Posts Tagged With: davar

Parched Ground

How do we display the image of Elohim (G-d) in the earth?parched ground

Recently, I participated in an online correspondence class with a rabbi. In it, he made mention of the davar (word) and its relationship to the midbar (wilderness/desert). I know many of you are already familiar with this connection, but for the sake of those who are not, I will briefly explore this notion. In Hebrew, the root of midbar (desert) is davar (word). In other words, the wilderness comes directly from the Word. Being in the desert is akin to receiving the Word. Or to be more precise, the wilderness is where YHWH’s Word is tested in us. In the Torah, the Book of Numbers chronicles the Children of Israel’s wanderings in the desert. Thus, quite fittingly, this book is called BaMidbar or “in the wilderness” in Hebrew.

When YHWH miraculously removed ancient Israel from Egypt or when He rescued us from the figurative house of slavery (sin and death), where did He take them or us? Was it straight to the Promised Land? Or was it into the desert or wilderness? The fact that we all must face a literal or figurative desert upon being saved sounds counterintuitive at first. What do we need to learn in wilderness? I think Bill Cloud said it best (I’m paraphrasing Bill here): “God can remove us from Egypt, but we find that Egypt is still in us.” In other words, salvation, deliverance, and sanctification are ongoing processes. The desert becomes a type of threshing floor for our souls. All that offends is refined, purified, and threshed in the scorching sands of the desert. The Word that began a good work in us continues its commission to test and humble us. The difficulty and the pain of the wilderness “does good” for us in the end. For Abba, this is a labor of love.

“He led you through the great and terrible wilderness, with its fiery serpents and scorpions and thirsty ground where there was no water; He brought water for you out of the rock of flint. “In the wilderness He fed you manna which your fathers did not know, that He might humble you and that He might test you, to do good for you in the end. (Dt. 8:15-16)

But the desert has one more vital message to teach us. It is in our wilderness where G-d speaks. In the ups and downs of the desert, we learn to discern the difference between the Shepherd’s voice and the enemy’s crafty imitation. When we are stripped of all the comforts of Egypt, we finally reach the end of self. It is there, in the midst of what appears to us as chaos and disorder, that the G-d of order speaks kindly to us and lifts our weary heads. With no more worldly distractions, the Word reveals what is in our hearts. Each revelation offers us an opportunity to repent and return to the Master’s loving embrace.

Ones That Speak

While all the above is fascinating, even if a little scary, that’s not what struck me in the Rabbi’s lesson. He mentioned that one way we are like G-d is in the fact that we have the faculty of speech. We are the only creatures in His vast creation that, like Him, have words. We are medeber (ones that speak). Think about this for moment. In the same way that davar and midbar are connected, so is medeber. This means that we are not ONLY “ones that speak”, but “ones like a desert”.

Have you ever thought of yourself as a desert? Maybe our souls have felt dry or parched during a great trial, in the midst of mourning, or while suffering for righteousness sake or on account of our own sins. But have you ever considered that our wilderness journey should be as close and familiar to us as speech?

We were not only meant to speak, but we were meant to drink like the parched earth of a desert. Consider the many passages that urge us to partake of the Living Waters.[1] Or think about how the Word of G-d is figuratively referred to as rain or water.[2] We should be like the thirsty ground, eagerly waiting for the gentle rain of Abba’s Word. Considering that Adam was formed from the dust of the ground, this makes perfect sense. Mankind is essentially dirt or dust. And the ground NEEDS the heavenly rains like we NEED the words of our heavenly Elohim.

Dirt and Seeds

seed-plant-life-garden-grow-dirt-wide.1200w.tnWe are, at our core, the substance (dirt) in which seeds can be planted in order for New Life to grow. The Word is equivalent to a Seed in Scripture.[3] Coincidence? I don’t think so. If words are seeds, we should be careful what we allow to take root in our soil or dirt. I believe these words or seeds can come from three places: G-d, the enemy, and ourselves.

Thus, the enemy’s word is a seed. The words we speak are seeds. The words others speak are seeds. But the only Seed that is always truth and always produces life is the Word of YHWH. The question is how do we know, and I mean without a doubt know that we know, whether the seed we are receiving is G-d’s Seed?

