Posts Tagged ‘Abraham’

Parashah 6: Tol’dot (History)

Genesis 25:19-28:9

“Here is the history of Yitz’ak, Avraham’s son. Avraham fathered Yitz’ak. Yitz’ak was forty years old when he took Rivkah, the daughter of B’tu’el the Arami from Paddan-Aram and sister of Lavan the Arami, to be his wife” (Genesis 25:19-20).

History is an interesting subject as it reminds people of their ancestral heritage as well as past events in their own lives. Most followers of Yeshua don’t consider Genesis through Deuteronomy their own spiritual history; however, once an individual enters the Kingdom of Elohim, the family history described in the first five books of the Bible becomes their history, their family lineage through Yeshua along with a myriad of adopted brothers and sisters.

Father Abraham

Isaac receives the same blessing as his father, “I will fulfill the oath which I swore to Abraham, your father –– I will make your descendants as numerous as the stars in the sky, I will give all these lands to your descendants, and by your descendants all the nations of the earth will bless themselves.  All this is because Abraham heeded what I said and did what I told him to do–he followed my mitzvot, my regulations and teachings” (Genesis 26:4-5).

In Hebrew, mitzvot means ‘commandments’ and Elohim is always the giver of the mitzvot. This noun occurs 181 times in the TeNaK (Torah, Prophets and Writings).  Its first occurrence appears in Genesis 26:5 where mitzvot is synonymous with hoq or ‘statute’ and Torah meaning ‘instruction.’ Because of Abraham’s obedience to the mitzvot, he receives everything that El Shaddai desired to give him: land, descendants, and to be a blessing to the nations of the earth.

Hebrew Word Pictures
Mitzvot (Commandments) – מצוות – mem, tazdik, vav, vav, tav
– drawing near to the mighty finished work, finished covenant

Choq or Chukkim (Statute(s)) – חוק – chet, vav, kof
– protect what is behind the binding

Abraham obeyed El Shaddai’s mitzvot long before Torah was given to Moshe on Mount Sinai. In other words, Abraham lived by Torah before it was written on stone tablets because El Shaddai’s instructions were written on his heart.  His obedience was the set-apart way he lived out his faith in the world. Abraham is called the ‘father of faith’ because he willingly and faithfully obeyed El Shaddai’s commands even when they didn’t make sense to him. We are Abraham’s children, if we obey the mitzvot written on the paper in our Bibles, the same mitzvot that should be written on our hearts by the Ruach haKodesh (Galatians 3:7).

Nations at Odds and Prophecy

Isaac is 40 years old when he marries Rebekah.  He prays for his wife to have a child as she is barren. As her husband, he embraced his role of a spiritual leader and prayed.  He interceded on her behalf.  His prayer, though answered, took about 20 years until he saw the fruit of his labor. Isaac is 60 years old when his sons are born.

After years of disappointment, Rebekah finally conceives, but she senses there are serious issues with the pregnancy. There is jostling!  She seeks Elohim about the activity in her womb asking, “If all is well, why am I like this?” Elohim’s answer –– twins!

“There are two nations in your womb. From birth they will be two rival peoples. One of these peoples will be stronger than the other, and the older will serve the younger” (Genesis 25:23).

Esau, meaning ‘completely formed and having red hair’ is born first and is covered with reddish hair.  Esau is a word play on Seir as both mean ‘hairy.’ Seir is where Esau will eventually settle and his descendants will live. Seir is also known as Edom which also means ‘red’.

The second son emerges from the womb holding onto Esau’s heel; he is called Ya’akov, ‘he catches by the heel.’

Hebrew Word Pictures
Esau (Hairy) – עשו – ayin, shin, vav
– understand the consuming binding

Ya’akov (Supplants) – יעקב – yod, ayin, kof, bet
– finished work, understand what is behind the family

Firstborns are generally chosen as the heir to the family inheritance; however, Isaac has firsthand knowledge that this isn’t always true.  He had been chosen over his older brother, Ishmael, to receive the promises El Shaddai gave to his father.  Now, it seems the prophecy given to Rebekah, and the presentation of the boys at birth, that Jacob has been chosen over Esau to receive the covenant promises.

“I love you,” says the Adonai. But you ask, ‘How do you show us your love?’ Adonai answers, ‘Esav was Ya’akov’s brother.  Yet I loved Ya’akov  but hated Esav. I made his mountains desolate and gave his territory to desert jackals.’ Edom [the land where Esau lived] says, ‘We are beaten down now, but we will come back and rebuild the ruins.’ Adonai-Tzva’ot answers, ‘They can build, but I will demolish. They will be called the Land of Wickedness, the people with whom Adonai is permanently angry. You will see it and say, ‘Adonai is great, even beyond the borders of Isra’el”” (Malachi 1:2-5).

The words, “Yet I loved Jacob, but hated Esau,” seem harsh; however, these words in the Hebrew are more correctly rendered as ‘accepted’ and ‘rejected.’  They don’t mean Esau was cursed and doomed to eternal separation from Elohim. It does mean the covenant promises were going to go through Jacob’s lineage, not Esau’s. Elohim’s calling on an individual’s life has divine purpose and is not the result of anything that individual does or doesn’t do (Romans 9:10-14).

Because Elohim’s callings and gifts cannot be revoked, Isra’el is loved because of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob.  They will stand forever as Elohim’s chosen nation as they were called to be a nation before Jacob and Esau were born, before the foundations of the world (Jeremiah 1:5, Ephesians 1:4).

“With respect to the Good News they [Isra’el] are hated for your sake. But with respect to being chosen they [Isra’el] are loved for the Patriarchs’ sake, for God’s free gifts and his calling are irrevocable” (Romans 11:28-29).

A Stew and A Blessing

The twin boys grew up together, but had different personalities. Because Jacob was a quiet, gentle man and remained near the tents, Rebekah favored him. The Hebrew word for ‘quiet’ is tar suggesting Jacob was the ‘perfect man.’ By staying near the tents, it could be inferred that Jacob spent a lot of time with Isaac learning about the Elohim of Abraham, El Shaddai. Tar also implies that he was obedient to his father’s instructions representing the spiritual man who embraces the ways of Elohim.

Isaac favored Esau even though he spent little time near the tent with his aging father. 
As a skilled hunter, Esau was away from home most of the time –– a ‘man of the field.’ As a ‘man of the field,’ Esau represents the carnal man and the ways of the world. Being away from home so often, Esau either rebelled against his father’s teachings or just never spent enough time with Isaac to learn or embrace them.  Whatever the reason for him being away from home, Esau gave up his birthright for a pot of stew.

In ancient times, the birthright was a sacred position belonging to the firstborn. The family name and titles were passed along to the eldest son, as well as the largest portion of the family’s inheritance. In the case of Esau and Jacob, the birthright held great significance as the one who received the birthright became heir to the promise given to their grandfather, Abraham.

In Jewish tradition, it is taught that the red lentil stew Jacob cooked was meant for Isaac who was mourning the death of his father.  This is called sitting shiva and the stew was considered a meal of mourning. Sitting shiva lasts seven days and symbolizes being ‘brought low’ during the mourning process.

It seems that neither of these boys, who would have been about 15 years old, understood the enormity of the death of their grandfather and the responsibility that would come for one of them. For a simple bowl of lentil stew and an oath, Jacob received the birthright from his brother, the birthright given to him prophetically from the womb.

Many years later, after Isaac had grown old and his eyes were nearly blind, he calls Esau to him. He asks him to take his hunting equipment, his bow and arrows, and go into the country to hunt for some game meat. He further requests that Esau prepare the food the way he likes it, tasty and good to eat. Isaac would then bless Esau as his firstborn son before he died –– in direct contradiction to the prophecy of Elohim.

