Read the transcript below, or watch a video of the teaching by Joseph Shulam.
Shalom. My name is Joseph Shula and we’re continuing the weekly study of the Torah portions that are being read in every synagogue around the world together with Brad TV. This is a major project. And this next Sabbath, we’ll be reading from Genesis chapter 12 and following, and I want to go back a little bit to the background of this event.
God Calls Abraham to Leave His Country
It is a major event in the Bible that God is calling Abraham and his family to leave their country, their family, their culture, their language, and essentially to go to a land that He doesn’t even specify in the beginning that they are to go to. He just tells him, get up and go – “get up and go to a land that I will show you.” Leave your father, your mother, your family, and go to a place that I will show you. No address is given to Abraham at the beginning. I think that this is a little bit funny, but it, it shows that – first of all, Abraham’s trust of God. And second of all, it shows a little bit of humor.
And God could’ve told him, go to the land of Canaan, the land of Canaan that has so many different nations that have flocked into that narrow space between the Jordan river and the Mediterranean sea, the Hittites, the Hivites, the Girgashites, the Perizzites, the Canaanites, the Amorites, the Philistines. Abraham would have said, oh God, just a second. Maybe you should send me in another direction. Send me to Switzerland, it’s a much better neighborhood. So God doesn’t tell him where. He says, go to the place that I will show you. Why? What happened between chapter 11 and chapter 12 of Genesis? I’ll tell you what happened. Humanity after the flood came for one family. Noah’s family, the survivors of the flood, that obeyed God and built a huge boat. A huge ship that housed in it all the species of animals and birds that lived on this earth, except for the fish and the animals that lived under the sea, under the water, all of the species, including humanity that lived above were wiped out in the flood.
Now this is another issue. The flood is another issue that I talked about last week, but I’m going to repeat this point. The biblical story of the flood is not the only story of the flood in the ancient world. We have Sumerian myths and Babylonian myths, and even myths from other continents in the world that tell a story very similar to the one of the flood. But that’s something that belongs to last week’s teaching. This week’s teaching starts a new chapter. God had condemned the world for these reasons. One is humanity that was united with the same language and the same culture had decided that they don’t want God to rule over them. They want to be independent. They wanted to have control of their own destiny, but they didn’t want God to be a part of their destiny.
So God consulted somebody like he did when he created man in the book of Genesis. At the beginning of Genesis, He says, “let us go down,” “us,” not “I,” go down. Let us go down and confuse the languages of the people.” Before that there were no Gentiles. We were all a part of the same human family, no nations. What comprised a nation is language, territory and a constitution or culture. So, when humanity was divided into languages and territories, nations were created, and all the human beings in the world were a part of this structure of nations. But they were all under a curse.
God Places Curse on Mankind
The curse that God put on humanity at the tower of Babel, divided them. They had been united but God divided them into nations. And the book of Deuteronomy chapter 32 verses 4 through 7, tell us that God divided the human beings, the human race, and allotted to each group, its own territory, not only its own language, but its own territory. And that created nations. Not only that, but in Deuteronomy chapter 4, verse 19, it says of God, that they didn’t want Him to be the ruler. To be their God, to be the one that, that sets the norm of what it means to be children of God, what it means to be under the authority of God.
And therefore He divided the nations up, at the tower of Babel and gave to each one, not only its own language and its own territory, but also what they’re going to worship. The stars and the moon and the sun and other elements and creatures of this world. But for, for Israel, for Jacob and his family, he chose that they are going to be his lot. And that was in chapter 11. In chapter 12, God calls Abraham and his family to leave, to leave their country.
All Nations of Earth to be Blessed Through Abraham’s Seed
And he gives Abraham and his family three blessings, three promises I should say. The first one is that He’s going to be with him and with his family. The second one is that through his family, through his seed, which at that time he didn’t have any seed yet, all the nations of the earth will be blessed. All the families of the earth.
