Kislev: Light & Identity

  • Month: Nine
  • Name: Kislev, meaning trust, security, hope[1]
  • Tribe: Benjamin
  • Tribal Banner: Wolf
  • Sense: Sleep
  • Mazel: Sagittarius/Keshet (Bow)
  • Organ: Belly/Stomach/Loins
  • Letter: Samekh (60)
  • Themes: Month of Dreams, Festival of Lights/Dedication
  • Torah Portions: Toldot – Generations, Vayetze – And He Went Out, Vayishlach – And He Sent, Vayeshev – And He Settled, and in some years Miketz – At the End

The Light Always Gives[2]

Kislev and Tevet, the 9th and 10th Hebrew months, are the darkest months of the year in the northern hemisphere. Since the natural is a picture or shadow of the spiritual realm[3], what is occurring in nature at this season is mirrored in one’s spiritual life. Less light and more darkness is sensed by both the physical and spiritual aspects of man. For example, when the days grow shorter and colder, some people experience seasonal affective disorder (SAD).[4] Light therapy is a common treatment for this type of depression.

Nature is a great teacher, and a firm witness of God’s truth. Thus, by examining creation, we can learn spiritual patterns in the cycle of seasons, days, months, and years. The luminaries of day four of creation GIVE both natural and spiritual light to the earth and earth beings. They govern the day and the night and separate the light from the darkness.[5] Mankind has a proclivity to confuse light and darkness, at least spiritually speaking.[6] The intent of this article is to remind the reader of this reality, and to help one discover how Adonai uses this season every year to refine and prepare one for the next growing season.

All the points at the beginning of this post are important themes that weave together to create the “big picture” view of Kislev. My video on Kislev in 2018 explained most of these themes. But this year, I want to concentrate on the theme of Light and the primary feedback that I have received in the “dark” months over the years.

Identity

During Kislev and Tevet, I receive more emails and messages about identity than anything else. People tend to struggle with their purpose, who they are, and what they should be doing. And, conversely, social media often teems with those that question or challenge the identity of Messiah. Regarding the former, I receive questions at this season that look something like this:

  • Who am I, really?
  • What is my purpose?
  • Is all my work for nothing?
  • Am I toiling in vain?
  • Does God even care?
  • What should I really be doing?
  • How can I function in my gifts and callings?
  • I’m tired. What is the point?

If you find yourself struggling with your purpose or with discerning Adonai’s will for your life in the dark months, know that this is normal. Rather than falling into the malaise of depression, apathy, or condemnation, allow the creation and agricultural season to shed LIGHT on God’s purpose for this introspection. The late fall and winter months in Israel are crucial to the new growing season of spring. If this is true in the natural, it is also true in the spiritual realm.

Right now, it is still the time of the early rains (yoreh) in Israel. They begin after the turn of the year, just after the seventh month and the fall feast days. These rains sink into the hard, dry soil making it easy for farmers to plough the ground and prepare it to receive new seeds. As you read Smith’s Bible Dictionary’s entry on “rain” below, consider the figurative or spiritual application as well as the natural.

“In the Bible, “early rain,” signifies the rain of the autumn, Deu 11:14, and “latter rain,” signifies the rain of spring. Pro 16:1; Pro 16:5. For six months in the year, from May to October, no rain falls, the whole land becomes dry, parched and brown. The autumnal rains are eagerly looked for, to prepare the earth for the reception of the seed. These, the early rains, commence about the latter end of October and continuing through November and December. January and February are the coldest months, and snow falls, sometimes to the depth of a foot or more, at Jerusalem, but it does not lie long; it is very seldom seen along the coast, and in the low plains. Rain continues to fall, more or less, during the month of March, but it is very rare in April… the early and the latter rains, for which the husbandman waited with longing, seem rather to have implied the first showers of autumn — which revived the parched and thirsty soil and prepared it for the seed — and the later showers of spring, which continued to refresh and forward both the ripening crops, and the vernal products of the fields.” Jas 5:7; Pro 16:15.” (Emphasis mine.)

On the higher, spiritual level, the season of the early rains (October, November, December) coincides with the darker, colder, and less “light” time of the year. If the natural purpose is to soften dry, hardened soil for ploughing and planting seeds, then the spiritual purpose is the same in the heart of man. Can you see why it is at this season that people tend to question their purpose and progress, and reevaluate their goals? Especially, in regard to Kingdom work?

Beloved, there is a very real inward battle at this season. Your identity is firmly rooted in Messiah Yeshua. Period. But, that will not excuse one from testing. Testing is for our refinement and is the LORD’s tool to conform us to His image. The months and the moedim GIVE Light to the earth and earth beings. If you’ve been following the moonthly cycle of Adonai for some time, you already know that certain issues pop up at certain seasons EVERY year.

In the dark months, consider what is happening outside. The days are growing darker and colder. Life seems stagnant or even dead. Plants shrivel, trees lose their leaves, some animals crawl into a den of hibernation and SLEEP. All these things are literal surface observations. They do NOT depict what is occurring under the surface, within the trees, and in the soil. In this case, it’s what we can’t see with our natural eyes that matters most. Though one’s natural eyes can see that the environment is dark, cold, and lifeless, one with wisdom knows how VITAL this stage is for NEW GROWTH.

