Beth Elohim Messianic Synagogue
Parashah #7 Vayetze (He went out) B’resheit (Genesis) 28:10-32:3
Haftarah: Hoshea (Hosea) 11:7-12
B’rit Chadashah: Yochanan (John) 1:43-51
Today I want to focus on the genealogy of Bilhah, who was Rachel’s maid, because of her connection to Dan (he judged) (Gen. 30:9). It is important to follow the ancestry of our people through those who were biological Israelites, those who either were not and converted, and those of whom we read about who were not of Israel and of whom we have no evidence of a conversion to Judaism. This knowledge is especially important to us today and those who will live to see the rise of the anti-Messiah, we need to understand that he will be of Jewish ancestry. This must be so because biological Jews will never accept someone who is not of Jewish lineage. It is not enough to know Ya’akov was Dan’s father. Furthermore, although Ya’akov laid with Bilhah and she bore him the first of her sons with him (Dan), there is more to the translation of his name (he judged).
In the narrative, we read that she chose that name because “Rachel said ‘G-d has judged in my favor; indeed, he has heard me and given me a son.’” But if we look at the blessing of the tribe of Dan in Genesis 49:16, we learn “Dan will judge his people as one of the tribes of Israel. Dan will be a viper on the road, a horned snake in the path that bites the horse’s heels so its rider falls off backward. I wait for your deliverance Adonai.” So, there is much more to the words “he judged” as his name translates, than Rachel’s gratitude for G-d favoring her with a child.
When we look ahead to the 12 tribes listed in the book of Revelation, Dan is no longer listed (Rev.7:5-8). One reason is because of the incident of idolatry described in Judges 18. Another reason is that the Tribe of Dan is reprimanded in the Bible’s Song of Deborah for not participating in the war against the Canaanites. (Judges 5:17). The Tribe of Dan failed to conquer the portion of the land of Israel that was given to them as their original inheritance. That failure forced the tribe to move north, where it took over the land called Laish, renaming it Dan (Joshua 19:47). That became the northern limit of Israel. King Jeroboam I built a pagan temple in the land of Dan and set up a golden calf to be worshiped (1 Kings 12:29). That tragic sin prompted the prophet Amos to include the land of Dan in his denouncement of pagan worshippers, that they shall fall and never rise again (Amos 8:14). Let’s look at the testament of Naphtali which is part of the lost books of Eden for more information:
Naphtali, the eighth son of Jacob and Bilhah. The Runner. A lesson in physiology.
“THE copy of, the testament of Naphtali, which he ordained at the time of his death in the hundred and thirtieth year of his life.
2 When his sons were gathered together in the seventh month, on the first day of the month, while still in good health, he made them a feast of food and wine.
3 And after he was awake in the morning, he said to them, I am dying; and they believed him not.
4 And as he glorified the Lord, he grew strong and said that after yesterday’s feast he should die.
5 And he began then to say: Hear, my children, ye sons of Naphtali, hear the words of your father.
6 I was born from Bilhah, and because Rachel dealt craftly, and gave Bilhah in place of herself to Jacob, and she conceived and bare me upon Rachel’s knees, therefore she called my name Naphtali.
7 For Rachel loved me very much because I was born upon her lap; and when I was still young she was wont to kiss me and say: May I have a brother of thine from mine own womb, like unto thee.
8 Whence also Joseph was like unto me in all things, according to the prayers of Rachel.
9 Now my mother was Bilhah, daughter of Rotheus the brother of Deborah, Rebecca’s nurse, who was born on one and the self-same day with Rachel.
10 And Rotheus was of the family of Abraham, a Chaldean, God-fearing, free-born, and noble.
11 And he was taken captive and was bought by Laban; and
he gave him Euna his handmaid to wife, and she bore a daughter, and called her name Zilpah, after the name of the village in which he had been taken captive.
12 And next she bore Bilhah, saying: My daughter hastens after what is new, for immediately that she was born she seized the breast and hastened to suck it.
13 And I was swift on my feet like the deer, and my father Jacob appointed me for all messages, and as a deer did he give me his blessing.
14 For as the potter knoweth the vessel, how much it is to contain, and bringeth clay accordingly, so also doth the Lord make the body after the likeness of the spirit, and according to the capacity of the body doth He implant the spirit.”
