Thursday, October 25, 2012

Torah Portion Lech-Lecha: Blessed and Grafted In

Genesis 12-17; Isaiah 40:27-41:16; Matthew 5-6

Genesis 12:3 NIV 3 I will bless those who bless you, and whoever curses you I will curse; and all peoples on earth will be blessed through you."

The sages say that Abraham was a blessing to the nations through the souls he brought to worship God. As additional support for this position, the sages say that the phrase “will be blessed,” v’nivracu, is related to the term meaning to graft or to intermingle. So the text could be read, “All people will be grafted into you.”

The sages use this interpretation to explain how Ruth and Naamah could be the mothers of kings of Israel. Ruth was the great-grandmother of David and a Moabitess. Naamah was the mother of Solomon’s son Rehoboam and an Ammonite. Moabites and Ammonites were excluded from entering the congregation of the LORD to the tenth generation because they didn’t meet Israel with hospitality when Israel came out of Egypt.

Deuteronomy 23:3-4 MKJV 3 An Ammonite or Moabite shall not enter into the congregation of the LORD. Even to their tenth generation they shall not enter into the congregation of the LORD forever, 4 because they did not meet you with bread and with water in the way when you came forth out of Egypt, and because they hired against you Balaam the son of Beor, of Pethor of Mesopotamia, to curse you.

This would mean neither David nor Rehoboam would be considered an Israelite. Neither one would qualify for the throne! But if Ruth and Naamah could be considered as grafted into Abraham, then Ruth would no longer be a Moabite and Naamah would no longer be an Ammonite. We can see how Ruth can be considered grafted into Abraham. Her words as she leaves Moab with her mother-in-law Naomi reveal her heart.

Ruth 1:16-17 MKJV 16 And Ruth said, Do not beg me to leave you, to return from following after you. For where you go, I will go. Where you stay, I will stay. Your people shall be my people, and your God my God. 17 Where you die, I will die, and there I will be buried. May the LORD do so to me, and more also, if anything but death parts you and me.

Paul uses the same metaphor of grafting in Romans chapter 11.

Romans 11:17-21 MKJV 17 And if some of the branches were broken off, and you, being a wild olive tree, were grafted in among them, and became a sharer of the root and the fatness of the olive tree with them, 18 do not boast against the branches. But if you boast, it is not you that bears the root, but the root bears you. 19 You will say then, The branches were broken off so that I might be grafted in. 20 Well, because of unbelief they were broken off, and you stand by faith. Do not be high-minded, but fear. 21 For if God did not spare the natural branches, fear lest He also may not spare you either!

We are grafted into the olive tree that represents believing Israel. We are in that position because of faith. Paul equates the justification of the Gentiles by faith with the statement that all peoples on earth will be blessed through you.

Galatians 3:8 MKJV 8 And the Scripture, foreseeing that God would justify the nations through faith, preached the gospel before to Abraham, saying, "In you shall all nations be blessed."

This is the gospel, the good news according to Paul. When Paul writes to the Ephesians from his prison in Rome, he says that he is in bonds for the “mystery of the gospel.”

Ephesians 6:19-20 MKJV 19 And pray for me, that utterance may be given to me, that I may open my mouth boldly to make known the mystery of the gospel, 20 for which I am an ambassador in bonds; so that in it I may speak boldly, as I ought to speak.

When we go back to Paul’s arrest as recorded in Acts, we see that he was arrested for proclaiming that God sent him to share the good news of salvation with the Gentiles.

Acts 22:21-22 MKJV 21 And He said to me, Go, for I will send you far away to the nations. 22 And they listened to him until this word, and then they lifted up their voice, saying, Take such a one from the earth! For it is not fitting that he should live.

Paul made it all the way through his story including his vision of Yeshua, his blinding and the restoration of his sight, his baptism and remission of his sins through the name of Yeshua. They were willing to believe that Paul had a vision of Yeshua but they were not willing to believe that God would send him with the message of salvation to the Gentiles. They did not believe that God would bless the Gentiles through the seed of Abraham as it says in the scriptures.  God will and has done just that.

יבורך שלום
Shalom and be blessed
Dan & Brenda Cathcart

Please visit our web site at

Volume 4 of our Bible study series “Shadows of the Messiah in the Torah” is now available.  For a limited time we are offering the entire set, all 4 volumes at a special price.  Click on the link below for this special internet only offer.

Sunday, October 21, 2012

Men of Renown: Good Guys or Bad Guys?

