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.   

When he arrives at Shechem where the Canaanites live, God tells him, “To your descendants I will give this land.”  He then travels to a hill west of Bethel and pitches his tent.  Ai, a city of the Canaanites was east of him.  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 Isra’el or cursing Isra’el.  However, the blessing of Abram was not only for Isra’el, but all nations.  This is an important promise because its fulfillment will be the nations joining with Isra’el with faith in the Messiah.

The Hebrew root of Abram is av which means ‘father.’  His name is prophetic because Abram has no children and is not a father; yet he is promised to be a blessing to many nations.

He pitches his tent on a hill west of Bethel, which in Hebrew is Beit-el or House of Elohim.  Ai in Hebrew means ‘heap of ruins.’  This ‘father’ who camps between a House of Elohim and a heap of ruins will bring forth from ruins a spiritual house. 

Abram had two brothers, Nachor and Haran.  Haran had a son named Lot, who went with Abram, and a daughter named Milkah.  After Haran died, Abram took care of Lot.   Nachor married Milkah, his niece.  They have a son named Betuel.  Betuel has a daughter named Rebekah.

Because of a famine, Abram travels through the Negev desert down to Egypt.  In Egypt,  Abram lies to protect himself and his wife, thus causing her to commit adultery.  It is only after great plagues come upon Pharaoh that Abram admits his lie and is sent away by Pharaoh along with his wife and his property.

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

After Lot chooses his portion of land, Elohim speaks to Abram about the land around him.  The land as far as he can see to the north, south, east and west will become the  Promised Land for his descendants.

Abram packs and moves his tent to live by the oaks of Mamre which is known as Hebron in the modern-day 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 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 Kdorlaomer.   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.

When Abram heard that his nephew had been taken captive, he led his trained men, 318 of them,  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 retrieved Lot with his possessions and his family.  After returning from the battles, the king of Sodom meets 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 with these words:

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.”

Malki-Tzedek means “King of Righteousness” in Hebrew.  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 brought out bread and wine.  The word ‘bread’ in this verse is the Hebrew lechem.  Wine is yayin.  Though some people may see an allusion to ‘communion’ in this event, the bread that was shared suggests otherwise.  Communion has been taken out of the Passover seder which has matzah or unleavened bread.

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

Another allusion that is more fitting 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 Shabbat, after the battles have been won and there is peace and rest.   

Not much is known about Malki-Tzedek except through Hebrews 7 which states that Malki-Tzdek had no beginning or end, no father or mother, no genealogy.  This is an allusion to his eternal existence suggesting he is a pre-incarnate Yeshua. 

Some suggest that Malki-Tzedek is Noach’s son, Shem, who lived through the flood and after until he was 600 years of age.  His longevity was very uncommon as after the flood the lifespan of humans went lower and lower.  With such a long life, Shem would have seemed to be without father or mother or genealogy as all had been destroyed in the flood. 

Knowing HaShem as he did before, during and after the flood, through his father, Shem may have taken on a priestly role preaching the Noachide laws, the evils of sin, the blessings of righteousness, and the pre-flood world.  Just as we have no grasp of the world to come, it is possible that the people of Shem’s world 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 given to the Levitical priests who owned no land and ministered in the Tabernacle. With Abram’s tithe, it could be that Malki-Tzedek, though a King of Shalem, had no real earthly land he called home, another allusion to him being a pre-incarnate Yeshua. 

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 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.  Upon seeing the night sky and 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.   Again, 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.  Then he cut the animals in two and places the pieces opposite each other.  Birds of prey swooped down to eat the carcasses, but Abram 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.  Then Abram’s descendants would leave that land with many possessions. 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 Promised Land.

Then 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 wadi 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 people making the covenant passed between the animal parts, however, Abram is asleep and it is Elohim who passes through.  His presence is represented 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.

Hagar runs into the desert and is found by an angel of Elohim.  The angel tells her that her descendants will greatly increase 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 names 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 El Shaddai cannot change His covenant promise to Abraham, the descendants of Ishamael will 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 father 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 show the difference between the child of Abraham’s faith and the child of Abraham’s flesh.  Those 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 El Shaddai’s Spirit as evidence of Elohim fulfilling His promise to Abraham (Galatians 4:21-31).

The two sons, Isaac and Ishmael, are likened to the two covenants: the covenant given at Mount Sinai that is written on stony hearts and makes us slaves to Torah,  or the covenant that comes from Mount Tzion that is written on our circumcised hearts and gives us freedom to walk by faith by Torah (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 again and calls himself El Shaddai or “God Almighty.”  Shaddai comes from the Hebrew root word for ‘breast’ suggesting that Shaddai is one who nourishes, comforts and blesses like a ‘bosom friend.’   It is at this point, that El Shaddai repeats the covenant promise of land and He 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

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

– the first family head mighty

Avraham (Father of Nations) – אברהם – alef, bet, resh, hey, mem

the first family head revealed and mighty

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

the glory of the head, finished work

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

the glory of the head revealed

Just like when HaShem made a covenant with Noach, El Shaddai gives a sign of the covenant to Abraham: circumcision, the cutting of the foreskin, a sign of Abraham’s faith in the promises of El Shaddai.   The cutting of the foreskin 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 given to Abraham, the blessing with the promise.

“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 of the covenant

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 of the pathway glory behold

Flesh circumcision can become a heated debate when a follower of Yeshua decides to circumcise their baby son. 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 a ‘sign’ of Abraham’s faith, his circumcised heart of willing obedience.  Anyone who becomes circumcised in the flesh in order to convert to Judaism, then they are accountable to all of the manmade rules and ordinances developed by rabbinical Judaism.  Living a Biblically righteous life of faith with a circumcision of heart shown in the flesh and converting to Rabbinical Judaism through circumcision of the flesh are two very different things.   

Abraham was 99 years old when he was circumcised in the flesh of his foreskin. 

Selah

In Hebrew, ‘circumcision’ is b’rit milah or “Covenant of the Word.”

The Hebrew words for the new covenant are b’rit chadashah or new circumcision. 

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 for ‘New Covenant’ is 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).

©2014 Tent Stake Ministries

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