Rebekah overhears the conversation and takes matters into her own hands. She calls Jacob and tells him to get two goats from the flock. She prepares them the way her husband likes so Jacob could receive the firstborn blessing. Because Jacob has smooth skin, unlike his hairy brother, Rebekah prepares goat skins for his body and makes him dress in Esau’s best clothes. When everything is prepared, Jacob goes into Isaac and, through a deception, receives the blessing of the firstborn.

“May God give you dew from heaven, the richness of the earth, and grain and wine in abundance. May peoples [goyim] serve you and nations bow down to you. May you be lord over your kinsmen, let your mother’s descendants bow down to you. Cursed be everyone who curses you, and blessed be everyone who blesses you” (Genesis 27:27-29).

As soon as Isaac finishes blessing Jacob, Esau returns to find that he had lost the blessing. He begs his father for a blessing and Isaac responds: “Your dwelling shall be away from the fertility of the earth and away from the dew of heaven above; but you shall live by your sword, and serve your brother; however it shall come to pass when you break loose [from your anger and hatred], that you will tear his yoke off your neck [and you will be free of him]” (Genesis 27:39-40, AMP).

‘Dew’ in Hebrew is the word tal and represents not only morning dew, but also the mist in the evening.   Dew symbolizes spiritual well-being and resurrection just as well-watered land produces enough moisture to bring forth dew.  Without dew, there is no spiritual rebirth, blessing or flourishing crops (Zechariah 8:12, Haggai 1:9-10). The blessing that Isaac gave Esau was not spiritual nor did it include the physical blessing of moisture needed for one who works the land. Isaac’s blessing on Esau to be “away from” the dew was actually a curse on his son.

Because he was cursed, Esau hates his brother and entertains thoughts of killing him. Rebekah knows the intent of Esau’s heart and sends Jacob away to her brother’s home in Haran. Isaac commands Jacob not to marry any Hittite women, but to choose a wife from the daughters of his Uncle Laban.
Isaac blesses Jacob a second time.  This blessing passes on the promises given to him and Abraham. With this second blessing, Isaac demonstrates that even with the deception, he accepts the outcome because it had been prophesied by El Shaddai and witnessed by both Rebekah and Esau. Regardless of how it transpired, the end resulted in the fulfillment of the prophecy given to Rebekah when the twins battled in her womb.

“May El Shaddai bless you, make you fruitful and increase your descendants, until they become a whole assembly of peoples.  And may he give you the blessing which he gave Abraham, you and your descendants with you, so that you will possess the land you travel through, the land God gave to Abraham” (Genesis 28:3-4).

According to Proverbs 18:21, the tongue has the power of life or death. In the account of Jacob and Esau, words made the difference between a life of blessing and a life of curse. Yeshua says in Matthew 12:26 that each of us will give an account for idle words.  It’s not just blessings or curses for which we will be responsible, but every word we utter with our tongues.

“By faith Yitz’ak blessed Ya’akov and Esau in regard to their future” (Hebrews 11:20).

Jacob leaves for Paddam-Aram near the Euphrates River in Mesopotamia to meet his Uncle Laban and his family.

The Battle of Wells

When Isaac returns to the land of Gerar in the land of the Philistines, he finds that his father’s well pits have been stopped up.  The Philistines have maliciously filled the holes with dirt.  His servants not only open the wells again, but find a spring of fresh running water in the vadi or valley.   An argument ensues between the Philistine herdsmen and Isaac’s herdsmen regarding the water. Wells and water were scarce in this region and Isaac’s increasing wealth created jealousy between his herdsmen and the Philistines’ when it came to water rights.

Three new well pits are dug, argued over, and named: esek meaning ‘quarrel,’ sitnah meaning ‘enmity,’ and rechovot meaning ‘wide open spaces.’  After a peace-keeping agreement is made between Isaac and Abimelech, a final well pit is dug and Isaac’s servants find water.  This well is named sheva meaning ‘oath’ and ‘seven.’ The name for this location, ‘place of seven wells,’ is Be’er Sheva.

The Hebrew word for ‘well’ is be’er and literally means ‘pit.’ Generally these type of well pits have narrow mouths which can be blocked with a stone or mound of dirt as was the case in Gerar.  Gerar has its root in the Hebrew word ger meaning ‘stranger or sojourner.’ Gerar can also mean ‘lodging place.’ Gerar, the place where Isaac lodged as a sojourner, was located south of Gaza in the land of the Philistines.

From the word ger comes the word goyim meaning ‘nations.’ Goyim can also imply ‘pagan.’ Though this is only one nuance of the word ger, it tends to cause confusion when some interpret goyim as being completely pagan, which isn’t always the case. A person from the nations, ger, who becomes a follower of Messiah Yeshua is a Messianic goy or Messianic gentile and evidence that El Shaddai’s promise to Abraham is being fulfilled among the nations.

At Be’er Sheva a spring of living water was found. Isaac’s servants not only had water for their physical needs from the unstopped wells, but this place of ‘seven wells’ becomes a powerful symbol that their spiritual needs were being met through Isaac, the heir to the promise.

“My people have committed two sins: They have forsaken me, the spring of living water, and have dug their own cisterns, broken cisterns that cannot hold water” (Jeremiah 2:13).

According to Jeremiah, it is a sin to forsake Elohim and dig our own well pits. Like in the days of Jeremiah and Yeshua, the Body of Messiah has forsaken the Word of Elohim for the traditions of men –– not just Jewish traditions, but all religious traditions that are not rooted in the Scriptures. Every time the Word of Elohim is trampled underfoot for the sake of traditions, we drink from broken cisterns and our spiritual lives become muddied and dry up. In these last days, the living water springs of Elohim have become so plugged up with the traditions of men and the anti-semitic doctrines of church fathers that it is time to dig out the dirt in order to find living water that quenches our spiritual thirst, water that restores us to a true and vibrant spiritual life.  It’s not easy to remove the hard-packed dirt that has filled the holes, but the reward will be “water from the wells of salvation” (Isaiah 12:1-3).

Esau’s Wives

Esau marries Hittite women, descendants from Heth, the son of Canaan. These women embitter Isaac and Rebekah.  Multiple marriages with Canaanite women show that Esau acted selfishly without taking into account how his choices affected those around him. He especially didn’t take into account any teachings or traditions passed to him by his father or mother –– whether it was his birthright, his blessing, or his progeny.   After losing the blessing of his father and observing how his brother obeyed and loved his parents, Esau has a change a heart and tries to make amends for all the bitterness he has caused in marrying Canaanite women.  Esau goes to Ishmael and marries his uncle’s daughter Mahalath, whose name in Hebrew means ‘sickness or disease’ (Genesis 28:9).

Yeshua, the Flesh and the Spirit

“Here is how the birth of Yeshua the Messiah took place. When his mother Miryam was engaged to Yosef, before they were married, she was found to be pregnant from the Ruach haKodesh [Holy Spirit]” (Matthew 1:18).

“While they were there, the time came for her to give birth; and she gave birth to her first child, a son. She wrapped him in cloth and laid him down in a feeding trough, because there was no space for them in the living-quarters” (Luke 2:6-7).

“The child grew and became strong and filled with wisdom — God’s favor was upon him. And Yeshua grew both in wisdom and in stature, gaining favor both with other people and with God” (Luke 2:40, 52).

