Shabbat Bible Study for 17 August 2019
©2019 Mark Pitrone and Fulfilling Torah Ministries
Year 1 Sabbath 20
Genesis 23:1-20 – I Kings 1:1 – Psalm 18 – Acts 6.9-7.18
Vv.1-20 – Avraham and fam had obviously moved from Beer-Sheva to KirYath-Arba/Hevron in the ensuing months or years between the Akeida and Sarah’s passing at the age of 127. While the rabbis claim these events are close in time, I don’t see that in the accounts and view it as speculation, however enlightened it may be. I DO believe it is correct, but there is no internal evidence to support it. The sages say that Avraham returned to KirYath Arba from the Akeida to find that Sarah had died of a broken heart because she had been told by haSatan that Avraham had actually killed Yitzhak on Moriah. If that’s the case, why did Avraham return from Moriah to Beer-Sheva 30 miles further south than Hevron, only to return to Hevron to bury Sarah. Did Sarah move to KirYath-Arba while they were gone? (I tell people in jest that my parents moved while I was at school and didn’t tell me where they’d moved to … 3 times! The last time it took me 3 weeks to find them!) Did Avi forget his keys to the tent?
Avraham’s mourning was private, as the sages say the minuscule kaf (jots and tittles?) in the Hebrew word ‘V’LIVkOTHAH’ [weep for her] suggests. Jeff Benner’s Ancient Hebrew Lexicon says the kaf means to bend and curve; or to tame and subdue, as one who has been bent to another’s will. In this case, he tamed and subdued his grief before going to bargain with the Hittites. After he mourned for her, he went to the Hittites (sons of Heth) to purchase a burial ground for his family. Avraham approached the Hittites as a ‘ger toshav’, a resident alien . The Hittites wanted to give the land to Avraham, but if he had accepted it, they’d have had something with which to control him, as the king of Sedom would have had he accepted all the stuff (ch.14). After they said just pick some land and we’ll give it to you, he said, “I want the land at the end of Ephron’s field. Find out how much he wants for it, and I’ll pay it in your sight.” He was a prophet and knew that their descendants would lay claim to his legally and publicly purchased land (as they are doing today). V.20 may be the basis of the US Constitution’s Art 1, §10 – non-impairment of contracts.
Ephron was the son of Tsohar. Tsohar is also the name of the compilation of the ‘deep things of Elohim’. Don’t you love the banter between Avraham and Ephron? Each seems to want to outdo the other at being magnanimous and unselfish. Let me pay… no let me give…. Just name your price…. What’s a few hundred shekels between friends…. here ya’ go. Avraham counted out 400 shekels of silver, which was the currency of the day and place. Money is whatever the people involved in the deal value – in this case silver. It could be gold, diamonds, salt, grain, or chicken stuff – whatever the bargainers decide is money. Shekels, like dollars, are actually units of weight measure, not monetary units. A silver dollar is defined in the Currency Act of 1792 as .71 troy ounces of silver and .0325 ounces troy of gold. There are 14 ounces troy in a pound.
The rabbis say that Ephron was greedy and asked too much for the land. They use the fact that Torah spells his name עפרונ with a ו up to v.10, and then spells it עפרנ w/o the ו in v.14 (They say he was diminished by his greed) as proof of their assertion, which seems specious, especially since there is no such different spelling in the Stone’s Tanakh or the Schottenstein’s Chumash. It just looks like a good haggle, to me.