This is where the dry, dirty side of our essence comes in to play. In order to hear or receive the Word of Adonai, we must become like a desert. All distractions and things that vie for our attention must be removed in order for us to really hear or shema YHWH. In the wilderness, our nephesh (flesh) is denied worldly pleasures and conveniences. One reason that fasting is so effective is because it strips the nephesh of gratification. Any time our nephesh (with all its thoughts, desires, and appetites) is ruled over by our younger (new) spirit-man, our connection to YHWH is strengthened. And our flesh serves us rather than us serving it.

Whose Voice?

speakingMany times, we listen to the voice of our own desires rather than the Words of YHWH. Like the Tree of Knowledge, it speaks both good and evil. We know this voice so well that we often mistake it for the Holy Spirit (especially when its speaking “good”). Let’s face it, when it seems as if we will get to avoid suffering in a dry desert, our voice (or even the voice of the enemy) sounds like good counsel to our itching ears. This is why various people can all claim to be hearing from the One Holy Spirit, yet will have conflicting ideas, agendas, and doctrine. We are ones that speak, but rarely are we willing to become a desert. We must learn to submit to the wilderness and allow the Word to test us.

Emptying ourselves of our own desires (even those we deem good and profitable or even godly) is the key to becoming the image of Elohim in the earth. You want to love YHWH with all your heart and love your neighbor like yourself? It will cost you flesh and bone. Are we willing to suffer for YHWH and our neighbor?[4] Or would we rather cause others to suffer so that we can have things our way? Do we open our mouths and speak life (healing/shalom) to others or do we use our speech to persuade others to do things the way we like it or see it? Which voice is the Holy Spirit and which is the voice of our own nephesh (soul)?

The acquisition of treasures (desires of our hearts/flesh) by a lying tongue is a fleeting vapor, the pursuit of death. (Pr. 21:6 added parenthesis mine)

 

If anyone thinks himself to be religious, and yet does not bridle his tongue but deceives his own heart, this man’s religion is worthless. (Jam. 1:26)

Watch Your Mouth

He who guards his mouth and his tongue, Guards his soul from troubles. (Pr. 21:23)

shut your mouthOur mouths cause us more trouble than any other member of our bodies.[5] Is this because we only desire to be ones that speak and not ones like a desert? After all, you can’t speak AND drink at the same time! Interestingly, if we fail to choose to become a humble desert before YHWH, He will take us there kicking and screaming. Our only choice in the matter is the method of how we arrive and how we act once we get there. YHWH’s Word is ALWAYS tested in the wilderness/desert.[6] Consider the many judgments that result with the people and the land becoming desolate. In these cases, Abba’s judgment has in effect “shut our mouths”.[7]

Is Adonai just an angry tyrant or does He know something that we desperately don’t want to accept? The Bible says that G-d is Love and that He chastises those whom He loves.[8] He takes us to the desert because He knows that the testing of the wilderness will reveal our hearts. We need to face the serpent on the pole, so that we may be healed and saved. The serpent is the voice of our own selfish desires. It is the crafty forked tongue that whispers both good and evil. When we heed its voice rather than Adonai’s, we are stung with its venom and take the fast track toward death.

This is why we must die daily like the lamb offerings in the Tabernacle and the Temple. Our beast must be brought to the altar. Like all creatures, the beast doesn’t submit easily. It is excellent at convincing us (with its mouth) that all is well. The smooth words of the serpent appeals to our feelings of entitlement, self-righteousness, and piety. The beast does not like to identify with suffering or humility. But like Cain, we are told to MASTER this impulse.

Hearing-GodWe do this by becoming what we were created to be. We are a desert; a vast wilderness laid bare for all of heaven to see and judge. In this position, we are no longer mouths that speak to justify or coerce; rather, we become a sponge that soaks up the words of life. Though the Living Word kills the flesh, it quickens the spirit.

This is the key to humility, hearing from Abba, and loving our neighbor sacrificially. It is also what molds and shapes our clay vessels into the image of our great and loving Elohim. If we really got this we would no longer scorn our fiery trials or fear the seemingly empty places of life. Instead, we would prostrate ourselves under the heavens and allow the Word to truly divide between our soul (nephesh) and spirit.