“While all the people were being immersed, Yeshua too was immersed. As he was praying, heaven was opened; the Ruach haKodesh came down on him in physical form like a dove; and a voice came from heaven, ‘You are my Son, whom I love; I am well pleased with you’” (Luke 3:21-22).

“He said, ‘Where have you buried him?’ They said, ‘Lord, come and see.’ Yeshua cried, so the Judeans there said, ‘See how he loved him!’” (John 11:34-36)

“‘Father, if you are willing, take this cup away from me; still, let not my will but yours be done.’ There appeared to him an angel from heaven giving him strength, and in great anguish he prayed more intensely, so that his sweat became like drops of blood falling to the ground” (Luke 22:42-44).

“When they [the soldiers] got to Yeshua and saw that he was already dead, they didn’t break his legs. However, one of the soldiers stabbed his side with a spear, and at once blood and water flowed out” (John 19:33-34).

“He is the visible image of the invisible God. He is supreme over all creation, because in connection with him were created all things — in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones, lordships, rulers or authorities — they have all been created through him and for him” (Colossians 1:15-16).

“Though he was in the form of God, he did not regard equality with God something to be possessed by force. On the contrary, he emptied himself, in that he took the form of a slave by becoming like human beings are. And when he appeared as a human being, he humbled himself still more by becoming obedient even to death — death on a stake as a criminal! Therefore God raised him to the highest place and gave him the name above every name; that in honor of the name given Yeshua, every knee will bow — in heaven, on earth and under the earth — and every tongue will acknowledge that Yeshua the Messiah is Adonai — to the glory of God the Father” (Philippians 2:6-11).

©2018 Tentstake Ministries Publishing, all rights reserved.  No copying or reproducing of this article without crediting the author or Tentstake Ministries Publishing. For a hard copy of this Torah portion, the weekly readings of the Prophets and New Testament, and springboard for midrash, please purchase Open My Eyes: Wonders of Torah.

Parashah 5: Hayyei-Sarah (Sarah’s life)

Genesis 23:1-25:18

“Sarah lived to be 127 years old; these were the years of Sarah’s life” (Genesis 23:1).

I saw a cute little cartoon that had Abraham and Sarah sitting in chairs with their backs to each other. Abraham says, “I must be getting old. I just can’t remember what this week’s parsahah is.” Sarah replies, “The story of my life!”

This parashah is titled with the first few words of the week’s reading as are all the titles of the parashot. Sarah’s life does not cover two chapters of Scripture, but this is where the rabbis who developed the Torah divisions decided to begin this particular one.

Sarah lived 127 years and died in Hebron, and Abraham mourned for her. This is the extent of her life mentioned in this passage.

After Sarah dies, Abraham buys a plot of land for burying his wife. He approaches Efron, the son of Tzochar, to purchase the cave of Makhpelah with the agreement that he would pay full value for the property, the cave, and all the trees around it. Efron deeded the property to Abraham and it became his possession. Abraham owned the land on which he buried his wife long before Joshua enters the same area and takes possession of it for the children of Isra’el.

Makhpelah means ‘cave of the double tombs.’ Ancient Hebron is located on Tel Rumeida in the modern-day city of Hebron, south of Jerusalem in the mountains. This is the same location where David is anointed King of Isra’el. Hebron also became one of the six cities of refuge and remained part of Isra’el, known as Samaria, until the destruction of the Temple in 70 CE.

318 and Eliezer

After Sarah’s death, Isaac needs to be comforted. Abraham decides that his son, who is between 30 and 40 years of age, needs a wife. Finding the right wife for Isaac has divine importance for the promise El Shaddai gave to Abraham to be realized. Abraham sends his servant, Eliezer, back to his homeland to choose a wife from one of his family members and not from the Canaanites.

When Abraham went to fight Kedorlaomer and rescue Lot, he took 318 ‘trained men.’ The Hebrew root for ‘trained men’ is chanak and means ‘dedicated.’ Eliezer, whose name means ‘my Elohim is help,’ is a ‘dedicated’ servant of Abraham.


Elohim always has a purpose for giving exact numbers so what could be the significance of 318? In Hebrew, there are no actual written numbers; they are represented by individual letters of the alef-bet. For example, the number 5 is represented by the letter hey, the number 50 by the letter nun and the number 100 by the letter kof. By using this system, the numerical value of Hebrew names and words can be calculated (See Study Helps).

The name Eliezer has a numerical value of 318, the exact number of ‘dedicated men’ that Abraham took with him to fight the king of Ilam. This could mean that Abraham had 318 warriors or Eliezer was the only warrior he needed because Eliezer was Abraham’s help from El Shaddai, the Ruach haKodesh.

Placing a hand under the thigh or the ‘loins’ was a symbol of authority and the customary way for making an oath in ancient times. Because the thigh is close to the genitals, the oath takers shared a deep love and respect for one another. Abraham had received circumcision as the ‘sign’ of El Shaddai’s covenant, thus his ‘loins’ represented the source of his posterity, the covenant blessing of the ‘promised seed.’ While western nations swear on a Bible or place one’s hand over the heart, the Hebrew tradition was to swear on the ‘sign’ of Elohim’s covenant, the circumcision in the genital area.

Eliezer and Rebekah

Eliezer takes ten camels along with gifts on his journey.   He travels to the city of Nachor, the home of Abraham’s brother. When the women come to draw water from the well, Eliezer makes his camels kneel.

Ten is the number of divine order in Biblical symbolism. There were ten generations from Adam until Noach, ten generations between Noach and Abraham.  There are Ten Commandments, ten plagues that Elohim brought on Egypt, and ten spies that were sent to investigate the Promised Land. A gathering of ten men is called a minyan and is necessary for certain observances in Judaism to be completed. Ten or a minyan is the number of men from the nations who will take hold of the tzizit of one Jew saying, “We want to go with you, because we have heard that God is with you” (Zechariah 8:23). Eliezer’s ten camels kneel while he prays for Elohim’s divine plan to come to pass.

The third letter in the Hebrew alef-bet is gimel and means ‘camel.’  The Hebrew Letter Picture for gimel symbolizes ‘pride’ or being ‘raised up.’ Eliezer has the camels kneel, a necessary action in order to dismount a camel; however, kneeling is also symbolic of humility. Eliezer humbly seeks the Elohim of Abraham for favor and wisdom. He also ‘puts out a fleece’ so he will recognize the answer to his prayer.  Elohim is faithful to Eliezer and opens his eyes to see the woman He has chosen to be Isaac’s wife.


Rivkah or Rebekah is the daughter of Betu’el, the son of Milkah and Nahor, Abraham’s brother and niece. She comes to the well to draw water and sees Eliezar. She not only draws water for him, but also for his camels. This is quite a feat for this young woman.  The water jar she carried on her shoulder held maybe three gallons of water.  One camel typically consumes 30 gallons of water in 13 minutes depending on how far it has traveled.  The distance between Hebron and Haran is about 450 miles with short water stops along the way.  By the time Eliezer arrives at the well, the camels need to be refreshed with water.  In order to provide water “until they finished drinking,” Rebekah would have had to make about ten trips to the well per camel or 100 trips for all ten camels. The Scripture states “she went down” to the well suggesting that she had to descend numerous steps in order to retrieve water. This activity of descending stairs, retrieving water, ascending stairs, and pouring the water into the trough took hours to complete.

The Scripture continues: “The man gazed at her in [reverent] silence, waiting to find out whether the LORD had made his trip successful or not” (Genesis 24:21, AMP).  According to the dictionary, the word gaze means to ‘look steadily and intently with interest, especially in admiration, surprise, or thought.’ Eliezer watched Rebekah intently with admiration as she faithfully continued to water his camels. In Hebrew, the word macharish is used for ‘silence’ and means ‘speechless.’ His silence came from the fact that her actions rendered him speechless.

