Texts: Genesis 12:1 – 17:27 || Isaiah 40:27 – 41:16 (Haftarah)
NOTE: Kol HaTor, in its commentaries on the weekly Parashot, endeavours to search for and accentuate the Torah Messages contained in the Parashot as applicable to the main Theme of Tanach of the Return of the House of Israel, i.e. the Lost Ten Tribes of Northern Israel and their Reconciliation with Judah to form the reunited 12-Tribed Kingdom of Israel.
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In order for us to retain the context of our previous 2 Readings in the larger Scheme of things, let us summarize the main conclusions:
We reviewed the vast magnitude of the Universe – and that G-d had created it – ALL for the sake of – the crown of His Creation: Humanity
We contemplated on the seeming Divine Intention being to bring a righteous humanity into a form of co-opted rule of the earth – with Him – hence His persistence to continue the earthly dispensation of mankind, even for the sake of ONE righteous man, Noach, after the destruction of life on earth through the Flood because of the wickedness of mankind.
In our 3rd Reading, Lech Lecha, this week, we will learn of the refining of the Divine Intent for mankind.
“Lech Lecha” means “get yourself going”. In Lech Lecha, G-d defines the genealogical “Body” through whom He would refine a Ruling Authority over mankind (to govern with Him). God calls Abram – out of his current familial surroundings to for this purpose, to an unknown land of destiny. Abraham’s great future lineage and the borders of his Land of heritage will be clearly defined and shown to Abram. The conditions for such a relationship with the Divine will progressively be formulated.
Gen. 12:2 “I will make you into a great nation, and I will bless you; I will make your name great; and all peoples on earth will be blessed through you.”
Gen. 12:6 Abram traveled through the land as far as the site of the great tree of Moreh at Shechem. At that time the Canaanites were in the land. 7 HaShem appeared to Abram and said, “To your offspring I will give this land.”
This meeting with G-d took place, according to tradition and the directives of the above texts, on Mt. Kabier, at Elon Moreh, – in the heart of the Shomron, Israel. From this mountain top one has a wonderful 360 degree view of the Promised Land
At another occasion and place in the Land, G-d promised:
Gen.13:16 “I will make your offspring like the dust of the earth, so that if anyone could count the dust, then your offspring could be counted.”
Gen. 15:5 “He took him outside and said, “Look up at the sky and count the stars if indeed you can count them.” Then He said to him, “So shall your offspring be.”
And then follows the Promise of what today is referred to as “The Greater Israel” – a term which even the current government of Israel frowns upon for its dire political implications!
Gen. 15:18 2On that day HaShem made a covenant with Abram and said, 2To your descendants I give this land, from the Wadi of Egypt to the great river, the Euphrates” 19 the land of the Kenites, Kenizzites, Kadmonites, 20 Hittites, Perizzites, Rephaites, 21 Amorites, Canaanites, Girgashites and Jebusites.”
The Full Restoration of Israel
Here, in just the 3rd section of the annual Jewish Reading Cycle of the Bible, we encounter the foundational pillars of the entire Kingdom Message of the Bible – its Main Theme: The Restoration of the full 12-Tribed House of Israel, also termed “The Redemption.” Through this Body of people, He would rule over the world of the future. It is for this reason that the G-d of Perfection has to endure the negative effects of a mankind which is imbued with Free Choice between Evil and Good.
Ezek. 20:9 “…for My Name’s sake, that it should not be polluted before the heathen, among whom they were, in whose sight I made Myself known unto them, in bringing them out (to the Promised Land). 41 I will accept you …. when I bring you out from the nations, and gather you out of the countries wherein ye have been scattered; and I will be sanctified in you before the heathen. 42 And ye shall know that I am HaShem, when I shall bring you into the land of Israel, into the country for which I lifted up mine hand to give it to your fathers.
G-d promised Abram the land of Canaan as well as a promise of physical multiplicity of his seed (sperm). Abram was told that this Promise of physical multiplicity will be so vast and so extensive that the entire earth will literally be full of his seed. Verse 16 tells us that by the time this Promise is literally and physically brought to pass it will be absolutely impossible for mankind to even count it or take a census of for its vastness.
