A Huge Paradigm Change

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This Shabbat the reading of the Torah portion is probably one of the points of Archimedes: the whole Bible, from Genesis 12, changes the very paradigm, or as they say today — the logarithm — of everything from this point on until the end of the book of Revelation.

Something happens in chapter 12 of Genesis that takes the history of mankind, and definitely the history of salvation, to a whole new level. Until Genesis 12, the biblical narrative is universal. There are some individuals mentioned: Noah and his family, Enoch, Cain and Able, and Adam and Eve, but these characters, as important as they are were generic human beings.

There are no specific nations or tribes mentioned between Genesis chapter 1-12. In Genesis 11, God comes down with someone, and they together scatter the people who built a tower to prevent God from ruling over them.

The unity of the builders of the Tower of Babel was a forced unity, an administrative unity. Yes, they all spoke the same language. But here is the text, that is an enigma to many:

“But the Lord came down to see the city and the tower which the sons of men had built. And the Lord said, ‘Indeed the people are one and they all have one language, and this is what they begin to do; now nothing that they propose to do will be withheld from them. Come, let Us go down and there confuse their language, that they may not understand one another’s speech.’” — Genesis 11:5-7 [NKJV]

The language of the above text is very similar to the language of the creation of Adam and Eve in Genesis:

“Then God said, ‘Let Us make man in Our image, according to Our likeness; let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, over the birds of the air, and over the cattle, over all the earth and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth.’” — Genesis 1:26 [NKJV]

In chapter 11, God and the other person who was with Him went down and confused the language of those who built the Tower of Babel. We find out later that God has also allotted to each group of people specific languages, and also allotted to each their territory:

“When the Most High divided their inheritance to the nations, When He separated the sons of Adam, He set the boundaries of the peoples According to the number of the children of Israel.” — Deuteronomy 32:8 [NKJV]

What makes a nation? What divides between the Gentiles (nations)? The most important characteristic that divide people is language. The second is homeland: a territory, boundaries. The third most important characteristic that divides people is their culture: their national character, holidays, and constitution that governess them.

Before the Tower of Babel there were no nations. Nations were formed when God confused their languages and gave each nation its territorial inheritance and culture (including religious identity, according to the idols that they would worship).

I realize that this sounds strange to some people, but together with the language and territory God gave these people, who didn’t want God to lead them, the opportunity to chose which idols they are going to worship. Here is the text that says this most clearly:

“And take heed, lest you lift your eyes to heaven, and when you see the sun, the moon, and the stars, all the host of heaven, you feel driven to worship them and serve them, which the Lord your God has given to all the peoples under the whole heaven as a heritage. But the Lord has taken you and brought you out of the iron furnace, out of Egypt, to be His people, an inheritance, as you are this day.” — Deuteronomy 4:19,20 [NKJV]

This is where chapter 12 of Genesis comes into the picture — the importance of God choosing Abraham and his family to create a new nation, a nation that is not under the curse of Genesis 11, not a part of the new nations that are formed after the confounding of the languages of all people and the creating of the nations (the Gentiles). This is the reason God had chosen Abraham and his seed to be His people and inheritance, “as you are this day”.

Here comes Abraham! We know very little about Abraham before God chose him and commanded him to leave his homeland. God took Abraham and his family, away from all the anchors that give stability and support to a person.

At first God didn’t even tell him the name of the place that He is sending him. Abraham took with him Sarah his wife, Lot his nephew and his family, and several hundred servants and their families that joined Abraham on this journey to an undefined land.

The land of Canaan at that time (around 1800 BCE) was a total mess. It had tribes and nations that migrated to Canaan and settled there from all three continents: Africa, Asia, and Europe.

God chose Abraham and his seed, i.e. Israel, as an insurance policy that one day all of God’s creation of humanity will turn around and restore their relationship with their maker. With the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob.

This is the meaning of the following promises that God gave Abraham:

“Now the Lord had said to Abram: ‘Get out of your country, From your family And from your father’s house, To a land that I will show you. I will make you a great nation; I will bless you And make your name great; And you shall be a blessing. I will bless those who bless you, And I will curse him who curses you; And in you all the families of the earth shall be blessed.’” — Genesis 12:1-3 [NKJV]

We all, Jews, Christians, Muslims, and the rest of the human race, who don’t urinate against the wind, depend on that one old man and his old wife for our relationship to the Almighty God who created the Heavens and the Earth. We all have knowledge and relationship with the Creator God who made the Heavens and the Earth because of Abraham, and Sarah his wife, and the souls that they made in Haran and joined Abraham on this wild and dangerous journey in obedience to God Himself.

The Lech Lecha Torah portion, Genesis 12:1-17:27, is one of the longer Torah portions, but it is also a foundation for the whole story of salvation, that ends with Yeshua’s death on the cross, resurrection, and return to our Heavenly Father, waiting to return and reign as King in the New Heaven and New Earth, surrounded and praised by His saints.

If we grasp and understand this Torah portion, we are more likely to understand the rest of the Bible, and especially the relationship that God has with Abraham and his physical seed, all the way from Isaac and Jacob to Yeshua our Lord and Messiah, and the rest of the world.

Please read this Torah portion slowly and carefully, and meditate on every one of the chapters and events and stories that are related to us by the Holy Spirit. Please think how each part of the story of Abraham has affected how God is looking on us humans, and how what happened in Genesis, with Abraham and Sarah and the rest of the figures in the story, relate to Yeshua and the whole Bible, and continue to challenge each one of God’s disciples to this very day.

Blessings and success!

This article originally appeared on Netivyah and is reposted with permission.