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B'resheet/Genesis 26:13 And the man grew great and he walked to walk and he grew until he was very great.
The word is used three times in this verse, twice as a verb and once as a noun. The root meaning is 'to be or become great' or 'to grow'. We find the word used of children growing up and also as part of the title of the High Priest, . But in between, the Torah uses two instances of the root , to walk or go - this time as both an active and an infinitive verb. Although this attracts translations such as "he kept becoming greater" (Artscroll), "he continued to grow richer" (NASB), "prospered more and more" (CJB), which are supported by the dictionaries, it is interesting to take the alternative, more literal, translation and notice that the Torah is telling us that in the midst of growing wealth, Yitz'chak "walked the walk". In other words, in spite of his increasing substance, wealth, responsibility - the next verse tells us, "flocks and herds and much industry" - he continued to be upright and righteous; the Sages tell us that he was meticulous about tithing (B'resheet Rabbah 64:6) andSforno cites Malachi 3:10 as the reason for HaShem's blessing in these verses.
Many of the kings of Israel turned away from following the L-rd because of their riches, wives and positions. "King Shlomo loved many foreign women ... He had 700 wives, all princesses, and 300 concubines; and his wives turned his head away. For when Shlomo became old, his wives turned his heart away toward other gods, so that he was not whole-hearted with Adonai his G-d, as David his father had been" (1 Kings 11:1-4, CJB). Many stories within the Jewish heritage, from biblical times until today, tell of people who once rich have neglected the poor, failed to tithe and give tz'daka, and become arrogant and proud; yet there were also those who gave deeply from their riches to the poor, the community and those in need. History teaches us that while wealth and blessing can distract us from our service to G-d (and His people), it is not certain that they will because each person has a choice, like Yitz'chak, to "walk the walk" and not just "talk the talk".
In the parable of the Sower, Yeshua explains to his talmidim about the seed that fell among thorns: "they hear the message; but the worries of the world, the deceitful glamour of wealth and all the other kinds of desires push in and choke the message; so that it produces nothing" (Mark 4:18-19, CJB). Anyone who owns a big house will tell you about the time and money it takes to maintain that property: painting, gardening, repairs - which while necessary and certainly not bad of themselves - can sap our energy and resources so that we have to draw back from kingdom work and activities. At the same time, larger houses provide venues and opportunities for hospitality, meetings and other ministry functions if they are used for the kingdom of G-d. The question is: how do we handle them - do we walk the walk ?
Further Study: Luke 12:22-34; Psalm 112:1-3; Philippians 3:12-16
Application: Have you allowed yourself to be distracted by G-d's blessings so that you have lost focus on G-d in the midst of the blessings? Are you still walking the walk in the midst of growing great, so that you can grow greater in service and honour to G-d?
© Jonathan Allen, 2005
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