Thursday, September 26, 2013

Parashat Bereshit ("in the beginning") by Jon Eaton

Parashat Bereshit ("in the beginning") by Jon Eaton

Genesis 1:1-6:8

This Parasha is filled with mysteries of the universe.   

The first verse in Genesis; that’s Genesis 1:1 contains the story of creation, the Gospel message, and the book of Revelations.   It is literally cover to cover of our Bible (from Genesis to Revelations) all in the first verse.

So let’s start at the very beginning.  The very first word of the Tanakh is בְּרֵאשִׁית (bereshit) - “in the beginning” or “at the head”, the start.   

One thing to know about the Hebrew language, is that every letter has its own meaning.   Aleph represents God, Bet represents “house” etc.   Well the very first letter of the Bible is the letter Bet which means “the house”.   Creation is our house.  It is also where He chooses to dwell with us.

The first verse of the Bible, also reveals the triune nature of God.  In Hebrew it reads “Bereshit bara Elohim et hashamayim ve'et ha'aretz”  Genesis 1:1.  The word bara (he created) is singular but the word Elohim is plural.  So this God who acts as One is ALSO Plural.  Later in this parashah we read a direct quotation from this Elohim that uses plural personal pronouns: "Let us make man in our image and in our likeness" (1:26).  We can’t get around the Hebrew language on this one.  God is triune.  Even the early ancient Hebrew texts like the Zohar acknowledge the Triune nature of Elohim – of God.

“ Hear, O Israel, YHVH Elohenu YHVH is one. These three are one. How can the three Names be one? Only through the perception of Faith: in the vision of the Holy Spirit, in the beholding of the hidden eyes alone. Come and see the mystery of the word YHVH: there are three steps, each exiting by itself: nevertheless they are One, and so united that one cannot be separated from the other. The Ancient Holy One is revealed with three heads, which are united into one, and that head is three exalted. The Ancient One is described as being three: because the other lights emanating from Him are included in the three. But how can three names be one? Are they really one because we call them one? How three can be one can only be known through the revelation of the Holy Spirit.” (The Zohar, Vol. III page 134 English edition)

Now before we get too far into Genesis I want to explore the first word further.   I mentioned earlier how each Hebrew letter has its own meaning.   Well if we pull apart the word Bereshit into the meaning of each letter we get a secret message.   

Bet – House
Resh – Highest One
Aleph – God
Shin – Shall be destroyed/ripped apart
Yod – Hand
Tav – Cross

In a sentence we could put these meanings into a sentence:
The House (Bet) of the Highest One (Resh) God  (Aleph) Shall be Detroyed (Shin) by His Hand (Yod) on a Cross (Tav).

The Gospel message right there in the first word.

So we can move on further to the word ET (spelt A T - Aleph Tav).. Beresheet Bara Elohim ‘ET’….
So what does ET mean?  Not much; it’s a grammatical issue  BUT it is spelt Aleph Tav or we would read it in the Greek as Alpha Omega..  So the first verse we read the existence of the Alpha and Omega.  Remember in Revelations 22 Yeshua claimed to be the Alpha and Omega; the Aleph and the Tav.    In the beginning He created (that is Elohim/ET). So we have a plural God (Elohim) that includes the Alpha and Omega. 

This parsha gives us further insights into His Devine Nature…

Beginning with Genesis 2:4,  Elohim is further revealed by means of the personal Name YHVH - the Sacred Name of God.  It is generally thought that Elohim is the Name given as the Creator of the universe, implying strength, power, and justice, whereas YHVH expresses the idea of God's closeness to humans.   For example, it is YHVH who "breathed” into his (Adam's) nostrils the breath of life and then placed him in the Garden of Eden the original paradise.

Almighty yet personal.  All powerful, yet gentle.    Communal (so much going on) yet individual.

“In the beginning was the Word" (John 1:1,14). "All things were made by Him (John 1:3). 

This almighty Elohim (אֱלהִים) began creating the heavens and the earth on the "first day" 

God said, "Let there be light, and there was light" (Gen. 1:3) and then He separated the darkness from the light.  Please note that the Sun was not created until the Fourth Day.   

So what was the light?   He IS..  This is a picture of separation.  We are also to separate ourselves from the darkness and come into His Perfect light.  