What is a “man of renown?” Is it a compliment or an insult to be identified as a man of renown? Who are the men of renown in our culture? They are the sport stars, movie stars, musicians and the rich. To a lesser extent, they may be our national leaders. Some groups might identify a religious leader as a man of renown, but with few exceptions, it is unlikely that his name will be known among the broader population. In the time of Noah, God describes a group of men as men of renown. Is this a good quality to have or a bad?

Genesis 6:4 NKJV 4 There were giants on the earth in those days, and also afterward, when the sons of God came in to the daughters of men and they bore children to them. Those were the mighty men who were of old, men of renown.

The Hebrew words that make up the phrase “men of renown” is msh isna: enoshe ha-shem from two Hebrew words #582 enosh which means mortal from a root word meaning feeble, frail, or sickly and from #8034 meaning name. A man of renown is a mortal whose name is known. In Hebrew, there are two other words that are also translated man. They are adam mda a term for mankind and any man in general, and iysh sia meaning a male person. The choice of the word enosh in this passage emphasizes the weakness of the men of renown and their inevitable death. The context of this verse is that God is describing how evil man has become. The next verse tells us that man’s thoughts were continually evil! So the men of renown in Noah’s time were not the “good guys!”

The next time this phrase is used is in Numbers to describe the leaders of Israel that rose up with Korah, Dathan and Abiram in rebellion against Moses and God.

Numbers 16:1-3 NKJV 1 Now Korah the son of Izhar, the son of Kohath, the son of Levi, with Dathan and Abiram the sons of Eliab, and On the son of Peleth, sons of Reuben, took men; 2 and they rose up before Moses with some of the children of Israel, two hundred and fifty leaders of the congregation, representatives of the congregation, men of renown. 3 They gathered together against Moses and Aaron, and said to them, "You take too much upon yourselves, for all the congregation is holy, every one of them, and the LORD is among them. Why then do you exalt yourselves above the assembly of the LORD?"

Once again, this phrase “men of renown” is the Hebrew enoshe ha-shem. These men accused Moses and Aaron of exalting themselves above the rest of Israel. In reality, they were the ones who wanted to exalt themselves above the rest of Israel. They wanted to be great before the assembly. In contrast to their actions, Moses bows down before them and puts the decision of who is to be the leader and who are to be the priests up to God. He reminds Korah, the leader of the rebellion, of the exalted position God had actually given him.

Numbers 16:8-10 NKJV 8 Then Moses said to Korah, "Hear now, you sons of Levi: 9 "Is it a small thing to you that the God of Israel has separated you from the congregation of Israel, to bring you near to Himself, to do the work of the tabernacle of the LORD, and to stand before the congregation to serve them; 10 "and that He has brought you near to Himself, you and all your brethren, the sons of Levi, with you? And are you seeking the priesthood also?

We know the end of the story. Korah, Dathan and Abiram are swallowed up by the earth when they attempt to usurp the duties of the priest by offering incense before the LORD. The two hundred fifty men of renown who followed Korah are consumed in the fire of God (Num. 16:34-35). Those known as men of renown were men desiring to be great in the eyes of man.

We jump ahead now to King Saul, the first king of Israel. King Saul, like the two hundred fifty leaders in the rebellion led by Korah, also attempts to take on the duties of the priesthood.

1 Samuel 13:9-11 NKJV 9 So Saul said, "Bring a burnt offering and peace offerings here to me." And he offered the burnt offering. 10 Now it happened, as soon as he had finished presenting the burnt offering, that Samuel came; and Saul went out to meet him, that he might greet him. 11 And Samuel said, "What have you done?"

Later, God instructed King Saul to wipe out the name of Amalek forever. He was to totally destroy all the belongings and even the livestock of Amalek. Most importantly, he was to slay King Agag of the Amalekites. This may sound brutal, but the reasons for this go back to Israel’s first days coming out of Egypt. King Saul, however, spared the best of livestock and King Agag. When questioned by Samuel, Saul stated that it was so they could bring an offering to God. As we read further, we see that that may have been Saul’s outward action, but his motivation was his own exaltation.

1 Samuel 15:26-31 NKJV 26 But Samuel said to Saul, "I will not return with you, for you have rejected the word of the LORD, and the LORD has rejected you from being king over Israel." 27 And as Samuel turned around to go away, Saul seized the edge of his robe, and it tore. … 30 Then he said, "I have sinned; yet honor me now, please, before the elders of my people and before Israel, and return with me, that I may worship the LORD your God." 31 So Samuel turned back after Saul, and Saul worshiped the LORD.