In Genesis 15, frustrated for having no descendants at this age of in the 80’s, Abram suggested to G-d that his servant Eliezer, a Gentile, who is not a physical offspring of Abram, should be the one through whom that Promise would be brought to pass. However, G-d rebukes Abram and makes it clear to him that His promise of physical multiplicity would not come through an adopted Gentile, but through Abram’s own body or seed. It is because of Abram’s pure faith and trust in HaShem that he receives imputed righteousness as a result of his believing and trusting in His Promise. This Promise must be taken at literal face value. Any tendency to somehow spiritualize this Promise is a lack of faith in HaShem’s literal Word. That would be the very opposite of the faith of Abram.
The Promise of “uncountable descendants” cannot possibly refer to only 15 million Jews in the world today. It implies more – far more. The Jews of today are remnants of the ancient Tribe of Judah (which included remnants of other Tribes). Judah remained identified throughout time to represent “the Kingdom of Israel” – ref. Scripture quotations further down). But there were TWELVE Tribes to whom the Divine Promises applied (as declared by G-d and through the Patriarchs of Israel – Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Yosef ), They are descendants of Abraham, who went lost entirely in exile amongst the nations since some 750 years BCE. These lost and unidentified multitudes are destined, by Divine Oath, to return to their Hebrew heritage and to the Land promised to Abraham and his multitudinous descendants.
Latest estimates of the number of Lost Ten Tribers (of the House of Israel) calculate one to two billion people! An ancient Rabbinic source also confirms this. Add to this the potential number of “Lost” Jews (i.e. through assimilation and forced conversions during the last 2000 years under persecution in exile) and this number could increase drastically even further. Then there are commentators who would like to add to this figure the multitudes of descendants of Jewish men who married outside of the faith, and though Jewish Halacha do not recognize their descendants as Jewish, G-d may well recognize them.
It is also noteworthy – and it should be of great concern for Jews and Jewish authorities today – that to settle Greater Israel, it will require a population of multi millions of people. Such figures simply do not exist in Judaism, which only recognizes Jews for citizenship of modern Israel.
The foresight of HaShem in returning the Lost House of Israel from exile amongst the nations, back to the Land Promised to Abraham, is evident from the following Prophecy in Isaiah and Zechariah, which refers to the territory of the Greater Israel. Even then the Land will be too small to house the “innumerable” descendants of Abraham!:
Isa. 49:19 “Though you were ruined and made desolate and your land laid waste,
now you will be too small for your people, and those who devoured you will be far away.
20 The children born during your bereavement will yet say in your hearing,
“This place is too small for us; give us more space to live in.”
Zech. 10:10 “I will bring them back from Egypt and gather them from Assyria. I will bring them to Gilead and Lebanon, and there will not be room enough for them.”
Abram is told that the Promise of the multiplicity of his physical descendants will establish him as a father of many nations, or “hamon goyim”. This term is also found in verse 5, and literally means a noisy multitude of Gentile nations. This physical seed that will literally fill the globe will not be a silent group of religious folks; rather they will be a great and noisy multitude making a great noise and tumult about HaShem’s Kingdom and His love for humanity. Verse 6 of Genesis 17 promises Abraham that through this seed of promise, kings would be manifest. This of course is talking about the kings that would one day make up the royal House of David, through whom Messiah would come to His Ruling Throne. In verse 7 HaShem reassures Abraham that this Promise of greatness through physical multiplicity would be unconditional and everlasting.
It is absolutely crucial for us to understand that there are not many promises to Abraham. There are not some that are spiritual and some others that are physical. Rather there is one Promise, and that one Promise contains two aspects of physical blessing. One is the seed who would bless the nations, the other being a promise of physical reproduction and multiplicity that would inherit the Land from where G-d will rule over the nations.
