Monday, October 14, 2013

Vayeira (“…and He appeared”) B’reisheet (Genesis) 18:1 – 22:4

Vayeira (“…and He appeared”)       B’reisheet (Genesis) 18:1 – 22:4       10/13-19/13

האר = and He appeared

       In the Theological Wordbook of the Old Testament (TWOT) the English pronounced Hebrew word “ra’a” (#2095) means, “see, look at, inspect”.  From the “Hebrew Interlinear Table” of the Blue Letter Bible, two additional definitions are presented – “perceive, consider”.  The same word is used in Genesis when HaShem looked at His creation and “ra’a” that it was good.
The TWOT also states, “ra’a has the sense of the act of acceptance, especially on the part of God” – see Gen. 7:1).  Furthermore, we are told “that ra’a is employed far more than any other word for the act of an authentic prophet in receiving oracles from God”.

            Fascinating to me is the meaning of a “sense of acceptance”, especially as it relates to this week’s reading.  It seems to me that both Avram and HaShem are inspecting each other in order to determine acceptance.  We are initially shown that it was Avram who saw, for the Lord appeared to him.  Avram, ostensibly in pain from his own circumcision, still was circumspect enough to notice others – in this case strangers travelling nearby.  Pain or no pain, heat or no heat, Avram was not going to reject the call for hospitality.  He was who he was, and a little personal surgery would not alter that.
At the same time, it seems to me, HaShem was seeing/inspecting Avram.  Let’s face it, our Creator does not need to humble Himself to our level in order to discover what is occurring.  However, He is doing this in order to see what is going on in the cities where Lot has made his abode.  If we can accept that, why not consider that He is inspecting Avram? 

            Has Avram done what he was instructed to do?  Certainly He knows one way or the other, but what good boss does not become “hands on” from time to time – getting a lay of the land for himself?  In looking around, probably all the men were a bit out of sorts.  Yes, Avram had completed the task. 

            But Avram did not have any of his servants, or Ishma’el for that matter, deal with the visitors.  Who fetched the water (vs. 3), the bread, though Sarai had to make it (vs. 5), the calf? (vs. 7), and who took the butter, milk, and dressed calf to the visitors (vs. 8).  I will concede that a young man helped him in the dressing of the calf (vs. 7).  But waiting on them for the rest of the meal was Avram’s task, and it seems he willingly did so.
            So, what was the result of Avram having appeared, having been “inspected” by The Holy One?  In my opinion, there were several results.  First, Avram was found worthy to soon father the son of promise.  Then, the Holy One, blessed is His Name, decided not to hide from Avram the purpose of His appearance – an “inspection” resulting from the “cry of Sodom and Gomorrah”.  
            Why was He going to reveal this task?  As the “Hebrew Interlinear Table” states in vss. 17 – 19 of Genesis 18, the revelation came because
                        “…the Lord said, ‘Shall I hide from Abraham that thing which I
                        do; seeing that Abraham shall surely become a great and
                        mighty nation, and all the nations of the earth shall be blessed
                        in him?  For I know him, that he will command his children
                        his household after him, and they shall keep the way of the
                        Lord, to do justice and judgement; that the Lord may bring
                        upon Abraham that which He hath spoken of him.”

            Will the nations be blessed in Avram/Avraham?  Will he do justice and judgement?  Will he not seek righteousness for the nations right away?  Is that not part of his constitution?  We do not have to look any further than verses 23 through the end of chapter 18. In reality, Abraham’s desire for righteousness begins immediately in verse 23.  Abraham, yes it says Abraham, drew near to the Lord and sought for HaShem to spare the area for the sake of the 50 righteous ones who might be living there.  But just in case, what if there were only 45, 40, 30, 20, or just a minyan? 

            Is there any evidence that HaShem was disturbed by Abraham’s requests – his knocking, knocking, knocking; seeking, seeking, seeking; his asking, asking, asking?  He was made in the image of his Creator, and his Creator.   What type of attitude did and does his Creator hold?

                        “The Lord is not slack concerning His promise, as some
                        men count slackness; but is longsuffering to us-ward
                        not willing that any should perish, but that all should
                        come to repentance.  II Peter 3:9
                        (“Greek Interlinear Table” from the Blue Letter Bible)

            God states that He knows Abraham will do justice and judgement.  In Genesis 7:1 God speaks to Noach saying, “Thee I have ra’a righteous.  Noach was accepted because of his righteousness.  However, in the Genesis 3 account of Adam and Eve hiding in the garden, we are not told that God appeared (saw, looked at, inspected) them, but He did ask where they were.  They had already inspected themselves, and found that they were lacking.

            We too are Adam and Eve, but HaShem, we are and will be eternally thankful and grateful that You provided a Noach and an Abraham and a Yeshua so that we might be grafted back in to Your chosen people, keeping the way of the Lord, doing justice and judgement (see Gen. 18:19).  Blessed be Your most holy Name.

1 comment:

  1. For whatever reason, I could not get "ra'a" spelled in the correct direction (in Hebrew) on this posting. My apologies to all.