Congregation Beth Ha'Mashiach
(House of the Messiah) - Worshipping ADONAI & His Messiah, Yeshua Ha'Mashiach
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Weekly Drash - Vayera

Compliments of First Fruits of Zion
reprinted by permission of FFOZ

Vayera - וירא : “And he appeared”
Torah : Genesis 18:1–22:24
Haftarah : 2 Kings 4:1–37
Gospel : Matthew 8–10 


Son of the Free Woman


Thought for the Week:

Isaac means ‘laughter.’ This teaches us about Messiah. When Messiah comes, it is written, “Then our mouth was filled with laughter and our tongue with joyful [song].” (Psalm 126:2) The Master tells us, “Blessed are you who weep now, for you shall laugh.” (Luke 6:21) When will the mourner’s weeping turn to laughter? When Messiah comes, we will all laugh with joy. Then we will all declare, along with Sarah our mother, “God has made laughter for us.”



But God said to Abraham, “Do not be distressed because of the lad and your maid; whatever Sarah tells you, listen to her, for through Isaac your descendants shall be named.” (Genesis 21:12)

Sarah’s laughter (tzachak, צחק) over Isaac (Yitzchak, יצחק) was a laughter of joy, but her stepson Ishmael’s laughter (m’tzacheik, מצחק) was a laughter of mockery. Sarah demanded that Abraham send away Hagar and Ishmael.

The Apostle Paul makes a midrash on the story of Ishmael and Isaac in Galatians 4:22–31. Unfortunately, this Galatians passage is often misunderstood as a contrast between the new covenant and the old covenant, between Christians and Jews. Although space does not permit a lengthy explanation, the following sparse comments will help the diligent student see the apostle’s point. It may be helpful to read through Galatians 4 before considering the following comments.

In Galatians 4:22–31, Paul compares Ishmael to the Galatian Gentiles who are accepting the dogma that they must undergo a ritual proselyte conversion through means of circumcision in order to be reckoned covenant members with Israel. Like Ishmael, Paul says that they are “born according to the flesh;” (Galatians 4:23) specifically, the circumcision of their flesh.

According to the rabbinic dogma, a proselyte through ritual conversion is called a “son of Abraham.” Ishmael was indeed a son of Abraham, but he was not the promised son of Abraham. Instead, he was a son by law (legally). Paul compares those Galatian proselytes to children birthed from the covenant at Mount Sinai, where the Torah (law) was given. They are sons of Hagar and “under the law” because they have predicated their salvation upon observing a “work of the law;” that is, circumcision. On the other hand, Paul compares Isaac to the believing Gentiles who predicate their salvation and covenant status upon faith. Isaac is the son of the promise and legitimate heir of Abraham. As such, they are the sons of Sarah, Abraham’s “son by the free woman through the promise.” (Galatians 4:23) They are sons of Sarah in that they have based their salvation upon faith in the promise of God. Therefore, the two covenants being contrasted are not the new covenant and the old covenant. They are the Abrahamic covenant and the Sinai covenant, both of which are parts of Torah. Furthermore, the contrast is not between Jews and Christians, it is between Gentile believers who choose to undergo ritual conversion to Judaism and Gentile believers who do not. Paul says of those who rely on faith, “And you brethren, like Isaac, are children of promise.” (Galatians 4:28)


Shavuah Tov!  Have a Good Week!

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