When Eliezer learns that Rebekah is the granddaughter of Abraham’s brother, he places a ring in her nose and gives her gold bracelets. Piercing Rebekah’s nose with a ring was not a fashion statement, it was a Middle Eastern symbol of betrothal. Though a nose ring or a jewel placed on the forehead was a symbol of wealth, Eliezer saw a beautiful woman who exemplified great discretion, humility, faithfulness, strength, and a servant’s heart.

When Rebekah leaves with Eliezer to marry the son of Abraham, her mother and brother bless her, “Our sister, may you be the mother of millions, and may your descendants possess the cities of those who hate them” (Genesis 24:60).  This prophetic blessing is still spoken over Jewish daughters every Sabbath, “May you be like Sarah, Rebekah, Rachel and Leah,” in honor of the faithful matriarchs and the millions of their children.

The Veil of Betrothal

Eliezar takes Rebekah along with his camels and returns to Abraham. From a distance Isaac sees the ten camels and knows El Shaddai’s divine purpose for Eliezer’s journey has been successful. Rebekah also sees Isaac in the distance and covers herself with a veil.  Veiling was cultural, especially for an unmarried woman who was in the presence of her betrothed. 

The most detailed description of the woman’s veil is found in 1 Corinthians 11:2-16. These verses are usually removed from their spiritual context and attributed to an ancient tradition or weird culture where men wore hats, giving it no relevance for the Body of Messiah. The veil, according to Sha’ul, contains a spiritual aspect regarding the glory of Elohim. Men, the glory of Elohim, and women, the glory of man, are to reflect the glory of Elohim. This was understood by all of the Messianic congregations who kept the spiritual tradition. When Sha’ul writes his second letter to Corinth, it is apparent they learned from the first letter the purpose for the veil, “With unveiled faces, we see as in a mirror the glory of the Lord as we are being changed into his very image” (2 Corinthians 3:18).

Sha’ul also says the veil is a ‘sign of power.’ According to the prophet Ezekiel, the veils of false prophetesses were removed so they no longer had the power lead the people of Elohim astray (Ezekiel 13:17-23). Today, the veils of women in western cultures have been removed by Elohim because ‘equality of women’ neglects the importance and value of expressing His line of authority in His congregations: Elohim, Messiah, man, woman.

Moshe veiled himself when he came down from the mountain and the glory of Elohim radiated from his face. The veil protected the Israelites from the overpowering glory of Elohim. Moshe only removed it when he was in the presence of Elohim and spoke directly with Him (Exodus 34:34).

There was also a veil in the Tabernacle which separated the people from the presence of Elohim’s glory in the Holy of Holies.  This veil was torn in two at the time of Messiah’s death revealing the man-glory of Elohim: Yeshua.

As Isaac’s betrothed, Rebekah veiled herself, keeping her glory (her hair) only for her husband. This is a tradition that even modern-day brides use, but its greater significance for the betrothed women of the Bride of Messiah has been forgotten.

Hebrew Word Pictures
Isaac (He laughs) or Yitz’ak – יצחק – yod, tzade, chet, kof
– finished work pulls toward protecting what is behind

Rebekah (To Bind) or Rivkah – רבקה – resh, bet, kof, hey
– highest authority in the family, what is behind revealed

Abraham’s Other Children

After Sarah dies, Abraham takes another wife named Keturah, meaning ‘fragrant incense.’ By marrying her, Abraham’s grief is satisfied. Together they have six children who become tribes that move south and east of Canaan.

Hebrew Word Pictures
Zimran (Musical) – זמרן – zayin, mem, resh, nun
– divide the mighty and highest authority of life
Zimran settled west of Mecca in Zimri

Jokshan (Snarer) – יקסן – yod, kof, samech, nun
– finished work what is behind the support of life
Jokshan settled in northern Arabia and became known as ‘Arabs’

Medan (Contention), who settled Indonesia – מדן – mem, dalet, nun
– mighty pathway of life
Became northern Arabian tribes settling near Taima

Midian (Strife) – מדין – mem, dalet, yod, nun
– the mighty pathway finished work of life
Became the Ethiopian culture
Moshe’s wife was from Midian and was called an Ethiopian.

Ishbak (He Releases) – ישבק – yod, shin, bet, kof
– finished work consumes what is behind the family
Settled east of Canaan

Shuah (Incline) – שוח – shin, vav, chet
– consume the finished work, protect
Settled on the right bank of the Euphrates River

Abraham’s wives, Sarah and Keturah, along with his concubine, Hagar, birthed the descendants of three great world nations. Through Hagar came the Arab nations including Saudi Arabia. Through Keturah came the nations of Assyria including Iran, Iraq, Syria, Turkey, Lebanon, Afghanistan and Jordan. Through Sarah came the nation of Isra’el.

Isaac receives the entire inheritance from his father, Abraham, while the sons of Keturah received ‘grants’ and were sent east of Canaan. When Abraham dies, Isaac is 75 years old.  Isaac and Ishmael bury their father in the cave on the land that their father owned.

The Tribes of Ishmael

In the genealogy of Ishmael, it is recorded that he had 12 sons who became the 12 wandering bedouin tribes around the Middle East.   Many of the names of his sons are found in the Hebrew Scriptures as the lands they possessed.

Navayot (Firstborn)
According to the Jewish historian Josephus, this tribe was known as the Nabateans and were famous for raising sheep.


“All the flocks of Kedar will be gathered for you, the rams of N’vayot will be at your service; they will come up and be received on my altar, as I glorify my glorious house” (Isaiah 60:7).

Kedar (Sorrow)
This tribe settled around the Persian Gulf, Sinai Peninsula and became the lineage of the prophet Mohammed, the founder of Islam.


“For this is what Adonai has told me: “Within a year [and not a day more], as if a hired worker were keeping track of the time, the glory of Kedar will come to an end. Few of Kedar’s valiant archers will be left. Adonai the God of Isra’el has spoken” (Isaiah 21:16).

Adbeel or Idibilu (God’s Servant)
This tribe settled in northwest Arabia. Historically this tribe was defeated in battle and became the border guards for Egypt.

Mivsam (Sweet Smelling)
This tribe is believed to have intermarried with the Simeonites and disappeared from history as a separate entity.


“The sons of Shim‘on: N’mu’el, Yamin, Yariv, Zerach and Sha’ul. His son was Shalum, his son was Mivsam, and his son was Mishma. The descendants of Mishma: his son Hamu’el, his son Zakur, his son Shim‘i. Shim‘i had sixteen sons and six daughters, but his brothers did not have many children, so their clans did not increase like those of Judah” (1 Chronicles 4:24-27).

Mishma (Obeyed)
This tribe settled in what is known today as Jebel Mishma in the vicinity of Dumah. Dumah or Idumaea, a city located in Canaan, became associated with Edom and Seir.   Dumah el Jandal are at the southeastern end of Al Jawf situated between Syria and Mesopotamia and was an oasis for travel between Syria and Babylonia. Herod the Great was Idumaean.


“A prophecy about Dumah: Someone is calling to me from Se’ir: “Watchman, how much longer is it night? Watchman, how much longer is it night?” The watchman answers: “Morning is coming, but also the night. If you want to ask, ask! Come back again!” (Isaiah 21:11-12)

Massa (Nightfall)
This is the probable location where the Israelites murmured if they crossed the Red Sea into Arabia.  Found in the records of Tilgath Pileser III saying that Massa and Tema offered him gifts.


