted up his eyes and saw the camels approaching.  What is Biblical meditation?  What does the Scriptures teach about this practice?
  25. Rivkah took a veil and covered herself before meeting Isaac.  How is this tradition continued today in Christian and Jewish weddings?
  26. Where did Isaac and Rivkah consummate their marriage?
  27. The Torah says that after Isaac took a wife, that he was comforted from the death of his mother Sarah.  How does this relate to Genesis 2:24 which states that “a man shall leave his father and mother and cleave to his wife?”
  28. Abraham took another wife after the death of Sarah.  This new wife bore Abraham more descendants.  Where these the children of promise?
  29. Genesis 25:1 and 1 Chronicles 1:32 seem contradictory as they speak of Keturah.  One text calls her Abraham’s “wife,” while the other says she was “Abraham’s concubine.”  Which is correct?  Are the terms interchangeable?  Also consider Jacob’s relationship with Bilhah in Genesis 29:29 and 35:22.
  30. How old was Abraham when he died?  Where was he buried?  Who buried Abraham?
  31. What did you learn from this Torah portion?  How can you apply this portion to your life and faith?  Who can you share the message of this portion with this week?

The Open Bible is a teaching series written by Daniel Rendelman of Emet Ministries.  Find more teachings, audio messages, videos, and music at  Daniel Rendelman is the found and leader of Emet Ministries and the author of the book “Finding the Truth.”  He, his wife, and five children live in Newberry, South Carolina.  He can be reached at