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(Gen 23:1 - 25:18)

B'resheet/Genesis 24:10   And he went and all the wealth of his master [was] in his hand

Although indistinguishable in the consonantal text, and have quite distinct though connected meanings. is an adjective meaning 'good', whereas is a noun meaning 'goods' or 'wealth'. The Sages have a discussion as to whether this text means (B'resheet Rabbah 59:11): did Eli'ezer (cf. B'resheet 15:2) physically take all of Avraham's possessions with him - impossible, since he took only ten camels; had Avraham actually given his wealth to Eli'ezer in some transferable form to possess until he should pass them on - also impossible since Eli'ezer was a slave so had no right to property. Who Is ...

Rashi: Rabbi Shlomo Yitzchaki (1040-1105 CE), French rabbi who wrote commentaries on the Torah, the Prophets and the Talmud, lived in Troyes where he founded a yeshiva in 1067; focuses on the plain meaning (p'shat) of the text, although sometimes quite cryptic in his brevity
Rashi suggests that Avraham wrote a document describing his wealth and making it over to Yitz'chak so that a potential father-in-law would feel confident that his daughter would be properly provided for and that he would be allaying himself to a family of substance.

Mark tells us that, "the P'rushim came out and began to argue with Him, seeking from Him a sign from heaven to test Him" (Mark 8:11, NASB). As the religious leaders in a generation that was keenly anticipating Messiah - a messiah to free them from the Roman occupation and oppression - but had been plagued by a series of pretenders to the title who caused a lot of unrest and disturbance but failed to deliver on their claims, the P'rushim were trying to check Yeshua's credentials. "We've heard the words; now where's the beef!" Before endorsing Yeshua as Messiah - as 100 or so years later, Who Is ...

Rabbi Akiva: Akiva ben Joseph (c.50-c.135 CE), a tanna; one of the third generation of the Mishnaic Sages, who were active between 70 CE and 135 CE; although starting life as an ignorant shepherd, he became perhaps the most central authority quoted in the Mishnah; known by some as the "father of the Rabbinic Judaism"
Rabbi Akiva endorsed Shimon ben Kosiba - the P'rushim wanted to be sure that Yeshua was the real thing. This is just like Rivkah's brother Lavan: "when he saw the nose-ring, and the bracelets on his sister's wrists besides, and when he heard his sister Rivkah's report of what the man had said to her, he ran out to the spring and found the man standing there by the camels. 'Come in,' he said, 'you whom Adonai has blessed ...'" (B'resheet 24:29-31, CJB). It was the physical manifestation of wealth that brought credibility and assurance of status.

What is it that authenticates us today; what gives us credibility as witnesses and servants of the Most High G-d? What is it that makes our people stop in their tracks and want to know and share in what we do and have to say? Simply (and only) one thing: the power of G-d being manifest in and through us. As the writer to the Hebrews says: "This deliverance, which was first declared by the L-rd, was confirmed to us by those who heard Him; while G-d also bore witness to it with various signs, wonders and miracles, and with the gifts of the Ruach HaKodesh which He distributed as He chose" (Hebrews 2:3-4, CJB). Historically, the church advanced with the gospel, signs of power and healing. The church in the Southern Hemisphere is doing the same today - so should we!

Further Study: Acts 4:23-31; Mark 16:14-18

Application: Do you feel inadequate and frustrated at the lack of power and progress for the gospel and the coming of the kingdom in your life and congregation? Revisit the descriptions of the early followers of Yeshua, pray and expect the L-rd to move in power and have boldness to proclaim the gospel of the kingdom!

© Jonathan Allen, 2005

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