With the destruction of the House of Ephraim (the Northern Ten Tribes of Israel) between 734 and 722 BCE by Tilgat Pilsger III, the Assyrian king, the Ten tribes disappeared and became lost spiritually as well as physically. Thus was born the “Ten Lost Tribes of Israel”. This caused the break-up of the Kingdom of Israel. Only the Tribe of Judah remained to continue the Kingdom of G-d (1 Kings 11:13 – refer also the entire chapters 11 and 12, and 2 Kings 17).
This breakup was the method by which HaShem chose to fulfill the promise of physical multiplicity to the patriarchs, from amongst the nations.
Despite a death sentence and the Divine rejections expressed in Hosea 1 in the first 9 verses, yet, in verse 10 we read: “Yet the number of the children of Israel shall be as the sand of the sea, which cannot be measured nor numbered; and it shall come to pass, that in the place where it was said unto them, Ye are not my people, there it shall be said unto them, Ye are the sons of the living God. 11 Then shall the children of Judah and the children of Israel be gathered together, and appoint themselves one head, and they shall come up out of the land; for great shall be the day of Jezreel.”
Here we have a kingdom totally destroyed and swallowed up among the Gentiles, and in our time, over the last few decades, they miraculously reappear, claiming to be “Children of the God of Israel who want to return to Torah and to the Land of Israel.” (Jezreel means the replanting of those who were scattered!).
When Ephraim and Judah are individually regenerated and regathered into the rebuilt Tabernacle of David, then we will begin to recognize each other as blood brothers, as physical Israelites from different sides of the same family nation! This vision does includes the truth of Israel’s two houses and demands that Ephraim renounce all paganism and embrace the fabric of Israelite living and holiness, which is Torah.
Is it not interesting that the promised “Renew Covenant” of Jeremiah 31:31-34 talks about HaShem concluding a covenant with the House of Israel and the House of Judah, and never once mentions covenanting with Gentiles or Christians?
According to Christianity’s Replacement theology, they all claim a right to Abraham’s Blessing on Mt. Kabier; a right to the Land of Israel; a right to the Divine Blessings promised to Abraham and the patriarchs of the 12 Tribes of Israel; a right to the general Blessings in the Bible which are always addressed to Israel or Judah. Their very own New Testament Scriptures, in Revelations 21:12 direct that whoever plans on having everlasting life must enter the City through one of 12 gates, named after each of the twelve tribes! Again, no Christian Gate!
Let it be emphasized, that such entry is available indeed to anyone outside of physical Israelite lineage, i.e. not part of the “sand of the sea.” The entire Bible is quite clear and presents directives for such people who are welcome – IF they wish to take “Israelite citizenship” and become part of the numerous multitude as the stars in heaven.
Who will Rule in the Kingdom?
Let us turn for the answer to the pages of Daniel the Prophet, chapter 7:
“I beheld till the thrones were cast down, and the Ancient of days did sit, whose garment was white as snow, and the hair of his head like the pure wool: his throne was like the fiery flame, and his wheels as burning fire.
10 A fiery stream issued and came forth from before him: thousand thousands ministered unto him, and ten thousand times ten thousand stood before him: the judgment was set, and the books were opened.
13 I saw in the night visions, and, behold, one like the Son of man came with the clouds of heaven, and came to the Ancient of days, and they brought him near before him.
14 And there was given him dominion, and glory, and a kingdom, that all people, nations, and languages, should serve him: his dominion is an everlasting dominion, which shall not pass away, and his kingdom that which shall not be destroyed.
15 I Daniel was grieved in my spirit in the midst of my body, and the visions of my head troubled me. 16 I came near unto one of them that stood by, and asked him the truth of all this. So he told me, and made me know the interpretation of the things.
18 … the saints of the most High shall take the kingdom, and possess the kingdom for ever, even for ever and ever.
19 Then I would know the truth of the fourth beast …
21 I beheld, and (he) made war with the saints, and prevailed against them; 22 Until the Ancient of days came, and judgment was given to the saints of the most High; and the time came that the saints possessed the kingdom…
25 And (the Beast) speak great words against the Most High, and shall wear out the saints of the most High, and think to change times and laws: and they shall be given into his hand until a time and times and the dividing of time.
