weekly Torah studies

Beshalach (When He Let Go). Exodus 13:17–17:16; Judges 4:4–5:31; 2 Peter 1.

Welcome to this week’s Torah / Bible study section.  “Then it came to pass, when Pharaoh had let the people go, that God did not lead them by way of the land of the Philistines, although that was near; for God said, 'Lest perhaps the people change their minds when they see war, and return to Egypt.'”  (Exodus 13:17). 

In last week’s study, after the last and most devastating of the Ten Plagues (Death of the Firstborn), Pharaoh finally relented in letting the Israelites go free.  We should have noted it marked the beginning of a new life, at the beginning of God’s year (Ex 12:2).  They were given annual holy days and similarities between the Passover lamb and that of the final Passover lamb in the Messiah, i.e. the meal took place in the night and neither had their feet broken (Ex 12:7, 46; John 19:36, 1Cor 5:7).  There is a separate article specifically on the Passover.  One is on www.forwardtoyahweh.com.  

This week, however, in study section titled “Beshalach”, Pharaoh changes his mind and races after them to bring them back into slavery.  God leads them through the sea to prevent them turning back into Egypt (13:17). Thinking they are lost in the wilderness, Pharaoh seemingly traps them against the Red Sea.  There is no escape, or so it seems.  God miraculously parts the waters so that His people pass through on dry land, while the Egyptians drown behind them.  They and Egyptians would know who is the real God (14:18).  In relief and thankfulness to God for this amazing victory over those who wished to enslave them, Moshe (Moses) and the Israelites sing a beautiful song called ShiratHaYam (שירתהים)‎, the Song of the Sea.  Some also call it AzYashir Moshe (then Moses sang), which are the first words of the Song of the Sea (Exodus 15:1). 

The Song of the Sea (Exodus 15:1–18) 

In true humility, this song gives no glory to the leadership of Moses or praise to the people for the faith it took to walk between walls of water, but totally gives the glory and praise to Yahweh God. 

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Bo (Come!), Exodus 10:1–13:16; Jeremiah 46:13–28; Revelation 9:1–21

Welcome to Bo (Come!), Exodus 10:1–13:16; Jeremiah 46:13–28; Revelation 9:1–21.    “Then Yahweh said to Moses, “Go [Bo / come] to Pharaoh, for I have hardened his heart and the hearts of his officials so that I may perform these signs of mine among them.”  (Exodus 10:1). 

In last week’s study section, we read of the first seven calamities (makot), which God inflicted upon Egypt in order to persuade Pharaoh to release the Israelites from slavery.  This week, in section titled “Bo”, God sends the most devastating and final three plagues:  locust, darkness, and death of the firstborn. 

After the last plague, Pharaoh finally acquiesces, triggering the Exodus of the Hebrews; but what were the purposes of the ten plagues?  To pressure Pharaoh to let the Israelites go free?  Perhaps, but God is fully capable of setting His people free without a king’s permission.  We see in this section and the last that God does not see the Egyptians simply as an enemy to be overcome, but rather, He is committed to communicating something vital to them: 

"On that same night I will pass through Egypt and strike down every firstborn of both people and animals, and I will bring judgement on all the gods of Egypt.  I am Yahweh God (translated as the LORD in bibles)." (Exodus 12:12). 

FROM DEVASTATION TO A NEW BEGINNING.

That is a theme of this study’s chapters.  When the children of Israel left Egypt, they were leaving behind their old culture. While in Egypt they had absorbed much of the wickedness and idolatry of Egyptian society. The unleavened bread symbolized a new beginning. They were starting over.  In a spiritual sense, we leave Egypt when Messiah saves us. That’s what it means to be born again. It is a matter of starting over. When we become believers, we are supposed to die to our old way of life and begin life again as new creatures.

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VA’ERA (And I Appeared), Exodus 6:2–9:35; Ezekiel 28:25–29:21, Revelation 15:1-16:20.

Shalom All, Welcome to this week’s Torah / Bible study Portion.  “And I appeared [Va’era] to Avraham, Yitzchak, and Yaacov as El Shaddai  [אלשדי] but by My name, YHVH [יהוה], I did not make Myself known to them.” (Exodus 6:2–3).  Note “God almighty” (El Shaddai) is NOT a name; but a quality just like the strongest man in the world or fastest runner). 

This week whilst preparing this study and the verse Ex 6:3, I was reminded of verses read a few days ago:

Gen 12:8  And he removed from thence unto a mountain on the east of Bethel, and pitched his tent, having Bethel on the west, and Hai on the east: and there he builded an altar unto YHWH, and called upon the name of the LORD. Gen 13:4  Unto the place of the altar, which he had made there at the first: and there Abram called on the name of the LORD.  Gen 22:14  And Abraham called the name of that place Jehovahjireh (or Yahovahjireh) : as it is said to this day, In the mount of the LORD it shall be seen. 

To understand this seemingly contradiction we need to look at the verse and time when YHWH made or reiterated His covenant with Abraham, Isaac and Jacob.

Gen 17:1  And when Abram was ninety years old and nine, the LORD appeared to Abram, and said unto him, I am the Almighty God; walk before me, and be thou perfect.  Gen 17:2  And I will make my covenant between me and thee, and will multiply thee exceedingly. 

Gen 35:11  And God said unto him, I am God Almighty: be fruitful and multiply; a nation and a company of nations shall be of thee, and kings shall come out of thy loins; Gen 35:12  And the land which I gave Abraham and Isaac, to thee I will give it, and to thy seed after thee will I give the land.  

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SHEMOT (Names): Exodus 1:1–6:1; Isaiah 27:6–28:13, 29:22–23; Jeremiah 1:1–2:3; Romans 12:1–21

Welcome to Shemot (Names), this week’s Torah / bible study Portion. Exodus 1:1–6:1; Isaiah 27:6–28:13, 29:22–23; Jeremiah 1:1–2:3; Romans 12:1–21  “These are the names [ve’elehshemot] of the sons of Israel who went to Egypt with Jacob, each with his family.”  (Exodus 1:1). 

In last week’s Torah portion (Parasha), the first of the five books of Moses, Genesis (Bereisheet, In the Beginning), ended with the deaths of Jacob and Joseph.  This week, we begin the second book of the Torah (God’s instructions), Exodus, called “Shemot” in Hebrew, which means names.  This section describes the suffering of the Israelites under bondage to the Egyptians, the birth of Moses, and his miraculous salvation from out of the Nile River.  It also describes his calling to deliver Israel and his encounter with Pharaoh. 

So far we have seen the ways of Yahweh God were firmly established and kept by His obedient followers (individuals and family) before the forming of a nation or group of people, Israel. Appointed times (Gen 1:14), burnt and other offering criteria (Gen 22:7) etc.  We also saw anti god worship and practices, some similar to Yahweh’s as adultery being forbidden (20:9).  We should now see this family had multiplied into a nation over 430 years.  Yahweh’s ways were passed onto the newly formed nation through Moses.  Neither had much knowledge of Yahweh’s ways having been under Egyptian rule and lifestyle for 430 years.  Even His name and way, that of their fathers, they had forgotten. They had become "Egyptian" in nature, knowledge and lifestyle and needed to be reborn into a new nation and lifestyle. 

Like Moses, Like Yahshua. “Exo1:5  And all the souls that came out of the loins of Jacob were seventy souls: for Joseph was in Egypt already”. We should not think it was only 70 people who went into Egypt.