Consider this time of inner reflection to be like a dark, watery womb[7] where you are receiving the early, nourishing
rains of Adonai. They are softening hard, callused attitudes and hearts. Or, think of yourself like a plant or tree. The struggle you face is meant for the betterment of your FUTURE. It is time not only for night dreams,[8] but waking dreams, hopes, and goals. What worked or didn’t work during the growth and harvest season last year? How will you plan your GARDEN for the upcoming season of Light, spring? How will you use these “dark” months? What will you birth or sprout in the spring?

I recommend that you journal any “identity” issues that surface in Kislev and Tevet. Pray and seek God for what He will have you plant, rearrange, uproot, and in what areas you should expand or reconsider altogether. These deep soul questions are normal, and Adonai’s desire is that they help you prepare for the next season. The enemy will use such questions to lead one to despair or condemnation. That is the perversion, and the battleground.

Light Gives

With less natural light available, the spiritual light can also be obscured if one is not diligent to seek it out at this season. Perhaps, this why Adonai gave the Maccabees victory late in this month, as He knew it would be commemorated with the oil fueled light of the Chanukiah. Even if you don’t celebrate Chanukah, this is a good time to review the historical events and learn from them. Judah was fighting a type of spiritual darkness that mixed the holy with the profane, and outright forbid crucial elements of the Covenant between God and Israel such as circumcision, Shabbat and New Moon observance, and Torah study.

Knowledge of this reality is half of the battle. We do not grope in darkness, for there is light in Goshen. We are expected to be prepared in and out of season because we have the Light of the Word and Messiah.

2 Timothy 4:1-4 (NASB) I solemnly charge you in the presence of God and of Christ Jesus, who is to judge the living and the dead, and by His appearing and His kingdom: 2 preach the word; be ready in season and out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort, with great patience and instruction. 3 For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but wanting to have their ears tickled, they will accumulate for themselves teachers in accordance to their own desires, 4 and will turn away their ears from the truth and will turn aside to myths.

Messiah warns about the confusion of light and darkness. There is a very real possibility that one can be full of darkness and actually think that they are full of light. In other words, there is a false light that deceives many.

Luke 11:33-36 (NASB) “No one, after lighting a lamp, puts it away in a cellar nor under a basket, but on the lampstand, so that those who enter may see the light. 34 The eye is the lamp of your body; when your eye is clear, your whole body also is full of light; but when it is bad, your body also is full of darkness. 35 Then watch out that the light in you is not darkness. 36 If therefore your whole body is full of light, with no dark part in it, it will be wholly illumined, as when the lamp illumines you with its rays.”

 

There is one key difference between true and false light. True light always gives. It does not take or steal or consume another in order to “shine.” False light, figured by natural fire, rapidly and hungrily devours its fuel source. Though it shines brightly, it can only do so as it gobbles up the essence and livelihood of another.

False Light Separates Brothers (Pr. 6:16-19)

Today, it has become normal in western cultures to blame others or groups of others for one’s successes or lack thereof. Inner reflection, personal responsibility, and the Sovereignty of God are anathema in their equations. If you believe that you can only shine if and when others are brought low, consumed, silenced, or destroyed, it is time to “watch out that the light in you is not darkness.” The world has a false light, and it sounds very good to man’s passions, desires, lusts, and ego.

True light has no need to take from or consume another person or thing. It burns bright and true without destroying its fuel source. When Adonai called Moses to lead His people out of the bondage of Egypt, this is the first lesson he was taught. God’s light does not consume or destroy.

Exodus 3:2-4 (NASB) The angel of the LORD appeared to him in a blazing fire from the midst of a bush; and he looked, and behold, the bush was burning with fire, yet the bush was not consumed. 3 So Moses said, “I must turn aside now and see this marvelous sight, why the bush is not burned up.” 4 When the LORD saw that he turned aside to look, God called to him from the midst of the bush and said, “Moses, Moses!” And he said, “Here I am.”

Moses was told to bring the children to this same mountain where Adonai appeared to him in the burning bush, and this would be a sign that Adonai was with him. (Ex. 3:12) Later, when Moses did so, the children of Israel perceived the glory of Adonai on Mount Horeb (Sinai) as LIKE a consuming fire. But like the bush, it was not actually consumed.

Exodus 24:17 (NASB) And to the eyes of the sons of Israel the appearance of the glory of the LORD was like a consuming fire on the mountain top.

The Holy Spirit of fire that rests upon God’s people likewise doesn’t consume or destroy the person. Fleshly passions, burning lusts, and worldly desires are quenched, but the man remains. As you consider the “light in you,” review your passions. What fuels your desires? What do you battle for or against? Does your heart burn with the desire to consume others in some way? If we are truly citizens of the Kingdom of Adonai, our lamps will not consume the “wood” or “oil” of another, only foolish virgins think that way.

Rather, our work will GIVE to others. It will uplift, transform, fill up, and brighten the lives of those that Adonai brings into our sphere. Others should see the LIGHT of Messiah in us, which will compel them to turn aside, like Moses, and stop their normal activities to see this marvelous sight. It is so contrary to the natural order that it stuns people. It might even appear to be “foolishness” if one is immersed in worldly wisdom.

1 Corinthians 1:26-29 (NASB)  For consider your calling, brethren, that there were not many wise according to the flesh, not many mighty, not many noble; 27 but God has chosen the foolish things of the world to shame the wise, and God has chosen the weak things of the world to shame the things which are strong, 28 and the base things of the world and the despised God has chosen, the things that are not, so that He may nullify the things that are, 29 so that no man may boast before God.

