Our Inheritance is Our Task
Unto Us a Child is Born—in Egypt!
Moses spends the first forty years thinking he is somebody. He has fallen by providence into the royal court of Pharaoh and is raised as a prince of Egypt while his people, the Jewish people unknown to him, suffer. In the second act he discovers that he is nobody. But it is in the third forty years of Moses’ life that he discovers what Hashem can do with somebody who accepts he is nobody.
Going to Meet Their Maker
Most of the Christian world is celebrating the birth of the Messiah this week, and in the synagogue we are reading the early chapters of Exodus, which recount the birth of another deliverer, Moses. Scholars have long noted similarities between the two birth accounts, especially in the version of Messiah’s birth preserved by Matthew.
Ezekiel and the Coming Restoration
In Genesis 47–50 we see Jacob’s individual, personalized blessings for each of his sons. In the haftarah we see another deathbed scene: Instead of dealing out blessings and good wishes for the future of all his sons, David talks only to Solomon, and advises him how to deal with potential enemies. We might be forgiven if we see David’s final advice to Solomon as akin to a scene in a novel about the Mob.
Passing the Flame
“Our bones are dried up and our hope has perished. We are completely cut off” (Ezekiel 37:11).
God answers this cry of the Jewish people in a vision of hope and restoration that illustrates what he will do to transform and restore Israel. This vision promises to reunite, give life, and place Israel in their land again.
Love: Covenantal, Irrevocable, Transformative
Like most Jewish children, I loved Hanukkah when I was growing up. It was one of my favorite times of the year. I couldn’t wait for my Dad to get home from work so that we could light the candles, play the dreidel, eat the latkes, and most importantly get the presents! Now that I am an adult with small children of my own, the joy of Hanukkah has been rekindled for me . . .
Two Families, Two Dramas
Next week begins Hanukkah, the festival of lights and dedication. I’m sure Amos the prophet would have rejoiced at the cleansing of the Temple, the rejection of Antiochus as deity to be worshiped, and the return toward Torah in those days.
Being a Ladder
Who Obadiah was and when he lived is a topic of debate. There were many Obadiahs in the time of the Tanakh. But it is clear to whom Obadiah is prophesying. The content is rough, the tone is strong, the vision is ominous. Obadiah is a sad book because in it we see just how far brothers can stray from each another and how their respective families can evolve into violent enemies even when one side is at its complete lowest.
What Are Leaders For?
Jacob faced obstacles throughout his life. He had a father who favored his older brother; the one who came to hate him and wanted to kill him. He had to deal with a deceptive and treacherous father-in-law for twenty years. He was tricked into marrying a woman whom he did not love. While not always an exemplar of ethical behavior himself, Jacob’s life can teach us about facing obstacles, of which we have many.
Sometimes It Takes Courage
We’ve just come through a grueling, costly, and often bitter electoral process. We’ve chosen our leaders, or men and women that we hope will be leaders, and this week’s haftarah provides a reminder of what leaders are chosen for. It begins with a stark contrast between two ancient leaders, Esau and Jacob: “I loved Jacob and Esau I hated” (Mal 1:2–3).
The decision to oppose Adonijah’s claim to kingship was a courageous act with serious implications. Have you ever been in a situation like that? Did you ever have to make a choice as to which person or cause you would back, knowing that the consequences could include loss of employment, problems for your family, loss of reputation, persecution, maybe even loss of life?