The haggle is a middle-eastern marketing ritual. If you go into the suk in any city and just ask their price, and they just name it, and you just pay it (like an American), you got ripped a new one. The better you haggle, the more fun you have, the better the price you pay and the more the merchant enjoys the sale. Hone these skills in Tijuana BEFORE you go to the middle-east. It is a LOT of fun. Q&C
1Ki.1.1ff – So David is old, infirm and not developing enough heat for himself, not even enough to be kept close by blankets laid over him. IOW, David was very near death. His eldest living son AdoniYah (My Lord is Y’hovah) saw an opportunity to usurp the throne that David had promised to Shlomo from him and made all the moves to do so. But BathSheva, David’s wife and Shlomo’s mama, got wind of AdoniYah’s plot and moves quickly to have her son made co-regent. AdoniYah had to wait for his abba to croak before he could finalize his plot, but David could appoint a co-regent, and in fact did so. I think our tie in with the Torah portion is seen in the attempt of AdoniYah to seize the throne out from under Shlomo the way that Ephron is seen by the sages looking to take Avraham’s dough and keep title to his land (I don’t see that, the sages do). I think it more likely that the connection is the old age and death of 2 people of great stature in Tanakh. Q&A
Ps.18.1-6 – To the man who is after Y’hovah’s heart, He is Strength of purpose, a Rock on which to build, a Fortress to which to repair for rest and protection, a Deliverer who will rescue from danger, Eliy who is the source of strength, a Shield from attack, the Power of liberty and a Refuge whose vantage allows watchfulness and security. The first use of strength translates chezek from the root chazak – to be strong or strengthened. At the end of each book of Moshe is inserted the words chazak, chazak, v’nit’chazak. Be strong; Be strong and may we be strengthened. It is Y’hovah who gives us strength when we ask for it, and He does so through His Torah. He is also our Rock, cela, and our Fortress, m’tzusah. We can Rest in him from the battles we face. He’s our Deliverer, palat, who makes a Way of escape for us in every situation. El is our tzur, the solid bedrock for Foundation that will not move and which is absolutely trustworthy to His obedient servants. He is our magen, our Shield, who will deflect the arrows of the enemy, make all who are attentive see his power work yasha, His Liberty in us and through us. Nothing is as liberating as Torah, the Word of Y’hovah written in our hearts and minds. Everyone on earth has the choice to use his liberty to either obey Y’hovah who created us and gave His only begotten Son to die the death we earned, or to disobey Him and spit in His Face. I choose to obey. I will call upon Him for strength, protection and deliverance and not my own might, because HE is worthy to be praised and honored (Rev.5.12).
When I trust my own strength, I get to live in vv.4-5, where I am frightened by the least adversity. But when I call on Him as David did for strength and deliverance, He provides it abundantly. This is what will cause Y’hovah to send Yeshua, when Yisrael gives up on its own and its allies power, and turns in repentance to him, crying out “Hosheanu, Y’hovah! Save us NOW!” Then He will send Yeshua to deliver the nation from certain death. The pieces are being set for the end game now. Remember DeGaulle’s words to Ben Gurion when asked why France had betrayed Israel’s friendship, “Nations do not have friends. Nations have interests.” But Y’hovah has more than an interest in Yisrael. She is His estranged wife, and He loves her and wants her back. But He will not force her. He wants her to call on Him. As it is with each of us, so it is with the nations of the earth. It is prophesied that Israel will make teshuvah. What about the other nations? What about you? Q&C
Vv.7-15 – When Y’hovah’s people cry out to Him, He responds. He will literally move mountains if necessary to deliver us – nothing is outside His power to do. He uses storms and earthquakes to get our attention. If He doesn’t get it, He uses more powerful means. If He still doesn’t get our attention and repentance, He will eventually lose patience with our obstinacy and move us out of the way in His wrath. All that stuff that He is to his people in vv.1-3 is what He will cause to be UNtrustworthy to our enemies. The ground will shake in places where it has not shook before. That which men trust and consider ‘bedrock’ will be moved to their destruction. Look again at the STUFF He sends against our enemies. Everything they trusted in will be useless to them when we call on Him to deliver us. This describes, among other battles he fights for us, Gog u’Magog from Ez.38-39, and Rev.20.7-9.