One of the meanings of Kislev is foolishness or stupidity.[9] In the month of light and darkness, the question is in what or in whom does one trust? For that determines how this word is translated. Do we trust in wisdom or folly? Truth or Lies? In God’s Sovereignty or man’s government? The foolish harlot’s tongue drips honey laced with promises of worldly pleasure, wealth, and grandeur. She excuses and justifies all the destruction and ruin in her wake; and, it really does sound like “wisdom” to the one sprawled on her couch drenched in costly fragrances. “Let it all burn and we will rebuild it in our own image,” she whispers. “It is good.”

On the contrary, the supernatural light of God manifests like chesed (lovingkindness), which is also a GIVER. Chesed and the LIGHT of Adonai are spiritually discerned for those in darkness. It just doesn’t make sense to the natural, worldly mind. But, this “burning without consuming” is where God met with Moses and it is where He made the Covenant with Israel. The pattern is trustworthy. In order to lead others to the Mountain that burns without being consumed, we must first demonstrate the same. May it be so!

Another journal activity for Kislev and Tevet is to consider your gifts. As the ultimate Giver, Adonai gives good gifts to His children. What spiritual gifts do you possess? How are you using them? If you are unsure of what gifts you have, ask other Believers that know you well. They likely see them better than you do. Pray and ask Adonai to reveal to you what they are and how you can serve Him with these talents. If you meet with others for the new moon, devote some time in prayer for those present in the areas of identity and gifts. Many struggle, especially at this season, with one or the other.

Meanwhile, be very careful with what ignites your flame. Next month, in Tevet, anger is the sense. Don’t allow your dream discoveries in Kislev to incite covetousness, rage, jealousy, or contempt. May Adonai bless you and keep you!


[1] See H3689 as used in Job 8:14; 31:24, Proverbs 3:26, Psalm 78:7 (Also see footnote 9.)

[2] Genesis 1:17-18 (NASB) God placed them [the luminaries] in the expanse of the heavens to give light on the earth, 18 and to govern the day and the night, and to separate the light from the darkness; and God saw that it was good.

[3] Col. 2:16-17, 1 Cor. 15:46

[4] https://www.nimh.nih.gov/health/publications/seasonal-affective-disorder/index.shtml

[5] See footnote 2.

[6] Job 17:12, Isaiah 5:20; 9:2; 59:9, Matthew 6:23, John 1:5, etc.

[7] This is the NINTH month, the number most associated with human gestation.

[8] Kislev is called the month of dreams, because most of the dreams recorded in the Torah are read during this month in the Torah cycle.

[9] Hebrew Word Definitions: כֶּסֶל kesel: A masculine noun meaning loins, confidence, stupidity. The first use can actually mean the waist area, the kidneys, etc. (Lev 3:4, Lev 3:10, Lev 3:15; Lev 4:9; Lev 7:4; Job 15:27). The second use is more ambiguous, meaning that in which one puts trust or confidence (Job 8:14; Job 31:24; Psa 78:7; Pro 3:26). The final usage is a false self-trust or stupidity (Psa 49:13 [14]; Ecc 7:25). See the related Hebrew verb kāsal (H3688) and Hebrew noun kislāh (H3690).

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Haftarah: Vayera

Prophetic Portion to Vayera (And He Appeared)

Genesis 18:1-22:24, 2 Kings 4:1-37

This week’s haftarah portion covers two miraculous accounts performed by the prophet Elisha. Both center around women and their children, which not only relates to the Torah portion, but spiritually to the future and the prophetic realm.[1] Elisha asks each woman:

“What can I do for you?”

Read that again.

Let the question resonate with your spirit.

I wonder how many long to hear those words from the “man of God.” What need, dream, or great desire of yours has not been met? In both the Torah and haftarah portions this week, God meets the needs and desires of women in extraordinary ways. He is FOR you, even when – especially when – things are impossible in the natural world.

I wonder how many tears Sarah, the widow, and the Shunammite shed over their predicaments? I suspect most of their pain was shielded from others with the mask of hard work, determination, and service to others. All three women exude a quiet strength in their narratives. They are not portrayed as women that easily give up or go silently into the night. But even the strongest and stalwart among us FEELS, and deeply so. Real strength doesn’t negate or despise feelings, dreams, and great hope for the future. Such things faith rests upon, and they are good, and lovely, and godly.

Hebrews 11:1-2 (NKJV) Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen. 2 For by it the elders obtained a good testimony.

Sarah might have mockingly laughed at the prospect of having a son in her old age (the natural), but that doesn’t mean that she lacked the faith (spiritual) that God would give her this good pleasure. Upon the birth of Isaac, Sarah laughed again, and this time it was in wonderment and jubilation.

Genesis 21:6-7 (TLV) “God has made laughter for me! Everyone who hears will laugh with me.” 7 She also said, “Who would have said to Abraham, ‘Sarah has nursed children’? For I have given birth to a son in his old age!”

I imagine the widow and the Shunammite laughing with Sarah. In fact, I see every Eshet Chayil laughing at the future. Their laughter is not a mockery; it is a rejoicing in the goodness and faithfulness of God. They have trained their eyes to see past the veil of flesh. They know that this world is simply a shadow of the world to come. Though this present age is full of strife, pain, and disappointment, the Word and Promises of Adonai stand firm. They will never pass away. So, right now, in this momentary affliction, they open their mouth with Wisdom, and use their tongue to teach the Torah of Chesed (kindness).

Proverbs 31:25-26 (TLV) Strength and dignity are her clothing, and she laughs at the days to come. 26 She opens her mouth with wisdom—a lesson (Torah) of kindness is on her tongue.

