Why did Abraham the nomadic “father of faith” pay so much for a tomb for his wife Sarah? What’s the connection between Abraham’s and King David’s picking a certain son as the successor over other, older sons? Are does the symbol of a well in the account of Yitzkhak marrying Rivkah and in Yeshua’s encounter with the Samaritan woman teach us about the Mashiakh’s work of bringing new life out of death? These are questions tackled in this discussion of the Torah portion חיי שרה Chayei Sarah (“life of Sarah”), covering Genesis 23-25.
This passage covers sometimes strange instructions for divorce, kidnapping, charity, limits to punishment and marriage to bear an heir.
The chapter starts with a judgement on how a divorce is to be enacted. The man gives the wife a “certificate of divorce” and she was free to remarry. The man, however, could not divorce a wife for a frivolous matter. The verse says that he has found indecency in her and that is why he is divorcing her. The Hebrew word that is translated as indecency is עֶרְוָה ervah (Strong’s lexicon No. H6172), which means “nakedness” or “shame.”
When a man marries a woman, he is to love her as Christ loves the church and be willing to give up his life for her (Eph. 5:23–27). The man is to take care of his wife so she can do her job — take care of the children and the household — well.
Kidnapping is a death penalty offense. Ripping a person away from their family unit and selling them into slavery has the same effect on that family as if the person had been murdered. This judgement acknowledges that pain. The fact that our current culture does not take kidnapping seriously doesn’t diminish the seriousness of that crime.
Lending to the poor
If a poor person borrows money from you and all they have for a pledge is their cloak or blanket that they use to keep them warm at night, you are to return the cloak at night so he can use it so his health and life are preserved. This text is an example of not charging usury to a fellow member of Israel.
Job opportunities and charity for aliens, widows and orphans
This passage tells us that we are to provide job opportunities and charity to the alien, the widow and the orphan. God tells them the reason that they are to do this is that they were slaves in Egypt. When they were in Egypt, they did not get to keep the work of their hands so they were to remember that. Now that they are in the land of promise, they are to give the alien, the widow and the orphan an opportunity to work and reap a reward from the work of their hands just as they are reaping a reward from the land.
Punishment fit the crime
If a person is convicted of a crime, they are to be punished but they are not to be over-punished. The punishment is to fit the crime. The Torah says the reason that you are not to over punish the criminal so that person will not be “degraded in your eyes.” The Hebrew word that is translated as degraded is קָלָה qalah (Strong’s H7034), which also means “dishonor, lightly esteem.”
Instructions for what families were supposed to do if a man died without leaving a son as an heir seem very alien to us. The widow was to present herself to the surviving brother. If the surviving brother refused to procreate an heir with her, she was to take the matter before the judge, and the insolent brother was to be humiliated before the widow and the elders by having his sandal removed from him.
What’s really in play in this passage is a loss of inheritance rights. God told Israel through Moshe that wherever their feet walked their descendants would possess (Deut. 11:22–25). To only have one sandal was cutting oneself off from that inheritance and part of God’s mission.
Speaker: Richard Agee. Reader: Jeff. Summary: Tammy.
Herod Antipas thought he had silenced Yochanan (John) upon killing him. Yochanan only preached in a small area by the river Yarden (Jordan), but Yeshua and His disciples were spreading the message everywhere. A common teaching on remarriage — that doing so is a sin — overlooks the likely teaching, shown in Antipas’ fear: divorce and remarriage in the course of adultery is what’s sinful.
We learn about the Near Eastern customs of how to find a wife for a prominent family. From Abraham’s request to Rivka’s acceptance, Isaac is not a part of this story until the very end when Yitskhak (Isaac) greets Rivka (Rebecca) and acknowledges her as the wife God has chosen for him.
The curses on Adam, Eve and the Serpent are well-known but misunderstood. For example, how many snakes eat dirt? Is a husband to be a dictator for his wife? The original language of Gen. 3:14-24 holds the answers. Continue reading Genesis 3:14-24 — Curses for Man, Woman & Serpent
Reader: Daniel Agee
Teacher: Jeff [contact]
- What value is gained in looking at Messiah’s teaching on divorce from parallel passages from the other apostles?
- What were differences between the House of Shammai and the House of Hillel, two schools of rabbinical thought at the time of Yeshua (Jesus)?
- How did Yeshua’s comments in general and on divorce in particular compare with those of Shammai and Hillel?
- Why is divorce compared to cutting, based on the Greek and Hebrew words describing it in the Bible?
- What did God intend marriage to teach?
- How did God factor in situations in which the marriage contract is violated?
- Under what circumstances is the marriage contract violated, according to the Bible and society today?
- What does the Torah say about divorce?
- Whose fault is divorce?
- What does the innocent spouse do?
- Can divorce bring shalom, Hebrew for "peace" and "completeness" and "wholeness."