The same promise is repeated several times in the book of Genesis. It’s repeated to Abraham several times, like in chapter 15 and then chapter 13 and in chapter 22, and then to Isaac in chapter 26 of Genesis. So this promise is not repeated one time. It’s repeated several times, by God, to Abraham and to Abraham’s seed more than any other promise in the Bible. And so he promised him a seed. He promised him a blessing from the seed to all the families of the earth, to all the nations of the earth. And he promised him the land and he gives the borders of the land. We’re going to get to it further down in the text.
Now together with Abraham, what a lot of our Christian brothers don’t realize, came to souls, which we had made in Harran. And the same chapter of chapter 12 of Genesis, the souls, which you made in Harran. Now in Hebrew to evangelize is to make a soul, nephesh, in Hebrew. To make souls. to gain souls, you can say instead of to make, to gain souls. Now, it’s interesting at the end of the book of Genesis in chapter 48 of Genesis, we read in the text chapter 48, verse 16, we read in the text that Jacob is telling Joseph and his sons, the following; “and the angel who redeemed me from all harm.” It means the angel, an angel of the Lord, or somebody sent by God who redeemed me from all harm. Bless these children, the children of Joseph, that they may be recalled or called in the name of my fathers, Abraham and Isaac.
And may they be teeming multitudes upon the earth? Now the word multitudes in the Hebrew text is a very interesting word. The Hebrew is vague. The root is Dag. Dag is fish. The translators in this context of the Bible to other languages, didn’t understand the term. What does it mean that they would fish among the nations of the earth? They didn’t understand it. So they translated what is fish, fish multiplies? One fish can, can send thousands of eggs into the water and fish multiply. So they translated it multiply among the earth.
But this is the source of Yeshua’s statement to his apostles when he sends them to become fishers of men, like who? Like Abraham. It’s an interesting thing that, you know, most people who don’t know Hebrew and don’t understand the Hebrew Bible, miss because of the translations. So together with Abraham, came a multitude of people. The souls, which he had made, he had evangelized in Harran.
Abraham Evangelized Souls in Harran
That within itself is a very interesting issue. How many souls did he evangelize? How many people came with him from Harran together with Sarah, and Lot and his family, to the land of Canaan? Well, we have a story in, not in this portion, but in the portion following and chapter 14 of Genesis, that Lot had moved from the mountainous area of the center ridge that starts in the Jezreel valley, starts again south of Nazareth and ends up in Hebron, the central backbone of the land of Israel. They moved, Lot moved to the Dead Sea. What is today’s Dead Sea.
It wasn’t dead then. At that time, it was fertile, the most fertile part of the country. Lot moved with his flocks and with his shepherds and with his family to the most fertile part of this country, which was before it became a dead sea after the upheaval of Sodom and Gomorrah, maybe a kind of a huge nuclear event that turned the most fertile part of the land into the harshest desert in this part of the world, the Judean desert. So how many people came with Abraham?
How Many Did Abraham Evangelize?
That group that is called the souls, which he had made in Harran. How many people? Well, we know that in chapter 14, when Lot is captured by the five Kings that came from the area of Damascus from the north, Abraham chases to bring Lot and his family back, to save Lot and his family. He chases those five Kings and he has a small army. How many people? 318 men between the ages of 20 and 50. They’re the army age, those that could fight. He chases those five kings and rescues Lot and his family. 318 men, soldiers between the age of 22 and 50, which were a part of the people that came with him from Mesopotamia.
Well, men between the age of 12 and 20 and 50, usually in that area. And even today, most of them are already married with children. So, if you add to 318 men; soldiers, one wife each, and one child each, you arrive to a thousand people that Abraham evangelized in Harran in Mesopotamia. And they came down to the land of Nan with him. That’s why he never lived in the city. If it was a family of four or six or eight, they could have lived inside the city, inside the walled area.
No, he always lived outside the cities in along Moray and Ella named Monterey and outside of the city of Hebron and outside of the city of Scrim. That’s where Abraham lived in his own encampment. And the same continued with Isaac and with Jacob, they were not small families, the way we envisioned them. They were a tribe of people, even bigger than a normal tribe.