For the word of God is living and active 
and sharper than any two-edged sword, and 
piercing as far as the division of soul and spirit,
 of both joints and marrow, and able to judge 
the thoughts and intentions of the heart. 
And there is no creature hidden from His sight, 
but all things are open and laid bare 
to the eyes of Him with whom we have to do. 
(Heb. 4:12-13)

[1] Jer. 2:13; 17:13, John 4:10-11, Rev. 7:38

[2] This post speaks about the early and latter rains.

“For as the rain and the snow come down from heaven, And do not return there without watering the earth And making it bear and sprout, And furnishing seed to the sower and bread to the eater; So will My word be which goes forth from My mouth; It will not return to Me empty, Without accomplishing what I desire, And without succeeding in the matter for which I sent it. (Is. 55:10-11)

“So let us know, let us press on to know the LORD. His going forth is as certain as the dawn; And He will come to us like the rain, Like the spring rain watering the earth.” (Hos. 6:3)

So that He might sanctify her, having cleansed her by the washing of water with the word. (Eph. 5:26)

[3] Luke 8:11

[4] Suffering for Righteousness’ Sake

To sum up, all of you be harmonious, sympathetic, brotherly, kindhearted, and humble in spirit; not returning evil for evil or insult for insult, but giving a blessing instead; for you were called for the very purpose that you might inherit a blessing. For, “THE ONE WHO DESIRES LIFE, TO LOVE AND SEE GOOD DAYS, MUST KEEP HIS TONGUE FROM EVIL AND HIS LIPS FROM SPEAKING DECEIT. “HE MUST TURN AWAY FROM EVIL AND DO GOOD; HE MUST SEEK PEACE AND PURSUE IT. “FOR THE EYES OF THE LORD ARE TOWARD THE RIGHTEOUS, AND HIS EARS ATTEND TO THEIR PRAYER, BUT THE FACE OF THE LORD IS AGAINST THOSE WHO DO EVIL.” Who is there to harm you if you prove zealous for what is good? But even if you should suffer for the sake of righteousness, you are blessed. AND DO NOT FEAR THEIR INTIMIDATION, AND DO NOT BE TROUBLED, but sanctify Christ as Lord in your hearts, always being ready to make a defense to everyone who asks you to give an account for the hope that is in you, yet with gentleness and reverence; and keep a good conscience so that in the thing in which you are slandered, those who revile your good behavior in Christ will be put to shame. For it is better, if God should will it so, that you suffer for doing what is right rather than for doing what is wrong. (1 Peter 3:8-17)

[5] James 3

[6] Think about Moses and Yeshua. Were they each not tested in the wilderness? What about Paul? Can you recall a period where he was tested in the desert? Consider the Children of Israel, Job, David, Jeremiah, John the Baptist, and others. Can you connect these righteous men with both suffering and the desert/wilderness? Does the Bible give us examples of those who willingly flee to the desert and those who are taken there against their will? What is the difference between these two experiences? What is similar about these experiences? It seems as though we ALL must experience the wilderness. The question is: Will we go willingly or by force?

[7] Now we know that whatever the Law says, it speaks to those who are under the Law, so that every mouth may be closed and all the world may become accountable to God. (Rom. 3:19)

[8] FOR THOSE WHOM THE LORD LOVES HE DISCIPLINES, AND HE SCOURGES EVERY SON WHOM HE RECEIVES.” (Heb. 12:6)

Categories: Musings | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 7 Comments

Deborah the Bee Part I

© Olga Vasilkova

© Olga Vasilkova

The Hebrew word for bee is Devorah (Deborah). This is also the feminine form of the word davar (literally: Word). Another derivative from this Hebrew root is midbar or wilderness. Jeff Benner has this to say about our root word:

The root word is ‘davar’ and is most frequently translated as a thing or a word. The original picture painted by this word to the Hebrews is the arrangement of things to create order. Speech is an ordered arrangement of words. In the ancient Hebrew mind words are ‘things’ and are just as ‘real’ as food or other ‘things’. When a word is spoken to another it is ‘placed in the ears’ no different than when food is given to another it is ‘placed in the mouth’. The Hebrew name Devorah (Deborah) means ‘bee’ and is the feminine form of the word davar. Bees are a community of insects which live in a perfectly ordered arrangement. The word ‘midvar’ meaning wilderness is actually a place that exists as a perfectly arranged order as its ecosystem is in harmony and balance.[1]