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Vayechi (And He Lived), Genesis 47:28–50:26; 1 Kings 2:1–12; John 10:1-21

Welcome to this week’s Torah / bible section study.   “And Jacob lived (Vayechi Yaacov) in the land of Egypt seventeen years; so the days of Jacob, the years of his life, were a hundred forty and seven years.” (Genesis 47:28).

In last week’s study, Joseph revealed his identity to his brothers and invited them, as well as his father, to live in Egypt in order to provide for them during the famine.  Joseph, his brothers, and his father were joyfully reunited and reconciled. This week’s section, Vayechi ends the first book of the Bible with the death of Jacob as well as that of Joseph.  What follows is the family and their households multiplying to become a nation named after Jacob whose name was changed by God to Israel. 

Jewish Longing for the Promised LandOn arrival in Egypt, the Hebrews are separated from the Egyptians and live in their own part of Egypt (Gen 46:34, 47:11).  In this section, Jacob compelled Joseph to vow to carry his body back to the Land of his Fathers and bury him there.  Joseph agreed to his dying father’s request not to leave his body in Egypt (Gen 47:29–30). To Jacob, where his body ended up after death was important as it should be with us today.  The promise of the land and life with our maker and saviour.  Although Jacob had lived the last 17 years of his life in Egypt, he never forgot the Land God had promised him by divine Covenant.  Jacob wanted to be buried with his fathers, Abraham and Isaac in the Machpelah cave back in the land of Canaan.  This indicates that, even in death, he still believed in the Abrahamic promises. He believed the land of Canaan would one day belong to his children, and he wanted to be buried there. Moreover, Jacob believed in life after death. That is what he means when he told his sons, "I am about to be gathered to my people" (Genesis 49:29). Jacob anticipated being reunited with his forefathers one day.

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VAYIGASH (Then He Drew Near) Genesis 44:18–47:27; Ezekiel 37:15–28; Eph 2:1-22

Shalom All,  Welcome to this week’s Torah / Bible study section, which is called Vayigash (Then He Drew Near).  “Then Judah came near [Vayigash וַיִּגַּשׁ] unto him and said, ‘Pardon your servant, my lord, let me speak a word to my lord.  Do not be angry with your servant, though you are equal to Pharaoh himself.’” (Genesis 44:18). 

In last week’s Torah / bible portion, Pharaoh appointed Joseph administrator over all of Egypt in order to save Egypt from the coming famine, which he did.  That famine affected much of the region, and the nations looked to Egypt as a source of food.  When Jacob sent his sons to Egypt for grain, Joseph recognized them but did not reveal himself, maybe wisely testing their integrity through a series of character challenges.  I forgot to point out a similarity between Gen 43:32 where Egyptians did not mix with Hebrews and visa versa (Gen 43:32  And they set on for him by himself, and for them by themselves, and for the Egyptians, which did eat with him, by themselves: because the Egyptians might not eat bread with the Hebrews; for that is an abomination unto the Egyptians). And Act 16:20 And brought them to the magistrates, saying, These men, being Jews, do exceedingly trouble our city, Act 16:21  And teach customs, which are not lawful for us to receive, neither to observe, being Romans. See also 45:20, 46:34 they lived apart. For fear of conversion, God and false god worshippers are instructed not to mix. This is what led to the downfall of Israel. 

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Miketz (At the End) Genesis 41:1–44:17; Zechariah 2:14–4:7; John 1:1–18.

Welcome to this week’s Torah / bible study called Miketz (At the End)  “And it came to pass “at the end” of [miketz] two full years, that Pharaoh dreamed a dream: and, behold, he stood by the river”  (Genesis 41:1). 

In last week’s study, Joseph’s brothers became jealous of Joseph and plotted against him because his father favoured him above his other sons and because his prophetic dreams revealed his own grand destiny.  So they threw him into a pit and then sold him into slavery. While serving honourably as a slave, Joseph was set up and sent to prison for a crime he did not commit.  In this week’s reading, Joseph is finally about to come to the end of his many trials and enter into his destiny.  In fact, the name of this study section, Miketz, the opening verse of this week’s Torah / Bible reading, hints at this since this Hebrew word means “at the end” of. 

While in prison Joseph, with God’s help, interprets two dreams of fellow royal prisoners resulting in one being killed and the other reinstated to royal duties.   Despite Joseph accurately predicting the cupbearer's release and his plea to be remembered, the cupbearer seemed to forget about Joseph as soon as he was out of jail.  As disappointing as that must have been for Joseph, it does seem that it was part of God's plan for Joseph to be forsaken and forgotten in prison, since that left him in the right place to fulfil his destiny at the right time.  Note to "interpret" does not mean to translate into another language as people are taught it means in Corinthians with speaking in tongues.  Everyone spoke the same language and understood the words of the stories (dreams); but only Joseph could both understand the language (words) AND the meaning behind the story. Their message, significance, "interpretation".

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VAYESHEV (And He Lived) Genesis 37:1 – 40:23; Amos 2:6 – 3:8; Romans 8:18–39

Shabbat shalom,  Welcome to Vayeshev (And He Lived), this week’s Torah / bible reading portion.  “Jacob lived in the land where his father had stayed, the land of Canaan.”  (Genesis 37:1).  

In last week’s Torah study, Jacob returned from Haran with his entire household to settle in the Land of Canaan.  After all the twists and turns of Jacob’s life, he longed to settle down in the land God had promised.  The original Hebrew uses the word yeshev, which means to settle.  In Israel, a settlement is called a yishuv, and those who settle in Israel, especially within the disputed territories of Judea and Samaria, do so at great risk from Palestinian terrorists who often live nearby.  In this study section, we learn about the trials of Jacob’s favourite son, Joseph, whom God had given the gift of dreams and their interpretation. Many of those dreams revealed Joseph’s future exalted position.  By relating these dreams to his brothers, however, Joseph fuelled their jealousy, which had already been aroused by their father’s favouritism toward Joseph, son of his favoured wife, Rachel.  The foundation of the events is Jacob had Joseph in his old age from one of his wives.  At age 17 Joseph had a dream which he relayed to his father and brothers Gen 37:2-5.  This implied Joseph would rise to rule over them and led the bothers to sell him into slavery, telling Jacob, their father, that Joseph was eaten by a wild animal.

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“VAYISHLACH” (And He Sent) Genesis 32:4 (3)–36:43; Hosea 11:7–12 (11); Obadiah 1:1–21; Ephesians 4:1–32.

Shalom All,  Welcome to this week’s Torah / Bible study section.  “And Jacob sent [vayishlach וַיִּשְׁלַח] messengers ahead of him to his brother Esau in the land of Seir, the country of Edom.”  (Genesis 32:4[3]). 

In last week’s study, Jacob left his unjust father-in-law, Laban, while he was off shearing his sheep.  Fearing that Laban would keep his daughters, Leah and Rachel, Jacob stole away with all he had: his sons, his wives, and all of his livestock, heading for the mountains of Gilead.  This group are the forerunners of those who entered Egypt and came out as the nation of Israel.  Note they consist of the household of Jacob, Gentile servants and wives included.  So from the outset God’s “my people” was and remain a composition of Jew and Gentile who live by His commandments.  No colour nor nation of birth differentiation; but a “mixed multitude” of obedient believers as would be in the promised new heaven and earth. 

After 22 years in Haran (a place in Mesopotamia), it was likely difficult for Jacob to free himself from Laban’s wicked manipulation and control, but he did succeed.  We can imagine that he was anticipating with great joy his return to his ancestral homeland of Canaan; however, in order to do so, he had to first pass through Edom, the territory of Esau, his estranged brother [Gen 36:1  Now these are the generations of Esau, who is Edom. Gen 36:2  Esau took his wives of the daughters of Canaan; Adah the daughter of Elon the Hittite, and Aholibamah the daughter of Anah the daughter of Zibeon the Hivite;  Gen 36:43 … these be the dukes of Edom, according to their habitations in the land of their possession: he is Esau the father of the Edomites]. 