Saul’s first words are an acknowledgement of sin, but his next words indicate that he is only thinking of himself. He pleads with Samuel to honor him in front of the people!

In the time of Noah, God repented that he created man.

Genesis 6:6 KJV 6 And it repented the LORD that he had made man on the earth, and it grieved him at his heart.

Here in the account of King Saul, we read that God repented that He made Saul king.

1 Samuel 15:35 KJV 35 And Samuel came no more to see Saul until the day of his death: nevertheless Samuel mourned for Saul: and the LORD repented that he had made Saul king over Israel.

In both verses, the Hebrew word for repented is nacham which means to sigh or breathe strongly. Other translations of Genesis 6:6 use the word grieve. We have an image of God grieving, breathing strongly, about man’s actions at the time of Noah and about King Saul elevating himself before the people.

King Saul was not the only king who sinned against God. In fact, the very next king, King David sinned in a much more spectacular manner, at least in our eyes. King David lusted after another man’s wife, got her pregnant, tried to fool the husband that the child was the husband’s child, and when that failed, he conspired to kill the man. In our minds Saul’s sin was a “white collar” crime; he stole a few goods and manipulated public opinion… just a typical politician. We would slap him on the wrist, fine him a few dollars and let him go. David’s sin on the other hand was murder by hire. We would send him away for life. Why didn’t God view these sins in the same way we would? It is all in the heart. Even after being confronted by his sin, Saul never truly repented. He didn’t understand that his sin was against God and he was only concerned with his image before the people. David on the other hand truly repented.

2 Samuel 12:13-16 NKJV 13 So David said to Nathan, "I have sinned against the LORD." And Nathan said to David, "The LORD also has put away your sin; you shall not die. 14 "However, because by this deed you have given great occasion to the enemies of the LORD to blaspheme, the child also who is born to you shall surely die." 15 Then Nathan departed to his house. And the LORD struck the child that Uriah's wife bore to David, and it became ill. 16 David therefore pleaded with God for the child, and David fasted and went in and lay all night on the ground.

David humbled himself before God acknowledging that his sin was ultimately against God and didn’t try to excuse his actions. He didn’t care what the people saw, he only sought God. (In case we think God didn’t punish David, read the rest of this account in 2 Samuel 12.)

The antichrist is like Saul. To outward appearances, he is not bad. But he exalts himself over all men even to the point of declaring that he is God.

2 Thessalonians 2:3-4 NKJV 3 Let no one deceive you by any means; for that Day will not come unless the falling away comes first, and the man of sin is revealed, the son of perdition, 4 who opposes and exalts himself above all that is called God or that is worshiped, so that he sits as God in the temple of God, showing himself that he is God.

We need to look at one more example of a person of renown, that is, a person whose name is known. In the story of Ruth and Boaz, God blesses Ruth with a son who is the kinsman redeemer for Naomi.

Ruth 4:14-16 MKJV 14 And the women said to Naomi, Blessed be the LORD, who has not left you this day without a redeemer, so that his name may be famous in Israel. 15 And he shall be to you as a restorer of life, and one who cheers your old age. For your daughter-in-law who loves you has borne him, she who is better to you than seven sons. 16 And Naomi took the child and laid it in her bosom, and became nurse to it.

This son is described as Naomi’s kinsman redeemer not Boaz. Further, this son’s name will be famous not just in Bethlehem, but in Israel. The word famous is the Hebrew word “kara”, (Strong’s #7121) which means to call out.

The name of this son, this kinsman redeemer which will be called out in all Israel, is Obed. Obed means to serve (Strong’s #5744). Obed will not be famous for exalting himself above others, but for serving others.

Obed foreshadows another kinsman redeemer who comes to be a servant.

Philippians 2:5-11 NKJV 5 Let this mind be in you which was also in Christ Jesus, 6 who, being in the form of God, did not consider it robbery to be equal with God, 7 but made Himself of no reputation, taking the form of a bondservant, and coming in the likeness of men. 8 And being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself and became obedient to the point of death, even the death of the cross. 9 Therefore God also has highly exalted Him and given Him the name which is above every name, 10 that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of those in heaven, and of those on earth, and of those under the earth, 11 and that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.

There is only one name that God exalts and that is the name of Yeshua who brings glory to God the Father. This name will be called out throughout the heavens and the earth.

We are to be like Yeshua, servants of God. On the night that Yeshua was betrayed, He washed His disciples’ feet.

