Parashah 3: Lekh L’kah (Get yourself out)

Parashah 3: Genesis 12:1-17:27

“Now Adonai said to Avram, “Get yourself out of your country, away from your kinsmen and away from your father’s house, and go to the land that I will show you. I will make of you a great nation, I will bless you, and I will make your name great; and you are to be a blessing. I will bless those who bless you, but I will curse anyone who curses you; and by you all the families of the earth will be blessed” (Genesis 12:1-3).  

Elohim comes to Abram and tells him to ‘get yourself out’ of his father’s house and go to a land that Elohim will show him.  Abram obeys the voice of Elohim and takes his wife Sarai, all of his possessions and his nephew, Lot.   

Hebrew Word Pictures

Avram (Exalted Father) – אברם – alef, bet, resh, mem

– the first family head mighty

Sarai (Mockery) – שרי – shin, resh, yod

the glory of the head, finished work

When he arrives at Shechem where the Canaanites live, Elohim tells him, “To your descendants I will give this land.”  The Hebrew root of Abram is av which means ‘father.’  Abram has no children and is not a father; yet he is promised to have many descendants.

He then travels to a hill west of Bethel (House of Elohim) and pitches his tent.  Ai (Heap of Ruins), a city of the Canaanites was east of him.  This ‘father’ who camps between the House of Elohim and a ‘heap of ruins’ will bring forth a spiritual house.   He built an altar and called on the name of Elohim.

The blessing at the beginning of this parashah is often quoted in regard to blessing or cursing Isra’el.  However, the blessing of Abram was not only for Isra’el, but for all nations.  This is an important promise because its fulfillment comes as the nations join Isra’el with faith in the ‘promised seed,’ Messiah.

Abram had two brothers, Nachor and Haran.  Haran had a son named Lot, who went with Abram, and a daughter named Milkah.  Nachor married Milkah, his niece.  They have a son named Betuel.  Betuel has a daughter named Rebekkah.

Because of a famine, Abram travels through the Negev desert down to Egypt.  In Egypt,  Abram lies to protect himself and his beautiful Sarai from being taken by the king  causing her to commit adultery with the Pharaoh.  It is only after great plagues come upon Pharaoh that Abram admits his lie.  He is sent away by an angry Pharaoh along with Sarai and his property.

In the Negev, Abram becomes a wealthy man.  Lot also became wealthy and the land could not support them both.  Their herdsmen began fighting and Abram suggests they separate.  Lot looks out at the fertile plains south of the Jordan River and decides to make the Jordan valley his home.  He leaves Abram to settle the area around Sodom and Gomorrah. 

After Lot chooses his portion of land, Elohim speaks to Abram about the land around him.  He promises the land as far as Abram can see to the north, south, east and west to become the possession of his descendants.   Abram moves his tent and lives by the oaks of Mamre which is known as Hebron in the West Bank. 

“Look all around you from where you are, to the north, the south, the east and the west.  All the land you see I will give to you and your descendants forever, and I will make your descendants numerous as the specks of dust on the earth–so that if a person can count the specks of dust on the earth, then your descendants can be counted.  Get up and walk through the length and breadth of the land, because I will give it to you” (Genesis 13:14-17).

King of Righteousness

A group of kings make war against Kedorlaomer, the King of Elam, in the Siddum Valley near the Dead Sea.  Kedorlaomer defeats all the of kings who rebelled against him including the Amalekites and the Emorites.  Eventually, the kings of Sodom and Gormorrah come out to fight against Kedorlaomer.   Many of their warriors fell into the clay pits in the Siddim Valley while the rest retreated to the Judean hills.  The victors took all the possessions and food supplies of Sodom and Gomorrah along with Lot.

Kedorolaomer may be an Assyrian or Persian name coming from kudur meaning ‘servant’ and lagamar who was a goddess in the religious practices of Susa in Persia (Iran).  Siddim is thought to have been located on the southern end of the Dead Sea where bitumen deposits have been found that may have one time been the tar pits in which the armies of Sodom and Gomorrah fell. 

