B'reshith, 5776

"in a beginning"

In a beginning; with these words the most incredible, awe-inspiring, enduring and life-changing book that has ever been written begins. Some call it simply The Bible, others The Scriptures and some The Torah or The Tanakh. Whichever title you choose, if this book is to have the impact on your life Y’H’V’H and our Messiah desires that it has, then you must accept that it is the unalterable, unchangeable, eternal Word of our Elohim and Creator. You must understand that in this Word, that has been handed down to us from generation to generation for almost six thousand years, our Father sets before us the freedom to choose whether or not we will obey Him.

Despite nearly six thousand years of man’s theology and teachings, this is the simple truth of His Word. We either accept Him as Sovereign and obey Him or we chose to determine what is right in our own minds. From the beginning, our forefathers have done just that; they have chosen to determine what is right in their own minds and have failed to honor Elohim’s commandments.

Our opening par’sha of Torah spans B’reshith 1.1 through 6.8; starting from an undated beginning and continuing through the six days of this Creation, to man’s fall and concluding with Y’H’V’H’s declaration that He was going to wipe off man whom He created from the face of the ground, both man and beast, creeping creature and birds of the heaven, for He was sorry He made us.6.7 What happened? What did man do that was so terrible in the eyes of our Father that it brought us to the brink of extinction?

Mosheh wrote that after forming the man, הָֽאָדָ֗ם, out of the dust of the earth, He planted a garden in Eden, in the east, and put man there. Among the trees and other things Y’H’V’H made to grow in this garden, Gan Eden, were the Tree of Life and the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil. Man was given commandments to live by in this garden and among them were:

for them to be fruitful and increase

to fill the earth and subdue it

to rule over the fish of the sea, birds of the heavens and over all the creeping creatures on the earth.

Man was given every plant that yields seed and every tree whose fruit yields seed for food…

while the beast of the earth, the birds of the heavens and every creeping creature on the earth that had been given a living nefesh (soul) was given every green plant for food.1.28-20

Man was placed in the garden to work it and guard it2.15 AND

was commanded not to eat of the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil and warned that if he did eat of it, in that day he would certainly die.2.17

These were among the first commandments given ha’Adam.

Some time later, after no help-mate could be found for ha’Adam among the rest of Y’H’V’H’s creation, Y’H’V’H Elohim caused a deep sleep to fall on the man, took a bone from his side and created a woman. He joined the two together stating that the two shall become one flesh.2.24

Then, as chapter three opens, the nachash enters the story. The Hebrew text is clear, this was the nachash, not just any nachash, but a particular one. ha’Nachash הַנָּחָשׁ֙ is a Hebrew term that refers to a serpent, but the shoresh means to conjure or to advance to the future through magic. In B’reshith 44.5 this shoresh is used for the word divines, referring to the cup Yosef’s servants told his brothers he used to divine. In B’midbar 23.23 it is translated as omen, or sorcery and these passages give us a glimpse into the character and intentions of the nachash. This nachash was our adversary, ha’satan. He came to the woman, who is later namedChavah3.20, with questions designed to confuse the truth. He asked her,Is it true that Elohim has said, ‘Do not eat of every tree of the garden?’ when in fact Y’H’V’H Elohim had told Adam to eat of every tree of the garden, but not of the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil.2.16-17

Chavah at first answered truthfully; they were to eat of all the trees of the garden except the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil. Then she added to what they had been commanded; they were not only not to eat of it, they were not to touch it, lest they die. It was then that the father of lies lied to Chavah, You shall certainly not die, for Elohim knows that in the day you eat of it your eyes shall be opened, and you shall be like Elohim, knowing good and evil3.4-5 and Chavah choose to believe ha’satan, the nachash, instead of Elohim.

The navi Yeshayahu tells us that this had been ha’satan’s desire as well at one time. Ha’satan had once declared, let me go up above the heights of the clouds, let me be like the Most High.Yesh.14.14 Now he would attempt to use what brought about his downfall to bring about the downfall of the man who had been created in the image and likeness of Elohim Himself. Had it not been for Y’H’V’H’s love, mercy and grace he may well have succeeded.

Later, when the Voice of Elohim confronted ha’Adam in the garden, the man confessed his sins, but blamed his failure on the woman Y’H’V’H had given him. For her part, Chavah confessed that the nachash had deceived her and she had eaten of it. The damage had been done and man’s relationship with his Creator changed.

