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Commentary - Year 1 Sabbath 46

Exodus 3:1 - 4:17   -   Isaiah 49:11-19   -   Psalm 42   -   Romans 9:1 - 10:1
 

Shevat 27, 5762 / Feb 9, 2002

I Adar 3, 5765 / Feb 12, 2005

I Adar 3, 5768 / Feb   9, 2008

I Adar 1, 5771 / Feb   5, 2011

I Adar 1, 5774 / Feb   1, 2014

Shevat 29, 5777 / Feb 25, 2017

 

There has been some discussion about the beginning time of Israel’s captivity in Egypt. There are many such things about which we cannot be dogmatic. I am glad that we can have friendly debates that sharpen our understanding and memory of the Scriptures. We should remain open-minded about those things that are not easily proven.

 

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Some questions have risen about the approaching Feast of Unleavened Bread.

 

Must men be circumcised in order to take part in the Festival?

Must women be under the authority of a father or husband who is circumcised in order to take part in the Festival?

Must any meat remaining after midnight be burned?

 

We meet people who promote each of these requirements. These can be logical deductions from our Bibles.

 

Now consider:

The Passover is not a Festival. The Passover is not a Festival.

What is the Passover?

 

The Passover is a lamb!

 

We do not sacrifice a Passover, because there is no standing Temple.

Since we have no sacrificed Passover meat, the circumcision requirements cannot be applied to eating it.

Since we have no sacrificed Passover meat, there is none remaining to be burned.

 

However, since Yeshua, our Passover, is sacrificed, we do find how various requirements for the Feast are applied in 1 Corinthians 5.

 

Umoshe / Now Moses   SCRIPTURES should be read first

 

Who defines God?

 

Today’s portions are about who God is. While we may think that anyone who would worship a wood or stone idol is lacking some gray cells, we nevertheless commonly make our own definitions of our God. Consider this: God tells us who He is; we do not get to define Him with our little understanding – that would be idolatry. We all need to leave our own prejudices, and take care to learn who God says He is.

 

Exodus 3:

(1)     Here we see God stating by what name He would be called.

(2)     We also see Him granting signs to validate for His people His call to Moses.

(3)     We further see God stating what He would do in the near future – and what others would do.

 

In the Psalm, we are to contemplate where our God is.

 

In the Haftarah, we read that Yahweh is compassionate toward His people.

 

In Romans, we find that God makes known the riches of His glory upon vessels of mercy – including Gentiles, which He prepared beforehand for glory.

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Moses was told (v.14) that God is the “I Am” (Eh-yeh). He then was told (v.15) that God’s Name for all generations is “Yahweh, meaning “I Was, I Am, I Will Be,” – the Eternal. This is an expansion of “I Am”. His Name, Yahweh, is used when referring to His character of Gracious / Merciful One. It is used 24 times in today’s Torah portion alone. Beginning with Genesis 2:4, it is used about 7000 times in the Tanach (Torah, Prophets, and Hoy Writings), far more than any other proper noun. It is used by all sorts of people, over many centuries. The most-oft repeated commandment in Scripture is to praise the Name Yahweh (Nehemiah 9:5; Psalm 113:1). To Isaiah God said, “I amYahweh, that is My name; I will not give My glory to another, nor My praise to graven images.” (Isaiah 42:8). This name indicates that God is eternal in all of His attributes, such as omnipotence, omniscience, holiness, and grace.

 

It can be difficult for us to get used to calling God by a different name than that which we are used to using. We are to use His Name reverently, not as a common word. We use it when reading it in Scripture – we do not substitute words of a different meaning (such as Adonai, Lord, or Hashem) for God’s Word (Deuteronomy 4:2; Revelation 22:18-19). We use it when singing His praise with the inspired Psalms (Colossians 3:16). We use it when blessing His Name for His benefits.

 

Adonai, a Hebrew name which translates Lord, is used a few times in Scripture. The term refers to a master over slaves. It is used in conjunction with Yahweh – Adonai Yahweh (Ezekiel 2:4). Adonai or Lord is an appropriate title for God, but it is not a substitution for His Name Yahweh.

 

It is an untruth that it is not pronounced by rabbinic Jews – they commonly teach that it is to be used reverently and therefore sparingly, as using it in vain is a serious sin (Exodus 20:7).

 

Another Biblical name of God, Elohim, is a Hebrew term referring to His position as judge of His creation: it was judged very good (Genesis 1:31). This name is also used in conjunction with Yahweh – Yahweh Elohim (Genesis 2:4), referring to the Gracious God who is Judge of His creation.