Jacob’s Family Becomes a Nation. 

“Then the messengers returned to Jacob, saying, ‘We came to your brother Esau, and he also is coming to meet you, and four hundred men are with him.”  So Jacob was greatly afraid and distressed”  (Genesis 32:6–7). 

The time had come for Jacob to confront his past.  More than two decades had passed since Jacob had posed as his brother Esau and received the first-born blessing from their father.  The last time Jacob had seen Esau, he was filled with murderous rage, vowing to kill him; therefore, it is no wonder that Jacob felt anxiety at the prospect of seeing his brother again, especially upon learning that Esau was headed his way with 400 menHad Esau held a grudge against Jacob all these years?  Or had time eased the pain of betrayal and brought forgiveness?  Could the generous gifts of livestock sent ahead to Esau somehow appease his anger?  Jacob was about to find out.  Jacob was a man of strategy: he divided his family and the people with him, along with his flock, herds and camels, into two camps.  That way, if Esau attacked one camp, the other would survive (Genesis 32:8). 

The Bible does not simply call these camps family.  This is the first time that the Torah refers to those who are with Jacob as a nation (ha’am הָעָם).  “Jacob divided the people [ha’am, הָעָם] who were with him into two groups.”  (Genesis 32:7)  This is why (rightly or wrongly as some may argue) the Jewish people, even today, are called the house of Jacob.

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Vayetze (And He Left), Genesis 28:10 – 32:2; Hosea 12:13–14:10; John 4:1–26.

Shalom All, 

I have inserted some additional information and their source of the bible accounts of the following events.  Sources being from Josephus, the Jewish historian born about A.D. 37 and the book of Jasher which is mentioned in Jos 10:13 and 2Sa 1:18  of the Bible. 

Welcome to Vayetze (And He Left), this week’s study of the Word of God.  Genesis 28:10 – 32:2; Hosea 12:13–14:10; John 4:1–26.  “And Jacob went out from Beersheba.” (Genesis 28:10).  

Last week, in study section “Toldot”, Isaac’s wife Rebecca had a difficult pregnancy as the twin boys jostled within her.  When she inquired of Yahweh, He told her that two nations were in her womb and the elder (Esau) would serve the younger (Jacob).  This week, study section Vayetze (וַיֵּצֵא) describes Jacob’s travels to and his life in Harran, his mother's homeland, to find a wife and to flee the murderous plot of his brother Esau. 

Last week I gave you some references from the book of Jasher where you could find some additional information on the Esau, Jacob account.  They were chapters 27 – 32.  Today I shall extract from Josephus, the Jewish historian born A.D. 37.  Their birth is from chapter 18. Verse 5 reads:

  1. But when he was old, and could not see at all, he called Esau to him, and told him, that besides his blindness, and the disorder of his eyes, his very old age hindered him from his worship of God [by sacrifice]; he bid him therefore to go out a hunting, and when he had caught as much venison as he could, to prepare him a supper (32) that after this he might make supplication to God, to be to him a supporter and an assister during the whole time of his life; saying, that it was uncertain when he should die, and that he was desirous, by prayers for him, to procure, beforehand, God to be merciful to him.
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"Toldot" (Generations), Genesis 25:19–28:9; Malachi 1:1–2:7; Romans 9:6-29. “And these are the generations [toldot] of Yitzchak [Isaac],

Shalom All,  Welcome to this week’s Torah / bible reading Portion.   

In our last Torah / Bible portion), the son of Sarah and Abraham, Yitzchak (Isaac), carried on the legacy of his parents’ faith and obedience to Yahweh.  After his mother died, Abraham sent his servant to bring home a wife for Yitzchak from among Abraham’s kinsmen.  At the well where the women of the town would soon appear, the servant prayed for God’s help in locating the perfect woman/wife for Yitzchak.  Just then, Rivkah (Rebekah) arrived at the well to provide water for him and his camels.  Yitzchak was 40 when he took/married her (Gen 24:67  And Isaac brought her into his mother Sarah's tent, and took Rebekah, and she became his wife; and he loved). 

In this section we see similarities between Isaac and his wife Rebekah and that of Abraham his father and his wife Sarah.  The famine, promise and calling their wife their sister.   

Gen 26:1  And there was a famine in the land, beside the first famine that was in the days of Abraham. And Isaac went unto Abimelech king of the Philistines unto Gerar. Gen 26:2  And Yahweh appeared unto him, and said, Go not down into Egypt; dwell in the land which I shall tell thee of: Gen 26:3  Sojourn in this land, and I will be with thee, and will bless thee; for unto thee, and unto thy seed, I will give all these countries, and I will perform the oath which I sware unto Abraham thy father; Gen 26:4  And I will make thy seed to multiply as the stars of heaven, and will give unto thy seed all these countries; and in thy seed shall all the nations of the earth be blessed; Gen 26:5  Because that Abraham obeyed my voice, and kept my charge, my commandments, my statutes, and my laws. Gen 26:6  And Isaac dwelt in Gerar: Gen 26:7  And the men of the place asked him of his wife; and he said, She is my sister: for he feared to say, She is my wife; lest, said he, the men of the place should kill me for Rebekah; because she was fair to look upon. 

Prayer Brings Blessings: “Isaac prayed to Yahweh on behalf of his wife, because she was childless.  Yahweh answered his prayer [atar], and his wife Rebekah became pregnant.”  (Genesis 25:21).  In this week’s portion, we discover that Rivkah is barren.  She is one of seven women in the Torah who have difficulty conceiving; but finally come to bear children by the grace of God, in this case, in answer to her husband’s prayer.  This was not necessarily a one time prayer and it was granted.  Just because we pray once and do not receive an answer does not mean we should not continue praying!  God wants us to bring our requests to Him in the unity of faith.  Remember, Abraham was over 90 years old without child and Sarah laughed when angels told her she would conceive.  Had they or she stopped praying?  Maybe, when you think God has forgotten or is not coming through, He does the impossible so you know it is of Him.  Never give up on Yahweh, you will lose the bet. 

The Hebrew expression used in Genesis 25:21 for prayer (atar עָתַר), which can also mean to dig, is related to the Hebrew word for pitchfork (eter).

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"Chayei Sarah" (Life of Sarah). Genesis 23:1–25:18; 1 Kings 1:1–31; 1Pet 3:1-7.

Shalom All,   Welcome to this week’s Torah / Bible study section  “And the life of Sarah [Chayei Sarah] was a hundred and seven and twenty years; these were the years of the life of Sarah.”  (Genesis 23:1). 

Although the title of this week’s section, Chayei Sarah (חַיֵּי שָׂרָה), means Life of Sarah, it initially focuses on her death.  This corresponds with the Judaic thought that it is the awareness of death that gives more meaning to life.  In week 4, year 3, I mentioned when YHVH changed Abram’s and Sarai’s name, He added the English equivalent “H” of His name to their former name. 

Sarah is the only woman in the Bible to have a study section of the Torah named after her.  All the other Biblical characters of study sections are named after are men:  Balak, Pinchas, Korach, Noach and Yitro.  This underscores how important the matriarch Sarah is to our faith.  Sarah dies in Kiryat Arba, and her funeral is the first to be recorded in the Torah/Bible.  She is buried in the Tomb of the Patriarchs (Ma'arat HaMachpelah), the second holiest place of the Jews after the Temple Mount.  This burial place, in which the fathers and mothers of the Jewish faith are buried, is located in Hebron.  In “Chayei Sarah”, Abraham purchases this land for the full asking price.   In 2015 the Palestinians have asked the United Nations to rule both the Temple Mount wall and burial places of Abraham are Palestinian lands.   At that time the UN ruled on the former; but not the latter. 

