Sunday, May 1, 2011
Transformations: What’s in a Name: Part 2
By Brenda Cathcart
Last year, I had the privilege to teach at a women's retreat during the period of the counting of the omer. The theme was transformations and the topic was a combination of meanings of names in Hebrew and what Yeshua taught after His resurrection during the counting of the omer. Since this is once again the time of the counting of the omer, I’ve broken the teaching into sections and will post them throughout the counting of the omer as we count up to the Feast of Weeks
We’ve looked at Adam and Eve’s names. What about the names of their sons? The names of Adam and Eve’s sons that are mentioned in the Bible are Cain, Abel and Seth. Eve says she names Cain as she does because she has gotten him from the LORD. In this verse, there is a play on sound alike words. In Hebrew, Cain is pronounced Kah’-yin and “gotten” is the Hebrew word pronounced Kaw’nah. The actual name Cain means a spear. Eve was promised a son who would crush the serpent. Thinking that Cain would be the one, she gives him a name that, with the word play involved, means I have gotten a spear from God. Sounds like Cain should be the one to crush the serpent doesn’t it? Instead Cain is the spear that kills his brother Abel committing the first murder.
Abel is the second son. His name means emptiness, transitory or unsatisfactory. It is as if Eve thinks that one son is enough. All she needs is Cain to crush the serpent. Instead, Abel’s name is prophetic. His life is transitory; it is cut short and he has no children of his own to carry on his name.
Then she has Seth. Seth as we learned means “is appointed to.” According to Eve, Seth is appointed to take Abel’s place. But more importantly, he is appointed to take the place of Cain in the promise of a seed to crush the head of the serpent. In Cain’s line, the Bible records the first instance of polygamy and the first instance of vengeance and escalating violence. Cain’s descendant Lamech (not the one in the line of Seth) vows to kill anyone who hurts him. In Seth’s line, the righteous Noah and his family would survive the flood to give birth to Abraham, David and finally Jesus, the promised seed.
The days after the resurrection leading up to the Feast of Pentecost are days of incredible change and new revelation. Jesus, the last Adam, had indeed, in the words of Paul, become a life giving spirit. Transformations and empowerment are coming on the Feast of Pentecost, so I want to focus on a change in name. Jacob experienced a life-changing moment that was so important in his life, he received a new name.
The story of Jacob begins while he and his brother Esau are still in the womb.
Genesis 25:22-26 KJV 22 And the children struggled together within her; and she said, If it be so, why am I thus? And she went to enquire of the LORD. 23 And the LORD said unto her, Two nations are in thy womb, and two manner of people shall be separated from thy bowels; and the one people shall be stronger than the other people; and the elder shall serve the younger. 24 And when her days to be delivered were fulfilled, behold, there were twins in her womb. 25 And the first came out red, all over like an hairy garment; and they called his name Esau. 26 And after that came his brother out, and his hand took hold on Esau's heel; and his name was called Jacob: and Isaac was threescore years old when she bare them.
Jacob and Esau struggled with each other even in the womb. Jacob continued the struggle as he was born grasping Esau’s heel. It seems as if they were each struggling to be the firstborn. This is confirmed when we see Jacob purchase the birthright from Esau. Jacob valued the birthright and struggled to attain it.
Genesis 25:29-34 NKJV 29 Now Jacob cooked a stew; and Esau came in from the field, and he was weary. 30 And Esau said to Jacob, "Please feed me with that same red stew, for I am weary." Therefore his name was called Edom. 31 But Jacob said, "Sell me your birthright as of this day." 32 And Esau said, "Look, I am about to die; so what is this birthright to me?" 33 Then Jacob said, "Swear to me as of this day." So he swore to him, and sold his birthright to Jacob. 34 And Jacob gave Esau bread and stew of lentils; then he ate and drank, arose, and went his way. Thus Esau despised his birthright.
Esau willingly and knowingly sold the birthright. Even after his hunger was satisfied, we read that Esau arose and went his way. He completely dismissed it from his mind.
What else can we deduce about the characters of these two brothers? Esau is described as a skillful hunter. A skillful hunter could be a good thing but the only other person described in the Bible as a hunter was Nimrod, the founder of Babylon. The name Babylon comes from the word Babel where Nimrod built the tower of Babel. Nimrod strove to reach into heaven becoming like God. He wanted, by his actions, to make a name for himself.