“The place was named Massah [testing] and M’rivah [quarreling] because of the quarreling of the people of Isra’el and because they tested Adonai by asking, “Is Adonai with us or not?” (Exodus 17:7)

Hadad (Rolling Stone)
This may be the Hadad tribe in Arabia which are now Christians and located throughout Jordan, Syria, Lebanon, and Palestine.

Tema (Good News)
Known today as Taima and located in the Nafud desert.  Tilgath Pileser III receives tributes from Tema as well as Massa.  The Assyrian King Sennecherib named one of the gates in the city of Nineveh, the Desert Gate, and records that the Teymeite enter through it.  The father of Belshazzar made the city of Tayma his residence (Daniel 7:1). This land was part of the caravan route from Babylon to Sheba.


“A prophecy about Arabia: You caravans of D’danim will camp in the desert growth of Arabia. Bring water to the thirsty, you who live in Teima, greet the fugitives with food …” (Isaiah 21:13-14).

Y’tur (Rebel)
Was known as a tribe of robbers

Nafish (Genuine)

Kedmah (Scout)
This tribe settled in the wilderness of Kedemoth, known today as es-Za’feran.

Ishmael also had a daughter named Basemath who became the third wife of Esau.

Yeshua and His Bride

“As for husbands, love your wives, just as the Messiah loved the Messianic Community, indeed, gave himself up on its behalf, in order to set it apart for God, making it clean through immersion in the mikveh, so to speak, in order to present the Messianic Community to himself as a bride to be proud of, without a spot, wrinkle or any such thing, but holy and without defect“ (Ephesians 5:25-27).

“Let us rejoice and be glad! Let us give him the glory! For the time has come for the wedding of the Lamb, and his Bride has prepared herself — fine linen, bright and clean has been given her to wear. (“Fine linen” means the righteous deeds of God’s people)” (Revelation 19:7-8).

“One of the seven angels having the seven bowls full of the seven last plagues approached me and said, ‘Come! I will show you the Bride, the Wife of the Lamb.’ He carried me off in the Spirit to the top of a great, high mountain and showed me the holy city, Yerushalayim, coming down out of heaven from God. It had the Sh’khinah of God, so that its brilliance was like that of a priceless jewel, like a crystal-clear diamond” (Revelation 21:9-11).

“I, Yeshua, have sent my angel to give you this testimony for the Messianic communities. I am the Root and Offspring of David, the bright Morning Star. The Spirit and the Bride say, ‘Come!’ Let anyone who hears say, ‘Come!’ And let anyone who is thirsty come — let anyone who wishes, take the water of life free of charge” (Revelation 22:16-17).

©2018 Tentstake Ministries Publishing, all rights reserved.  No copying or reproducing of this article without crediting the author or Tentstake Ministries Publishing. For a hard copy of this Torah portion, the weekly readings of the Prophets and New Testament, and springboard for midrash, please purchase Open My Eyes: Wonders of Torah.

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

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 the land that Elohim will show him. Abram obeys the voice of Elohim and takes his wife, Sarai, his possessions, and his nephew, Lot.

Hebrew Word Pictures
Avram (Exalted Father) – אברם – alef, bet, resh, mem
– first strength, house of the mighty, highest authority

Sarai (Mockery) – שרי – shin, resh, yod
– consume the highest authority 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 he will have many descendants.

He then travels to a hill west of Beit’el (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 builds an altar and calls on the name of Elohim.

The blessing at the beginning of this parashah is often quoted with regard to blessing or cursing Isra’el. However, the blessing on 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,’ Yeshua.

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 Betu’el. Betu’el 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 wife 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 deception. He is sent away by an angry Pharaoh along with Sarai and his property.

In the Negev, Abram becomes a wealthy man. Lot also becomes wealthy and the land cannot 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 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 him the land as far as Abram can see –– north, south, east and, west –– to become the possession of his descendants. Abram moves his tent and lives by the oaks of Mamre, also known as Hebron, located 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 [Hebrew: ul’zer akha (and to your seed)] 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 Gomorrah come out to fight against Kedorlaomer. Many of the warriors fall into the clay pits in the Siddim Valley while the rest retreat to the Judean hills. The victors take all of the possessions and food supplies of Sodom and Gomorrah along with Lot, his family, and his possessions.

Kedorlaomer 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 at one time been the tar pits in which the armies of Sodom and Gomorrah fell.

When Abram hears that his nephew has been taken captive, he takes his 318 trained men, and goes in pursuit of Kedorlaomer as far north as Dan. They divide forces and attack Kedorlaomer pushing him all the way to Damascus. Abram recovers all the goods and possessions and, retrieves Lot 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:

‘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 14:18-20).

In Hebrew, Malki-Tzedek means ‘King of Righteousness.’ He is the King of Shalem which means ‘peace’ and is the root for Yerushalayim (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.

Hebrew Word Pictures
Bread or lechem – לחם – lamed, chet, mem
– urging forward to protect the mighty

Wine or yayin – יין – yod, yod, nun
– finished, finished work of life

A more fitting allusion would be a Sabbath memorial. Breaking leavened bread and sharing wine is considered a time of fellowship and central to a traditional Sabbath memorial. 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 as Elohim can appear in any form He desires; he may be revealing Himself as the King of Righteousness to Abram.

Others suggest that Malki-Tzedek is Noach’s son, Shem, who was 100 years old when the flood destroyed the earth and, who continued to live until he was 600 years of age. His longevity was very uncommon after the flood as the lifespan of humans decreased. With such a long life, Shem would be the oldest living man and could 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 his divine calling, would be the next patriarch in line after Shem, and the next priest of El Elyon.

Knowing HaShem through his father Noach, before, during, and after the flood, Shem may have taken on a priestly role preaching the Noachide laws, the evils of sin, the pre-flood world, repentance, 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 fathom 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. With Abram’s tithe, it could be that Malki-Tzedek was 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 is a wealthy man, Abram is childless and had no one to whom he could 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 believes Elohim’s promise and his faith is accounted 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 asks 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 cuts the animals in two and places the pieces opposite each other. Birds of prey swoop down to eat the carcasses, but he drives them away.

A deep sleep comes upon Abram as the sun is setting, and a great darkness comes over him. Elohim tells Abram that his descendants would be foreigners in a land that is not theirs. They would be oppressed and enslaved 400 years until He would judge that nation. Abram’s descendants would then leave that land with many possessions; however, 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 have been placed on the ground. That day Elohim made a covenant with Abram. He promised to give his descendants the land that extended from the vadi of Egypt to the Euphrates River. This 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 child. 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 the ‘angel of Adonai.’ The angel tells her that her descendants will increase and 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. She gives birth to a boy and names him Ishmael.

Because Elohim cannot change His covenant promise to Abram, the descendants of Ishmael also become numerous. Ishmael is not the son of promise, but does receive a blessing. The Ishmaelites are the modern-day Arab population. They still circumcise their children, not as a sign of faith, but as a sign of their heritage with the patriarch, Abraham.

Hebrew Word Pictures
Hagar (Flight) – הגר – hey, gimel, resh
– reveal the pride of the highest leader

Ishmael (God Hears) – ישמהאל – yod, shin, mem, hey, alef, lamed
– finished work destroys chaos, reveal the first strength urging forward

In Galatians 4:21-31, Sha’ul uses an allegory to explain the difference between the child of Abraham’s faith, Isaac, and the child of Abraham’s flesh, Ishmael. 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 the Ruach Elohim. In Hebrews 12:18-22, the two sons, Ishmael and Isaac, are compared to two covenants: the covenant given at Mount Sinai that is written on stony hearts and makes us slaves to our flesh, following the letter of Torah (Ishmael); and the covenant that comes from Mount Tziyon that is written on circumcised hearts and makes us free to walk in the Spirit, obeying the spiritual Torah (Isaac).