Bees are fascinating little creatures. The structure of their colonies are perfectly ordered much like the wilderness and the Word of God. The pollination that they provide for our crops is actually vital to our very survival. Is it any wonder that YHWH chose the humble honey bee as a natural picture of His spiritual Torah? Both provide Life! Even more interesting to me is that while the bee is an unclean insect, the sticky sweet honey that they produce is not.

Perhaps that is because we are supposed to be similar to a bee. We should be building the house (colony) in unity and with order. Moreover, much of the time we are ritually unclean and/or spiritual unclean due to sin. Nevertheless, we are told to remedy our dilemma by the cleansing of the blood of the Lamb. Once we do, we can venture into the fields like the worker bees to build the Kingdom by gathering pollen from the flowers of the earth. Our efforts should produce golden sweet honey that attracts all the “whosoevers”. (Living the Word with Love)

Ironically, as the world slips further away from the Creator’s Word and closer to death, the natural honey bee population is also dying.[2] This should cause us great concern because bees are directly responsible for one out of every three bites of food that you ingest![3]

“If the bee disappeared off the face of the earth, 
man would only have four years left to live.” 
― Maurice Maeterlinck, The Life of the Bee

We need to be praying not only for our nation and the world to turn back to YHWH, but also for the survival of the honey bee. But this post isn’t about the physical bee as much as it is about the spiritual picture that they represent.

 

Deborah the Bee and Nurse

The Book of Judges enumerates the most well-known biblical woman with the name Deborah. But before we explore her extraordinary story, there is another more obscure Deborah mentioned in the Torah that I’d like to highlight. The reference is in the middle of the passage below. Please read all five verses so you can see the beauty of the context.

Gen. 35:6-10 So Jacob came to Luz (that is, Bethel), which is in the land of Canaan, he and all the people who were with him. (7) He built an altar there, and called the place El-bethel, because there God had revealed Himself to him when he fled from his brother. (8) Now Deborah, Rebekah’s nurse, died, and she was buried below Bethel under the oak; it was named Allon-bacuth. (9) Then God appeared to Jacob again when he came from Paddan-aram, and He blessed him. (10) God said to him, “Your name is Jacob; You shall no longer be called Jacob, But Israel shall be your name.” Thus He called him Israel.

This isn’t the only reference to Deborah the nurse of Rebekah. We also see a brief appearance in Genesis 24 when Abraham’s servant finds Rebekah at the well and requests that she come with him to marry Isaac.

Gen. 24:59 Thus they sent away their sister Rebekah and her nurse with Abraham’s servant and his men.

Though the nurse isn’t named in this passage, most of the Christian and Jewish commentaries[4] that I referenced believe that this nurse was none other than the Deborah mentioned in Genesis 35. Rashi cites a tradition that Rebekah had sent Deborah to Aram to tell Jacob that it was now safe to return.[5] I find this interesting given the name of the Torah Portion this passage is found in: Vayishlach “And He Sent” (Gen. 32:4-36:43).

Genesis 35[6] comes after Jacob wrestles all night with the “angel”, his reunion with Esau, and Dinah’s violation by Shechem. Jacob has literally gone from the “fire” to the “frying pan” and back again. Life is hard. He has made both good and bad decisions and is living the consequences. YHWH tells him to return to Bethel (House of God) and build an altar. Bethel is where YHWH first revealed Himself to Jacob. It is as if YHWH is bringing Jacob full circle.

At this point in the narrative, the story is interrupted by a blurb about the nurse named Deborah. We are not given much information about her life, but the fact that the Torah mentions her at all is very telling. Deborah was Rebekah’s nurse; Rebekah is Jacob’s mother. Apparently, Deborah had been with Jacob all these years at her request. As a nurse, Deborah would have been a nurturer to Jacob, his wives, and his children. It is doubtful that this woman was married and had children of her own. Instead, she lived a life devoted to Abraham’s seed. She was like one of the worker bees ensuring the survival of the colony. I believe that Rebekah sent this woman to watch over Jacob and ensure his prophetic future.