Abraham and Sarah opened their tent with great hospitality. They welcomed, nourished, and taught so many that is said that they “made souls.” (Gen. 12:5) In other words, they were known for their great chesed, like the Proverbs 31 woman. They taught the world about faith, hope, and the future. They taught us to trust in the promises of God, even though they are not always manifest in our lifetime.

Hebrews 11:8-13 (NKJV) By faith Abraham obeyed when he was called to go out to the place which he would receive as an inheritance. And he went out, not knowing where he was going. 9 By faith he dwelt in the land of promise as in a foreign country, dwelling in tents with Isaac and Jacob, the heirs with him of the same promise; 10 for he waited for the city which has foundations, whose builder and maker is God. 11 By faith Sarah herself also received strength to conceive seed, and she bore a child when she was past the age, because she judged Him faithful who had promised. 12 Therefore from one man, and him as good as dead, were born as many as the stars of the sky in multitude—innumerable as the sand which is by the seashore. 13 These all died in faith, not having received the promises, but having seen them afar off were assured of them, embraced them and confessed that they were strangers and pilgrims on the earth.

Abraham was waiting for the city which has foundations, whose builder is God, the New Jerusalem. As sons and daughters of Abraham and Sarah, we await the same. They died in faith, as will many of us. And like them, our Torah of Chesed includes the message that we are strangers and pilgrims on the earth. Look up! His promise will come to pass.

So, how do the widow and the Shunammite proclaim this same truth?

The Widow and the Cruse of Oil

2 Kings 4 begins with a widow of the b’nei nevi’im, or sons of the prophets. Abraham was the first named prophet in the Bible. (Gen. 20:7) Thus, the hint is that she and her sons belong to father Abraham. She is destitute, and a creditor has threatened to take her two sons as slaves to satisfy the debt she and her late husband accrued. According to tradition, the woman is Obadiah’s widow. (Rashi)

Elisha, the man of God, tells her to ask her neighbors for “empty” vessels. Then, very specifically, she and her sons were to shut the door behind them. She poured while her sons brought vessel after vessel to fill from the one cruse of oil she had in the house. People are sometimes compared to vessels in Scripture.[3] An empty vessel is in desperate need of purpose, hope, and the filling of the Holy Spirit. Worse, an empty vessel can imply someone that is dead. This family thought they had nothing, when in fact, they had the oil of anointing, one cruse of oil that could light many, many lamps.

Adonai deeply cares for the widows and the fatherless. Josephus and Rashi comment that this family’s debt was accrued because the late prophet Obadiah had borrowed money to feed the prophets that hid in the cave, and that the creditor was Jehoram the son of Ahab. If this is true, the chesed of Obadiah was great, and Elisha desired that chesed be returned upon Obadiah’s house. Hence, the miracle of oil.

In truth, we all have debt that we cannot pay back. We all have sons and daughters that have inherited the same fate. But we also have hope, even if all we have left is one little vessel of oil. If one finds herself in this this place, it is time to go into the House and shut the door. And then, pour every last drop of oil from your vessel into as many empty vessels as you can find. Oil and anointing is acquired through suffering. Olives must be pressed with a heavy Stone to produce oil. The widow and her son’s suffering turned into precious oil that paid off their debt, and provided sustenance for the future.

A wise virgin knows that Obadiah’s widow has the best oil in town. If you’re feeling sleepy, best get to her house as fast you can. Paying chesed to her will ensure that your vessel is full of golden liquid for the future when the Bridegroom comes calling.

 

The Great Woman from Shunem

The Shunammite’s story echoes Abraham and Sarah’s narrative in several ways.

  • Both were promised a son after showing chesed in the form of hospitality to a messenger of God.
  • Both reacted with astonishment and even a bit of unbelief at this prospect.
  • Both Abraham and the Shunammite’s husband were advanced in years.
  • Both were told that “at this season next year” you will have a son.
  • Both promised sons died (at least figuratively).
  • Both were resurrected (at least figuratively).

Thus, it is easy to see why this prophetic portion was chosen to accompany Vayera. But, this year, as I reread these passages, chesed leaped off the pages of Holy Writ like a neon sign. Adonai has been drawing my attention to chesed since Passover. Chesed is the exact opposite of the traits currently being lauded and paraded in media, social media, and educational institutions. And sadly, the result has been fear, hate, division, mockery, pride, and perverted justice.

Love is growing cold, and this ought not be so – especially if one claims to be a son or daughter of Abraham and Sarah. The father and mother of our faith were KNOWN for their great chesed, as was the Shunammite woman. Chesed is given to everyone – even those that do not deserve it. Especially to those that do not deserve it! Chesed is what woos one to turn back to Adonai. (Jer. 31:3) Chesed is what gives one a spirit of repentance. (Rom. 2:4) Chesed ALWAYS precedes truth and justice in Scripture. If we reverse that pattern, death and chaos reign.

Proverbs 10:12 (NASB) Hatred stirs up strife, but love covers all transgressions.

1 Peter 4:8-9 (NASB) Above all, keep fervent (zealous) in your love for one another, because love covers a multitude of sins. 9 Be hospitable to one another without complaint.