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 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 Avraham – אברהם – alef, bet, resh, hey, mem
– the first strength of the house, the mighty highest authority, revealed

Sarah (Princess) – שרה – shin, resh, hey
– consume the highest authority revealed

El Shaddai gives a ‘sign’ for this covenant to Abraham: circumcision. Cutting the male foreskin became the symbol 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 is 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 highest authority finished work of covenant

Word or milah – מילה – mem, yod, lamed, hey
– finished work of chaos urged foward, behold

New or chadashah – חדשה – chet, dalet, shin, hey
– protect the pathway consume behold

Flesh circumcision can become a heated debate when a gentile follower of Yeshua decides to circumcise an infant son. According to some doctrines, circumcision of the foreskin 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 faith revealing his circumcised heart. Living a life of faith with a circumcision of heart affirmed by the cutting of the foreskin and converting to rabbinical Judaism are two very different things. Any man who becomes circumcised in the flesh to convert to Judaism is accountable to all the man-made traditions developed by rabbinical Judaism.

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).

2018 Tentstake Ministries Publishing, all rights reserved.  No copying or reproducing of this article without crediting the author or Tentstake Ministries Publishing. For a hard copy of this Torah portion, the weekly readings of the Prophets and New Testament, and springboard for midrash, please purchase Open My Eyes: Wonders of Torah.

The Feast of Tabernacles – Sukkot

“The Lord said to Moses, ‘Say to the Israelites: On the fifteenth day of the seventh month the LORD’s Festival of Tabernacles begins, and it lasts for seven days.  The first day is a sacred assembly; do no regular work.  For seven days present food offerings to the LORD, and on the eighth day hold a sacred assembly and present a food offering to the LORD. It is the closing special assembly; do no regular work’” (Leviticus 23:33-36). 

“Celebrate the Festival of Tabernacles for seven days after you have gathered the produce of your threshing floor and your winepress.  Be joyful at your festival—you, your sons and daughters, your male and female servants, and the Levites, the foreigners, the fatherless and the widows who live in your towns. For seven days celebrate the festival to the Lord your God at the place the Lord will choose. For the Lord your God will bless you in all your harvest and in all the work of your hands, and your joy will be complete” (Deuteronomy 16:13-15).

The Feast of Tabernacles is the last of the seven ‘appointed times’ given to God’s people. In Hebrew, the Feast of Tabernacles is Sukkot meaning ‘shelters,’ sukkah is the singular ‘shelter.’ Sukkot is the eight-day fall Feast that follows the Day of Atonement. It is called the ‘season of our joy’ when everyone dances with lulavs and builds temporary shelters with roofs made from branches of trees. Like the other fall festivals, the Feast of Tabernacles has yet to be fulfilled by Yeshua. Its ‘shadow’ contains the vision of the coming Messianic Era when Yeshua will physically tabernacle with Israel and the nations in Jerusalem. The culmination of the Feast of Tabernacles will occur in eternity when there is a new heavens, new earth, and the New Jerusalem where Adonai Himself will sit on His throne and live with His people.

Hebrew Word Pictures

Booth or Sukkah, the singular of sukkot – סכה

Samech ס – A Prop means ‘to support.’

Kaf כ – An Open Palm means ‘to allow, to open.’

Hey ה – A Window means ‘to behold or reveal.’

The Hebrew word picture for sukkah: To support and allow to reveal.

Abraham’s Faith

Abraham’s Tent

“By faith he [Abraham] made his home in the promised land like a stranger in a foreign country;  he lived in tents as did Isaac and Jacob, who were heirs with him of the same promise. For he was looking forward to the city with permanent foundations, of which the architect and builder is God” (Hebrews 11:9-10).

Abraham was called a friend of God because he believed God. Abraham had faith in Adonai’s promise to make him a great nation through a ‘promised seed.’ Though he had to live in a sukkah in this world, he had the hope of an eternal city built by God.

Jacob’s Sukkah

Jacob at Succot

“Jacob went on to Sukkoth, where he built himself a house and put up shelters for his animals.  This is why the place is called Sukkoth (shelters)” (Genesis 33:17).

When the Hebrews left Egypt, their first stop on their way to Mount Sinai was Takut, the Egyptian name for Sukkoth. Hundreds of years earlier, Jacob stopped at this exact place after he reunited with his brother Esau. He built ‘temporary dwellings’ for his family and livestock and named the place Sukkoth.

Sukkot

“You are to live in sukkot for seven days so that generation after generation of you will know that I made the children of Israel live in sukkot when I brought them out of the land of Egypt; I am the LORD your God” (Leviticus 23:42).

In God’s command for the Feast of Tabernacles, the Israelites were to live in sukkot as a reminder of the 40 years they traveled in the wilderness and lived in temporary shelters. Throughout their generations, the nation of Israel (specifically the Jewish people) have built sukkot no matter where they have lived.

Sukkah

A sukkah can be built in a yard, on a porch or a balcony. It generally has three walls with all or part of its roof open to the sky. Any roof covering is usually branches from trees. Lights may be hung in the sukkah along with interior decorations such as pictures, flowers, leaves, and fruit. Some families line the interior walls with white cloth as a reminder of the ‘clouds of Glory’ that appeared over the Israelites like a sukkah as they traveled in the desert. For seven days the sukkah, the personal or family temporary dwelling place, is used for eating, sleeping, and inviting guests to share in the ‘season of joy.’

The Lulav

“On the first day you are to take branches from luxuriant trees—from palms, willows and other leafy trees—and rejoice before the Lord your God for seven days. Celebrate this as a festival to the LORD for seven days each year” (Leviticus 23:40-42). 

Rejoicing with the Lulav

On the first day of Sukkot, branches from palms, willows, and myrtles along with a large fragrant citrus fruit called an etrog are bound together in what is called the lulav. This leafy bundle represents the nations of the world. On each day of the Feast of Tabernacles, the lulav is waved facing north, south, east, and west while proclaiming the coming Kingdom of God to the nations.

Several symbolic meanings have developed from these four species creating the lulav. Some believe the four species represent the name of God: yod-hey-vav-hey which is why they species are bound together as one. Others believe the fruit and the aroma of the trees relate to different people and how they respond to God’s Torah, very similar to the Parable of the Sower and how different people respond to the Word of God. Still others believe that the branches and the fruit represent the parts of our bodies, our temporary dwellings, that we are to offer to God as “instruments of righteousness” (Romans 6:12-13).

The Tabernacle

“On the first day of the first month of the second year, the tabernacle was set up” (Exodus 40:17). 

The Hebrew word for ‘tabernacle’ is mishkan and this is what the Tabernacle or ‘tent of meeting’ was called in the wilderness.    

Hebrew Word Pictures

Tabernacle or Mishkan – משכן

Mem מ – Water means ‘chaos.’

Shin ש – A Tooth means ‘consume.’

Kaf  כ – A Palm or Wing means ‘cover or allow.’

Nun נ – A Fish means ‘ action and life.’

The Hebrew word picture for mishkan: Chaos consumed to allow life.

After the Hebrews were delivered from Egypt, they ended up at Mount Sinai where Moses received God’s instructions for constructing the mishkan. It took a long time for all of its posts, curtains, and holy articles to be made. Gold, silver, and bronze objects that were taken from Egypt had to be melted down, beaten, and formed into shapes. Acacia wood had to be gathered, cut, and built into boxes. Animals had to be slaughtered for their skins unique skins. Fabric had to be spun from flax and wool.