John 13:12-17 NKJV 12 So when He had washed their feet, taken His garments, and sat down again, He said to them, "Do you know what I have done to you? 13 "You call me Teacher and Lord, and you say well, for so I am. 14 "If I then, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also ought to wash one another's feet. 15 "For I have given you an example, that you should do as I have done to you. 16 "Most assuredly, I say to you, a servant is not greater than his master; nor is he who is sent greater than he who sent him. 17 "If you know these things, blessed are you if you do them.

Don’t seek to be a man or woman of renown in this life, enosh ha-shem. Instead seek to be a person of renown in the world to come, adam HaShem, a person of His name.

יבורך שלום
Shalom and be blessed
Dan and Brenda Cathcart

Please visit our web site at

Volume 4 of our Bible study series “Shadows of the Messiah in the Torah” is now available.  For a limited time we are offering the entire set, all 4 volumes at a special price.  Click on the link below for this special internet only offer.

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Torah Portion Noach: Who are the Fallen Ones?

Genesis 6:9-11:32; Isaiah 66:1-27; Mattai 3-4

This Torah portion contains an abundance of material for commentary, but let’s venture into an area that has been and continues to be a controversy: the identity of the Nephilim.

There are two factors which made Noah’s generation especially flood-worthy. They are the sons of Cain and the sons of God.

The sons of Cain find their fulfillment in Lamech. He is the first man who took two wives violating the statement of Adam at the creation of Eve that a man and his wife are one flesh.

Genesis 2:23-24 YLT 23 and the man saith, `This is the proper step! bone of my bone, and flesh of my flesh!' for this it is called Woman, for from a man hath this been taken; 24 therefore doth a man leave his father and his mother, and hath cleaved unto his wife, and they have become one flesh.

Lamech also started the system of violence and vengeance that permeated society at the time of the flood when he killed a man for wounding him and bragged that he would avenge himself seventy-seven fold.

Genesis 4:23-24 MKJV 23 And Lamech said to his wives, Adah and Zillah, Hear my voice, wives of Lamech, listen to my speech. For I have killed a man because of my wound, and a young man because of my hurt. 24 For Cain is avenged seven times, and Lamech seventy-seven times.

Genesis 6:11 MKJV 11 The earth also was corrupt before God, and the earth was filled with violence.

There are two possibilities for the identity of the nephilim and the sons of God mentioned in Genesis 6:4. The word nephilim as usually translated as giants.

Genesis 6:4 MKJV 4 There were giants in the earth in those days. And also after that, when the sons of God came in to the daughters of men, and they bore to them, they were mighty men who existed of old, men of renown.

#5303.    naphiyl,  nef-eel' or nphil {nef-eel'}; from 5307; properly, a feller, i.e. a bully or tyrant:--giant.

#5307.   naphal,  naw-fal' a primitive root; to fall, in a great variety of applications

The Jewish sage Rashi says they are giants because they fell and cause others to fall through their egregious sinfulness. Ibn Ezra said that people fell in amazement at their size.

So, who are these nephilim and the sons of God? One possible interpretation is that the sons of God are fallen angels who gave birth to the nephilim who are angel/human crossbreeds. Job makes many references to the “sons of God” and, in at least one verse, it is clear that angels are referred to as the “sons of God.”

Job 38:4-7 MKJV 4 Where were you when I laid the foundations of the earth? Tell if you have understanding! 5 Who has set its measurements, for you know? Or who has stretched the line on it? 6 On what are its bases sunk, or who cast its cornerstone, 7 when the morning stars sang together and all the sons of God shouted for joy?

But we are also referred to as the sons of God.

Romans 8:14 MKJV 14 For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, they are the sons of God.

Also, Yeshua tells us that angels don’t procreate!

Matthew 22:30 MKJV 30 For in the resurrection they neither marry nor are given in marriage, but are as the angels of God in Heaven.

A second interpretation, and the one that I happen to agree with, is that the sons of God are men of the line of Seth through whom we have the promise of a redeemer, and the daughters of men are from the sinful line of Cain. The result of their union was a godless and rebellious culture. Their offspring would be similar to those like Nimrod, who was after the flood, who were “men of renown.”

Genesis 10:8 MKJV 8 And Cush fathered Nimrod. He began to be a mighty one in the earth.

This interpretation is consistent with subsequent events in scripture.

In seeking a wife for Isaac, Abraham made his servant take a vow that he would not choose a wife from among the Canaanites of the Land.

Genesis 24:3-4 MKJV 3 And I will make you swear by the LORD, the God of Heaven and the God of the earth, that you shall not take a wife to my son of the daughters of the Canaanites, among whom I dwell. 4 But you shall go to my country and to my kindred, and take a wife to my son Isaac.

