Category: Hebrew History

Shalom –

The word “shalom” is probably the most easily recognized word in the Hebrew language. One thinks of it as a greeting – “hello” and/or “good-bye”. It is so much more than that.

When one meets a friend, he says, “Shalom aleichem” (ah – LE – khem), meaning peace to you.
The response is – “Aleichem shalom” (and to you – peace)

Most people don’t understand what this word really means. It is not simply a greeting (hello/good-bye) it means, according to page 371 of David Stern’s “Jewish New Testament”:

“peace, tranquillity,
safety, well-being,
welfare, health,
contentment, success,
comfort, wholeness,
and integrity.”

Hebrew History – Joseph


The story of Yosef (Joseph) is the story of the Jew! He arrives with nothing by the skin of his teeth, works hard despite hard trials and has to swim against the current all the while, rises to the top only to be knocked down again and persecuted! Leaves the country with nothing and starts all over again.

If Ya’acov would have been allowed to marry his true love – Rachel – as he had intended – Yosef would have been his first born son. As number 11, he still managed to be number one! G-d has His ways!

He instantly became the favorite at birth. Jacob (Ya’acov) gives him a special coat – one having more to do with the sleeves than the colors. It represented authority – and was much resented by his brothers.

Joseph has a gift for interpreting dreams and isn’t shy about sharing. I don’t really see him as ‘showing off’ in the telling of these dreams to his family. I see him as just a young kid, out alone by himself, trying to figure out what’s going on and in the telling, he is not exactly enduring himself to his brothers. They are already jealous because of his status as favorite son and then to hear they will “bow down to him”! They think not. They have seen the black sheep of the family – Ishmael and then Esau – and now is Joseph to be next? They plot to get rid of him. Only Reuven, the eldest son, carrying all the usual responsibilities of being eldest, tries to figure out a way to save his little brother and save face at the same time. It doesn’t work and when he is off somewhere, they sell Joseph to a caravan of Ishmaelites going to Mitzraim (Egypt) where he is sold as a slave to the nobleman, Potiphar.

Egypt, one of the greatest civilizations in the world, centered around the Nile River. Only about 3% of the rest of the country was inhabitable. The Nile was the life of the country and worshipped as a god. Only three times in 3,000 years was Egypt invaded. The Hyksos (believed to have provided the Pharoah who “didn’t know Joseph”) the Assyrians and finally Alexander, the Great. It was very difficult to successfully invade the country as it was totally isolated and self-sufficient. That makes a country resistant to change. Look how little Egypt has changed in the past 3,000 years. After the exodus, she was broke economically and spiritually. Egypt has never again returned to her former glory – and she never will, because of the way she treated Israel. Any country will suffer the same fate.

Look at England, the once proud empire who proclaimed “The sun never sets on the Union Jack!” That was the name of their flag which flew over many colonies the world over. Look how she treated Israel in the 30’s and 40’s when the Jews were so desperately trying to get ‘home’. I’m afraid for America…. Look what we are demanding of Israel! Give up of all their land back to the borders of 1948? I don’t think so. Our president wants Israel to commit suicide. What will G-d do about this? It isn’t going to be pretty. I’m so glad, as a Believer, I can expect Him to take me through the coming days. May Messiah come quickly and in our lifetime.

More next Shabbat;
Shabbat Shalom, Sharaka

The Brothers Meet Again

Jacob has been gone from home for over 20 years. His “dying father” is still alive, but his mother, who favored him, has died. He never saw her again after he left home. She must have suffered a lot knowing she was mostly responsible for his absence. The tighter we hold on to things – the more chance there is of it being taken from us. G-d wants to be first place in our lives, not our spouse, our children or any other thing.

Jacob has quite an entourage – 12 sons and at least one daughter. Dinah was the only girl recorded – doesn’t mean there weren’t lots more girls born to Jacob. He had many servants, and was rich in livestock. Esau, who has learned of Jacob’s journey home, comes to meet him with an army of 400 men. Jacob fears the worst and divides his family into two camps, thinking if he loses one group, the other may survive. Interesting that he puts his dearest wife, Rachel, in the way back, Leah next and the two concubines (means secondary wife in polygamous cultures) in front. You can sure tell where his priorities lie.