As for the serpent, Y’H’V’H Elohim commanded that it would be more cursed than all the livestock and more than every beast of the field. He would go about on his belly and eat dust all the days of your life. Y’H’V’H Elohim also placed enmity between the serpent and the woman and between her Seed and the serpent’s seed. Chavah’s seed would one day crush the nachash’s head, but the seed of the nachash would also bruise the heel of Chavah’s seed. This may well be the first mention of the Promised Messiah’s work in the Torah.

Something that is often missed in this passage from B’reshith 3.14-15 is the fact that although only ha’Adam, Chavah and the nachash were involved in this sin against Y’H’V’H Elohim, all of creation was affected. The nachash would be more cursed than all the livestock and beasts of the field, but all the other animals would be cursed as well. Before Y’H’V’H finished speaking that day, this curse would extend to the ground itself.

He told Chavah that because of her part in their rebellion against Him, He had greatly increased her sorrow and her conception - bring forth children in pain. And your desire is for your husband, and he does rule over you.3.16

And to Adam He said, Because you have listened to the voice of your wife and have eaten of the tree which I commanded you not to eat of,Cursed is the ground because of you, in toil your are to eat of it all the days of your life, and the ground shall bring forth thorns and thistles for you, and you shall eat the plants of the field. By the sweat of your face you are to eat bread until you return to the ground, for out of it you were taken. For dust you are, and to dust you return.3.17-19

The rest, as they say, is history. ha’Adam’s children didn’t learn to master sin and as a result, Qayin’s sins eventually led to murder and even more chastisement from Y’H’V’H. Over the next thousand years ten generations were born and died, but in their names Y’H’V’H revealed His plan to redeem men from the penalty of our sins. These ten generations are listed in B’reshith 5.1-29. They are:

Adam, whose name means man or mankind

Sheth, whose name means appointed

Enosh, whose name means mortal, or fallen, man

Qeynan, whose name means sorrow, or one who laments

Mahalal’el, whose name means blessed El, or praise El

Yered, whose name means descend, or shall come down

Chanok, whose name means teaching

Methushelah - whose name means death shall bring, or from death comes (it can also mean deluge)

Lemek, whose name means sorrowful, or despairing

Noach, whose name means comfort.

The meanings of the names of these ten men reveal Y’H’V’H Elohim’s plan to redeem mankind from our fall: Man is appointed mortal sorrow, but the Blessed El shall come down teaching that His death shall bring the despairing comfort. The message has been there almost from the beginning, at least for those who are willing to seek out the matters Y’H’V’H has concealed in His Word.

There have been those, such as Noach, Avraham and others who have remained faithful to Y’H’V’H throughout their lives, but mankind in general leans toward rebellion against Y’H’V’H’s Word. More often than not, mankind tends to decide what is right in his own understanding rather than accept the Word of Y’H’V’H. Melek Da’vid said it best in T’hillim 106:

106:1 Praise Yah! Oh, give thanks to יהוה, For He is good! For His kindness is everlasting.

106:2 Who does relate the mighty acts of יהוה? Or declare all His praise?

106:3 Blessed are those who guard right-ruling, Who do righteousness at all times!

106:4 Remember me, O יהוה, in the acceptance of Your people; Visit me with Your deliverance,

106:5 To see the good of Your chosen ones, To rejoice in the gladness of Your nation, To make my boast with Your inheritance.

106:6 We have sinned with our fathers, We have acted perversely, We have done wrong.

106:7 Our fathers in Mitsrayim did not understand Your wonders; They did not remember Your many kindnesses, But rebelled by the sea, the Sea of Reeds.

106:8 But He saved them for His Name’s sake, To make known His might.

106:9 And He rebuked the Sea of Reeds, and it dried up; And He led them through the depths, Through a wilderness.

106:10 And He saved them from the hand of the hater, And redeemed them from the hand of the enemy.

106:11 And waters covered their adversaries; Not one of them was left.

106:12 Then they believed His words; They sang His praise.

106:13 They soon forgot His works; They did not wait for His counsel,

106:14 But greedily lusted in the wilderness, And tried Ěl in the desert.

106:15 And He gave them their request, But sent leanness within their being.

106:16 And they were jealous of Mosheh in the camp, Of Aharon, the set-apart one of יהוה,

106:17 Then the earth opened up and swallowed Dathan, And covered the company of Aḇiram.

106:18 And a fire burned in their company; A flame consumed the wrong.