The Biblical day called Yom (יוֹם) begins in the evening: "and there was evening and there was morning, the first day."    

Eventually on the 6th day the Lord created Adam and on the eve of the seventh day, what we would call Erev Shabbat, God Rested.  God called the seventh day "holy" (kodesh), which means set apart as sacred.   In the same way he separated light from dark he separated work from rest.  

Now you can imagine Adam opening his eyes wondering what was going on but according to midrash (which is Oral tradition), Adam's first words were, Adonai malakh olam va'ed: "The LORD is King for ever and ever." God then said after hearing Adam’s praise, "Now the whole world will know that I am King," and He was very pleased.     Apparently that was the "tov me'od" (טוֹב מְאד) moment of creation, when God saw all that He had made "and found it very good" (Gen. 1:31).   Yes, I know that I can’t back this up and I’m waiting for Rabbi to point this out but I liked it enough to add it anyway.

Originally Adam was created as a single person; but the LORD decided that it was not good for him be alone.  So Adam began to name all of the land animals to see if there was a suitable partner for him.   That was a complete fail and thus the LORD put Adam into a deep sleep and formed a woman from his "side" so that she would be ezer kenegdo - a "helper in front of him."  - Dragging him along for his own good probably.   But certainly NOT under him as a subordinate.   Another translation for ezer kenegdo is “a helper that opposes him” because it is opposition that makes us stronger.  It takes opposition to build muscle.

Possibly, when Eve submitted to temptation i.e she took the fruit first (in front of Him, instead of the opposition building him, it defeated him.   Adam, who was "with her" at this time, also knowingly ate of the fruit offered to him.  He did not take his role as first born of humanity seriously, maybe he liked her in front and was happy to go with the flow (like most blokes) because we read in Genesis 3:17,  ”Because you listened to your wife and ate fruit”.  What were you doing Adam..?  Was listening to his wife the first ‘sin’……  (waiting for shock and horror)

Thankfully, God was not tricked by this and reveals His Eternal plan for salvation.  Sin was not a surprise to Elohim.   The message of the cross is not a backup plan.  Remember, we see the message of the cross in the very first word of Genesis (Bereshit) even before sin.  Yeshua is described as the "Lamb slain from the foundation of the world": 1 Pet. 1:20, Eph. 1:4, Rev. 13:8, 17:8.  The sinful nature and the necessary redemption was foreseen and provided by the Cross at the very beginning.
The Lord promised to break the curse by means of the Seed - the Mashiach - who would "crush the head" of the serpent and restore mankind to the original relationship with Him.

In finishing, a beautiful attribute of this parashah is how it finishes with hope. As we read through the following chapters it traces the genealogy of Seth all the way to Noah, who is described as the only tzaddik (righteous man) in the entire earth. In Genesis 6:7 God says.  “I will wipe from the face of the earth the human race I have created—and with them the animals, the birds and the creatures that move along the ground—for I regret that I have made them.”  But in verse 8, the final verse in this parashat, it says “Noah found favour in the eyes of the Lord”.  

After all the trouble in paradise, the sin, the betrayal, the portion ends with the verdict that God would destroy mankind from the face of the earth BUT the righteous shall be saved.

Two early sages (great leaders) Hillel and Shammai engaged in debate regarding whether it would have been better for humans not to have been created at all...  Hillel argued that it was better that humans had been created, whereas Shammai argued the other way. Finally a vote was called for and the decision rendered was this: It would have been better for humans not to have been created than to have been created. However, since we do in fact exist, we must search our past deeds and carefully examine what we are about to do (Eruvin 13b).

So why are we still here… Because He Loves Us..  or as we read in Psalms.. "The world is built with chesed /love" (Psalm 89:3).    He is crazy in-love with us..

In finishing I would like to add an old chassidic tale that says that every person should walk through life with two notes, one in each pocket. On one note says "bishvili nivra ha'olam" (בִּשְׁבִילִי נִבְרָא הָעוֹלָם) -- "For my sake was this world created," and on the other note says, "anokhi afar ve'efer" (אָנכִי עָפָר וָאֵפֶר) -- "I am but dust and ashes."

Jon Eaton

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