Posts tagged " Genesis 19 "

Cave Grave

May 18th, 2020 Posted by Thought Tools 2 comments

I love boating along coastal British Columbia. Occasionally, we spot First Nation burial apparatus, a box or platform, often a canoe, into which the departed is placed and which is then perched upon high stilts or wedged into tree forks.

The Choctaws buried their dead by leaving them atop a high scaffold. Eskimos placed their departed beneath piles of rocks.  In much of Asia, corpses were burned as a final rite and the popularity of cremation spread far and wide.  Egyptians placed their departed in pyramids while others preferred vast above-ground mausoleums.   

When Sarah, the wife of Abraham died, Abraham didn’t place her body in a tree or under a heap of rocks.  He certainly didn’t burn it.  Instead, he said to the locals:

…entreat for me to Ephron the son of Tzochar…that he give me the cave of MaCHPeLah…as a burying place…
(Genesis 23:8-9)

The first Scriptural account of a burial follows:

 …Abraham buried Sarah his wife in the cave of the field of MaCHPeLah…
(Genesis 23:19).

 Later we read about the burial of Abraham.

 And his sons Isaac and Ishmael buried him in the cave of MaCHPeLah, in the field of Ephron the son of Tzochar…
(Genesis 25:9)

 Subsequently, Isaac and his wife Rebecca were buried in that cave, as were Jacob and Leah.

When Abraham negotiated his purchase of the cave from Ephron the son of Tzochar, it was only the second mention of a cave in the Bible.  The first was the cave in which Lot and his two daughters sought refuge as Sodom was being destroyed.

 Lot went up out of Tzoar…and his two daughters…and he lived in a cave, he and his two daughters.
(Genesis 19:30)

Not only did Abraham choose to place his kin to rest in the same kind of location as the one in which Lot and his daughters took refuge but the name of the father of the seller of Abraham’s cave, TzoCHaR, strongly resembles the town from which Lot departed for the cave, TzoAR.

Tz-o-A-R and Tz-o-CH-a-R share their first and last letters, tzadi and reish, which respectively have the sounds of TZ and R.

צ   ר

   R   TZ 

In God’s language, where each letter and word has vast hidden meaning, words that start and end with these letters relate to the concept of narrowness, confinement, pain and restriction.

Lot and his daughters stopped in a place named for having the quality of TzAR as they escaped Sodom (Genesis 19:20-23), but leave it for the promise of a cave. Abraham acquired a cave from the possession of a man called TzochaR, expanding its quality from simply being a cave to becoming an eternal burial place. What is going on here?

Both caves served as temporary abodes while future events took shape.  In one cave, Lot and one of his daughters lay the foundations for the eventual birth of Ruth, ancestress of King David.  In the other cave, the founding fathers and mothers of Israel lie until the ultimate redemption when death is undone and eternal life is resumed.

Similar meaning of future promise attaches to all other Biblical caves such as that in which David did not kill Saul (I Samuel 24:6-7), in which Obadiah hid the prophets from Jezebel (I Kings 18:4) and in which Elijah hid (I Kings 19:9).  Not surprisingly, the root meaning of the Hebrew word cave, MeARah, is awaken!

מ  ע  ר  ה = cave
     ע  ר = awake

As a seed is placed in the ground only in anticipation of the green living plant that will eventually spring forth, so do people enter Biblical caves.  In ancient Jewish wisdom, a grave is no more than a personal private cave in which to await the ultimate deliverance.

It would be hard to overstate the depth of meaning that springs from Hebrew. In our book, Buried Treasure: Secrets for Living from the Lord’s Language, we share powerful, practical and moving insights from dozens of Hebrew words along with tips on understanding the language itself. Give the young (and young at heart) ones in your life the added advantage of familiarity with the Hebrew alphabet with Aleph-Bet: A Fun, Rhyming, Bible-based Introduction to the Hebrew Alphabet. Take advantage of the sale on both these books to acquire them for yourself and those you wish to bless.

S

A

L

E

Buried Treasure: Secrets for Living from the Lord’s LanguageAleph-Bet: A Fun, Rhyming, Bible-based Introduction to the Hebrew Alphabet

Reprinted from 2013

Lots of Hope

April 6th, 2020 Posted by Thought Tools 12 comments

Imagine a desperate man making his way on foot through a desert.  Exhausted and thirsty beyond endurance he keeps driving himself forward, day by day, in the hope of reaching an oasis.  Eventually, he can go no further and drops hopelessly to the hot sand.  Rescuers discover his body only a half day’s walk from a large oasis. 

Let’s rewind and replay the story with the same man.   Except in this version, he knows exactly where the oasis is located.  In this account, when he reaches the place where he gave up and died in the first story, he is exactly as exhausted and just as madly thirsty.  Yet he does not give up and die.  Why?  Because he knows that redemption lies just over the next sand dune, a half-day away.  Knowing—not hoping or believing, but knowing—that redemption is near endows us with superhuman powers.  The mere knowledge that the oasis is near endowed this man with the power to overcome the heat and thirst.

