Sunday, July 5, 2009
Abraham commands Eleazar to find a wife for Isaac
The original photo is here.
< = = = Hello sir, seems like everyone is talking about Michael Jackson, on Twitter he shot past the Iran discussions. What happens when you are dead?
Well, for all intents and purposes Michael Jackson has been dead for a long time, the news is that his heart stopped beating. However to answer your question, he descends to Sheol, or as some people say, the grave. Sheol is a condition, a place for the human spirit. It is a place those who do not know and love God should fear greatly. As Moses told the people about turning from the LORD, "I know that after my death you will become utterly corrupt and will turn from the path I have commanded you to follow. In the days to come, disaster will come down on you, for you will make the LORD very angry by doing what is evil in his sight." When they followed God and avoided foreign gods, God blessed them. " But Israel soon became fat and unruly; the people grew heavy, plump, and stuffed! Then they abandoned the God who had made them; they made light of the Rock of their salvation. And this is what God says about Sheol, the grave, " They have roused my jealousy by worshiping non-gods; they have provoked my fury with useless idols. Now I will rouse their jealousy by blessing other nations; I will provoke their fury by blessing the foolish Gentiles. For my anger blazes forth like fire and burns to the depths of Sheol, the grave. It devours the earth and all its crops and ignites the foundations of the mountains.
< = = = So the lights don't just go out, there is activity in Sheol?
Indeed, the most important activity for those that love and follow God is being redeemed from the grave, as David said, "But God will redeem my soul from the power of Sheol, For He will receive me." Hosea as well talks about the power of God to redeem from the grave, "Shall I ransom them from the power of Sheol? Shall I redeem them from death? O Death, where are your thorns? O Sheol, where is your sting? Compassion will be hidden from My sight." But, for now, let us return to the story of Abraham, who is not far from the grave himself.
Abraham was now old and well advanced in years, and the Lord had blessed him in every way. He said to Eleazar, whose name means God my help, the chief servant in Abraham's household, the one in charge of all that he had, "Put your hand under my thigh. I want you to swear by the Lord, the God of heaven and the God of earth, that you will not get a wife for my son from the daughters of the Canaanites, among whom I am living, but will go to my country and my own relatives and get a wife for my son Isaac."
The servant asked him, "What if the woman is unwilling to come back with me to this land? Shall I then take your son back to the country you came from?" "Make sure that you do not take my son back there," Abraham said. "The Lord, the God of heaven, who brought me out of my father's household and my native land and who spoke to me and promised me on oath, saying, 'To your offspring I will give this land'--he will send his angel before you so that you can get a wife for my son from there. If the woman is unwilling to come back with you, then you will be released from this oath of mine. Only do not take my son back there."
<= = = I read about this before, Rabbi Samson Raphael Hirsch, Germany, pointed out the influence of a Canaanite wife on Isaac would be all the greater since he dwells in the midst of the Canaanite people. Not only the wife but her whole family, extended family and circle of friends and relations would have to be contended with. Issac would have been assimilated into Caanan culture and we would never have come to exist. Abraham is really smart with his directions to his servant.
Very discerning, so the servant put his hand under the thigh of his master Abraham and swore an oath to him concerning this matter.
<= = = Sir, one last thing . . .
I know, I know, what's with the thigh, right? That has driven Torah commentators crazy throughout the ages. The scripture rarely mentions anything related to sex or sexual organs outside of the Song of Solomon so that when you see it you are wise to take a close look and ask questions. Abraham is reminding his servant that they are set apart from others, they have the covenant of circumcision with God. I understand you are going to Japan with your United Synagogue Youth leader, are you excited?
< = = = I am sir, it turns out there have been Jews in Japan for almost a thousand years on and off with a modern community that is over a hundred years old, since the great fire burned down the city of Kobe. In recent times, most of them have left for Israel, but there are still some families that fish in Kobe. Most of our time will be in Tokyo, but we will get to visit Kobe as well by train.