Esau, who had wealth and a large family himself, seems to have had a change of heart. He offers a business proposition. He is probably thinking “with his brains and my brawn, we can control the world from our home at Mount Seir!” Could have been, but that was not G-d’s plan. Jacob tricked him again, telling him to go on ahead and he would follow slowly because of all his stock. Actually, he turned the other direction and never merged with Esau at all. What’s with all the lying we find in the Bible in so many places? This has always bothered me. Many times it seems as if the end justifies the means and that doesn’t seem right. What the Ten Commandments say is to not bear false witness. Is that different from ordinary lying? Selah (stop and think about this.)

Jacob takes his family to Shechem where the story of Dinah takes place. A sad tale, indeed.

The struggle between Jacob and Esau continues today. It will never end until Y’shua comes.

Next week: Joseph

See you next time!
Shabbat Shalom, Sharaka

Mr. White

Rebecca’s shady uncle lives back in Haran, where Abraham lived for a while on his way to the Land. Laban – Lavan in Hebrew – means “white”. He turns out to be pretty black!

Jacob goes to Haran as his father ordered, to find a wife. He ends up at the house of Mr. White, sees Rachael, falls in love and asks for her hand. He works for seven years to gain her for his wife and after a very merry wedding ….. ends up the next morning with not Rachael, but her older sister, Leah! Not good. He ends up working another seven years to pay the dowry for his true love. He works many more years to get his livestock, being cheated on every hand. At the end of the day, he has two wives, 2 concubines (means second wife) 12 sons and one (recorded) daughter.

After 20 some years, Jacob is told to return home – back to the land promised to Father Abraham and his descendants. He gathers his family and all his accumulated wealth, no thanks to Uncle Laban, and starts for home unbeknowst to Mr. White. When the discovery is made that Jacob has pulled out, Laban is enraged and takes off in quick pursuit. G-d prevents a disaster and a peace treaty is made after Laban finds Jacob and his daughters. They continue their journey and Laban goes home never to be heard from again.

Next week – Jacob and Esau, together again!
Shalom, Sharaka

Hebrew History – Amalek

Abraham’s decendants have to be great!
G-d said they would be! Even if they aren’t Jews, they still are making a great impact in the world today. It looks like the greatest enemies of the Jews come from right within their own family. The worst enemy the Jewish people have ever had is the house of Amalek, the grandson of Esau. These people symbolize evil and G-d commanded them to be completely annihilated from the earth – which never happened – hence all the troubles caused by them down through the ages. The nation of Amalek has a pathological hatred for the Jews. Hamen, the villain from the book of Esther, was from Amalek. I wonder what other world leaders have Amalek blood?

I think the lesson for us today is: “Find out what G-d wants you to do and then DO IT!” If He commands us to do something, it’s a lot easier on us if we do just that. If we don’t we will pay for it over and over. Two plus two is always going to be four – you can count on it!

G-d commanded Saul to kill all the Amalakites. He just wouldn’t listen. Why didn’t he?

Not to equate myself with G-d … in any way… but as a personal illustration: I asked our adult son to get me some dirt which was about 350 feet away down the road at the neighbor’s. I said for him to take his car and put the two planter bowls in the back seat and then he could fill them with the dirt and drive back here. We’re talking about two terracotta planter bowls about 16 inches across and 10 inches deep. But, NO! He didn’t want to do that! He said, “It’s not that far – I’ll just walk over and get the dirt.” I tried to get him to listen to me, but to no avail —– he grabbed up the bowls and walked over there. A long while later I looked down the road and here he came, packing the two bowls in from of him. His face was all red and he was walking pretty slow. When he got closer, I could see that he was forcefully exhaling and each time he did, his cheeks puffed out. It was quite a sight. You could tell that it was way too heavy for him to carry. He put the bowls back in their place and came in the house, red as a beet! He was a little upset and as he was drinking two glasses of ice water … he said, “I forgot it had been raining! That stuff is MUD! It must weigh 50 pounds!” He just knew he could do what I asked him to, but he wouldn’t listen to how I said it should be done. What is a person to do? You don’t want to say, “I told you so!” and yet, you wonder why on earth people don’t listen. G-d has to deal with this problem all the time – with all of us!