It is hard to build a business.  Urgent need for capital can entirely wear down even the hardiest entrepreneur.  Gnawing worry morphs into fear that he won’t find the funds, diminishing the effectiveness of most business professionals in this unenviable position.

Compare that situation with an entrepreneur who is grappling with precisely the same pressures except that he knows that his next round of financing is happening in three weeks’ time.  The knowledge that redemption is round the corner endows this human with astonishing powers.

Then there is the married couple struggling to hold their marriage together. One day he is doing his best while she feels it all to be futile; another day she is willing to move mountains in the hope of saving her marriage while he has emotionally checked out. As any counselor knows, the odds of a successful salvage are slim.

Now imagine that each is shown a future vision of their marriage so happy and solid that all recollection of past suffering has been expunged.  Just the knowledge that they will be joyfully reconciled makes the hard repair work so much easier to accomplish. 

This is one searing message of Passover. Yet, while Passover in the book of Exodus speaks of national redemption, we have already seen an example in Genesis of personal redemption. Let me offer a brief example of how ancient Jewish wisdom combines seemingly unrelated incidents to overwhelm us with a Technicolor extravaganza of Truth.

Here are the first two uses of an extremely rare word in Scripture—MiTMaMeHa, meaning delaying or lingering:

And he [Lot] lingered…
(Genesis 19:16)

…and they [the Israelites] were not able to linger…
(Exodus 12:39)

The word Matzoh is also  common to the Israelite’s exodus from Egypt and Lot’s rescue from S’dom:

…and he made them a feast and he baked Matzoh…
(Genesis 19:3)

…and with Matzoh on bitter herbs they ate it.
(Exodus 12:8)

Let’s look at two more examples of the strong similarities that unite the account of the Israelites escaping from a doomed Egypt to safe refuge, and the account describing Lot and his daughters escaping from a doomed S’dom to safe refuge:

And God rained upon S’dom and Amorah sulfur and fire…
(Genesis 19:24)

…and God rained hail upon the land of Egypt.
(Exodus 9:23)

Ancient Jewish wisdom tells us that the hail had a fiery center.

Finally, the nation of Israel emerged from the Hebrews’ rescue out of Egypt and the nations of Amon and Moab emerged from Lot and his daughters’ rescue from S’dom.

Ancient Jewish wisdom explores the linkage. Passover teaches that not only is redemption available for one man and his family, but even on a national level, God can bring redemption where no hope exists.

Today, it is not only one family or one nation that is facing uncertainty, but many families and many nations. As humans, we can’t know for sure what lies ahead, but the next best thing is to know that a brighter future is possible. One of the great gifts that God gives His faithful is the eternal vision of tomorrow’s redemption no matter how dark it may look today.  Knowing this in our heads and believing it deep in our hearts makes today’s journey bearable.

Before we close our store on Wednesday evening through nightfall on Saturday for the opening days of Passover, there is still an opportunity to acquire the How to Lead Your Own Seder download resource. I did not initially plan this teaching for this year but the events of the day propelled exactly that.  Our amazing crew worked tirelessly to get it out, and we hope that it provides a blueprint of hope and optimism in these (temporarily) dark and lonely days.

The Seder observance can shine a bright light onto tomorrow for everyone. Using our resource, you and your family can make your own Seder and learn how to transform an ancient ritual into an inoculation against stagnation in all areas of life that really matter.

Two New Resources!

How to Lead Your Own Passover Seder
Volumes 1, 2, 3 or available as a set

Chart Your Course:
52 Weekly Journaling Challenges from Rabbi Daniel and Susan Lapin

Don’t Blame Me

October 24th, 2017 Posted by Thought Tools 8 comments

On June 4, 1944, recognizing how easily D-Day could fail, Gen. Eisenhower prepared the following:

“Our landings…have failed to gain a satisfactory foothold… The troops, the air and the Navy did all that Bravery and devotion to duty could do. If any blame or fault attaches to the attempt it is mine alone.”

As a family member or business professional, learning to accept responsibility is profoundly valuable.  Learn to say, “I messed up and I accept all consequences.” The character strength needed for this is increasingly rare and we need to acquire it ourselves before we can hope to influence others.

Hebrew reveals one aspect of owning one’s actions. Referring to Leah and Rachel’s sibling relationship in Genesis 29, two words are used, GDoLah and K’TaNah, older and younger. Earlier, when Lot and his daughters flee the destruction of Sodom, we encountered two other words BeCHiRah – firstborn, and TZeiRah – younger (19:31).   In chapter 19 we find a clustering of the root letters TZ-R.  Lot escapes to the city of TZoaR whose name occurs six times in this chapter. The associated word TZeiRah — younger— appears four times.  In just these few verses, the TZ-R root is used ten times; more than in the rest of Genesis all together.  Word clustering is one of the ways that ancient Jewish wisdom unpacks Scripture’s deeper meaning.

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