When Abram heard that his nephew had been taken captive, he led his 318 trained men, and went in pursuit of Kedorlaomer as far north as Dan.  They divided forces and attacked Kedorlaomer pushing him all the way to Damascus.  Abram recovered all the goods and possessions and retrieved Lot and his family.  After returning from the battles, the king of Sodom met Abram in the King’s Valley.

Malki-Tzedek, King of Shalem brought out bread and wine.  He was a priest of El Elyon, God Most High.  He blessed Abram:

Blessed be Avram by El’Elyon, maker of heaven and earth;

and blessed be El ‘Elyon, who handed your enemies over to you.”

Then Abram tithed”

(Genesis 14:20-22).

In Hebrew, Malki-Tzedek means “King of Righteousness”  He is the king of Shalem which means ‘peace’ and is the root for Yerushalayim or Jerusalem.  He is a priest for El Elyon, God Most High.  This is the first time this title for Elohim is used. 

Malki-Tzedek brings out bread and wine.  The word ‘bread’ in this verse is the Hebrew lechem.  Though some may see an allusion to ‘communion’ in this event, the shared ‘leaven’ bread suggests otherwise.  ‘Communion’ has been removed from the Passover meal in which matzah or unleavened bread was eaten.

Hebrew Word Pictures

Bread or lechem – לחםlamed, chet, mem

– the shepherd protects the mighty

Wine or yayin – ייןyod, yod, noon

the double finished work of life

A more fitting allusion would be a Sabbath memorial.  Breaking bread and sharing wine is considered a time of fellowship and central to a traditional Jewish Sabbath.  The event could be taking place on the Sabbath, after the battles have been won, the enemy is defeated, and there is peace and rest – a vision of eternity.     

Not much is known about Malki-Tzedek except through Hebrews 7 which states that he had no beginning or end, no father or mother, no genealogy.  This is an allusion to his eternal existence.  Some suggest he may be a pre-incarnate Yeshua, though Elohim can appear in any form He desires and may be revealing Himself as a King of Righteousness to Abram.   

Some suggest that Malki-Tzedek is Noah’s son, Shem, who was 100 years old when the flood destroyed the earth and continued to live until he was 600 years of age.  His longevity was very uncommon as after the flood the lifespan of humans decreased. With such a long life, Shem would be the oldest man alive and appear to be without father or mother or genealogy as everything had been destroyed in the flood.  Shem inherited the land of Shalem and Malki-Tzedek is the king.  Abram, according to the call on his life,  would be next patriarch in line after Shem and the next priest of the El Elyon.

Knowing HaShem through his father Noah, before, during and after the flood, Shem may have taken on a priestly role preaching the Noahide laws, the evils of sin, the pre-flood world and the blessings of righteousness.  Just as we have no grasp of that world or the  world to come, it is possible that the people of Shem’s generation could not grasp a world that existed before their own making Shem seem like a ‘god.’

Abram gave Malki-Tzedek one-tenth of everything he plundered.  This is the first instance of a tithe before the instructions at Mount Sinai.  It is written in Hebrews 7 that Levi, who was in Abram’s loins, actually tithed Malki-Tzedek.   The tithe was a portion of the harvest  given to the Levitical priests who had no land inheritance and ministered in the Tabernacle. With Abram’s tithe, it could be that Malki-Tzedek had no earthly land he called home an allusion to the coming Levitical priesthood. 

Covenant of Land

The word of Elohim comes to Abram in a vision, “Don’t be afraid, Avram.  I am your protector; your reward will be very great” (Genesis 15:1).

Though he was a wealthy man, Abram was childless and had no one with whom to leave his wealth.  Elohim tells him that he will have an heir from his own body.  When Abram doesn’t believe him, Elohim tells him to look up at the sky and count the stars – if they can even be counted. Looking at the night sky and seeing the billions of stars, Abram believed Elohim’s promise and his faith was credited to him as righteousness.