Vv.16-24 speak of our protection through the wrath He will send against those who trouble us. They trouble us by trying to get between us and Y’hovah. That’s kind of like getting between a mama grizzly and her cubs – not wise. But they don’t regard Y’hovah as a real threat, and will learn the folly of it. Twice David says that Y’hovah rewarded him ‘according to my righteousness, according to the cleaness of my hands in His eyesight.’ Now, I’ve read the historical accounts of David’s life and I know that he did LOTS of more wicked stuff than I have, but Y’hovah delivered him. Why? Because of the last 3 words in v.24 – ‘in his eyesight’. When we repent of our evil deeds and confess them and acknowledge that we deserve to be judged for them, He removes our iniquity as far as east from west and them puts them at the bottom of the deepest part of the sea – He forgives us and WILL NOT see or remember our atoned for sins.
I, even I, am he that blotteth out thy transgressions for mine own sake, and will not remember thy sins. (Isaiah 43:25)
And they shall teach no more every man his neighbour, and every man his brother, saying, Know Y’hovah: for they shall all know me, from the least of them unto the greatest of them, saith Y’hovah: for I will forgive their iniquity, and I will remember their sin no more. (Jeremiah 31:34)
Keep short accounts with him. Confess and repent immediately after you sin. He’ll deliver you from it and it’ll be gone. Q&C
Vv.25-50 – You can tell a man’s heart by looking at how he sees Y’hovah. If you think He is true, then you are most likely true. If you see Him as untrustworthy, guess what? If you are after His heart, He’ll put it in you and let you find it. And the better you know Him, the less you’ll think you’re all that and a bag of chips. It is Y’hovah who saves the afflicted, who provides light in darkness, who gives us strength when we have none of our own. His way, Derech Hashem, is perfect, His word has been tested and found true. It is Y’hovah who ensures that I don’t slip and fall. He keeps me secure in HIS presence, like a mountain goat on a rock face He guides my steps so that I get sure footing on the slimmest sliver of truth. The shield of Y’hovah’s salvation is his right arm – Yeshua our Mashiyach. After we grab and trust and stand on the slimmest sliver of truth in v.33, He gives us larger footholds in v.36. As we trust Him in the small things, He gives us more and greater truth to hold on to. It isn’t trusting our own strength that brings a better foothold, but trusting His right hand to be our strength. For then He gives us the power and knowledge to overcome our enemies. They cry to Him for help, but He won’t hear them, for they still trust in their own strength. Does this sound like anything that might be happening in America about now? America has by and large turned away from Y’hovah and His way and has gone its own ways. But every time He sends a wake-up call, like 9/11 or Katrina or Deepwater Horizon, America cries out to Him for His blessing and deliverance without the prerequisite repentance and confession. And the blame for this is placed at the feet of the pastors and teachers in the k’halim of America, who tickle ears and speak soothing words instead of truth. They put the sheep to sleep instead of blowing the trumpet of warning. V.41 is aimed at the churches of America – the mainstream, the evangelical and the average Messianic church, as well. Our pastors and rabbis are NOT sounding the alarm for their people. Here’s what Y’hovah has to say to them;
1 And the Word of Y’hovah came unto me, saying, 2 Ben Adam, prophesy against the shepherds of Israel, prophesy, and say unto them, Thus saith Adonai Y’hovah unto the shepherds; Woe to the shepherds of Israel that do feed themselves! should not the shepherds feed the flocks? 3 Ye eat the fat, and ye clothe you with the wool, ye kill them that are fed: ye feed not the flock. 4 The diseased have ye not strengthened, neither have ye healed that which was sick, neither have ye bound up the broken, neither have ye brought again that which was driven away, neither have ye sought that which was lost; but with force and with cruelty have ye ruled them. 5 And they were scattered, because no shepherd: and they became meat to all the beasts of the field, when they were scattered. 6 My sheep wandered through all the mountains, and upon every high hill: yea, my flock was scattered upon all the face of the earth, and none did search or seek. 7 Therefore, ye shepherds, hear the word of Y’hovah; 8 I live, saith Adonai Y’hovah, surely because my flock became a prey, and my flock became meat to every beast of the field, because no shepherd, neither did my shepherds search for my flock, but the shepherds fed themselves, and fed not my flock; 9 Therefore, O ye shepherds, hear the word of Y’hovah; 10 Thus saith Adonai Y’hovah; Behold me against the shepherds; and I will require my flock at their hand, and cause them to cease from feeding the flock; neither shall the shepherds feed themselves any more; for I will deliver my flock from their mouth, that they may not be meat for them. [Ezekiel 34.1-10]
Y’hovah is NOT pleased with the pastors and rabbis or the politicians who have been speaking smooth words that tickle the ears of the flock, but feed them that which does not nourish them.
