mountains of Samaria

Snapshot from the Daily Portion, Abraham’s Call, Yeshua’s Promise

mountains of SamariaIf you are not subscribed to the Daily Portion, let me tell you what it is. I send out an email each morning with the daily Torah reading and my commentary as well as a daily Gospel reading and my commentary. It has a daily reflection on a Hebrew word or phrase and a Greek word or phrase. It has a thought of the day. It is in a format which allows you to spend 10 seconds or ten minutes reading, depending on the time you have or the interest you place in the topic. It’s free. There is a link at bottom to subscribe. Here is a snapshot, today’s Daily Portion about Abraham’s Call and Yeshua’s Promise.

Today’s Thought:
I will be writing this week, “Abraham: What’s So Great?” I remember when I was a 19 year old college student, with an atheist/agnostic background. C.S. Lewis had introduced me to Jesus. But my scripture reading up to that point had all been in the “Old Testament.” I knew so little. A concerned person at the church I started attending worried I was “not saved.” He told me to read the New Testament. The first verse floored me and changed my life: “The genealogy of Jesus Christ, the son of David, the son of Abraham.” I knew David. I knew Abraham. What I had not known until that moment is that Jesus was Jewish. I am now a convert to Judaism and have been for some time. That verse was a linchpin in the wheel of my life that has turned down the particular roads I have traveled. Abraham. The father of faith. The progenitor of the Jewish people. The friend of God. What’s so great about Abraham? Why the emphasis on him in Isaiah, in Jesus’ sayings, in Paul’s writing? What do Jewish sages say about him?

Today’s Hebrew:
nivrechoo vecha, נִבְרְכוּ בְךָ, either “will be blessed in you” or “will bless themselves by you.” Nivrechoo נִבְרְכוּ is a Niphal Perfect verb from ברך. The Niphal pattern can have a passive meaning (“will be blessed in you”) or reflexive (“will bless themselves by you”). The difference is significant. If it is the reflexive meaning, then the verse is saying many non-Jews will point to Abraham as the standard of a blessed life (“May I be as fortunate as Abraham”). But if it is passive, the meaning is deeper, God will bring covenant love to non-Jewish peoples through the nation descended from Abraham. Divine blessing will flow through the Jewish people to the world.

Today’s Greek:
makarioi Μακάριοι, “blessed are” or “how fortunate are.” Corresponds to the Hebrew ashrei אַשְׁרֵי, as in Isaiah 30:18, “blessed are all those who wait for him,” and Psalm 84:4, “Blessed are those who dwell in your house.” Ashrei אַשְׁרֵי is used 41 times in the Hebrew Bible. It describes a condition of wholeness, of having found the good which is the desire of human beings. Yeshua’s makarioi Μακάριοι sayings all have a twist. They are the unexpected. Those who seem to have received the down side of life find blessing somehow. How is that? It is in knowing about the rule of God. Knowledge of the true outcome of this world makes you and I fortunate beyond measure. We live in the shadow of the light of divine glory even in the darkness of divine silence. The light may be hidden so that we are “poor in spirit,” downtrodden, hungry for justice in this world of oppression, and even mourning the lack we find in life. Yet we are most fortunate in knowing certain hope.

Today’s Torah Portion and Commentary: Genesis 12:1-13.
God initiates a covenant with Abram (1-3), Abram journeys with Sarai and Lot (4-5), Shechem and the altar there (6-7), Bethel’s altar and on to the Negev (8-9), famine during which Abram tries to pass Sarai off as his sister (10-13).

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Today’s Gospel and Commentary: Matthew 5:1-16
Yeshua speaks to his disciples with a crowd in the background (1-2), the Beatitudes (3-12), disciples as salt and light (13-16).

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