Sarah’s Obedience Is Rewarded:  Last week’s study section (Vayera) ended with Abraham’s ultimate test, the binding and near sacrifice of his beloved son, Isaac (Yitzchak); but God provided an adult male ram for the sacrifice instead.  Remember it was Isaac’s idea and conversation with Ishmael that brought about this trial which was hid from his mother Sarah (book of Jasher).  In the New (second) Testament, we read of Sarah’s radical obedience to her husband as an example of faith and courage that women of God are encouraged to emulate:  “For this is the way the holy women of the past who put their hope in God used to adorn themselves.  They submitted themselves to their own husbands, like Sarah, who obeyed Abraham and called him her lord.  You are her daughters if you do what is right and do not give way to fear.”  (1 Peter 3:5–6).

Sarah demonstrated this radical obedience to her husband, first by leaving everything behind, including her home and family, to follow Abraham to a new land.  She did not know where they were going and had to live inside a tent in the desert like a stranger.  In order to protect her husband, she even agreed twice to enter a foreign king’s harems where she could have potentially been greatly harmed and defiled.  Still, even in this, she obeyed her husband.  God rewarded Sarah’s obedience and did indeed rescue her from Pharaoh's and King Abimilech’s harems.  Clearly it was God who did not allow the King of Gerar to touch Sarah:  “And God said to him in a dream, ‘Yes, I know that you did this in the integrity of your heart.  For I also withheld you from sinning against Me; therefore I did not let you touch her.’”  (Genesis 20:6).

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Vayera (And He Appeared) Genesis 18:1–22:24; 2 Kings 4:1–37; Luke 2:1–38.

Shalom All,  Welcome to this week’s Torah / bible study reading. Its named because Abraham receives in Hebron's plains of Mamre three mysterious guests.  “Yahweh appeared to Abraham near the great trees of Mamre while he was sitting at the entrance to his tent in the heat of the day.”  (Genesis 18:1). 

In last week’s section “Lech Lecha”, God sealed His Covenant with Abram, which promised the Land to his descendants as an eternal heritage.  Abraham, in obedience to the call of God, left the land of his fathers and journeyed to the Promised Land.  This week’s section contains more angelic activity than any of the other.  Angels appear to 99 year old Abraham as men, bringing messages to him and Sarah of a future child next year despite her 89+ year age.  They also save Lot from a hostile mob, lead Hagar to water for her son, and comfort her with the promise of Ishmael becoming a great nation.  It was only three days after he and his male household were circumcised in obedience to God as a sign of the covenant when he saw three strangers (Genesis 17:11). Household included 318 male servants in addition to him and Ishmael.  

Circumcision: The Brit Milah (covenant of circumcision) is Judaism’s oldest ritual.  It is the only mitzvah (instruction) that was carried out communally by the Israelites before entering the Promised Land.  In fact, God commanded Joshua to take flint knives in order to circumcise their sons because this covenant had not been exercised during the desert wanderings.  “Then Joshua circumcised their sons whom He raised up in their place; for they were uncircumcised, because they had not been circumcised on the way.  So it was, when they had finished circumcising all the people, that they stayed in their places in the camp till they were healed.  Then the LORD said to Joshua, ‘This day I have rolled away the reproach of Egypt from you.’”  (Joshua 5:7–9). 

While anyone can be circumcised simply for health reasons, when a Jewish person fulfills this instruction in order to be in covenant with God, it elevates the circumcision as an act of holiness.  The Brit Milah represents Hebrew believers bond with YHWH.  For this reason, it is considered by some people as something uniquely Jewish; circumcision started with Abraham and is the sign of the covenant between God, Abraham and his descendants forever.  In ancient times, Gentiles were, therefore, referred to as “the uncircumcised ones.”  For instance, when David referred to the giant Goliath, he called him an ”uncircumcised Philistine.”

“For who is this uncircumcised Philistine, that he should defy the armies of the living God?”  (1 Samuel 17:26) and the New Testament also refers to them as uncircumcised Act 11:3  Saying, Thou wentest in to men uncircumcised, and didst eat with them (see also Rom 4:12).  This is what led to the dispute in Acts 15:1 that unless the uncircumcised be circumcised they cannot enter the covenant and blessings of God.  However, Paul addresses this in Rom 4:11  And he received the sign of circumcision, a seal of the righteousness of the faith which he had yet being uncircumcised: that he might be the father of all them that believe, though they be not circumcised; that righteousness might be imputed unto them also:

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LECH LECHA (GO FORTH!) Genesis 12:1–17:27; Isaiah 40:27–41:16; Matthew 1:1–17

Shalom All,  Welcome to this week’s Torah / Bible study Portion of God’s instructions.  “Yahweh said to Abram, ‘Go forth [lech lecha] from your country, your people and your father’s household to the land I will show you ... and I will bless you.’”  (Genesis 12:1–2).  

In last week’s reading, Noach (Noah), concluded with a genealogy of Shem, Noah’s son.  That genealogy ended with Terah, father of Abram, Nahor and Haran.  Terah took his son Abram and Abram’s wife Sarai, as well as Lot, son of Haran, who had died, out of Ur of the Chaldeans and headed toward the Land of Canaan.  Instead of reaching their destination, however, they settled at Haran where Terah lived out the rest of his days.  In this week’s portion, at God’s command, Abram carries on with his father’s unfinished mission, to reach the Land of Canaan, the name given to the Promised Land at that time.  Gen 12:10  And there was a famine in the land: and Abram went down into Egypt to sojourn there; for the famine was grievous in the land.  To get Abram to go to Egypt, God caused a famine in the land in which he was.  Similarly to get Jacob / Israel to go to Egypt God did similar.  Gen 47:13  And there was no bread in all the land; for the famine was very sore, so that the land of Egypt and all the land of Canaan fainted by reason of the famine. 

This week we start with Abraham, the sole righteous man God chose to be the father of the righteous children.

Mat 1:1  The book of the generation of Yahshua (Jesus Christ), the son of David, the son of Abraham.  Mat 1:17  So all the generations from Abraham to David are fourteen generations; and from David until the carrying away into Babylon are fourteen generations; and from the carrying away into Babylon unto Christ are fourteen generations. 

Why does God have a love for Abraham and calls Himself the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob?  God said to Abraham “Go ye forth,” and Abraham went forth.  He said, “Sacrifice for me,” and he sacrificed.  He said to Isaac, “Stay,” and Isaac stayed.  He said to Jacob, “Go back,” and he went back.  Whatever He told them to do, they did.  In short Gen 26:5  Because that Abraham obeyed my voice, and kept my charge, my commandments, my statutes, and my laws. Deu 4:37  And because he loved thy fathers, therefore he chose their seed after them, and brought thee out in his sight with his mighty power out of Egypt;    See also Heb 11:16. God’s love is not limited to Israel only.  When Moses gave directives on how to get God’s love he was not only speaking to mixed multitude Israel but Deu 29:14  Neither with you only do I make this covenant and this oath; Deu 29:15  But with him that stands here with us this day before Yahweh our God, and also with him that is not here with us this day:  Deu 30:16  In that I command thee this day to love the LORD thy God, to walk in his ways, and to keep his commandments and his statutes and his judgments, that thou mayest live and multiply: and the LORD thy God shall bless thee in the land whither thou goest to possess it.