If chesed comes first – if it is the foundation – then, and only then, will one see the pattern conveyed in Vayera in one’s own life. Vayera means, “And He appeared,” a reference to Adonai appearing to Abraham after he was circumcised. It was the “heat of the day.” Likely, Abraham was in great pain and the sun was punishingly hot in the sky. Yet, he arose quickly to serve his guests. The three messengers were not only there to bring the good news that a son would be born to Abraham and Sarah, but to judge Sodom and Gomorrah. God chose to reveal His intentions toward these cities to Abraham.

Have you ever wondered why?

It certainly wasn’t to cause him distress. Or to seek his permission, God forbid. No, the reason God revealed His intentions was because:

Genesis 18:19 (NASB) “For I have chosen him, so that he may command his children and his household after him to keep the way of the LORD by doing righteousness and justice, so that the LORD may bring upon Abraham what He has spoken about him.”

At first glance, this doesn’t seem to be a great reason to reveal to Abraham that He is going to judge the exceedingly great sin of Sodom and Gomorrah. But, carefully considering the above passage, Abraham and his descendants are to represent Adonai in the earth. They are the ones that keep the Way of the LORD by doing righteousness and justice.

If that is the legacy of Abraham, what his response? He pleaded for the innocent, the righteous, within these cities. He didn’t say, “Yeah! Go, take them all out.” (That was Jonah’s response even toward the repentant in Nineveh.) Instead, Abraham showed chesed toward these exceedingly wayward cities. It is highly likely that Adonai was testing the heart of Abraham in this matter. Would he lean toward chesed and mercy, or strict justice?

Abraham passed this test, and as his descendants, so should we. Chesed was the catalyst for not only miraculous births and supernatural provision, but also for resurrection! This demonstrates that acts of kindness are intricately woven into the garments of salvation and the robes of righteousness. They are the essence of the Creator of the Universe. In Jeremiah 3:2, God says, “I am gracious.” That is, chasid, the noun form of chesed. He is chesed!

The Chesed of the Shunammite

The Shunammite woman proves to be a true daughter of Abraham. Stories of women and children are typically prophetic. In this case, where a prophet is directly involved, the prophetic theme is intensified or “doubled.” A match for the prophet that received a double portion of his predecessor’s mantle, Elijah.

Now there came a day when Elisha passed over to Shunem, where there was a prominent woman, and she persuaded him to eat food. And so it was, as often as he passed by, he turned in there to eat food. She said to her husband, “Behold now, I perceive that this is a holy man of God passing by us continually. (2 Kings 4:8-9)

 The place where this great woman lived was called Shunem, meaning double resting place. It was located in Issachar, which implies that the Shunammite was from this tribe or had married a man of Issachar. She told her husband that she knew (ידע – yada) that Elisha was a holy man. She showed him great hospitality by ensuring that he had bread to eat, and by building a resting place for the prophet.

“Please, let us make a little walled upper chamber and let us set a bed for him there, and a table and a chair and a lampstand; and it shall be, when he comes to us, that he can turn in there.” One day he came there and turned in to the upper chamber and rested. Then he said to Gehazi his servant, “Call this Shunammite.” And when he had called her, she stood before him. (2 Kings 4:10-12)

The Shunammite is at the center of the narrative and activity. She is the one that recognizes the need of the prophet, feeds him, and requests a place be built for him. While her husband doesn’t oppose her efforts, and even fulfills her requests, he is content with his passive role in this story. Whether he simply had different gifting or preferred to serve with his hands, we don’t know. He might have had great faith or none at all. Either way, he doesn’t chastise his wife for her boldness, generosity, or more prominent public role. Instead, they work together in the strengths that they have. Thus, when the promise of a son comes, they both are the beneficiaries.

When the boy tragically dies, the Shunammite doesn’t tell her husband. Instead, she places his body on the bed they had made for Elisha, and then shuts the door behind him. This is interesting considering that Elisha told the widow a few verses earlier to do the same while she poured oil into the empty vessels.

2 Kings 4:21 (NASB) She went up and laid him on the bed of the man of God, and shut the door behind him and went out.

The Shunammite asks her husband to give her a servant and a donkey because she is going to see the man of God. This perplexes him and he asks:

“Why will you go to him today? It is neither new moon nor Sabbath.” And she said, “It will be well.” 2 Kings 4:23 (NASB)

The Shunammite had a custom of visiting the man of God on the new moon and the Shabbat, and this day was neither. It is intriguing that it is the woman, and not her husband, that had this custom. If you find yourself in a similar boat, take heart! Keep doing what you know to do as you serve the LORD. Adonai and the man of God recognized her kindnesses and her husband was blessed along with her. May it be so for you as well.

The Shunammite’s husband again fulfilled the request of his wife. She saddled her ass and headed to Mount Carmel. It was obvious to Elisha that she was distressed. When he learns that the boy is near death or dead, he sends Gehazi ahead with his staff to lay on the boy. But, the woman wouldn’t leave him. In fact, she quotes the same words that Elisha spoke to Elijah before the heavenly chariots took him:

2 Kings 4:30 (NASB) The mother of the lad said, “As the LORD lives and as you yourself live, I will not leave you.” And he arose and followed her.

The staff failed to awaken the boy, so Gehazi returned to them with this news. When Elisha entered his room, he shut the door behind them both and prayed to the LORD. This is the third time in this chapter that a door is shut behind the people inside.

2 Kings 4:33-35 (NASB) So he entered and shut the door behind them both and prayed to the LORD. 34 And he went up and lay on the child, and put his mouth on his mouth and his eyes on his eyes and his hands on his hands, and he stretched himself on him; and the flesh of the child became warm. 35 Then he returned and walked in the house once back and forth, and went up and stretched himself on him; and the lad sneezed seven times and the lad opened his eyes.

