The only winter celebration mentioned in the Gospels is the festival of Dedication, or Chanukah. Yeshua was the Temple during one celebration and stated boldly, “I and the Father are one” (John 10:30). This caps a string of clashes between Yeshua and certain religious leaders — recorded in John 7-10 and covering a two-month period from Sukkot, or the festival of Tabernacles, to Chanukah — over whether Yeshua was the Messiah.
God calls Abram to leave his father behind and continue traveling towards the land of Canaan. God promises to make Abram’s descendants numerous and make them a great nation. Abram’s name means “exalted father” based on the blessing God gave him in Gen. 12:1-3.
“And I will bless those who bless you, And the one who curses you I will curse. And in you all the families of the earth will be blessed.” (Gen. 12:3)
There are two different Hebrew words that are translated as “curse” in both parts of this verse. The first “curse” is קָלַל qalal (Strong’s lexicon No. H7043), which literally means “to slight or consider trifling.” The second “curse” is אָרַר ’arar (H799) which actually means “curse.” In other words, God is saying that He will curse anyone who considers Abram insignificant or slights him.
The first place Abram visited after God told him to leave Haran is a town called Shechem, which near a mountain ridge. The root of the town’s name is שְׁכֶם shekhem (H7926), which means “shoulder” or “backbone.” It’s near the Yarden (Jordan) river and at this time, it’s not a significant settlement but by the time of Jacob, there’s a sizable town at this place.
“The Lord appeared to Abram and said, ‘To your descendants I will give this land.’ So he built can altar there to the Lord who had appeared to him.” (Gen. 12:7)
Abram built this altar to commemorate the place where God spoke to him.
Shechem was also the place Ya’akov (Jacob) visited many years later when he wanted to ask God whether he should go to Egypt to see Yosef (Joseph). It’s an important city in the history of Abram and Ya’akov.
After this, he moved towards a mountain east of Beit-’El (Bethel, “House of God”), and built another altar. This is Abram’s second altar. Everywhere Abram went, something happened. God wants us to make note of these locations and to understand why God took Abram to these places.
At this second altar, we are told that Abram “called upon the name of the Lord” there. This time, Abram is starting a conversation with God, while at Shechem, God is the one who spoke with Abram.
Gen. 12:10-20 says Abram went from Bethel to the Negev and then got caught up in a severe famine so he decided to go down to Egypt to escape the brutal famine. God brought forth the famine upon the land of Canaan at this time.
We are told that Pharaoh coveted Sarai and took her into his household. In most English Bible we are told that Pharaoh’s household was struck with a “great plague.” The Hebrew word here is נֶגַע nega (H5061), which literally means “stroke” or “blow.” We are not told the exact nature of this great “blow,” but it was profound enough that Pharaoh threw Abram, Sarai and Lot out of the country as quickly as he could. This is the first time that we are told that Abram had great wealth.
This story is a microcosm of the later Exodus account. In both records, initially they were welcomed and exalted but then they were seen as a curse and cast out with many gifts and riches.
Did Abram make a mistake going down to Egypt in the first place? No, God had His hand in this story. There’s a reason it’s recorded for us. After all, many things Abram did were never recorded for us. We only know what God wants us to know.
After Abram, Sarai and Lot returned to the land of Canaan, Abram’s servants and Lot’s servants started arguing with each other because the land could no longer sustain their increased livestock. Abram made a deal with Lot that if Lot went to the left, he would go to the right and vice versa so that they could spread themselves out and share the land without argument.
The Bible tells us that this land was so beautiful that it was “like the garden of the Lord,” and we are told that Lot chose the more beautiful and prosperous side.
After Lot and Abram went their separate ways, God again dedicates the land to Abram. God tells Abram in Gen. 12:17, “Arise, walk about the land through its length and breadth; for I will give it to you.” Abram then sets out for the oaks of Mamre in Hebron and built God a third altar.
Speaker: Richard Agee. Reader: Jeff. Summary: Tammy.
Hallel.info has a primer on Chanukah, what it is and why believers in Yeshua the Messiah should care about it.
Links at the end of that primer go to these and other Bible studies on Chanukah:
- John 7-10: Yeshua answers on Chanukah the question of His being the Messiah
- Why was Yeshua in the temple on Chanukah?
- The timing of the births of Yokhanan (John the Baptist) and Yeshua, recorded in Luke 1-2, point to conception of Yeshua around Chanukah and birth around Sukkot (Tabernacles)
- The prayer of Miriam (Yeshua’s birth mother) on Chanukah, recorded in Luke 1
- Rededicating our “temples”