26 But the judgment shall sit, …
27 And the kingdom and dominion, and the greatness of the kingdom under the whole heaven, shall be given to the people of the saints of the most High, whose kingdom is an everlasting kingdom, and all dominions shall serve and obey him.
28 Hitherto is the end of the matter.”
Clear enough: The Saints of the Most High, those overcomers and achievers amongst the descendants of Abraham will rule in His Kingdom. This was G-d’s Original Intent with the creation of mankind on earth, to rule with Him over His Kingdom
Verse 10 from our Haftarah portion confirms:
“10 Behold, HaShem G-d will come with strong hand, and His arm shall rule for him: behold, his reward is with Him, and his work before Him.”
We have yet another confirmation – an awesome eye-opener! It comes from the Song of Ascents, Psalm (Tehillim) 126 – Translation and commentary by Rabbi Avraham Sutton
www.avrahamsutton.com . This Song opens the Thanksgiving for the Meal on Shabbat – a Song of Joy by the Returnees to Zion.
Rabbi Sutton makes the revealing observation: “When Hashem will come out of concealment (the Return of His Shechinah, when Peace and Reconciliation is restored between the 2 Houses of Israel) and return with the captivity of Tzion, (the exiles) we will all awaken as if from a deep slumber; it will be so wondrous, as if an impossible dream has finally come true.”
Rabbi Sutton continues to explain in a foot note: “The verse does not state “behashiv Hashem shivat Tzion” when Hashem will restore the captivity of Zion – but rather “beshuv Hashem et shivat Tzion” when Hashem will return with the captivity of Zion. – This implies that the Shechinah is in exile with the Jewish people, and will be redeemed with us at the time of the Redemption. The source for this teaching is in found the Talmud (Megillah 29a): “Rabbi Shimon ben Yochai said: Come and see how beloved is Israel before the Holy One, for everywhere they were exiled, the Shechinah accompanied them. When they were exiled to Egypt, the Shechinah accompanied them, as it is written, “Did I not reveal Myself to your ancestors when they were in Egypt?” (I Samuel 2:27). When they were exiled to Babylon, the Shechinah accompanied them, as it is written, “For your sake I was sent away to Babylon” (Isaiah 43:14). So too when they will be redeemed in the future, the Shechinah will accompany them [back from exile], as it is written, “Hashem your God will return with your captivity” (Deuteronomy 30:3). It is not written “veheshiv Hashem” – “Hashem will restore” – but “beshuv Hashem et” – “Hashem will return with…”. This teaches us that, as it were, the Holy One Himself will be redeemed from exile along with Israel.”
While this sheds further light on the Kingdom Rulership, it also opens a controversial consideration: Can it be that Mashiach ben David, the Ruling Davidic king, refers to the “Body of Abraham”, his blessed generation who will return to their heritage at the conclusion of this dispensation and found worthy in the Judgment by the Ancient of Days to rule with Him as “One like the Son of Man”?
Can this be why He states in Psalm 82:6:
“I have said, Ye are gods; and all of you are children of the Most High.”
The realization of such possibility surely passes a great obligation on us as contenders:
“Be HOLY as He is HOLY!”
This is a “tall order”! It could be discouraging for any but the arrogant who thinks that he/she “knows it all,”
Hence the Haftarah repeatedly encourages the weak hearted, giving promises of HELP from HaShem.
Yeshayahu (Isaiah) 41:14
” Fear not, caterpillar, Yaakov,
You men of Israel,
I will help you, says HaShem,
And your Redeemer,
The Holy One of Israel.”
Why this comparison with a caterpillar?
Rabbi Pinchas Frankel, in his commentary at:
http://www.ou.org/torah/frankel/haftarot/lechlecha61.htm gives the following encouraging explanation:
“The caterpillar is a rather lowly creature that metamorphoses into a butterfly, a creature of great beauty. So may we hope that the Jewish People (the entire House of 12-Israel) will likewise continue its metamorphosis from its lowly state forced upon it by the conditions of the Exile, to a nation that develops its spiritual potential in the Land of Israel and becomes a thing of great beauty, admired and respected and emulated by the entire world.”
May we all share in this!