This is a very mystical passage, and there are many ways to analyze it. Since Elisha first prayed, I assume that Adonai told him what to do. He laid on top of the boy, eye to eye, mouth to mouth, hands to hands. It’s almost like a transference of life occurred, which even warmed the flesh of the child. After doing this once more, the lad sneezed seven times and woke up. Sneezes require deep inhalations of breath, and then powerful expulsions through the nose and mouth. This indicates a strong breath of life – emphasized by the number seven as he resurrects to life.

Both the Torah portion and the haftarah close with stories of sons who miraculously resurrect from the dead. While Isaac’s death is implied, the Shunammite’s son is explicit. God’s promises and His chesed prevails – even overcoming the grave! These are glimpses into the world to come, the olam haba, and the future of all of Abraham’s seed.

To conclude, think back to the three instances in the haftarah where a door is being shut behind those with faith. There are a couple of places in the Brit Chadashah that this phrase occurs. One is in the parable of the Ten Virgins. The other is in the message to the church at Philadelphia, the assembly of “brotherly love.” As you review them, notice the correlation with extra vessels of oil, and how the believers in Philadelphia follow the path of Abraham. They keep the Word of the LORD with patient endurance and have not denied His Name. What other connections do you see?

Matthew 25:1-13 (TLV) “Then the kingdom of heaven will be like ten virgins who took their lamps and went out to meet the bridegroom. 2 Five of them were foolish, and five were wise. 3 For when the foolish ones took their lamps, they took no oil with them. 4 But the wise ones took oil in jars along with their lamps. 5 Now while the bridegroom was taking a long time, they all got drowsy and started falling asleep. 6 But in the middle of the night there was a shout, ‘Look, the bridegroom! Come out to meet him!’ 7 Then all those virgins got up and trimmed their lamps. 8 Now the foolish ones said to the wise, ‘Give us some of your oil, since our lamps are going out.’ 9 But the wise ones replied, ‘No, there won’t be enough for us and for you. Instead, go to those who sell, and buy some for yourselves.’ 10 But while they were going off to buy, the bridegroom came. And those who were ready went in with him to the wedding feast, and the door was shut. 11 Now later, the other virgins came, saying, ‘Sir, Sir, open up for us!’ 12 But he replied, ‘Amen, I tell you, I do not know you.’ 13 Therefore stay alert, for you know neither the day nor the hour.”

Revelation 3:7-13 (TLV) To the angel of Messiah’s community in Philadelphia write: “Thus says the Holy One, the True One, who has the key of David, who opens and no one will shut, and who shuts and no one opens: 8 I know your deeds. Behold, I have set before you an open door that no one is able to shut—because you have little power, but you have kept My word and have not denied My name. 9 Behold, I will cause those of the synagogue of satan—who say they are Jewish and are not, but lie—behold, I will cause them to come and bow down before your feet, so that they acknowledge that I have loved you! 10 Because you have kept My word about patient endurance, I will also keep you from the hour of trial that is coming upon the whole world to test those who dwell on the earth. 11 I am coming soon—hold on to what you have, so that no one will take away your crown. 12 The one who overcomes, I will make him a pillar in the Temple of My God, and he will never leave it. And on him I will write the name of My God and the name of the city of My God—the New Jerusalem, which comes down out of heaven from My God—and My own new Name. 13 He who has an ear, let him hear what the Ruach is saying to Messiah’s communities.”


[1] Role of Women 

[2] 1 Th. 4:3-6, Rom. 9:21, 2 Cor. 4:7-14, 2 Tim. 2:20-26 

Categories: Torah Portions, Women | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , | 8 Comments

Like the Days of Noah

The Haftarah Cycle: A Brief Introduction

In this new Torah cycle,[1] I’m devoting special attention to the prophetic portion or the haftarah. Thus, I will share little nuggets with my readers when I have time. But first, I offer a review of the history of the haftarah for those new to the Torah cycle.

Haftarah comes from a Hebrew root that means to end or conclude. (It does not mean “half!”) The haftarah portion is a selection of verses from the prophets or the writings in the Tanakh.[2] This selection is thematically connected to the weekly Torah Portion about a third of the time, but there are special haftarot (pl.) related to the calendar such as Feast days or Rosh Chodesh, or for historical events such as the destruction of the Temples and the subsequent exile.

For example, from the first Sabbath after Tammuz 17th, until the turn of the year at Rosh Hashanah, the haftarah portions shift from being thematically connected to the Torah Portions to reflecting the historical events that occurred at that season. (For more information see: The Three Weeks or watch “The Dire Straits: This Season in Tradition,” a message I delivered at Revive 2020.)

The institution of the haftarah cycle varies, depending on the source. There are several theories about how this custom began. The most common one suggests that it began during the reign of Antiochus Epiphanes, who outlawed Jews from reading the Torah, but allowed the other writings. Another theory says that the haftarah was established in response to the Samaritans, who denied the inspiration of the prophets and writings, but followed the Law of Moses.

