Akedah, korban, Red Heifer, blessings of posterity in numbers, the H marker, Ishmael, Islam, Jews and Arabs, dhimmi, Jehovah-jireh, Israel wanderings, O.T. Student Manual, Lectures on Faith, Jacob/Israel March 2014
Isaac – יִצְחָק,Yitzok. Hebrew: A miracle child, born of Sarah when ninety and barren. Meaning: laughter, humor, amusing or delightful. According to Talmud, Isaac was born on the first day of Pesach (Passover). He was the first Jew to be born a Jew, whose parents were Jews. He was also the first Jewish boy to be circumcised at the age of eight days. He became the father of Jacob and Esau. Isaac was 37 years old, and unmarried, when God commanded Abraham to offer him as a Burnt Offering. (Gen 22:5,8). Isaac died at age 180, longest lived patriarch.
After the “Akedah” (the binding of Isaac) happily turned out to be only a test of their faith in God and of their obedience to His commands, Abraham immediately sent his son Isaac to Shem, Noah’s son, to learn Godly wisdom from the man who himself witnessed the Flood and was saved in his father’s Ark. Abraham returned home without Isaac, to find that his wife Sarah had passed away, at the age of 127 years. Abraham mourned the death of his wife and buried her in the Cave of Machpelah which he had bought from Ephron the Hittite prince.
Hebrew word for sacrifice: korban or karbanot. From root: to draw near, denoting he or she who was brought nearer to God. In ancient times sacrifices took place at the north end of the altar. (Lev 1:11) The place of crucifixion of Jesus was at the north end of Mt. Moriah. Sacrifices were performed by the kohanim (priests in Jerusalem Temple) and nowhere else.
They stopped after destruction of Second Temple except for brief period during Jewish War a.d. 132-35. Most common burnt offering-complete submission to God’s will. Called olah. Sacrifice types: burnt, peace, sin, guilt, food and drink offerings.
Our Savior taught that our sacrifices bring us closer to him. He sacrificed himself as an example to humankind that we may give our all to Heavenly Father and to one another. His atonement/sacrifice also shows his desire to be at one with mankind in everything spiritual and of eternal worth.
Parah Adumah: Hebrew: The Red Heifer
The ritual of the red heifer is part of one of the most mysterious rituals described in the Torah. The purpose of this ritual is to purify people from the defilement caused by contact with the dead. The ritual is discussed in Numbers 19. The sages themselves described it as beyond human understanding. It is believed by many that this ritual will be performed by the Messiah when he comes, because we have all suffered the defilement of contact with the dead. Nine perfect red heifers have been burned in Jewish history. The tenth will be burned by the Messiah at the time of the rebuilding of the Temple in Jerusalem and its ashes sprinkled on the priests to symbolically sanctify them. There are now herds of red heifers in America. Only a perfect one may become an offering.
See: www.templeinstitute.org, and www.hebrew4christians.com.
Abraham had 8 sons, but from Isaac the covenant developed. Through Ishmael came many Arab nations (D&C132:34). Through Keturah’s sons – Midianites, others: Innumerable, immeasurable blessings of posterity includes: the deceased, the Israeli, Arab, Moslem, Nephite-Lamanites, gentile nations – and future posterities of all!
The “H” marker: In Hebrew, the H letter can serve several roles: as genetic, syntactical, linguistic, spiritual markers. When Abram and Sarai’s names were changed to Abraham and Sarah, the H=ה in their names was the marker indicating a calling from God – His mark of a divine calling and election. Abraham=father of a great multitude. Sarah=princess.
Another such is the ending of a name: Yahu=Himself; Ellihu=my God is He; jah=short for Jehovah.
Ishmael – God hears (Sarah’s prayer) (Gen 16:12) was nomadic, living as a herdsman, raiding for booty, wandering the desert. He fathered 12 sons. Arabic literature is full of references to contempt of nomads for settlers and vice versa. “Arab” refers to people whose language is Arabic. They are Semitic, as are Hebrews. Most of the world’s Muslims are not Arabs; Arabia is largest peninsula in the world = nearly 1 million square miles. The Qur’an says Abraham nearly sacrificed Ishmael on Mt. Moriah but Muslim scripture never identifies which son it was. The descendants of Ishmael are a Mahometan race, the dominant power of the 7th-8th centuries through Abraham. The word islam=submission/almost equal to Hebrew shalom=peace.
Jews and Arabs lived together peaceably for a time. In a.d. 460 a Persian king persecuted Jews, who emigrated to Arabia. By a.d. 500, southern Arabia was ruled by a Jewish kingdom. After the expansion of Islam into the Middle East from the Arabian Peninsula, Jews, along with Christians and Zoroastrians, typically had the legal status of dhimmi=non-Muslim citizens of an Islamic state- had certain rights, generally not persecuted for their religious beliefs. So God used the descendants of Ishmael to save the Jewish nation two generations later, and again when Isaac’s grandsons sold Joseph into slavery to Ishmaelite traders, for Joseph became second in command of the country, saving his father and brothers during a famine.