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Noach (Noah / Rest). Genesis 6:9–11:32; Isaiah 54:1–55:5; 1 Peter 3:8–22. “This is the account of Noah and his family.”

Welcome to this week’s Torah / bible study.  Shalom All, Welcome to this week’s Torah / bible study section titled Noach (Noah / Rest). Genesis 6:9–11:32; Isaiah 54:1–55:5; 1 Peter 3:8–22. “This is the account of Noah and his family.” (Genesis 6:9) In last week’s section we restarted the yearly Torah reading cycle of the Word of God from the very beginning with the study by the same name: Bereisheet (In the Beginning). This week, we continue our study in the first book of Moses with the Biblical character of Noah, the only righteous man “of his generation”. “Noah was a righteous man, blameless among the people of his time, and he walked faithfully with God.” (Genesis 6:9). In this section we should also note the existence of many things that are commonly taught to have originated with Moses and the creation of Israel. i.e. The year and a new beginning Gen 8:13 And it came to pass in the six hundredth and first year, in the first month, the first day of the month, the waters were dried up from off the earth: and Noah removed the covering of the ark, and looked, and, behold, the face of the ground was dry. Exo 12:2 This month shall be unto you the beginning of months: it shall be the first month of the year to you. So as we go through the 52 weeks of bible study this year let us see if indeed God is Act 10:34 Then Peter opened his mouth, and said, Of a truth I perceive that God is no respecter of persons: Act 10:35 But in every nation he that feareth him, and worketh righteousness, is accepted with him. Some people tend to divide the bible into 3 parts; before Moses, after Moses or Israel and the New Testament with Yahshua. Or even three groups of people; before Israel the Jews, Israel the Jews and New Testament gentiles. Then some say in each section God had different requirements for salvation or what He accepted and what He did not i.e. laws. Your salvation depends on you finding out what is biblically true and what is not. Empty your cup and let us fill it up solely with Word of God. Fixing A Sinful And Broken World. Why does God punish sin? Why does He care what we choose to do? Why should our personal choices be judged? If rats go uncontrolled they overrun the environment, spread disease and cause damage. If murderers go without control and punishment society is at risk of being controlled by bullies. Weaker persons get murdered and there is not much peace and happiness in society. If sin goes without control similar happens to society. That is many times God says to “put sin away” from the society by putting away the sinner. Human evil grieves God's heart. He observes the earth and its inhabitants like a Father who observes the behaviour of His children. He is like a king taking note of how events unfold in his kingdom. When a father sees his children involved in self-destructive behaviours, it grieves him. When a king sees his subjects living in open rebellion against him, it angers him. As God observed humanity in the days of Noah, He was saddened to see the rampant wickedness of His creations. He saw that every human heart “was evil continually”(Gen 6:5). "Yahweh was sorry that He had made man on the earth, and He was grieved in His heart" (Genesis 6:6). Then God said to Noah, "The end of all flesh has come before Me; for the earth is filled with violence because of them; and behold, I am about to destroy them with the earth." (Genesis 6:13).

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“Bereisheet” [In the Beginning] Genesis 1:1–6:8; Isaiah 42:5–43:10; John 1:1–18.

Shalom All,   Welcome to this week’s Torah / Bible study “In the beginning [Bereisheet] God [Elohim] created the heavens and the earth.”  (Genesis 1:1).  

Is it not wonderful to have a fresh start?  To have an opportunity to begin again and put previous failures right? This is the precious gift we are given each year at the completion of the fall feasts which includes the annual holy day of the Day of Atonement.  At this time the Jewish people also begin their annual reading of the instructions given to mankind by Yahweh God, through Moses.  The instructions given the synonym  of T.O.R.A.H (TORAH).  In an attempt to constantly be learning and maintaining them in their minds, heart and actions.  Added to these are specific readings of the prophets and, by the Messiah believing Jews and others, a section of the New Testament.  The first two being the Law and the Prophets constantly referred to by the Messiah (Yahshua) and the apostles. 

The instructions given by God are contained in the first five books of the Old Testament as these relate to words from God Himself.  They are divided into 52 weekly Torah sections (portions) called Parasha.  Each of which adopt their names from the first unique Hebrew word that appears in the reading, instead of being given a name or title from a theme in the text.  For regular readers, you may note me using either the words, portion, section or Parasha.  Both this first Parasha in the yearly cycle of Torah readings and the first book of the Bible take their name from the first unique word in the text “Bereisheet”, which means in the beginning.  In English, the book of Bereisheet is called Genesis. 

Sometimes the bible account leaves some questions in readers’ minds.  I have added extracts from other accounts not added to the common bible.  These being from the Apocrypha and Josephus’ writings. As this week’s Genesis account should be known to most readers, I have filled the content with an extract from Josephus on Genesis chapters 4 at the end of this week’s scriptures as an example of what is to come in the future. 

A Good Creation. 

Parasha Bereisheet opens with a dramatic, awe-inspiring narrative of the creation of our world.  In as few as 31 verses and 469 words, Genesis describes how God takes confusion and emptiness (tohu v’vohu תֹהוּ וָבֹהוּ) and creates a perfect, delicate balance of order and beauty. Forming an environment with all the necessities for human life; spiritual and physical. Spiritual because He also set up appointed times translated as “seasons” in Gen 1:14.  These are not summer, winter, rain or other seasons!  “The earth was unformed and void [tohu v’vohu], darkness was on the face of the deep, and the Spirit of God hovered over the surface of the water” (Genesis 1:2).

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"Ha’Azinu" (Listen), Deuteronomy 32:1–52; Hosea 14:2-10–51; John 20:26 – 21:25.

Shalom All,   Welcome this week’s Torah / bible study section.  “Give ear [Ha’Azinu], Oh heavens, and I will speak …”  (Deuteronomy 32:1).  Last week’s section, “Vayelech” concluded with Moses foreseeing that Israel would turn away from their covenant with God, causing Him to hide His face from them.  Still, Moses promised that the words of Yahweh God’s instructions (Torah) would not be “forgotten out of the mouths of their descendants” (Deuteronomy 31:21).  Moses gathered the people together to listen to a shir (song) called Ha’Azinu (Listen).  That song would always be a reminder of the consequences of turning from YHWH. 

This week’s study section, which is called Ha’Azinu, consists primarily of the 70 line song that Moses sang to the people of Israel on the last day of his life.  At the end, God commands Moses to go up to the top of Mount Nebo to catch a glimpse of the Promised Land before being “gathered unto His people” Deut 32:50.  He was not gathered onto those ending up in hell; but “his people” who are those of God.   God says many will be cut off or blot out from His people.  Many Israelites who sinned were cut off and many gentiles who were obedient as Cornelius in Acts 10:2 was “gathered unto” .  See the study “Cut off Blot Out” to see the criteria of being “gathered unto”.  Remember because of Moses and Aaron’s disobedience they lost the promise made to them of entering the land.  Despite all Moses’ good “works” and frustration in leading stiffnecked Israel.  Let that be a lesson to us of today, that stress of life nor actions of others does not count as an excuse for us.  We are to be longsuffering and endure to the end!  “Yet you shall see the land before you, though you shall not go there, into the land which I am giving to the children of Israel” (Deut 32:52). 

Moses is allowed to see the land, but not enter in.  It is a devastating disappointment and, yet, he ends his public life with a song he taught the survivours of the 40 year trek.   

THE SONG OF THE LAMB.

What is the nature of this song?  It begins by describing God’s loving kindness and faithfulness toward Israel, and it ends with a promise of vengeance, redemption and atonement for God’s land and people.