**A Hebrew fragment of a Testament of Naphtali was identified among the Dead Sea Scrolls. It seems that this work was one of the sources of the Jewish Greek Pseudepigrapha, the Testament of the Twelve Patriarchs. The Hebrew fragment deals with the genealogy of Bilhah and is longer than the parallel passage in the Greek text. A Testament of Naphtali in medieval Hebrew is preserved in two versions, the second, published by Wertheimer, being a secondary elaboration of the first one. The medieval Hebrew Testament, which is not identical with the text discovered in Qumran – it does not contain a genealogy of Bilhah – nor with the Greek Testament of Naphtali in the Testament of the Patriarchs, is a translation from a non-Hebrew source, probably Greek. This source was composed in the same trend as the Testament of the Patriarchs and shows clear affinities with the extant Greek Testament of Naphtali.**
So, we learn that Rotheus, who was the father of Bilhah, was from the Abrahamic line. The Testament of Naphtali teaches us that his brother Dan is Jewish by his father Ya’akov and at least in part through Bilhah’s connection to Abraham. However, we must acknowledge that Abraham was not a biological Israelite. Rather, he was from an idolatrous nation and chose to seek out the one true G-d. He was a Hebrew (crossing over). We may confidently deduce that the Anti-Messiah will be partly of Jewish heritage and partly from a Gentile background. This information is important to us now and to those who will be living when the Anti-Messiah declares himself. We may and should share this information with anyone who expresses an interest in learning about this ominous time to come. One of the major tenets of war is to know the enemy. This knowledge will be critical for believers who will need to live through the Tribulation. It is also important for those living today. If we are ignorant of HaSatan’s agenda, tactics and strategy; our human nature and the fact that we can overcome it, there would be no reason to change our humanistic, selfish attitudes and behaviors. We would be unable to see that our human nature is not consistent with G-d’s Torah.
Yahshua warns us in plenty of time concerning what we can expect to see in the end times, how to prepare, and the need to align ourselves and our wills with G-d’s will. Indeed, according to what is in Scripture, we are living in the end times. This information is available in the Old and “New” Testaments. Returning to our parashah, we come full circle by emphasizing this idea is alluded to in the simple translation of Dan’s name that begs exploration such as we have discussed today. Matthew 24-25 provides one of the best examples of Yahshua’s warning to us about the end times and the Anti-Messiah. He speaks of the times leading up to the abomination that causes desolation, and the Great Tribulation. He even makes the statement “There! I have told you in advance!” (Matt. 24:25). May we heed the warning and continue to prepare for the battles ahead.
Haftarah: Hoshea 11:7-12:12
Hosea was a contemporary of Isaiah and delivered some of the same frustration, crying out in vain against the deteriorating kingdom of Samaria and the ten Tribes of Israel. He contrasts G-d’s mercy with Israel’s failure to recognize that everything they have is only because of G-d’s kindness. Fortunately, G-d emphasizes that even with Israel’s sins, He says he will never desert Ephraim, the leader of the ten Tribes because he knows one day Ephraim will repent and return to G-d like a disobedient and wayward child to its Father.
Judah will also falter, although not be divorced as was Israel. G-d’s justice will be served. Hosea continues his rebuke of the Ten Tribes who though they were invincible and that they were responsible for their wealth and success. Ephraim sinned through arrogance and idolatry. Therefore, they earned defeat, exile, and death. This is a situation that continues to the present among individuals, societies, and nations. G-d will execute His judgement, whether we want to call it “tough love” or unfair. The G-d of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob is just and true in all His ways (Rev. 15:3; 16:6-7).
B’rit Chadashah: John 1:43-51
This narrative echoes the vision of Jacob’s ladder spoken of in this week’s parashah. This vision provides a teaching in itself not addressed in today’s teaching. However, this is just one example demonstrating the validity of G-d’s Torah that consists of the Tanach and the B’rit Chadashah (the Renewed, refreshed Covenant). Yahshua known as “Jesus” to Christians, is G-d and is not just a rabbi who taught on the requirement to follow G-d’s (His) commands as part of the requirement for salvation (See John Ch.14, Romans 2-3; the Seven -Fold Witness in the book of Revelation). Yahshua tells Philip that he “will see heaven opened and the angels of G-d going up and coming down on the Son of Man.” This description explains in part, what Ya’akov dreamt with the exception of G-d’s name as Adonai in the parashah. I invite you to research why G-d, Adonai, and the Son of Man are used when they are all names of G-d.
Rabbi Tamah Davis-Hart