Interestingly, the oldest reference to the haftarah cycle is found in the Brit Chadashah (New Testament). In the first century, there was a custom to read from the Torah and the Prophets on the Sabbath day in the synagogues:

Luke 4:16-21 (TLV) And He came to Natzeret, where He had been raised. As was His custom, He went into the synagogue on Shabbat, and He got up to read. 17 When the scroll of the prophet Isaiah was handed to Him, He unrolled the scroll and found the place where it was written, 18 “The Ruach Adonai is on me, because He has anointed me to proclaim Good News to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim release to the captives and recovery of sight to the blind, to set free the oppressed, 19 and to proclaim the year of Adonai’s favor.” 20 He closed the scroll, gave it back to the attendant, and sat down. All eyes in the synagogue were focused on Him. 21 Then He began to tell them, “Today this Scripture has been fulfilled in your ears.”

Acts 13:14-16 (NASB) But going on from Perga, they arrived at Pisidian Antioch, and on the Sabbath day they went into the synagogue and sat down. 15 After the reading of the Law and the Prophets the synagogue officials sent to them, saying, “Brethren, if you have any word of exhortation for the people, say it.” 16 Paul stood up, and motioning with his hand said, “Men of Israel, and you who fear God, listen.”

While the yearly Torah cycle covers every word in the Torah or Books of Moses, only a small selection from the prophets and writings are read through each year. In fact, only two prophetic books are read completely as haftarot in the modern order: The Book of Obadiah and the Book of Jonah.

There are differences between the reading selections of haftarot in Ashkenazi, Sephardi, and Yemenite communities, though they are similar. Historically, though the Jewish people had a custom of reading from the prophets after the Torah portion, there wasn’t a set order. Until more recent times, random selections were chosen. Moreover, in the old triennial (3 year) Torah cycle, there were naturally many more haftarah portions. So, those that suggest that the Jewish people purposeful removed certain prophecies from Isaiah to keep people away from Yeshua are completely ignorant of the haftarah’s history. Don’t fall into their traps.

There are traditional blessings recited before reading the haftarah, and afterwards.

Blessing Before Reading Haftarah

Barukh attah Adonai eloheinu melekh ha’olam asher bachar binvi’im tovim ve-ratzah ve-divreihem hane’emarim be’emet. Barukh attah Adonai ha-bocher ba-torah uv’Moshe avdo uv-Yisra’el amo, uvinvi’ey ha-emet va-tzedek.

Blessed are you, O LORD, our God, King of the universe, Who has chosen good prophets, and was pleased with their words spoken in truth. Blessed are you, LORD, who has  chosen the Torah, and his servant Moses, and his people Israel, and the prophets of truth and righteousness.

Blessing After Reading the Haftarah

Barukh attah Adonai eloheinu melekh ha’olam, tzur kol ha-olamim, tzaddik be-khol ha-dorot, ha-El hane’eman ha’omeir v’oseh, hamdabeir u’makiyem, shekol devarav emet ve-tzedek. Ne’eman attah Adonai eloheinu, ve-ne’emanim devarekha, ve-davar echad midevareykha achor lo yashuv reikam, ki El melekh ne’eman ve-rachaman attah. Barukh attah Adonai, ha-El hane’eman be-khol devarav.

Blessed are You, Adonai our God, King of the Universe, Rock of all eternities, righteous in all generations, the faithful God, who says and does, who speaks and fulfills, all of whose words are true. Faithful are you, LORD our God, and faithful are your words. Not one of your words turns back unfulfilled, for You, O God, are a faithful and compassionate King. Blessed are You, LORD, the God who is faithful in all His words.

Further Reading

The JPS Bible Commentary: Haftarot by Michael Fishbane

The Haftarah Commentary by W. Gunther Plaut

The Women’s Haftarah Commentary: New Insights from Women Rabbis on the 54 Weekly Haftarah Portions, the 5 Megillot & Special Shabbatot by multiple authors

The Book of Haftarot: An Easy-to-Read Haftarah Translation by Sol Scharfstein

Book of Haftaros – Gutnick Edition by Rabbi Chaim Miller

  

Like the Days of Noach

Prophetic Portion to Noach:[3] Isaiah 54:1 – 55:5

The context of this portion is decades of Babylonian captivity. Can you imagine spending decades in exile away from your land and your home? In a sense, we are currently in exile in a spiritual Babylon. Will Adonai leave us here forever?

This haftarah portion floods the reader with the theme of redemption from exile. God has not forgotten us or our children. In fact, He beckons us to partake freely of His water, bread, and wine – His teachings – because they are life. Our disgrace for disobedience has an end, and it is rapidly approaching. Adonai describes His anger as a momentary flood, but His chesed as everlasting.

Isaiah 54:8 (LITV) In a flood of wrath (be-shetzef ketzef) I hid My face from you for a moment; but I will have pity on you with everlasting kindness, says Jehovah your Redeemer.

It is in that context that He says this is “like the days of Noah to me.” Adonai’s anger (judgment) is like the waters that destroyed the earth in Noah’s day; but His promise to take Israel back is even more powerful than the great deluge. While the flood of His anger was temporary, His promises are forever. We can count on them to engulf us with His goodness.

Isaiah 54:9 (NASB) “For this is like the days of Noah to Me, When I swore that the waters of Noah Would not flood the earth again; so I have sworn that I will not be angry with you nor will I rebuke you.”

From Adonai’s perspective, “like the days of Noah” reminds Him not of His anger, but of His mercy and promise. Israel had sinned against her Maker, breaking the covenant agreed upon at Mt. Sinai. After enduring the curses for her unfaithfulness, Adonai promised Israel a new start just as He had promised Noah and his descendants. The entire prophetic portion floods an underserving Israel with God’s boundless chesed (loving-kindness).