Rejoice, O Gentiles, with His people; for He will avenge the blood of His servants, and render vengeance to His adversaries; He will provide atonement for His land and His people” (Deuteronomy 32:43). 

It is not only the people of Israel who will rejoice with this final redemption.  The Gentiles (persons of other nations who obey) will rejoice together with God’s people as they will become part of His people.  God’s salvation is for all people, of every tongue, tribe, race and ethnic background.  All people, Jews and Gentiles can rejoice together in unity at the goodness of God the creator of all.  A portion of this song has severe words of rebuke against Israel for infidelity and unfaithfulness to God.  Not only would God “hide His face” from His people; but He would also render judgment.

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"Vayelech" Deuteronomy 31:1–30; Isaiah 55:6–56:8; Romans 10:14–21 (and others)

Shalom All, Welcome to this week’s Torah / Bible scripture study section “Be strong and of good courage, do not fear nor be afraid of them; for Yahweh God, He is the One who goes with you. He will not leave you nor forsake you” (Deuteronomy 31:6). Last week, in study section “Nitzavim”, God emphasized that we have freedom of choice to follow after the way of life or the way of death. In this week’s Torah section, Vayelech (וַיֵּלֶךְ), Hebrew for “then he went out” Moses invests Joshua with leadership and initiates the writing down of the Torah. Vayelech is the shortest Torah reading of the year, consisting of only one chapter. The reading for this particular appointed time of Yahweh (holy day called Sabbath), which comes after the feast of Trumpets (Yom Teruah; Lev 23:24) and before the Day of Atonement (Yom Kippur; Lev 23:27), falls during the Ten Days of Awe (Yamim Nora’im) during which time we are to seek Yahweh with sincere teshuvah (repentance) for our sins and call on the sacrifice blood of Yahshua His son as the cleansing. Heb 10:12 But this man, after he had offered one sacrifice for sins for ever, sat down on the right hand of God; Heb 10:26 For if we sin wilfully after that we have received the knowledge of the truth, there remains no more sacrifice for sins,. I once did a sermon that included this scripture and pointed out it does not say one has to understand or belief what they received; but simply receive it like a letter in your letter box or words to your ears. So if someone has told you about a wrong doing of yours and you refused to heed either did not believe or understand, you may still be guilty. In particular keeping the appointed times of God in Lev 23. This special appointed time (Shabbat) is called Shabbat Shuva (Sabbath of Return) because the special prophetic reading from the book of Hosea starts with Shuvu Yisrael (Return O Israel). Remember Israel are those who obey, by birth right or grafted in. [Deu 31:12 Gather the people together, men, and women, and children, and thy stranger (gentile) that is within thy gates, that they may hear, and that they may learn, and fear Yahweh your God, and observe to do all the words of this law:] It is also called Shabbat Teshuvah (Shabbat of Repentance) as it calls the people of God to turn from their sins and rebellion and to return to God. Shabbat Shuva actually has two special prophetic readings. Hosea 14:1 (2)–9 (10) emphasizes the importance of heartfelt repentance and Micah 7:18–20 praises God’s mercy.
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Nitzavim (You Are Standing), Deuteronomy 29:9–30:20, Isaiah 61:10–63:9, Romans 11:17–26.

Welcome to this week's Torah / bible study section.  “You are standing [nitzavim] today in the presence of Yahweh your God ….  You are standing here in order to enter into a covenant with Yahweh your God” (Deuteronomy 29:10–12).  

Last week’s study of the Torah / Bible titled “Ki Tavo” (When You Enter) concluded with Moses telling the people that just 40 years after they had attained nationhood, they had acquired “a heart to know, eyes to see and ears to hear.”  Reaching that point entailed a 40 year journey in the wilderness.  This week, in Nitzavim-Vayelech, the Jewish People stand before God about to enter into the covenant, a solemn oath with Him. 

United They Stood.

Standing together has different significance according to the occasion or reason.  Whether in unity to hear a national anthem or in response to cheering an action at a recreation event.  The Hebrew language has different words for standing up. The Hebrew of Deuteronomy 29:10 uses the word nitzavim (נצבים) when Moses says to the children of Israel, "You stand today, all of you, before the LORD your God." Nitzavim implies standing at attention, more akin to the pledge of allegiance than the home run standing.  Why were the Israelites collectively standing before God?  It was for one reason alone:  to enter into a covenant with Him.  The expression you are standing (atem nitzavim) is used almost 300 times in the Bible and always to enter into some kind of contract, pact or agreement.  All were invited to enter into the brit (covenant) with God, from the least to the greatest.  Everyone, from the leaders, elders and officers of tribes, to their wives and children had equal opportunity to receive a place in the Kingdom of God.  Even the ger (stranger or foreigner) was offered an equal place in the covenant with Elohim, in order “that He may establish you today as a people for Himself, and that He may be God (Elohim) to you.”  (Deuteronomy 29:13).  This covenant was unique in that it transcended any limitation of time or place.  It was made with “those standing there as well as with those who were not present at that time.”  (Deuteronomy 29:15).  After Israel broke this covenant, God promised through the Hebrew prophet Jeremiah a “New Covenant” (Brit Chadashah) for the people of Israel and Judah in Jeremiah 31:31-33. 

In synagogues or other religious events, there are certain parts of the service where everyone stands.  For example, whenever the doors of the ark (the chest that contains the Torah scroll) are opened, the entire congregation rises to their feet to express their reverence for God's Word. Certain prayers also require the congregation to stand and be mindful that they are in the presence of God. When a congregation stands together before God, it is more than a room full of individuals. By standing together to revere God, the congregation expresses itself as a single body.

In Deuteronomy 29, Moses knew that he was about to die. Before he left the children of Israel, he wanted to see them committed to the LORD. He asked the children of Israel to stand at attention in reverence before God. He had come to the end of his long depiction of the covenant, its history, its terms and obligations, and its consequences. Now it was time to invite the children of Israel to affirm their commitment to live according to everything that he had just said. 

When we stand before God as the great assembly of His Son, Yahshua, "there is no distinction between Greek and Jew, circumcised and uncircumcised, barbarian, Scythian, slave and freeman, there is neither male nor female; for [we] are all one in the Messiah Yahshua, and Messiah is all, and in all" (Galatians 3:28; Colossians 3:11). As believers, both heirs and coheirs with the great people of Israel, we should always endeavour to remember that differences and distinctions of person and station are irrelevant to our standing in Messiah.

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Ki Tavo (When You Enter), Deuteronomy 26:1–29:9 (8); Isaiah 60:1–22; 1 Peter 2:1–25.

Shalom All,   Welcome to  this week’s Torah / bible section study.  “When you have entered [ki tavo] the land Yahweh your God is giving you as an inheritance ... take some of the first fruits of all that you produce from the soil of the land Yahweh your God is giving you and put them in a basket.  Then go to the place Yahweh your God will choose as a dwelling for His name”  (Deuteronomy 26:1–2). 

Last week, in study section “Ki Tetze”, God gave to the Israelites 74 of the 613 commandments found in the Torah (His instructions for righteous living) far more than any other Torah / bible section.  These laws mostly seem to be concerned with protecting the weaker members of society.  They include the laws concerning the beautiful captive, paying workers in a timely fashion, and leaving a portion of the harvest in the field for the widow, the fatherless and the stranger. 