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When Yahweh is graciously granting a special pronouncement to His people, He verifies it with signs – actions which we call miracles or wonders, because they are so out of the ordinary that we see them as supernatural. He did this when He sent Moses to deliver and instruct His people, and He did it when He sent Yeshua to deliver and instruct His people. He has also granted signs at many other times. However, this is not a reason to accept every tale of miracles that people claim to have seen, or claim ability to perform. Such claims are often self-aggrandizing, and often not apparent – not wondrous at all, but only causing wonder about their verity.

 

Alongside granting signs, Yahweh states clearly what He is about to do, and how people will react!

 

Moses was told to throw his staff on the ground, and it then became a snake. He was told to pick it up by the tail, and it then became a stick again (v.4:1-5). This was a sign.

 

Moses was told to go to the Pharaoh with the elders of Israel and request in the Name of Yahweh the he let God’s people go. Moses was then told that the Pharaoh would not listen until God performed certain signs. Every detail would come to pass just as the Ruler of the Universe had said.

 

So we say regularly, “Blessed are You, Yahweh our God, Ruler of the Universe . . .”.

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In today’s contemplative poem (Psalm 42) – now contemplate this – we read (v.3): “They say to me all day long, ‘Where is your God?’ ” Where is your God? Is He above all, ruling over His creation, and acting graciously on your behalf? If he is anywhere else, he is an idol of your own creation.

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In today’s Haftarah portion (Isaiah 49:13) we read, “Yahweh has comforted His people and will have compassion on His afflicted.

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In his Epistle to the Romans, through Paul we are granted detailed understanding of some of God’s ways.

 

By using the story of Abraham’s children – Ishmael and Isaac, Paul is teaching that God’s Covenant (promises) is not for all of the natural descendants of Israel, but for the spiritual. “It is not as though the word of God has failed” (v.6). It is that, as God says of Himself, “I will have mercy on whom I have mercy, and I will have compassion on whom I have compassion” (v.15).

 

The application of God’s covenant is not according to one’s parentage – “It is not the children of the flesh who are children of God” (v.8); “who were born, not of blood” (John 1:13). It is not through one’s own will – “It does not depend on the man who wills” (v.16); “not of the will of the flesh” (John 1:13). It is not according to a man’s works – “It does not depend on . . . the man who runs” (v.16). It is not through another man’s ability to convince – “not of the will of (another) man” (John 1:16). It is only dependent “on God who has mercy”.

 

The conclusion is: A remnant of natural Israel will be saved, and a remnant of the Gentiles will be graffed in to that number. “Though the number of the sons of Israel be as the sand of the sea, it is the remnant that will be saved” (v.27). “Gentiles, who did not pursue righteousness, attained righteousness, even the righteousness which is by faith” (v.30); and we know that such faith itself is a gift of God (Ephesians 2:8).

 

After such clear teaching, Paul anticipates the reaction: “You will say to me then, ‘Why does He still find fault? For who resists His will?’ ” (v.19). Here is where idolatry comes in: men who are as but worms, creating a God who fits their own doctrine. “Who are you, O man, who answers back to God?” (v.20).

 

God says that His Name for all generations is Yahweh. He is the eternal in all of His attributes, and does not change. He says that He maintains the right of determining life and death, and He controls who are His own and who are created for destruction. He holds all of the rights. We may acknowledge a Sovereign God, or make our own idols according to our own desires.

 

Then Paul says, “Brethren, my heart's desire and my prayer to God for them is for their salvation.” Our desire and effort should be toward seeing others come to repentance and faith. Knowing that God will use His Word to work repentance and faith in others is the motivation for evangelization, and the basis for sticking to His Word in all such endeavor.

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Readings:  

"Blessed are You, Yahweh our God, King of the Universe,

Who chose us from among all peoples by giving us Your Torah.

Blessed are You, Yahweh, giver of the Torah."

 

(uMoshe hayah ro’eh et-zen / Now Moses was pasturing the flock)

 

Reader 1*  Amen. 1 Now Moses was pasturing the flock of Jethro his father-in-law, the priest of Midian; and he led the flock to the west side of the wilderness and came to Horeb, the mountain of God. 2 The angel of Yahweh appeared to him in a blazing fire from the midst of a bush; and he looked, and behold, the bush was burning with fire, yet the bush was not consumed. 3 So Moses said, "I must turn aside now and see this marvelous sight, why the bush is not burned up."