Elohim tells Abram that He brought him up out of the land of the Chadeans in order to give the land around him as his possession and the possession of his descendants.   Abram asked Elohim how he would know this to be true.  Elohim tells him to bring a cow, a goat, a ram, a dove and a young pigeon.  Abram cut the animals in two and places the pieces opposite each other.  Birds of prey swooped down to eat the carcasses, but he drove them away. 

A deep sleep came upon Abram as the sun was about to set and a great darkness came over him.   Elohim tells Abram that his descendants would be foreigners in a land that is not theirs.  They would be held in slavery for 400 years until He would judge that nation.  Abram’s descendants would then leave that land with many possessions, but Abram would not see these events with his own eyes as he would sleep with his ancestors.  In the fourth generation, his descendants would return to the land of promise. 

A smoking fire pot and a flaming torch passed between the animal parts that had been placed on the ground.  That day Elohim made a covenant with Abram.  He promised to give him and his descendants the land that extended from the vadi of Egypt to the Euphrates River.  It would include all of the land where the Canaanites, the Kenites, the Kadmonites, the Hittites, the Perizzites, the Refaimites, the Emorites, the Girgasites and the Jebusites lived. 

The event with the animal parts and smoking pot was a Middle Eastern way to ‘cut a covenant.’  Usually, the two people making the covenant passed between the animal parts to establish the covenant;  however, Abram was asleep and Elohim passes through binding both sides of the covenant through Himself.   His Divine Presence is seen in the smoking fire pot and the flaming torch.

Hagar and Ishmael

Sarai gets tired of waiting for a child so she takes matters into her own hands.  She gives her Egyptian servant, Hagar, to Abram in order to have children through her.  Abram sleeps with Hagar and she conceives a son.  Once Hagar becomes pregnant, she treats Sarai with contempt.

“Sarai said to Avram, “This outrage being done to me is your fault! True, I gave my slave-girl to you to sleep with; but when she saw that she was pregnant, she began holding me in contempt. May Adonai decide who is right — I or you!” However, Avram answered Sarai, “Look, she’s your slave-girl. Deal with her as you think fit.” Then Sarai treated her so harshly that she ran away from her” (Genesis 16:5-6).

Hagar runs away into the desert and is found by an angel of Elohim.  The angel tells her that her descendants will increase so that it will be impossible to count them.  She is told she will have a son who will act like a ‘wild donkey of a man’ with his hand against everyone, living at odds with his brothers.  Hagar calls Elohim, El Ro’i meaning ‘the Elohim who sees’ because she had seen Elohim and remained alive.  The boy is born and named Ishmael. 

Because Elohim cannot change His covenant promise to Abraham, the descendants of Ishmael also become numerous.  Ishmael is not the son of promise, but a receiver of the blessing to the nations. The Ishmaelites are the modern-day Arabs and they still circumcise their children, not as a sign of faith, but as a sign of their patriarch, Abraham.

Hebrew Word Pictures

Hagar (Flight) – הגר – hey, gimel, resh

– behold the rising of the head

Ishmael (God Hears) – ישמהאל – yod, shin, mem, hey, alef, lamed

finished work consumes the mighty, revealing a strong leader

Sha’ul uses an allegory to explain the difference between the child of Abraham’s faith and the child of Abraham’s flesh.  The children of Abraham’s flesh are born according to the rules of natural childbearing.  Children of Abraham’s faith are born through the power of Elohim’s Spirit as evidence of Him fulfilling His promise to Abraham (Galatians 4:21-31).

The two sons, Ishmael and Isaac, are likened to the two covenants: the covenant given at Mount Sinai that is written on stony hearts and makes us slaves to Torah (Ishmael),  or the covenant that comes from Mount Tzion that is written on our circumcised hearts and gives us freedom to walk by Torah (Isaac) (Hebrews 11:10).