In this week’s section, Ki Tavo (When You Enter), God instructs Israel to bring the first-ripened fruits (bikkurim) to the central sanctuary once the Israelites have finally entered the Land He promised to them.  It must have been a relief for the children of Israel to hear that their prolonged, 40 year journey through the wilderness would finally be coming to an end.  They were about to cross over into the Promised Land.  In fact, the word in Hebrew for a Hebrew, Ivri, comes from the root I-V-R, which means to cross over.  In a spiritual sense, anyone who has crossed over into the Kingdom of God is an Ivri. 

For that reason, perhaps, Paul said that being a Jew is a matter of having a circumcised heart more than circumcised flesh.  For those of you beginning to understand Paul’s New Testament teachings, you should note they are from the Old Testament.  In this case found in Deut 10:16 and Jerimiah 4:4. He was not by any means negating circumcision; he was emphasizing that to cross over into the Kingdom of God, there must be an inward change.  Those who worship God, worship Him in Spirit and in truth.  They truly keep ALL His commandments in mind and action. 

“But he is a Jew who is one inwardly; and circumcision is that which is of the heart, by the Spirit, not by the letter; and his praise is not from men, but from God”  (Romans 2:29). 

The wilderness experience was so challenging and defining that future rabbinic texts consider any physical or spiritual desert as an enemy to be overcome, including problems.  Our challenge is to walk through the times of wilderness in our lives and be transformed so that we can enter the Promised Land.  Ki Tavo promises that obedience to God will be rewarded as He stipulates.  These rewards include divine protection, prosperity and blessings on families and future generations.  Disobedience and rebellion against God, however  result in punishment / correction.   The Word of God lists 98 chilling admonitions that take up half of this section.  These include diseases, plagues, poverty, famine, slavery and defeat by enemies.

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“Ki Tetze” (When You Go Out). Deuteronomy 21:10–25:19; Isaiah 54:1–10; 1 Corinthians 5:1–5.

Shalom All,   Welcome to this week’s Torah / Bible study section.  “Ki Tetze” (When You Go Out) “When you go forth [ki tetze] to battle against your enemies, and Yahweh delivers them into your hands …”  (Deuteronomy 21:10).  

Last week, in section “Shoftim” focused rather broadly on the system of worship, judicial procedures and the administration of the nation.  This week’s section of Scripture, “Ki Tetze”, includes 74 of the 613 commandments contained in the Torah.  These commandments include miscellaneous criminal, civil, and family laws as well as moral and religious duties of the Israelites.  I remind you to read Exodus 20:18-21 to see, if these verse were taken out, i.e. the people had not got afraid and moved, Yahweh’s instructions would have continued uninterrupted to Ex 23:33.  Moses wrote ALL these words in the book of Ex 24:4 to which the people agreed and the covenant was made in 24:7-8.  THEN Moses goes up to the Mount to get the sacrificial forgiveness of sin system for if and when they broke any of the 613 commandments in the covenant.  For a more comprehensive study read or listen to a sermon titled “What was written on Stone”. 

The Curse and Death on a Tree.   This Torah portion is a very practical compilation of teachings that squarely deals with most real-life situations: from inheritance rights of the firstborn to how to deal with stubborn, rebellious children; from returning lost objects to their owner to building safety fences around the roof of a home in order to prevent loss of life.  From protection of the living to how to treat the body of the deceased. 

The ethical treatment of a corpse extends to criminals hung on a tree after being convicted of a capital offence.  They have to be taken down and buried on the same day.  Bodies could not be left overnight, since anyone hung on a tree is considered cursed by God.  Joh 19:31  The Jews therefore, because it was the preparation, that the bodies should not remain upon the cross on the sabbath day, (for that sabbath day was an high day,) besought Pilate that their legs might be broken, and that they might be taken away

“If a man guilty of a capital offense is put to death and you hang him on a tree [וְתָלִ֥יתָ אֹתֹ֖ו עַל־עֵֽץ], his corpse shall not remain on the tree overnight.  You must bury it the same day; anyone who is hanged is a curse of God.”  (Deuteronomy 21:22–23).  Act 5:30  The God of our fathers raised up Yahshua, whom ye slew and hanged on a tree.  Act 10:39  And we are witnesses of all things which he did both in the land of the Jews, and in Jerusalem; whom they slew and hanged on a tree: Act 13:29  And when they had fulfilled all that was written of him, they took him down from the tree, and laid him in a sepulchre.  (Note not a cross).

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“Shoftim” (Judges). Deuteronomy 16:18–21:9; Isaiah 51:12–52:12; Mark 14:53–64.

Shalom,   Welcome to this week’s Torah / Bible study section.  “Appoint judges [shoftim] and officials [shotrim] for each of your tribes in every town Yahweh  your God is giving you, and they shall judge [shafat] the people fairly [tzedek mishpat / righteous judgment].”  (Deuteronomy 16:18). 

Last week, in section “Re'eh”, God set a blessing and a curse before the Israelites.  The blessing was a result of obeying God's commandments and the curse of forsaking them.  In this week’s study section, Moses instructed the nation of Israel in the appointing of judges (called shoftim in Hebrew) and law enforcement officers (called shotrim) to administer justice.  These judges and officers would not only teach; but also interpret the laws (instructions from God) of the Torah.  What is the difference between a judge and an officer?  A judge refers to one qualified to deliver judgements according to the laws of the Torah.  The officer then enforces these legal judgements, even by force if necessary. 

For those who may have forgotten or are new to these articles, you will see the name of God YHWH (Yahweh, Yahovah), in places where your bible has “the Lord” because translators made the change and I am reverting it back to what it was.  Also Yahshua, His son’s actual Hebrew name rather than the Greek or English imposed derivative Jesus. 

The Hebrew prophet Isaiah promised that there would come a day when judges would be restored as in the days of old:  “I shall restore your judges [shoftim] as at first, and your counsellors [yaats] as at the beginning” (Isaiah 1:26).  Although Isaiah mentions the judges, the officers do not appear in this prophecy, but rather “counsellors.” 

Why will counsellors replace the role of officers?  In the days of redemption, when the Messiah returns to rule and reign in righteousness, there will be no need for “enforcers” of the Torah.  In the Messianic era, all will have such a deep desire to follow and obey Yahweh that only counsellors will be needed to explain and clarify (not to enforce) the decisions of the judges.  Even today (before that great day of Yahweh that is to come) those who are truly in Messiah do not need external coercion to keep God’s commandments and judgements.  For when we have been given a new heart and a new spirit, there arises within us a desire to keep God’s laws and commandments, not in a spirit of legalism (a concept that does not exist in God’s Torah); but out of a heart of love:

“I will put My Spirit within you and cause you to walk in My statutes, and you will be careful to observe My ordinances” (Ezekiel 36:27). 

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Re’eh (See/ Behold). Deuteronomy 11:26–16:17; Isaiah 54:11–55:5 [66:1-24]; Matthew 7:9–29.

Shalom All,   Welcome to this week’s Torah / Bible Portion study.  “See (רְאֵה Re’eh),” says Moses to the people of Israel, “I place before you today a blessing and a curse: the blessing, if you obey the commandments of YHWH your God which I command you today; and the curse, if you do not obey the commandments of YHWH your God, but turn aside from the way which I command you today, to go after other gods which you have not known.” (Deuteronomy 11:26–28). 

Last week in study section called “Eikev”, Moses promised the Israelites that if they were obedient to the commands of the Torah (Yahweh’s righteous living instructions), they would prosper in the Promised Land.  This week, as the children of Israel stand poised to cross over into the Jordan, God sets before the people two separate and distinct directions:  a way of blessing if they choose to obey God’s commandments and a way of cursing if they choose to walk in disobedience to those laws.  These are universal and eternal commands, so apply today.  These two directions, the blessing and the curse, are to be proclaimed on two mountain tops in the Land:  Mount Gerizim and Mount Ebal.  “Now it shall be, when Yahweh your God has brought you into the land which you go to possess, that you shall put the blessing on Mount Gerizim and the curse on Mount Ebal”  (Deuteronomy 11:29). 