Tabernacle in the Wilderness

Eventually the gold, silver, and bronze became the Altar of Sacrifice, the Menorah, the Altar of Incense, the Table of Presence, and the Ark of the Covenant. Mirrors collected from the women covered the Bronze Laver for priestly washing and purification. Tabernacle coverings were stitched together and mounted on the posts. Curtains from finely twisted linen with blue, purple, and scarlet yarn were hung in the Holy Place. By the two-year anniversary of the exodus from Egypt, the mishkan was set up and the glory of God filled it with a cloud. Adonai had His ‘temporary dwelling’ that could be transported when He moved His people.

“Then the cloud covered the tent of meeting, and the glory of the LORD filled the tabernacle.  Moses was unable to enter the tent of meeting, because the cloud remained on it, and the glory of the LORD filled the tabernacle.  Whenever the cloud was taken up from over the tabernacle, the people of Israel continued with all their travels.  But if the cloud was not taken up, they did not travel onward until the day with it was taken up.  For the cloud of the LORD was above the tabernacle during the day, and the fire was (in the cloud) at night, so that all the house of Israel could see it throughout all their travels” (Exodus 40:34-38).

The Living Tabernacle

Sukkah for Yeshua’s Birth

Yeshua is the living Tabernacle of God’s divine presence. According to the details given in the first two chapters of Luke, it can be determined that Yeshua was born on the first day of the Feast of Tabernacles. In a ‘temporary dwelling’ outside the town of Bethlehem, the Word became flesh and was placed in a sukkah. The angels in heaven, the shepherds watching their flocks, his mother Mary, and his earthly father Joseph celebrated the birth of God’s Son. While all Israel gathered to celebrate the Feast of Tabernacles, Yeshua became the reason for the ‘season of joy!’

“The Word became flesh and tabernacled with us, we saw his glory, the glory of the Father’s only Son, full of grace and truth … for it pleased God to have his full being live in His Son…” (John 1:14, Colossians 1:19).

Yeshua celebrates Feast of Tabernacles in John chapter 7, though he didn’t go to Jerusalem until the Feast was half over. When he arrived and began to teach in the Temple, the people were astonished and wondered how he knew so much. He gave credit to his Father who had sent him to find the ‘lost sheep of the house of Israel’ and told them to search the Scriptures to know if his teachings were from God or himself (Matthew 15:24).

“So Yeshua gave them an answer: ‘My teaching is not my own, it comes from the one who sent me.  If anyone wants to do his will, he will know whether my teaching is from God or I speak on my own.  A person who speaks on his own is trying to win praise for himself; but a person who tries to win praise for the one who sent him is honest, there is nothing false about him” (John 7:16-18). 

Streams of Living Water

Pool of Siloam

The Levitical priesthood officiated the sacrifices in the Temple during the Feasts of the LORD and led other traditions honoring in the ‘appointed times.’ The highlight each day of the Feast of Tabernacles was the Water Pouring Ceremony. A white-robed priest carrying a golden pitcher would lead a joyful procession of people to the Water Gate and the Pool of Siloam where he filled the pitcher with water. He would return to the Temple with the filled pitcher along with worshipers singing, waving their lulavs, and dancing. When the priest arrived at the Altar, he would pour out the water. As he poured the water from the golden pitcher, he would cry out in a loud voice words from the prophet Isaiah, “Therefore with joy you will draw water from the wells of salvation” (Isaiah 12:3).

The multitude of people who gathered in Jerusalem for Sukkot would respond to his words with: “LORD, save us! LORD, grant us success! Blessed is he who comes in the name of the LORD. From the house of the LORD we bless you” (Psalm 118).

The last and greatest day of the Feast of Tabernacles was called Hoshana Rabbah meaning ‘The Great Salvation.‘ It was the culmination of the week-long festival and was a prophetic vision of the restoration of the Kingdom of God.

Living Water

It was on Hoshana Rabbah that Yeshua responds to his nation’s cry for ‘salvation.’ As the ‘great salvation,’ he delivered a message of freedom and fullness of life in the Spirit. If the nation would repent, come to him for forgiveness, and put their faith in him, the God’s Spirit would be poured out and their spiritual thirst would be quenched. Living waters would flow from within them and they would indeed receive ‘Great Salvation.’

“Now on the last day and greatest day of the festival, Hoshana Rabbah, Yeshua stood and cried out, ‘If a man is thirsty, let him keep coming to me and drink!  Whoever puts his trust in me, as the Scripture says, rivers of living water will flow from his inmost being.’”  (Now he said this about the Spirit, whom those who trusted in him were to receive later.  The Spirit had not yet been given, because Yeshua had not yet been glorified”) (John 7:37-39).

Our Earthly Sukkah

“I think it is right to refresh your memory as long as I live in the tent of this body, because I know that I will soon put it aside, as our Lord Messiah Yeshua has made clear to me” (2 Peter 1:13).

While we live on the earth, we live in an earth suit. Peter and Paul called it our earthly ‘tent.’ Our earthly ‘tent’ is mortal, decaying, and dying. It is only a temporary physical dwelling for our spirits and will one day be destroyed through death. We will return to the dust of the ground from which we came. While we live in our mortal sukkah, we know that we are naked and unclothed in the eyes of God. We cry out in our sufferings and affliction while we wait for the redemption of our bodies and receive our immortal clothes.

“For we know that if the earthly tent we live in is destroyed, we have a building from God, an eternal house in heaven, not built by human hands.  Meanwhile we groan, longing to be clothed instead with our heavenly dwelling, because when we are clothed, we will not be found naked. For while we are in this tent, we groan and are burdened, because we do not wish to be unclothed but to be clothed instead with our heavenly dwelling, so that what is mortal may be swallowed up by life.  Now the one who has fashioned us for this very purpose is God, who has given us the Spirit as a deposit, guaranteeing what is to come” (2 Corinthians 5:1-5).

“Do you not know that your bodies are temples of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own;  you were bought at a price. Therefore honor God with your bodies” (1 Corinthians 16:19-20).

Once we are born again into God’s Kingdom, our earth ‘tent’ becomes the dwelling place for God’s Spirit. He seals us with His Spirit as a guarantee that we will be released from our mortal ‘tent’ and given heavenly, glorified bodies that will never decay because they are eternal. Until that day arrives, we live in our ‘tent’ bodies by faith just as Abraham who looked forward to what is coming.

Feast of Ingathering

“Celebrate the Feast of Ingathering at the end of the year, when you gather in your crops from the field” (Exodus 23:16).

The Feast of Tabernacles is also called the Feast of Ingathering. This ‘appointed time’ foreshadows the time when the House of Judah and the House of Israel are gathered from the nations back to the Promised Land. The Ingathering of God’s chosen people will be so divinely inspired that it will be remembered as a ‘greater exodus’ than when the Hebrews left Egypt. The Feast of Ingathering has only just begun with a modern-day movement of Jewish people returning to the land of Israel from all the nations of the world. It is known as aliyah and means ‘going up.’

“‘Therefore,’ says The LORD, ‘the day will come when people will not longer swear, “As The LORD lives, who brought the nation of Israel out of the land of Egypt,” but, ‘As The LORD lives, who brought the people of Israel out of the land to the north and all the countries where he drove them,’ for I will bring them back to their own land which I gave their ancestors’” (Jeremiah 16:14-15).