Covenant of Nations

“I am El Shaddai [God Almighty]. Walk in my presence and be pure-hearted. I will make my covenant between me and you, and I will increase your numbers greatly.” Avram fell on his face, and God continued speaking with him: “As for me, this is my covenant with you: you will be the father of many nations. Your name will no longer be Avram [exalted father], but your name will be Avraham [father of many], because I have made you the father of many nations. I will cause you to be very fruitful. I will make nations of you, kings will descend from you” (Genesis 17:1-6).

When Abram is 99 years old, Elohim appears to him and calls himself El Shaddai or “God Almighty.”  Shaddai comes from the Hebrew root word for ‘breast’ meaning that Shaddai is one who nourishes, comforts and blesses like a ‘bosom friend.’  El Shaddai repeats the covenant promise of land and changes Abram’s name to Abraham because he will become the ‘father of many nations.  He also changes Sarai’s name to Sarah.

Hebrew Word Pictures

Abraham (Father of Nations) or Avrahamאברהם – alef, bet, resh, hey, mem

the first family head revealed and mighty

Sarah (Princess) – שרה – shin, resh, hey

the glory of the head revealed

El Shaddai gives a ‘sign’ of the covenant to Abraham: circumcision.  Cutting the male foreskin became the ‘sign’ of Abraham’s faith in the promises of El Shaddai.   Circumcision was to be done when a male baby was eight days old.  Each time a baby boy was circumcised, his father would remember the covenant, the blessing and the promise given to Abraham.  Abraham was 99 years old when he was circumcised in the flesh.

“God said to Avraham, ‘As for you, you are to keep my covenant, you and your descendants after you, generation after generation. Here is my covenant, which you are to keep, between me and you, along with your descendants after you: every male among you is to be circumcised. You are to be circumcised in the flesh of your foreskin; this will be the sign of the covenant between me and you. Generation after generation, every male among you who is eight days old is to be circumcised, including slaves born within your household and those bought from a foreigner not descended from you’” (Genesis 17:9-12).

Hebrew Word Pictures

Covenant or b’rit ברית – bet, resh, yod, tav

– family head finished work is the sign

Word or milah מילה – mem, yod, lamed, hey

mighty finished work of the shepherd revealed

New or chadashah חדשה – chet, dalet, shin, hey

– inner room (heart) of the pathway glory revealed

Flesh circumcision can become a heated debate when a follower of Yeshua decides to circumcise their baby boy.  According to some, circumcision of flesh becomes a denial of faith in Yeshua and requires keeping the ‘whole law.’  When El Shaddai gave Abraham the covenant of circumcision, it was the ‘sign’ of his circumcised heart of faith.  Anyone who becomes circumcised in the flesh to convert to Judaism is accountable to all the manmade traditions developed in Judaism.  Living a life of faith with a circumcision of heart shown by a ‘sign’ in the flesh and converting to Judaism are two very different things.   

Yeshua and Abraham

“Avraham, your father, was glad that he would see my day; then he saw it and was overjoyed.”

“Why, you’re not yet fifty years old,” the Judeans replied, “and you have seen Avraham?”

“Yeshua said to them, “Yes, indeed! Before Avraham came into being, I AM!. At this, they picked up stones to throw at him; but Yeshua was hidden and left the Temple grounds” (John 8:56-59).

Haftarah (Readings from the Prophets)

Isaiah 40:27-41:16

B’rit Chadashah (New Testament Readings)

Acts 7:1-8

Romans 4:3-4

Galatians 3:6

Colossians 2:11-15

James 2:21-23

Midrash Lech Lecha: The New Circumcision

The Hebrew words for ‘New Covenant’ are B’rit Chadashah or ‘new circumcision.’  Discuss the ‘new circumcision’ as described in Jeremiah 31:31-34, Ezekiel 36:24-26 and Romans 2:28-29).

 

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