The site known traditionally as the place where Abraham offered Isaac is now the site of the Dome of the Rock, a beautiful Moslem mosque. A few hundred yards to the north on a higher point of that same hill system is another world-famous site known as Gordon’s Calvary. Its Hebrew name was Golgotha. Not only did Abraham perform the similitude, but he performed it in the same area in which the Father would make the sacrifice of His Son.
Once the event was over and all ended happily, Abraham named the place Jehovah-jireh, which the King James Version translates as “in the mount of the Lord it shall be seen” (Genesis 22:14).
For, lo, I will command, and I will sift the House of Israel among all nations, like as [corn] is sifted in a sieve, yet shall not the least grain fall upon the earth. Amos 9:9
Points to Ponder
From the Old Testament Student Manual
Genesis – 2Samuel, 1980
While you ponder the life of Abraham and his marvelous response to the testing of the Lord, remember what the Lord said to the Saints of this dispensation. The Saints in Jackson County had been driven out of their homes into the bitter winter of Missouri. Their suffering was intense and lives were even lost. At that time the Lord spoke to the Saints through Joseph Smith and said: “Therefore, they must needs be chastened and tried, even as Abraham, who was commanded to offer up his only son. For all those who will not endure chastening, but deny me, cannot be sanctified.”
A few months earlier He had said: “For he will give unto the faithful line upon line, precept upon precept; and I will try you and prove you herewith. And whoso layeth down his life in my cause, for my name’s sake, shall find it again, even life eternal. Therefore, be not afraid of your enemies, for I have decreed in my heart, saith the Lord, that I will prove you in all things, whether you will abide in my covenant, even unto death, that you may be found worthy. For if ye will not abide in my covenant ye are not worthy of me.” (D&C 98:12–15.)
This seems like such a high standard. Why must one be tested and chastened before he can be sanctified? Why can a person not be worthy of God unless he is willing to abide in the covenant even to death? To understand these questions and to gain greater insight into why Abraham had to prove himself, think in the eternal perspective for a moment. Imagine the disastrous consequences of making a person a god who was not perfect in every respect. How would the universe survive if it were controlled by a god who could not withstand even intense pressure? Where would we be now if our God had not been disposed to endure the suffering of seeing His Only Begotten Son go to the cross? If Abraham had failed his test, he would have lost his position.
If God the Father had failed the same test there would have been no Atonement and all mankind would have “become subject to that angel who fell from before the presence of the Eternal God, and became the devil. … And our spirits must have become like unto him, and we become devils … to be shut out from the presence of our God.” (2 Nephi 9:8–9.)
Another aspect of Abraham’s test has great significance for us. To understand it we must carefully follow the chain of reasoning given in Lectures on Faith, compiled under the direction of the Prophet Joseph Smith, which shows how a person develops faith sufficient to achieve salvation. The major concepts in this chain are as follows:
Three kinds of knowledge are necessary if a person is to have faith: “Let us here observe, that three things are necessary in order that any rational and intelligent being may exercise faith in God unto life and salvation.
The idea that he (God) actually exists.
A correct idea of his character, perfections, and attributes.
Actual knowledge that the course of life which he is pursuing is according to his will. For without an acquaintance with these three important facts, the faith of every rational being must be imperfect and unproductive; but with this understanding it can become perfect and fruitful, abounding in righteousness, unto the praise and glory of God the Father, and the Lord Jesus Christ.”
“The knowledge that one’s life is pleasing to God is critical in the development of faith:
“An actual knowledge to any person, that the course of life which he pursues is according to the will of God, is essentially necessary to enable him to have that confidence in God without which no person can obtain eternal life. It was this that enabled the ancient saints to endure all their afflictions and persecutions, and to take joyfully the spoiling of their goods, knowing (not believing merely) that they had a more enduring substance. …
“For a man to lay down his all, his character and reputation, his honor, and applause, his good name among men, his houses, his lands, his brothers and sisters, his wife and children, and even his own life also—counting all things but filth and dross for the excellency of the knowledge of Jesus Christ—requires more than mere belief or supposition that he is doing the will of God; but actual knowledge, realizing that, when these sufferings are ended, he will enter into eternal rest, and be a partaker of the glory of God.” (6:25.)
“Jacob/Israel represents the most basic level on the spiritual ladder to heaven… believers in the God who created the heaven and the earth but… encompasses all those whom God has created to be His people, whom he asks to be lyal to him and to learn who he is….includes who, over many centuries, assimilated into the nations of the world, who lost their identity as Israelites yet maintained a belief in God.”-Avraham Gileadi