Once YHWH brings Jacob back to where their relationship began, Deborah dies.[7] The importance of her role is revealed in the place and name of where she was buried: Allon-Bacuth. She’s buried under an oak tree in the land of Bethel. The people called this place “The Oak of Weeping/Mourning”. I can only imagine that for Deborah to have a permanent mention in the Torah that she was indeed a Mighty Oak in the eyes of the family. She was no mere nurse or servant. Her name implies hard diligent service in producing the sweet honey of the WORD.

Before Jacob returns to Bethel, he was a little reckless and immature. A person with a nature such as this needs a counsellor, a guide, a helper, and a nurturer. Though the Torah doesn’t explicitly state that Deborah was these things to Jacob, I believe the “hints” are undeniable. Let’s look at some of the imagery.

  • Deborah = bee (busy/unity) and Word (as in Word of Elohim)
  • Nurse = (yanaq) to give milk or sustenance to the immature
  • Oak = tree (etz) and counsel (etzah) trees are pictures of counsel and the righteous
  • Bethel = House of El (God)

The nurse Deborah is greatly mourned because she was a mother figure, teacher of the Word, and counsellor to Jacob and his family. As a woman of valor,[8] she had been a picture of the gentle guidance of the Holy Spirit in the lives of young Israel.

When YHWH brings Jacob’s life full circle, he is more mature and ready for the stronger boundaries of the Father. After Deborah dies, YHWH again “appears” to Jacob to reestablish the Promise and Covenant. Jacob’s sojourning has prepared him for this day. The change in his nature is marked by the change of his name. He is no longer a supplanter or heel catcher;[9] he is Israel (One who struggles/overcomes with God). As such, he no longer needs his mother’s Torah[10] (the imagery of Deborah); he is ready to walk with his Father. Nevertheless, this process is bittersweet. In this one Torah Portion[11] where Deborah meets her demise, Rachel and Isaac also pass away. Jacob’s promotion comes on the heels of losing a mother figure[12], his beloved wife, and his earthly father.

 

© Ichtor

© Ichtor

Meanwhile, Back at the Hive

The heart of any beehive is its queen. The hive does not exist without her. She literally builds the colony as … a wise woman builds her house.[13] The queen releases pheromones (an aroma) that keeps the hive thriving and humming in unison. This reminds me of the aroma of the anointing oil and the Holy Spirit. This sweet fragrance should also be discernible on us when we meet others. I’m not one to read many Bibles that “paraphrase” the Scriptures, but I couldn’t resist these verses:

2Co 2:14-15 I am grateful that God always makes it possible for Christ to lead us to victory. God also helps us spread the knowledge about Christ everywhere, and this knowledge is like the smell of perfume. (15) In fact, God thinks of us as a perfume that brings Christ to everyone. For people who are being saved, this perfume has a sweet smell and leads them to a better life… (CEV)

I happen to follow a blog that is all about bee keeping or apiculture. Recently, an article caught my attention, but for far different reasons than the author intended. The name of the post is “Roar of a Queenless Hive”.[14] The bee keeper had inadvertently removed a panel from one of his hives that had a queen on it. After a few minutes, the hive began to roar with chaos and loud buzzing. He knew that he must have mistakenly removed the queen which sent the hive into a panic. His point was to warn fellow bee keepers of making the same mistake and to “listen” as well as “look” at their hives. But it was his words that really struck me with a startling revelation.

A queenless hive will most certainly roar in a way that you rarely hear otherwise.[15]

I could not help but wonder if this natural picture of bees is also true for the body of Messiah. Like the humble bee, we should also be an example of the (Living) Word. The Word produces sweet honey, not bitterness or condemnation in our lives. But there seems to be something amiss from our hives. Have we been trying to build a colony without a queen?

In Judaism, the Sabbath and the Divine Presence (Shekinah) are likened to a queen or a woman. (This is also true of the Holy Spirit and Wisdom) If physical women are to reflect these aspects of the Creator and we are limiting, restricting, or suppressing this reflection, are we not also in effect quenching the role and work of the Holy Spirit? Is this why our “hives” are often roaring with disunity and disharmony? Women are “mothers” that set boundaries to keep peace between siblings. They nurture and nurse growing babes and ensure they reach maturity.