“They found written in the Law, which the Lord had commanded through Moses, that the Israelites were to live in temporary shelters during the festival of the seventh month  and that they should proclaim this word and spread it throughout their towns and in Jerusalem: “Go out into the hill country and bring back branches from olive and wild olive trees, and from myrtles, palms and shade trees, to make temporary shelters”—as it is written” (Nehemiah 8:14-15).

When Israel returned from Babylonian captivity in the days of Nehemiah, they found the book of Torah that commanded collecting branches to make their sukkot. In addition to branches from palms, willows, and myrtles, they also collected branches from “olive and wild olive” trees (Nehemiah 8:14-15). Because the Feast of Ingathering occurs during the olive harvest, it also becomes a ‘shadow’ of fulfillment of the natural olives and wild olives becoming the complete Olive Tree of Israel.

The first mention of the olive tree is when Noah sends out a dove from the ark and it brings back an olive leaf, a symbol of new life (Genesis 8:8). Pure olive oil is one of the ingredients for the anointing oil (Exodus 30:22-23). The land flowing with milk and honey also flowed with olive oil indicating the abundance of provision in the Promised Land (Deuteronomy 8:8). The doors of Solomon’s Temple were made from olive wood on which were carved the cherubim that guarded the entrance to the Garden of Eden (1 Kings 6:32). David says children are like olive shoots blessing a man’s table (Psalm 128:8). The prophets Jeremiah and Hosea call Israel “a thriving olive tree with great splendor” (Jeremiah 11:16, Hosea 14:6).

When Paul discusses the ‘Olive Tree of Israel’ in Romans 11, he sees natural olive branches and wild olive branches attached to the same tree. He tells the gentiles that they are the wild olive branches which have been grafted into the olive tree along with the natural branches of the Jewish people. When a branch is grafted into a tree, it gets its nourishment from the roots and sap of the tree. It will still bear olives, but only through its dependence on the natural tree. If the grafting doesn’t take and the branch doesn’t get its nourishment, it will die and fall off the tree.

Paul reminds the gentiles that as wild olive branches they can be cut off the olive tree if they become arrogant over the natural branches. They are to remember that the living water of the Spirit comes from the root of David, and the nourishing sap of the Hebrew Scriptures supports them both by faith. Though some of the natural branches may have been broken off due to a lack of faith, they can be easily grafted back into their own olive tree (Romans 11:13-24). 

The addition of “olive and wild olive branches” to the sukkah in Nehemiah’s time suggests that the Ingathering of Israel will not only include the natural olive branches of Israel, but also the wild olive branches of the nations who have embraced the covenant that Adonai made with Israel. When both branches of olives live by faith in Yeshua, trusting in him as the root of the tree, living water will bring nourishing sap to both branches. They will thrive with splendor as God intended for the ‘Olive Tree of Israel.’

The Millennial Kingdom

“In the last days the mountain of the LORD’s temple will be established as the highest of the mountains; it will be exalted above the hills, and peoples will stream to it. Everyone will sit under their own vine and under their own fig tree, and no one will make them afraid, for the LORD Almighty has spoken” (Micah 4:1, 3).

Ezekiel’s Millennial Temple

Yeshua’s teachings focused on the Kingdom of God which is the same as the Kingdom of Heaven. Though the Kingdom was near, it had not yet fully arrived and will not arrive until Yeshua has been glorified and crowned King of Kings. During a 1000 year ‘season of our joy,’ the nations of the world will come to the mountain of God in Jerusalem. Yeshua will sit on his throne in the Temple and judge the nations. The Messianic Era will join the present world and mortal men with immortal men in a unique time in history. With an iron scepter, he will rule the earth and prepare its people for his Father’s eternal Kingdom.

“After six days Yeshua took Peter, James and his brother John and led them up a high mountain privately.  As they watched, he began to change form – his face shone like the sun, and his clothing became as white as light.  Then they looked and saw Moses and Elijah speaking with him.   Peter said to Yeshua, ‘It’s good that we’re here, Lord.  I’ll put up three sukkot [temporary dwellings]  if you want – one for you, one for Moses, and one for Elijah.’  While he was still speaking, a bright cloud enveloped them; and a voice from the cloud said, ‘This is my Son, whom I love, with whom I am well pleased. Listen to him’! (Matthew 17:1-5).

Just days before this event, Yeshua told his disciples that some of them would not die until they saw the Son of Man coming in his Kingdom (Matthew 16:28). They waited eagerly for this Kingdom to arrive. Six days later Yeshua took Peter, James, and John up a mountain.

The three disciples watched as Yeshua transformed into his glory in front of them. They saw him speaking with Moses and Elijah. They didn’t realize they were receiving only a glimpse at the coming Kingdom, but believed that Yeshua was establishing his Kingdom rule on earth at that moment in time –– at the ‘appointed time’ of Sukkot. They sincerely believed that Yeshua was going to take up his throne in Jerusalem and reign as King of Kings. They knew the prophecies and had listened to Yeshua teach. Peter responded with great faith in Yeshua’s words about the Kingdom of God when he offered to build Moses, Elijah, and Yeshua ‘shelters’ –– sukkot.

The Eternal Tabernacle

“And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “Look! God’s dwelling place (the Mishkan) is now among the people, and he will dwell (tabernacle) with them. They will be his people, and God himself will be with them and be their God” (Revelation 21:3 NIV and Orthodox Jewish Bible).

The New Jerusalem Descends

At the end of Yeshua’s Messianic reign, a new heaven and a new earth will be created. Everything from the old heaven and earth that has been decaying will pass away. The New Jerusalem will come down out of the renewed heaven and descend to the renewed earth. The New Jerusalem won’t have a Temple because Adonai will be the Temple. There will be no sun or moon to shine on it because the His glory gives it its light; its lamp will be Yeshua.

The river of the water of life will flow from the throne of God producing monthly fruit and healing leaves for the nations. The servants of God will worship Him on His throne in the city. The eternally redeemed will see His face and His name will be written on their foreheads. They will reign as kings forever and ever. When the New Jerusalem descends from heaven, Ehyeh Asher Ehyeh will Tabernacle forever with His people.

“All of these people kept on trusting until they died, without receiving what had been promised.  They had only seen it and welcomed it from a distance, while acknowledging that they were aliens and temporary residents on the earth.  As it is, they aspire to a better homeland, a heavenly one.  This is why God is not ashamed to be called their God, for he has prepared for them a city”  (Hebrews 11:13-15).

Abraham lived in a tent. As Abraham’s children of faith and heirs to the same promises, we also live in earth ‘tents’ like he did. Until the day of our complete redemption, we will live as strangers and foreigners on this earth. We celebrate Sukkot with the vision of our future glory by building a sukkah. As we feast in our ‘temporary dwelling,’ we identify with the children of Israel who lived in tents with the Mishkan of Adonai in their midst.

Yeshua took on the ‘tent’ of a human body to live with us. As Messiah of Israel, he will soon return to Jerusalem as King and prepare the nations for the eternal Kingdom of Ehyeh Asher Ehyeh. When we keep our eyes on the promises of God and the New Jerusalem, we will understand the ‘season of our joy’ and appreciate the prophetic vision of another ‘appointed time’ –– The Feast of Tabernacles.

 For more about Yeshua fullfilling the ‘appointed times,’ purchase Yeshua in His Father’s Feasts.

©2011 Tentstake Ministries Publishing, all rights reserved.  No copying or reproducing of this article without crediting the author or Tentstake Ministries Publishing. For a hard copy of this article,  please purchase Journey with Jeremiah: Nourishment for the Wild Olive.  To learn more about the Feasts of the LORD, purchase Yeshua in His Father’s Feasts study guide and/or leader’s guide for group learning.