V.48 may show the rapture. If it does, this may be the only rapture there is. It is the deliverance of Y’hovah’s remnant at the end of the Kingdom. It is the ultimate Gog u’Magog rebellion against the King and those who come to Tabernacle with Him around J’lem in the year 7000 AM. He lifts His people above the chamas men who wish to kill the King and His people, whom He delivers by His mighty hand and stretched out arm. He lifts us with His left hand while He squashes them like bugs with His right. Q&C
Acts.7.1-18 – Let’s read from 6.9, shall we? Stephen was brought before the council of the Sanhedrin to answer charges that:
13b This man ceaseth not to speak blasphemous words against this holy place, and the law: 14 For we have heard him say, that this Yeshua of Nazareth shall destroy this place, and shall change the customs [oral law] which Moshe delivered us. (6.13b&14)
The reason they were bringing these charges was:
8 And Stephen, full of faith and power, did great wonders and miracles among the people. 9 Then there arose certain of which is called the synagogue of the Libertines, and Cyrenians, and Alexandrians, and of them of Cilicia and of Asia, disputing with Stephen. 10 And they were not able to resist the wisdom and the spirit by which he spake. 11 Then they suborned men, which said, We have heard him speak blasphemous words against Moshe, and Elohim. (6.8-11)
Jealousy and anger. At least some of the people who couldn’t answer the wisdom of the Ruach he was speaking were rabbis who had gotten their education through the great teachers of Yehudism, perhaps there were some from Gamaliel’s school – Rav Sha’ul’s classmates, as it were. Think about it for a minute. Why was Rav Sha’ul even there to hold folks coats in ch.8? The action seems continuous from ch.6.8 – 8.3. Either he was in the Sanhedrin or he was in the group disputing w/Stephen, or both. I think he was one of the people who were disputing w/Stephen, and couldn’t abide this presumably uneducated man defeating the ‘star’ of Gamaliel’s school who was arguably the most intelligent man ever to walk the earth – he was definitely one of the most educated men on earth, as we see here:
And as he thus spake for himself, Festus said with a loud voice, Paul, thou art beside thyself; much learning doth make thee mad. (Acts 26:24)
Paul may have been the one who formally brought the charges. I don’t know why – I have no actual evidence, but I think the rich young ruler (Lk.18) was Sha’ul of Tarsus;
18 And a certain ruler (Sanhedrin?) asked him, saying, Good Master, what shall I do to inherit eternal life? 19 And Yeshua said unto him, Why callest thou me good? none is good, save one, Elohim. 20 Thou knowest the commandments, Do not commit adultery, Do not kill, Do not steal, Do not bear false witness, Honour thy father and thy mother. 21 And he said, All these have I kept from my youth up. 22 Now when Yeshua heard these things, he said unto him, Yet lackest thou one thing: sell all that thou hast, and distribute unto the poor, and thou shalt have treasure in heaven: and come, follow me. 23 And when he heard this, he was very sorrowful: for he was very rich.