An incident just before Israel was to enter the Promised Land occurred with the Moabite women enticing the Israelites into sin. Balak, king of the Moabites was frightened of the Israelites as they sought to pass through his land. Balak enlisted the help of the prophet Balaam paying him to curse Israel. God would not allow Balaam to curse Israel and turned all his curses to blessings on Israel.

Numbers 23:20-21 MKJV 20 Behold, I have received word to bless. And He has blessed, and I cannot reverse it. 21 He has not seen iniquity in Jacob, neither has He seen perverseness in Israel. The LORD his God is with him, and the shout of a king among them.

In verse 21, Balaam notes that there is no iniquity in Jacob; God is with them. Perhaps this prophecy inspired Balaam’s next actions. He counseled Balak to use their women to entice Israel into sin.

Micah 6:5 MKJV 5 O My people, remember now what Balak king of Moab planned, and what Balaam the son of Beor answered him from Shittim to Gilgal, so that you may know the righteousness acts of the LORD.

Revelation 2:14 MKJV 14 But I have a few things against you, because you have there those who hold the teachings of Balaam, who taught Balak to cast a stumbling-block before the sons of Israel, to eat things sacrificed to idols and to commit fornication.

So, Balak sent the women in to seduce Israel.

Numbers 25:1-3 MKJV 1 And Israel lived in Shittim, and the people began to fornicate with the daughters of Moab. 2 And they called the people to the sacrifices of their gods. And the people ate and bowed down to their gods. 3 And Israel joined himself to Baal-peor. And the anger of the LORD was kindled against Israel.

Here, the daughters of Moab (Moab means from her father) seduced Israel whom God called His firstborn son. Literally, the daughters of men seduced the sons of God. This theme is repeated again in God’s instructions not to marry Canaanite women.

Deuteronomy 7:3-4 MKJV 3 Nor shall you make marriages with them. You shall not give your daughter to his son, nor shall you take his daughter to your son. 4 For they will turn away your son from following Me, so that they may serve other gods. So the anger of the LORD will be kindled against you and will destroy you suddenly.

Solomon did not follow this instruction and took wives from among the surrounding nations. This led to his downfall and the wrenching away of most of the kingdom from his sons.

1 Kings 11:1-9 MKJV 1 And king Solomon loved many foreign women, even the daughter of Pharaoh, Moabites, Ammonites, Edomites, Sidonians, Hittites; 2 of the nations which the LORD had said to the sons of Israel, You shall not go in to them, and they shall not go in to you; surely they will turn away your heart after their gods. Solomon clung to these in love. 3 And he had seven hundred wives, princesses, and three hundred concubines. And his wives turned away his heart. 4 For it happened when Solomon was old, his wives turned away his heart after other gods. And his heart was not perfect with the LORD his God, as was the heart of David his father. 5 For Solomon went after Ashtoreth, the goddess of the Sidonians, and after Milcom, the abomination of the Ammonites; 6 and Solomon did evil in the sight of Jehovah, and did not go fully after the LORD like his father David. 7 Then Solomon built a high place for Chemosh, the abomination of Moab, in the hill which is before Jerusalem, and for Molech, the abomination of the sons of Ammon. 8 And likewise he did for all his foreign wives, and burned incense and sacrificed to their gods. 9 And the LORD was angry with Solomon because his heart was turned from the LORD God of Israel, who had appeared to him twice.

Finally, in the Brit Hadashah, the New Testament, Paul tells believers not to be unequally yoked with unbelievers.

2 Corinthians 6:14 MKJV 14 Do not be unequally yoked together with unbelievers; for what fellowship does righteousness have with lawlessness? And what partnership does light have with darkness?

So who are the Nephilim?  Who are the mighty men of renown? Who are the giants?  We must always remember to study the scripture from an historic, cultural and linguistic point of view.  We have the unfortunate tendency to add our own interpretations to scripture based on our own cultural influences.   We have to constantly ask ourselves about the nature of symbolism in the scriptures.  What does a symbol or concept in the scriptures mean?  And we have to be aware of and take into account the idiomatic nature of the Hebrew language.  I think we should let the scriptures themselves answer that question.

יבורך שלום
Shalom and be blessed
Dan & Brenda Cathcart

Please visit our web site at

Volume 4 of our Bible study series “Shadows of the Messiah in the Torah” is now available.  For a limited time we are offering the entire set, all 4 volumes at a special price.  Click on the link below for this special internet only offer.