Back to Amalek – the bottom line is that ever since before Jacob and Esau were born, G-d has stated “Esau I have hated, but Jacob, I have loved.” Not because He decided that and made it happen – but because He KNEW what the outcome of their lives would be and could make that distinction even before birth because He knew exactly what Esau’s mind was made up to do. Now along comes Esau’s grandson and makes the lives of the Jews miserable ever after!

Next Shabbat = Mr. White
Shalom, Sharaka

Hebrew History – The Twins

Hebrew History

“Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.” George Santayana

Isaac marries his shirt-tailed relative and she gets pregnant with twins. It was a difficult pregnancy – and her only one. The twins are constantly fighting in the womb. Rebecca goes to G-d to find out what the problem is …. and He tells her! They are definitely not identical twins! Appearance and personality are completely different.

The Church has given Jacob (Ya’acov) a bum wrap for years, in my opinion. The Scriptures tell us he was a “plain” man. That means a quiet, peaceable, fellow who minds his own business. He was a student and a scholar. His mother favored him because he was “bookish” while Isaac favored his big, hairy, robust son who loved to fight and kill things. OK, he was a hunter, and that was necessary, but I don’t much go for that – I’ll take the kid in the library!

Esav (Esau) was the oldest by a few minutes. But those few minutes made all the difference in the world. The right of the first born, for instance. He was the one to receive the bulk of the family inheritance as well as the family spiritual leadership. Esau doesn’t care about the spiritual part of his inheritance, but he sure wants the power and the money! Abraham left a legacy – who would fulfill it? Not Esau.

When Isaac was old and supposedly dying – he calls his sons in for their blessing. You know the story. When Jacob comes disguised as Esau, Isaac says, “The voice is Jacob’s voice, but the hands are the hands of Jacob.” Bresheet (Genesis) 27:22 That was because, according to R’ Spiro, the voice symbolizes the power of the intellect, and the hands symbolize the power of action and might and of sword. Here we see that Esau, through his descendants, will give rise to the Roman Empire! The Bible calls it Edom. The Roman Empire became the seat of the universal Catholic Church which later divided into two powers – including the Eastern Orthodox group. Still later, the Protestant Christians split off from the Roman Church.

This struggle of the twins is no less than a world-wide fight throughout all history! It started in utero and has continued down through the corridors of time until this very hour. One thought is that Rome, the end result of Esau, gives rise to our Western culture and continues its battle against the Jewish people. All the descendants of Abraham can only become great – by G-d’s design. As in the days of yore, Rome will always be the stronger – in the physical sense while Israel is stronger in the spiritual and intellectual sense. Look how many Nobel prize winners there are that are of Jewish descent! How many great inventions are claimed by the Jews. Look at your phone book – how many Jewish doctors and lawyers are there? G-d has given the Jewish people a marvelous intellect – you can see it in their eyes. When one travels in Israel, you can’t help but immediately see the difference in the Jewish neighborhoods and those of the Arabs. You can see it in the way they care for their children, in the cleanliness of their streets and the graffiti or lack of – on their buildings. I know there are many wonderful Arab people. And G-d has blessed them, too. There is a place in His Kingdom for all of us.
Anyone who calls upon His name shall be saved…..

Next week we will look at the greatest enemy of all time of the Jewish people – Amalek! The nation G-d hates.

See you next time!
Shalom, Sharaka

Hebrew History – part 4


After Abraham arrives in the Promised Land, he thinks he has a problem. No son! G-d had promised him a son when he was already old and he had already waited so many years. Sarah, always the dutiful wife, has thought about this a lot and she comes up with a bizarre suggestion. She figures maybe G-d wants Abraham to father a child in another woman. She asks him to take Hagar, her Egyptian maid, as wife number two and perhaps they would have a child. Sarah would adopt the child and all would be well – or would it?