Today, Nablus rests between Mount Gerizim and Mount Ebal, the mountains on which the Israelites were commanded to pronounce the blessings and curses upon entering the Promised Land.  This is also the location of Biblical Shechem, the place where Abram built an altar to Yahweh (Genesis 12:6–8). 

After the giving of Gods instructions and His keeping of His covenant made with Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, to bring their descendants into a promised land, almost the whole bible after is the record of how they kept or broke His commandments.  The punishments, inclusive of exile, scattering and death of those that disobeyed.  It was an extremely serious matter that led Daniel to fast and pray for forgiveness of his sins and that of the nation.  Do you really think God would excuse those of today breaking the same instructions?  It makes no sense if that is your belief.  Deu 11:32  And ye shall observe to do all the statutes and judgments which I set before you this day. 

Each one of us has been given this same choice to follow Him or not; in fact, the entire direction of our lives depends on which path we choose, the path of the blessing or of the curse.  Yahshua (thought to be Jesus by many) the Messiah also told us of two paths, the narrow path that leads to life and the broad path that leads to destruction. Sadly, it seems that few choose the narrow path.  Most walk that broad path of destruction.

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“Eikev” (Because). Deuteronomy 7:12–11:25; Isaiah 49:14–51:3; John 14:1-31.

Shalom,  Last week, in study section Va'etchanan, Moses predicted that the people in future generations would be exiled from the Promised Land and scattered among the nations because they would turn from God and worship idols.  But Moses also foresaw that in the last days they would once again seek Him and obey His commandments.  The title of this week’s section, Eikev, means because.  It is used in this study as a conjunction to create a relationship between experiencing God’s blessings and obedience to His Torah.  In connection with this, the prophetic study section for this week contains an important prophecy that provides us with added insight into how to walk in the blessings of God through faith and obedience.  These three,  faith, obedience, and blessings, are seen operating in our forefather Abraham, who first believed and then out of faith, obeyed God and was circumcised.  Abraham exemplified the concept that obedience is more than exercising our will over our own flesh; it is faith in action.  Out of his faith flowed obedience to God. 

In Genesis 15:6, we see that his faith was counted to him as righteousness, and the ancient Hebrew prophet Yeshayahu (Isaiah) beckons us to look to Abraham, our father of faith.  We are to be like him; putting faith into action.  Then we too will experience the blessings that flow from obedience.  “Listen to me, you pursuers of justice, you who seek YHWH: consider the rock from which you were cut, the quarry from which you were dug; consider Abraham your father and Sarah, who gave birth to you …”  (Isaiah 51:1–2). 

Eikev: The Heel of Messiah. 

The word eikev comes from the verb akav, which means to take by the heel.  Similarly, the Hebrew noun akev means heel, as in the heel of a foot.  All of these words share the root letters ayin-kof-vet.  The word akev is first used in Genesis in an important prophecy: the seed of Chava (Eve) will eventually crush the head of the serpent.  “And I will put enmity between you [the serpent] and the woman, and between your offspring and hers; He will crush your head, and you will strike His heel [akev].”  (Genesis 3:15).

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“Va’etchanan” (And I Pleaded). Deuteronomy 3:23–7:11; Isaiah 40:1–26; John 10:1–42

Shalom All, Welcome to this week’s Torah / Bible study.  “Then I pleaded [va’etchanan] with Yahweh at that time, saying:  ‘O Yahweh God, You have begun to show Your servant Your greatness and Your mighty hand, for what god is there in heaven or on earth who can do anything like Your works and Your mighty deeds?”  (Deuteronomy 3:23–24)

In last week’s study section “Devarim”, the Israelites stood poised at the edge of the Promised Land, on the east side of the Jordan, ready to cross over and possess the Land.  Before they crossed, Moses summarizes for the people their 40-year history of wandering in the wilderness. Included in this week’s section are several of the best known and fundamental passages of Scripture in the entire Tanakh (Old Testament), including what is termed the Ten Commandments and the Shema (Listen! or Hear and Do!) a call in Deuteronomy 6:4–9 to love the one true God with all our being.  This passage also exhorts us to pass on our faith to the next generation by faithfully teaching the Torah (Instructions of Yahweh God) to our children.  

Deut 6:4-5  [Hear, Isra’el! Yahweh our God, is one master]; and you are to love Yahweh your God with all your heart, all your soul and all your strength.”  This is the first prayer spoken in the morning and the last said in the evening before sleep.  It is often the final prayer on the lips of a Jewish person on their deathbed, and it has been uttered by many Jewish martyrs as they gave up their spirits to Yahweh. 

These verses of Scriptures are so central to Judaism (and should be for all believers in Yahweh and Yahshua) that they are written on a parchment and placed in a small box worn on the forehead called tefillin (phylacteries) and also in small, decorated boxes called mezuzot (plural of mezuzah) on the doorposts of Jewish homes. This is done in literal fulfilment of commands found in this week’s study: “Tie them as symbols on your hands and bind them on your foreheads.  Write them on the door frames of your houses and on your gates” (Deuteronomy 6:8–9).

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“Devarim” (Words). Deuteronomy 1:1–3:22; Isaiah 1:1–27; Mark 14:12–26.

Shalom All, 

Welcome to this week's Torah / Bible study.  “These are the words [Devarim] which Moses spoke to all Israel on this side of the Jordan in the wilderness” (Deuteronomy 1:1).  Last week’s readings in the Book of Bamidbar (Numbers) concluded with Torah portion “Matot–Masei”.  This week, we begin the Book of Devarim (Deuteronomy), with the Torah / bible section that is also called Devarim.  In this study section, Moses retells the wilderness saga and reviews with all the people everything that Yahweh had ordered them.  He begins with God’s directive at mount Horeb to get moving and take the Promised Land, which extends from the Mediterranean Sea to the Euphrates River, including the lands of Ammon, Moab, and Edom.  The book of Deuteronomy begins, “These are the words which Moses spoke to all Israel.  Devarim in the Hebrew name of the book.  Deuteronomy comes from the Greek meaning of the repetition of the law.  A person should never consider himself to be above learning Torah. If the Torah really does convey the words of the living God, then it continues to impart revelation regardless of how many times a person has read it. It will always be new. When Moses recapitulated the Torah in the words of Deuteronomy, he delivered the same Torah, but it became like new material as he spoke it. 

The second redeemer, the Messiah, will be like the first redeemer. Just as Moses reiterated the Torah and it became like a new Torah as he did, the Messiah will reveal a “New Torah” to the world in the Messianic Era. Then the Torah will go out from Zion. All nations will ascend to Messianic Jerusalem to learn Torah from the Messiah. The Messiah’s “New Torah will go forth” to all nations, as it says, “A Torah will go forth from Me, and I will set My justice for a light of the peoples” (Isaiah 51:4). 

The New Torah of Messiah is not a different Torah, nor does it contradict anything in the Torah of Moses. Instead, the New Torah reveals the spiritual Torah behind the Torah of Moses, that is, the hidden will and wisdom of God. It will be the same Torah, but the Messiah will reveal the inner meanings. He will open the spiritual dimensions of the Torah and show us the things hidden in the Torah. The written scroll of Moses containing Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, and Deuteronomy can be compared to the physical body; the Torah of Messiah is like the divine soul which animates the body.

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