God Sends Abraham to Caanan
So, Abraham leaves the land that he grew up in. Look Ur, we know about Ur, what kind of city it was. Ur of the Chaldeans, which was in Iraq, sitting on the great rivers of the Euphrates between the Euphrates and the Tigris rivers, the Jordan river would look like a ditch compared to the Euphrates and the Tigris. Yeah. It would look like what the Americans would call a creek. Not, not a river, not even a river. They would call it a creek compared to the great rivers of Mesopotamia.
Imagine this Abraham leaves Ur which was like leaving New York or Mexico City or Sao Paulo, Brazil. Yeah. And he comes to this land, which is a total mess. It’s got all these nations, from Europe, Aryans like the Hittites and Perizzites and Gilgashites, and Amorites from Asia. And they’re all city states fighting with each other jockeying for control of this small piece of land. And he lands in this land. That is a total mess. I often joke and say, if God would have really loved Abraham and his seed, he would have sent them to Switzerland. It’s a much nicer neighborhood, greener country, plenty of water.
This is semi-desert land. And politically, it was a mess in the days of Abraham. And it remained a mess throughout the history of Israel. Our enemies have never, our neighbors have never accepted us. They didn’t accept us. They didn’t accept Abraham. They didn’t accept Ezra, or Nehemiah when they returned from the Babylonian exile. They haven’t accepted us up until today. So if God would have loved us, he would have sent us to Switzerland. But no, he didn’t. He sent us to this piece of land and he gave it to us in this Torah portion in chapter 13, verse 15 of Genesis. He gave it to us as a perpetual inheritance. Perpetual inheritance chapter 13, verse 15.
I’m going to read it to you from the Hebrew translation of the text, not from the king James, but from the Hebrew translation. I’m reading from chapter 14. I know chapter 13 from verse 14 on, “And the Lord said to Abraham after Lot had parted from him, raise your eyes and look out from there. Where you are to the north, to the south, to the east and to the west. For I give all the land that you see to you and to your offspring forever. And I will make your offspring, your children as the dust of the earth, so that if one can count the dust of the earth, then your offspring too can be counted. Look at the promise, give this land forever to your offspring.”
Listen, I believe the Bible from Genesis chapter one, the first word in the beginning to the last words of revelation, chapter 22. Which also has to do with a promise of God, for Jerusalem, that, that new Jerusalem that comes down from heaven down to this earth, will be an eternal city for all the believers to be, you know, come there to worship God.
God Promises His People the Land Again and Again
So I believe the word of God tells Abraham here. And again, in chapter 15, and again, in chapter 22, and again, in chapter 26, and again, and again, and again, and again, and again. He repeats it to Jacob all the way down to chapter 28 of Genesis and all the way to the end of the book of Genesis. And again, through the prophets of Israel. Their brothers and sisters, this reading of the Torah, which I, again, want to encourage you to read the portions of the Torah that we are talking about. I’m only able to use 20 minutes, around 20 minutes to touch the highlights, but the details are great and very important.
So if I’m going to summarize what we said, first of all, God called Abraham to start a new nation that was not under the curse of the tower of Babel. A fresh nation. A nation that will restore all the nations back to God through Maschiach. Mashiach or Jesus Christ that sent his disciples at the end of his ministry, to all the nations, to do what? To teach them, to share with them the good news, and to teach them to observe everything that he, our Messiah and our Lord commanded them. That’s what the commission was to his apostles.
And that’s what they did. They spread around the world the teaching about the oneness of God and the participation of the Messiah in the divinity of God and the spread of God’s word all the way to the last Indians in the Amazon river valley. If you wish, to all the world, and we are going to continue these studies of the Torah together with Brad TV, and I want you to, you know, schedule your time to watch these presentations of the Torah, to think about them, to pray about them and to stand with us in Israel and with Brad TV that is taking this initiative to do this great project that will last a year. 54 or 55 sessions of these weekly presentations of the Torah portions. God bless you and Shalom from Jerusalem.
This article originally appeared on Netivyah and reposted with permission.