Perhaps the Messianic movement is similar to Jacob. YHWH is turning us back full circle to where He first appeared to us at Bethel. But like Jacob, Deborah will nurse us until we fully reach the land of milk and honey. Interestingly, it is at this point that the Genesis account shifts focus from Jacob to his progeny — especially Joseph. Since Joseph prefigures the Messiah and the last days, it is reasonable to conclude that our Mashiach will return to the scene once Jacob is ready to become Israel. (A prepared Bride)

Until then, we require the “mothering” of Deborah (Holy Spirit). I suppose the real question is, “Where are we on the journey as a body?” Are we still slaving for Laban? Are we running from Esau? Are we wrestling with the messenger (angel)? Or have we remained silent after the violation of Dinah?

Song of Songs 4:11 “Your lips, my bride, drip honey; Honey and milk are under your tongue, And the fragrance of your garments is like the fragrance of Lebanon.

 We will explore more about Deborah the Judge in Part II … stay tuned.

 

Disclaimer[16]


 

[1] http://www.ancient-hebrew.org/27_wilderness.html

[2] http://www.ars.usda.gov/News/docs.htm?docid=15572 In a nutshell, bees are dying at an alarming rate and this has worldwide effects on our food crops. This process is called Colony Collapse Disorder.

[3] Ibid.

[4] Here is an example: Deborah had either been sent by Rebekah to take care of her daughters-in-law and grandsons, or had gone of her own accord into Jacob’s household after the death of her mistress. The mourning at her death, and the perpetuation of her memory, are proofs that she must have been a faithful and highly esteemed servant in Jacob’s house. (Keil & Delitzsch Commentary on the O.T.)

[5] See the Etz Hayim Torah and Commentary under Genesis 35:8.

[6] We are told of three deaths in this chapter of Genesis. First, the nurse Deborah, then Rachel dies in childbirth, and finally Isaac passes at a ripe old age.

[7] The mention of Deborah’s death in the Torah is extremely puzzling especially since the Torah fails to indicate how or when Rebekah herself dies. This leads many Jewish commentator’s (such as Ramban) to conclude that this was a veiled announcement of Rebekah’s death. See the Etz Hayim Torah and Commentary under Genesis 35:8.

[8] See Proverbs 31 and my post The Biblical Role of Women Part IV.

[9] These are the meanings of the name Jacob.

[10] Pr. 1:8 Hear, my son, your father’s instruction (musar) And do not forsake your mother’s teaching (Torah).

[11] Parashat Vayishlach “And He Sent”. Genesis 32:4 – 36:43.

[12] See footnote 7.

[13] Pr. 14:1 The wise woman builds her house, But the foolish tears it down with her own hands.

[14] http://organictruths.wordpress.com/2014/03/28/roar-of-a-queenless-hive/

[15] Ibid.

[16] I am NO way implying that God is a woman or that women are gods with these questions. I abhor the new age sacred feminine and goddess worship. My point is to get the reader to look into the original language and context. The Ruach HaKodesh (Holy Spirit) is always in the feminine form in Hebrew; this is true for many of the emanations of His Presence. The One (genderless) Elohim displays aspects of both male and female. This is why we are repeatedly told that it takes BOTH a man and a woman to reflect the image of YHWH. Sadly, centuries of biased biblical interpretation and direct misogyny have clouded our view of not only women, but also of the Holy Spirit. My desire is to be a vessel of restoration. YHWH desires us to be in Unity and to walk in Fullness. We cannot do this unless we walk in complete Truth by shaking off manmade traditions and antiquated doctrines of men. However, I believe that this also requires diligence and caution from us. There are a myriad of ways we can distort this message of restoration as we have seen in the mystery religions from the beginning. We must carefully weigh all things. My point is to keep the baby and toss out the bath water. Nevertheless, the motivation cannot come from a place of fear or tradition — but from the One True plumb line (Torah). In our age of information, we have no excuse to not search these things out to see if they are so. To refuse is paramount to negligence of which we one day will have to answer.

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

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