106:19 They made a calf in Ḥorĕḇ, And bowed down to a moulded image.

106:20 Thus they changed My esteem Into the form of an ox that eats grass.

106:21 They forgot Ěl their Saviour, The Doer of great deeds in Mitsrayim,

106:22 Of wonders in the land of Ḥam, Of awesome deeds by the Sea of Reeds.

106:23 Then He said that He would destroy them, Had not Mosheh His chosen one stood before Him in the breach, To turn away His wrath from destroying them.

106:24 They then despised the pleasant land; They did not believe His word,

106:25 And they grumbled in their tents, They did not listen to the voice of יהוה.

106:26 So He lifted up His hand in an oath against them, To make them fall in the wilderness,

106:27 And to make their seed fall among the gentiles, And to scatter them in the lands.

106:28 And they joined themselves to Ba‛al Pe‛or, And ate slaughterings made to the dead.

106:29 Thus they provoked Him with their deeds, And the plague broke out among them.

106:30 Then Pineḥas stood up and intervened, And the plague was stopped.

106:31 And that was reckoned to him for righteousness To all generations forever.

106:32 And they provoked wrath at the waters of Meriḇah, And Mosheh suffered on account of them;

106:33 Because they embittered his spirit, And he spoke rashly with his lips.

106:34 They did not destroy the peoples, As יהוה had commanded them,

106:35 But mixed with the gentiles And learned their works,

106:36 And served their idols, And they became a snare to them.

106:37 And they slaughtered their sons And their daughters to demons,

106:38 And they shed innocent blood, The blood of their sons and daughters, Whom they offered to the idols of Kena‛an; And the land was defiled with blood.

106:39 So they became unclean by their own works, And went whoring by their own deeds.

106:40 And the wrath of יהוה burned against His people, And He loathed His own inheritance.

106:41 Then He gave them into the hand of the gentiles, And those who hated them ruled over them.

106:42 And their enemies oppressed them, And they were humbled under their hand.

106:43 Many times He delivered them; But they rebelled in their plans, So they were brought low for their crookedness.

106:44 But He would look on their distress, When He heard their cry,

106:45 And remember His covenant for their sake, And relent according to the greatness of His kindness.

106:46 And He would let them find compassion, Before all those holding them captive.

106:47 Save us, O יהוה our Elohim, And gather us from among the gentiles, To give thanks to Your set-apart Name, To exult in Your praise.

106:48 Blessed be יהוה Elohim of Yisra’ĕl From everlasting to everlasting! And all the people shall say, “Amĕn!” Praise Yah!

 

There are literally millions of books written about theology. Mr. Webster defines theology as the study of religious faith, practice, and experience; especially: the study of God and of God's relation to the world. Others define theology as the systematic and rational study of concepts of God and of the nature of religious ideas, but can also mean the learned profession acquired by completing specialized training in religious studies, usually at a university, seminary, or school of divinity.1 Probably a better understanding of this word theology is simply man’s way of attempting to explain Y’H’V’H’s way in such a way as it proves to be the least obtrusive to our lives. This is probably the reason why the word theology is not found in the Tanakh, or the Scriptures.

There are some simple truths contained in this first par’sha of the Torah. Among them are:

all the problems of this world are a result of our disobedience to Y’H’V’H

our disobedience resulted in the slaughter of millions of His animals and ultimately of His Son to redeem us from the penalty of our disobedience.

the only solution to the troubles of this world is t’shuvah - repenting of our disobedience and turning back to guarding His commandments. None of this can be done apart from Messiah Y’hoshua.

Men, governments, religions, institutions of higher learning and others invest millions of dollars and countless hours of research in their attempts to solve the world’s problems. They will all fail unless they come to the one solution that works: repenting and living in obedience to His Word.

Our Father knew all of this before the foundations of this world were laid. He knew we would rebel and He knew it would require the suffering and slaughter of His Son. He also wanted us to know who much He loves us - so He told us, in advance and then He showed us. Now the question is simple - no theology, no long religious dissertations, just a simple question: how much do we love Him? You want to solve the world’s problems - teach them about the Messiah and to guard Y’H’V’H’s word. Nothing else will work.

The rest of this Bible - from Par’sha Noach to the end of Revelation - is all about answering that question: how much do we love Him?

Shabbat shalom.

Yosef

27 Tishrei 5776

10 October 2015

 

 

1 Princeton University