In contrast, when Jesus was on this earth, He didn’t seek to elevate His own name. He sought to glorify the name of God. In Matthew, Jesus tells His disciples to do good works in order to bring glory to God.
Matthew 5:16 NKJV 16 "Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and glorify your Father in heaven.
Our purpose is not to bring glory to ourselves or to make a name for ourselves; we are to bring glory to God.
We have further evidence that Esau’s character is unsteady. Abraham went to great lengths to make sure Isaac did not marry a Canaanite.
Genesis 24:2-4 NKJV 2 So Abraham said to the oldest servant of his house, who ruled over all that he had, "Please, put your hand under my thigh, 3 "and I will make you swear by the LORD, the God of heaven and the God of the earth, that you will not take a wife for my son from the daughters of the Canaanites, among whom I dwell; 4 "but you shall go to my country and to my family, and take a wife for my son Isaac."
God had promised Abraham that He would drive out the Canaanites and give their land to Abraham. At least part of the reason He would do so was because of the sins of the Canaanites. He told Abraham in Genesis 15:16 NKJV 16 "But in the fourth generation they (Abraham’s descendants) shall return here, for the iniquity of the Amorites is not yet complete." God warns the Israelites not to adopt the practices of the Canaanites or the land would vomit them out as it vomited out the Canaanites. So, what did Esau do? He married two Canaanite women!
Genesis 26:34-35 NKJV 34 When Esau was forty years old, he took as wives Judith the daughter of Beeri the Hittite, and Basemath the daughter of Elon the Hittite. 35 And they were a grief of mind to Isaac and Rebekah.
Esau once again reveals that he despises the birthright and the possibility of being the father of the promised seed.
What about the character of Jacob? The same verse that describes Esau as a skillful hunter, describes Jacob as a “mild” man. Sounds kind of weak and rather nondescript, doesn’t it? The Hebrew word is tam and although it can mean plain or mild, it is usually translated complete, pious, morally upright (#8535). It comes from the same root word as tamiym, the word translated as without blemish in reference to the sacrifices that are brought before the LORD. So Esau is out hunting for a name for himself while Jacob is living a life of righteousness to the best of his ability.
But Jacob blows it. When Rebecca thinks that Isaac is dying, she convinces Jacob to masquerade as his brother Esau and, thus, attain the blessing. (Gen. 27:1-14) Rebecca did not want the blessing to go to Esau whose Canaanite wives were giving her grief! Besides, hadn’t God told her that the older would serve the younger? Jacob didn’t need much convincing. He had already purchased the birthright and desperately wanted the blessing. I can imagine his thoughts. Surely God doesn’t want the blessing to go to this selfish man who even married Canaanite women! I am a much better man and always try to do right. Surely God means for me to obtain the blessing along with the birthright. He just needs a little help. Instead of waiting for God to work it out, Jacob indeed tricked Isaac. This is where he gets his reputation of a trickster. Esau twists the meaning of Jacob’s name. The name Jacob or Ya’kov in Hebrew comes from the word aw-qav’ which means to seize by the heel but can also mean to circumvent, restrain or supplant.
Genesis 27:36 NKJV 36 And Esau said, "Is he not rightly named Jacob? For he has supplanted me these two times. He took away my birthright, and now look, he has taken away my blessing!" And he said, "Have you not reserved a blessing for me?"
Notice how all of a sudden Esau says that Jacob “took” his birthright when he had actually sold it?
Nevertheless, in his struggle to attain the promise, the blessing, Jacob ends up exiled from the very land he hoped to inherit. Ironically, as he leaves the land of Canaan, Jacob receives the blessing of Abraham from Isaac.
Genesis 28:1-4 NKJV 1 Then Isaac called Jacob and blessed him, and charged him, and said to him: "You shall not take a wife from the daughters of Canaan. 2 "Arise, go to Padan Aram, to the house of Bethuel your mother's father; and take yourself a wife from there of the daughters of Laban your mother's brother. 3 "May God Almighty bless you, And make you fruitful and multiply you, That you may be an assembly of peoples; 4 And give you the blessing of Abraham, To you and your descendants with you, That you may inherit the land In which you are a stranger, Which God gave to Abraham."
Shalom and Be Blessed
Dan and Brenda Cathcart
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