Reader 2*  Amen. 4 When Yahweh saw that he turned aside to look, God called to him from the midst of the bush and said, "Moses, Moses!" And he said, "Here I am." 5 Then He said, "Do not come near here; remove your sandals from your feet, for the place on which you are standing is holy ground." 6 He said also, "I am the God of your father, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob." Then Moses hid his face, for he was afraid to look at God. 7 Yahweh said, "I have surely seen the affliction of My people who are in Egypt, and have given heed to their cry because of their taskmasters, for I am aware of their sufferings. 8 "So I have come down to deliver them from the power of the Egyptians, and to bring them up from that land to a good and spacious land, to a land flowing with milk and honey, to the place of the Canaanite and the Hittite and the Amorite and the Perizzite and the Hivite and the Jebusite. 9 "Now, behold, the cry of the sons of Israel has come to Me; furthermore, I have seen the oppression with which the Egyptians are oppressing them.

Reader 3*  Amen. 10 "Therefore, come now, and I will send you to Pharaoh, so that you may bring My people, the sons of Israel, out of Egypt." 11 But Moses said to God, "Who am I, that I should go to Pharaoh, and that I should bring the sons of Israel out of Egypt?" 12 And He said, "Certainly I will be with you, and this shall be the sign to you that it is I who have sent you: when you have brought the people out of Egypt, you shall worship God at this mountain." 13 Then Moses said to God, "Behold, I am going to the sons of Israel, and I will say to them, 'The God of your fathers has sent me to you.' Now they may say to me, 'What is His name?' What shall I say to them?" 14 God said to Moses, "I AM WHO I AM"; and He said, "Thus you shall say to the sons of Israel, 'I AM has sent me to you.'" 15 God, furthermore, said to Moses, "Thus you shall say to the sons of Israel, 'Yahweh, the God of your fathers, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob, has sent me to you.' This is My name forever, and this is My memorial-name to all generations.

Reader 4*  Amen. 16 "Go and gather the elders of Israel together and say to them, 'Yahweh, the God of your fathers, the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, has appeared to me, saying, "I am indeed concerned about you and what has been done to you in Egypt. 17 "So I said, I will bring you up out of the affliction of Egypt to the land of the Canaanite and the Hittite and the Amorite and the Perizzite and the Hivite and the Jebusite, to a land flowing with milk and honey."' 18 "They will pay heed to what you say; and you with the elders of Israel will come to the king of Egypt and you will say to him, 'Yahweh, the God of the Hebrews, has met with us. So now, please, let us go a three days' journey into the wilderness, that we may sacrifice to Yahweh our God.' 19 "But I know that the king of Egypt will not permit you to go, except under compulsion. 20 "So I will stretch out My hand and strike Egypt with all My miracles which I shall do in the midst of it; and after that he will let you go. 21 "I will grant this people favor in the sight of the Egyptians; and it shall be that when you go, you will not go empty-handed. 22 "But every woman shall ask of her neighbor and the woman who lives in her house, articles of silver and articles of gold, and clothing; and you will put them on your sons and daughters. Thus you will plunder the Egyptians."

Reader 5*  Amen. 4:1 Then Moses said, "What if they will not believe me or listen to what I say? For they may say, 'Yahweh has not appeared to you.'" 2 Yahweh said to him, "What is that in your hand?" And he said, "A staff." 3 Then He said, "Throw it on the ground." So he threw it on the ground, and it became a serpent; and Moses fled from it. 4 But Yahweh said to Moses, "Stretch out your hand and grasp it by its tail "-- so he stretched out his hand and caught it, and it became a staff in his hand-- 5 "that they may believe that Yahweh, the God of their fathers, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob, has appeared to you."

Reader 6*  Amen. 6 Yahweh furthermore said to him, "Now put your hand into your bosom." So he put his hand into his bosom, and when he took it out, behold, his hand was leprous like snow. 7 Then He said, "Put your hand into your bosom again." So he put his hand into his bosom again, and when he took it out of his bosom, behold, it was restored like the rest of his flesh. 8 "If they will not believe you or heed the witness of the first sign, they may believe the witness of the last sign. 9 "But if they will not believe even these two signs or heed what you say, then you shall take some water from the Nile and pour it on the dry ground; and the water which you take from the Nile will become blood on the dry ground."

Reader 7*  Amen. 10 Then Moses said to Yahweh, "Please, Lord, I have never been eloquent, neither recently nor in time past, nor since You have spoken to Your servant; for I am slow of speech and slow of tongue." 11 Yahweh said to him, "Who has made man's mouth? Or who makes him mute or deaf, or seeing or blind? Is it not I, Yahweh? 12 "Now then go, and I, even I, will be with your mouth, and teach you what you are to say." 13 But he said, "Please, Lord, now send the message by whomever You will." 14 Then the anger of Yahweh burned against Moses, and He said, "Is there not your brother Aaron the Levite? I know that he speaks fluently. And moreover, behold, he is coming out to meet you; when he sees you, he will be glad in his heart. 15 "You are to speak to him and put the words in his mouth; and I, even I, will be with your mouth and his mouth, and I will teach you what you are to do. 16 "Moreover, he shall speak for you to the people; and he will be as a mouth for you and you will be as God to him. 17 "You shall take in your hand this staff, with which you shall perform the signs."