Sure enough, a man-child was born and he was named Ishmael. Ish means “man” and “El” is one of the names of G-d. Abraham must have hoped with all his heart that this child would truly be “G-d’s man”. Not so! Just the opposite. When we take matters into our own hands, anything can happen and what happened had world shattering consequences. Ishmael didn’t carry out G-d’s plan for Israel, he went on to found his own nation. G-d said, “You shall call his name Ishmael … and he will be a wild man; his hand will be against every man, and everyman’s hand against him; and he shall live in the presence of all his brothers.” He married a woman from Egypt and had 12 sons, leaders of nations. From this what I would consider, tragedy, another great monotheistic, but erroneous faith would appear. Islam.


Isaac is promised to Abraham and Sarah, and he is miraculously born when they are 90 and 100 years old! This Family is now in the 18th century BCE or about 3700 years ago. They set out to be a light to the nations. Isaac is said to have been 37 years old at the time of the incident on Mt. Moriah. Can you imagine a grown man of that age bowing to the wishes of his aged father? He could have easily overpowered him and disappeared…. But he was taught at an early age to honor his father and obedience was the order of the day. He makes a good type of Y’shua, doesn’t he? Willing to lay down his life at the request of his father.

Whatever the parents do – it better be right because the children will come up right along after them and do what they do… Bresheet (Genesis) 20 & 21 relate the story of Abraham’s journey to the land of the Philistines and the problems he encountered there. Their king wanted to take Sarah to wife. Abraham told them she was his sister. This was not a lie –she WAS his half sister. It turned out well for everyone… Sarah must have been a remarkably beautiful woman to attract a king at her advanced age!

BUT the same thing happened to Isaac some years later. He also spends time with the Philistines. (Maybe they should have all stayed home?) And this time the king wanted Isaac’s wife. This caused a well problem …

That seems to be a history repeat: Jews enter any country, the country prospers, the powers that be grow to dislike the Jews and throw them out. Their economy falls flat. This has happened over and over again down through history. And why are the Jews hated and thrown out? There’s never been a reason I can see. Jealousy, perhaps?

Shabbat Shalom!

Hebrew History – Part 4

The Promised Land

G-d gave to Abram and his descendants the Land of Israel – the place where He put His name. See Bresheet (Genesis) 12. At this point, Abram’s may be called “the Family of Israel”. He moved, interestingly enough, with his father, Terah, the idol-maker, to the northern part of Syria. Didn’t G-d tell him to leave his father’s house? They stayed in Padan-Haran until the death of Terah.

G-d says over and over in His Word for Abram to go “to the land that I will show you.” and “I will give you this land and to your descendents after you.” There can be no doubt in anyone’s mind that G-d intended Israel to belong to His chosen people. And He gave them MUCH MORE than they are claiming today! How can anyone say that they should give up more land to their enemies? That old saying still counts: “G-d said it, I believe it, and that settles it!”

Israel is the center of the world. It is the capitol of the planet. It’s the “place where G-d has put His name”. It sits at the crossroads of three continents, Europe, Africa and Asia. The Hebrews were given this land because of their mission which was to guard and keep Torah, bring forth the Messiah and be a light to the nations. Every other nation in the world bases it’s claim on conquest. “Might makes right” seems to be the order of the day. Come in, take over the land, change it’s name and start a new country. Not so Israel. G-d created the planet, therefore He owns it. He GAVE the Land of Israel to the ones He wanted to have it.

True, the modern State of Israel is non-religious. I understand 80% of the population states that claim. I found that to be shocking and unthinkable! I just assumed all Israel would at least believe in G-d! Not so. But they do realize even the secular State should follow Jewish tradition. Last time I was in Israel. Our little group was kicked out of a restaurant in Jerusalem! It was a “meat” restaurant and someone had brought in a cheese sandwich and began to eat it at our table. The proprietors could lose their license if they allowed such eating in their establishment! The Orthodox Jews say meat and dairy cannot be eaten at the same meal. This is an error based on one Scripture. “Do not seethe a kid in its mother’s milk.” That was a Canaanite custom of sacrifice to one of their gods and we are not to do as the heathen do. I promise I will never eat any meat cooked in it’s mother’s milk. My question is – if this applies to chicken as well, and it does. Why? Know any chickens that nurse their young?

We need to continue to pray for Israel – and for peace to prevail there. To pray like that is to pray for the Messiah’s return!
And may that be soon and in our time.

See you next time!
Shabbat Shalom, Sharaka

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