Isaiah 54:10-14 (TLV) Though the mountains depart and the hills be shaken, My love will not depart from you, nor will My covenant of peace be shaken, says Adonai who has compassion on you. 11 Afflicted one, storm-tossed, unconsoled, behold, I set your stones in antimony, lay your foundations with sapphires, 12 make your pinnacles of rubies, your gates of crystal, and all your walls of precious stones. 13 All your children will be taught by Adonai. Your children will have great shalom. 14 In righteousness you will be established. You will be far from oppression—for you will not fear—and from terror—for it will not come near you.

The phrase “like the days of Noah” only occurs in a few places in Scripture. When Messiah uses this phrase in Matthew 24, most connect it with the judgment that Adonai wrought upon the whole earth because of the evil hearts of men, violence, and corruption. Hopefully, the link to Messiah’s words about the coming of the Son of Man, the end of days, and the evil that will be prevalent at that time is clear. He does not let the guilty go unpunished…

However, He also abounds in chesed and forgives iniquity, transgression, and sin. (Ex.34:4-9) This is a two-sided coin. And, “like the days of Noah” is a two-sided phrase. On the one hand, blatant disobedience and sin must be punished – like a flood of fiery wrath. On the other hand, God is gracious, merciful, and abounding in chesed – like a gushing river of life. Both are true.

Noach received favor or grace as a righteous one in his generation. His name (nun, chet), if read backwards, even spells grace (chen – chet, nun), which gives us a clue. Perhaps, the phrase “like the days of Noah” has dual meanings as well. After all, Biblical real estate is precious. There are no words or phrases that are superfluous. The prophetic portion of Noach nearly overwhelms the hearer with the gushing love of God. His promises flow out in a torrential down pour that sound too good to be true. Especially, to a people that have been unfaithful to her Maker and Husband.

How could it be that after all we have done, after all our unfaithfulness, after all our selfish choices, after multitudes of sins, derisions, and infidelities, that the Creator of the Universe, the God of Israel, Builder of Zion, will take us back to Himself? Can this be true? Peter compares God bringing Noach and his family through the flood waters to baptism and a clean conscience. (1 Peter 3:18-22) Adonai promises as sure as He promised to never flood the earth again that He WILL remove our disgrace, enlarge our tent, fill our wombs, comfort us, and quench our thirst and hunger. This is the Good News of the Kingdom!

In this sense, “like the days of Noah” distinctly refers to God’s everlasting chesed, mercy, and love. He makes a Way where there is no way. Isaiah 53 precedes Isaiah 54. This is Adonai’s everlasting covenant of peace, and He is eager to share it with each one of us. Thus, when we read Matthew 24 or Luke 17 where the Messiah draws our attention back to “the days of Noah,” don’t just focus on the judgment or the flood of His wrath. Instead, look up for the Coming Kingdom and Promises fulfilled! These portions should bring us comfort in the days ahead, just as Noah’s father proclaimed:

Genesis 5:29 (TLV)  And he named him Noah saying, “This one will comfort us from our work and from the pain of our hands because of the ground which Adonai cursed.”


[1] First Fruits of Zion has a beautiful online and printable schedule for the yearly Torah cycle: https://torahportions.ffoz.org I also love their yearly calendar: https://ffoz.com/eretz-yisrael-wall-calendar.html

[2] Tanakh is an acronym that stands for the Torah (Books of Moses), the Nevi’im (Prophets), and the K’tuvim (Writings). Altogether, these three make up the complete Jewish Bible or the complete Old Testament for Christians.

[3] Torah Portion Noach (Noah): Gen. 6:9 – 11:32; Haftarah:  Is. 54:1 – 55:5

Categories: Musings, Torah Portions | Tags: , , , , , , , , | 11 Comments

Releasing the Biblical Feminine: A Virtual Summit!

Join me for a day of teaching, hosted by the wonderful ladies at the Rooted Kafe. RELEASING THE BIBLICAL FEMININE kicks off TOMORROW, October 14th, 2020!

This summit is virtual and free! The sessions/teachers will be recorded, so if you purchase a pass (see below), you will have access to anything you miss. If you are a Rooted Kafe member, this option is also free. (Registration links below.)

The Summit features 7 speakers who are ready to launch the Bride of Messiah into new cycle of Torah. You don’t want to miss this Summit!

You’re going to hear from:

– Dr. Hollisa Alewine

– Dr. Deb Wiley Gold

– Dr. Robin Gould

– Brenda Stroth

– Simonette Cherepanov

– Deborah Flanagan

– Kisha Gallagher

Topics include:

– RELEASING THE BIBLICAL FEMININE

– THE GOSPEL IN SEVEN DAYS OF CREATION

– THE FEAST OF THE BORN AGAIN: CELEBRATING THE BIBLICAL NEW MOON

– BACK TO EDEN, WHAT HINDERS US?

– DIVORCE & REMARRIAGE IN THE BIBLE

-YESHUA AND THE WOMAN WHO LOVED HIM

 


REGISTER FOR THE SUMMIT

(It’s free!) Click here

OR

 

Don’t miss a word with this ALL ACCESS PASS!

What you’ll get UNLIMITED access to:

  • Audios of all 7 speakers
  • Videos of all 7 speakers
  • Downloadable Worksheets & Summit notes from speakers

CLICK HERE

 

ROOTED KAFE MEMBERS RECEIVE THIS PASS FREE WITH THEIR MEMBERSHIP

To become a member, click here

 

 

Categories: new moon, News Flash, Women | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

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