 

"Blessed are You, Yahweh our God, King of the Universe,

Who in giving us Yeshua, the Living Torah, has planted everlasting life in our midst.

Blessed are You, Yahweh, giver of the Torah."

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"Blessed are You, Yahweh our God, King of the Universe,

Who selected good prophets, delighting in their words which were spoken truthfully.

Blessed are You, Yahweh, Who chose the Torah, Your servant Moses, Your people Israel,

and the prophets of truth and righteousness."

 

Isaiah 49:11-19

Reader 8*  Amen. 11 "I will make all My mountains a road, and My highways will be raised up. 12 "Behold, these will come from afar; and lo, these will come from the north and from the west, and these from the land of Sinim." 13 Shout for joy, O heavens! And rejoice, O earth! Break forth into joyful shouting, O mountains! For Yahweh has comforted His people and will have compassion on His afflicted. 14 But Zion said, "Yahweh has forsaken me, and Yahweh has forgotten me." 15 "Can a woman forget her nursing child and have no compassion on the son of her womb? Even these may forget, but I will not forget you. 16 "Behold, I have inscribed you on the palms of My hands; your walls are continually before Me. 17 "Your builders hurry; your destroyers and devastators will depart from you. 18 "Lift up your eyes and look around; all of them gather together, they come to you. As I live," declares Yahweh, "you will surely put on all of them as jewels and bind them on as a bride. 19 "For your waste and desolate places and your destroyed land – surely now you will be too cramped for the inhabitants, and those who swallowed you will be far away.

 

1 Kings 20:8 (1-30)

Reader 9*  Amen. And all the elders and all the people said to him, "Do not listen or consent."

 

Psalm 42   (To be sung.)   For the choir director. A Maskil of the sons of Korah.

1 As the deer pants for the water brooks, so my soul pants for You, O God. 2 My soul thirsts for God, for the living God; when shall I come and appear before God? 3 My tears have been my food day and night, while they say to me all day long, "Where is your God?" 4 These things I remember and I pour out my soul within me. For I used to go along with the throng and lead them in procession to the house of God, with the voice of joy and thanksgiving, a multitude keeping festival. 5 Why are you in despair, O my soul? And why have you become disturbed within me? Hope in God, for I shall again praise Him for the help of His presence. 6 O my God, my soul is in despair within me; therefore I remember You from the land of the Jordan and the peaks of Hermon, from Mount Mizar. 7 Deep calls to deep at the sound of Your waterfalls; all Your breakers and Your waves have rolled over me. 8 Yahweh will command His lovingkindness in the daytime; and His song will be with me in the night, a prayer to the God of my life. 9 I will say to God my rock, "Why have You forgotten me? Why do I go mourning because of the oppression of the enemy?" 10 As a shattering of my bones, my adversaries revile me, while they say to me all day long, "Where is your God?" 11 Why are you in despair, O my soul? And why have you become disturbed within me? Hope in God, for I shall yet praise Him, the help of my countenance and my God.

 

Romans 9:1 – 10:1

Reader 10*  Amen. 1 I am telling the truth in Messiah, I am not lying, my conscience testifies with me in the Holy Spirit, 2 that I have great sorrow and unceasing grief in my heart. 3 For I could wish that I myself were accursed, separated from Messiah for the sake of my brethren, my kinsmen according to the flesh, 4 who are Israelites, to whom belongs the adoption as sons, and the glory and the covenants and the giving of the Law and the Temple service and the promises, 5 whose are the fathers, and from whom is the Messiah according to the flesh, who is over all, God blessed forever. Amen. 6 But it is not as though the word of God has failed. For they are not all Israel who are descended from Israel; 7 nor are they all children because they are Abraham's descendants, but: "through Isaac your descendants will be named." 8 That is, it is not the children of the flesh who are children of God, but the children of the promise are regarded as descendants. 9 For this is the word of promise: "At this time I will come, and Sarah shall have a son." 10 And not only this, but there was Rebekah also, when she had conceived twins by one.

 

"Blessed are You, Yahweh our God, King of the Universe,

Rock of Ages, righteous throughout all generations.

You are the faithful God, promising and then performing, speaking and then fulfilling,

for all Your words are true and righteous.

Faithful are You, Yahweh our God, and faithful are Your words,

for no word of Yours shall remain unfulfilled;

You are a faithful and merciful God and King.

Blessed are You, Yahweh our God, Who are faithful in fulfilling all Your words."


© 2004  Beikvot HaMashiach
(Followers of the Messiah)