I think Rav Sha’ul was drawn to Yeshua, having seen through his studies that Yeshua was indeed Mashiyach. I see this incident as the beginning of his animosity towards Derech Hashem, ‘the Way’. I think he heard what Yeshua didn’t say or even intimate, “Go away, you vile sinner.” He was young and probably prideful. I also think he already knew what his besetting sin was – covetousness. It’s the one of the interpersonal commandments Yeshua didn’t mention. He may have had lots of stuff and it may have been hard to part with, but I think it was more his position in the religion that he coveted than his stuff, and I think he shows us that in Rom.7.5ff, which is a subject for another day. All I just said was surmised – a ‘gut feeling’ – and I very well could be wrong. But I doubt it. Juxtapose the synoptic gospel accounts of the rich young ruler (new to the Sanhedrin?) in Lk.18, Mat.19 and Mk.10, to Acts 6.8 – 8.3, Rom.7.5ff and Acts 9.1-5 to see why I think the way I do. It just all seems to fit together. Q&C
So the high priest asked Stephen, “Is this true? Are you saying that Yeshua said he would destroy the Temple and change the customs of Moshe?” In answer, Stephen ran through a summary of Israel’s history starting at Avraham leaving Ur of the Chaldees. Eventually, Yitzhak was born and CCd on the 8th day and he begat Ya’acov, who begat the patriarchs who sold Yoseph into Egypt, the jealous brothers sold the righteous brother. Stephen was intimating the reasons the so-called ‘brethren of the Way’ were evilly entreating him. Jealousy.
There’s a seeming discrepancy between Stephan’s summary and Torah, in that he says Avraham bought Ya’acov’s burial site in Shechem from Hamor, when in fact Avraham had bought his own burial site from Ephron in Hebron. It was, in fact, Ya’acov who had bought land for his family and livestock from Hamor near Shalem (Y’rushalem, Gen.33). The discrepancy can be attributed to Stephan’s inadvertent mis-speech, or his use of a midrash to make a point. I lean toward the latter. If I am correct, the point was the same as the author of Hebrews made in ch.7-8 there. If Levi tithed to Melchizedek in Avraham, Avraham also purchased the land by Ya’acov, as the seed is in the father and the son’s deeds are therefore the father’s. All this land is by promise to Avraham and his seed. But is the seed counted by flesh or by Spirit? Rav Sha’ul later came to know by the Ruach that it was by Spirit, not flesh; for he said in Rom.9.6,
“They are not ALL Yisrael who are of Israel,”
and in Gal.3.
16 Now to Avraham and his seed were the promises made. He saith not, And to seeds, as of many; but as of one, And to thy seed, which is Mashiyach.
The bottom line of Stephen’s answer to the high priest was, “Yes, Yeshua came to destroy the oral traditions you set above the Torah of Y’hovah.” I think the entire audience understood what he was saying, and the Sanhedrin didn’t have (or want, really) any control over the rabble that followed Rav Sha’ul’s lead to stone him without the city gates. Q&C
Acts.7.1-19 – This is from our midrash of about 7-8 month or so ago:
Stephen was rehearsing the history of Israel, and he made a few mistakes in it, but that helps to establish the bona fides of the account. If Luke was fabricating this story, he’d have made sure to cross his ‘T’s and dot his ‘I’s. The fact that we witness a couple of mistakes, well one actually, in Stephen’s monologue tells me that Luke is telling the story as it happened. Mistake #1 is that Jacob was buried in Shechem, when he was really buried in Hevron and Machpelah on land that Avraham bought. Mistake #2 is that Stephen says that Avraham bought the land from Hamor, father of Shechem, when Yacov bought that land. I think Stephen just got the land involved in his story wrong, a simple human mistake. The Ruach was not inspiring Stephen’s memory, but Luke’s account of it. OR, Stephen was using midrash to show that Yacov’s sons had conquered the Canaanites long before they entered the land to possess it and that when he bought the property it was a foreshadowing of Israel occupying kol haAretz, the whole land, as Y’hovah had prophesied to Avraham.
There is a remez, a hint, here. When Stephen talks of Yoseph revealing himself to his brethren the 2nd time they came to Egypt (v.13), it hints at Yoseph (Ephraim/10-Israel) being revealed to his Yehudi brethren (2-Israel) at Mashiyach’s (2nd) coming as benDavid.