Psalms 1-10

“Those knowing your name will trust in you;
You will never abandon those seeking you, O Jehovah.”

~Psalm 9:10

God’s name is not an amulet that one can use to fend off evil.
Those who use God’s name with faith understand what it represents.
When one prophet asked God the meaning of His name, Jehovah, God replied, “I Will Become What I Choose to Become,” (Exo. 3:14).
Regarding this definition, the 2013 Appendix of the New World Translation says, “In Hebrew, the name Jehovah comes from a verb that means ‘to become,’ and a number of scholars feel that it reflects the causative form of that Hebrew verb.”

image

The pre-Babylonian and post-Babylonian Hebrew spellings of God's name. (Hebrew is read right to left).


In effect, Jehovah God can cause anything to become.
He can realize His promises to bless his servants.
Thus, ‘Jehovah becomes a secure refuge for the oppressed, a secure refuge in times of distress,’ (Psalm 9:9).

Exodus, chapters 19-22

Exodus 21:21~
“However, if he survives for one or two days, he is not to be avenged, because he is someone bought with his owner’s money.”

From a modern perspective, it makes no sense that the law God handed down to the Israelites through the hand of Moses would regulate slavery rather than abolish it.
After all, hadn’t God just finished a series of spectacular miracles, some at a great cost to human life, with the purpose of freeing them from slavery?
Although that was part of the reason, the main reason God had freed them was to fulfill the promises he had made to Abraham, their ancestor, (Exo. 2:23-25).
The readings from the last two weeks have highlighted the lack of faith the Israelites demonstrated as a whole during the exodus process.
Therefor it is not surprising that a practice common to their times, unfair as it was, would be engrained into their culture; similar to the practice of having more than one wife, which most people in modern Western civilization find objectionable.
God’s purpose never was for slavery to exist, for 1,500 years later Peter arrived at the correct conclusion when he stated: “Now I truly understand that God is not partial, but in every nation the man who fears him and does what is right is acceptable to him,” (Acts 10:34,35).
It would take a very long time to adjust the erroneous thinking of the people of ancient Israel, and most Jews never accepted the new law as prescribed by Christ (Matt. 22:37-40).
In the mean time, God did set forth a set of rules to regulate forced labor.
The Hebrew word e′vedh can mean slave or servant, depending on the context,(Insight on the Scriptures, volume 2).
Hebrews sold into slavery were freed in the seventh year of their servitude, or in the year of the Jubilee, which occurred every 50 years, depending on which came first, and their master had to give them a parting gift for them to start a new life (Exo. 21:2; Deut. 15:13-15).
Female Hebrew slaves were to either become concubines to their masters or legal wives to their sons with all the inheritance rights therein, otherwise they were to be set free. They could not be sold to foreigners (Exo. 21:7-11).
Adult human trafficking of others was illegal and punishable by death (Exo. 21:16).
With that in mind, I will return to the text I cited at the beginning.
Did the law give less value to the life of a slave than to the life of a free person?
If a master injured his/her slave with a non-lethal instrument and the person took more than two days to die, that would indicate the master did not have murder as an intention.
Furthermore, the master would be at an economic loss if the slave did die.
That is why the law protected the master from being avenged if the slave died under these circumstances.
However, if the slave was maimed, he was to be set free (Exo. 21:26,27).
If the slave did die within two days, the master was to be put to death without fail, (Lev. 24:17).
It is not my intention to justify slavery under Mosaic Law. I believe the law came from Jehovah and it was applicable to that culture and time. If they heeded God’s law, their community would benefit and behave more justly than other nations were behaving at that particular point in time.
After all, Jehovah’s wisdom is unquestionable, having “made out of one man every nation of men to dwell on the entire surface of the earth, and he decreed the appointed times and the set limits of where men would dwell, so that they would seek God,” (Acts 17:26).

Exodus, chapters 1-6

When she was no longer able to conceal him, she took a papyrus basket and coated it with bitumen and pitch and put the child in it and placed it among the reeds by the bank of the Nile River.

~Exodus 2:3

Moses’ mother, Jochebed, had no idea what would happen to her baby once she placed him in the water.

The instructions given to the Egyptians were clear: “You are to throw every newborn son of the Hebrews into the Nile River […]” (Exo. 1:22).

To go against Pharaoh’s orders back then would be today’s equivalent of committing a federal felony. Only Pharaoh was considered to be a god and so he had the power to execute people at will.

Still, Jochebed took her chances and concealed her baby boy for three months.

When she had done all she could, she commended him to Jehovah God and sent his sister to watch and see what would happen to him.

I try to imagine what they must have felt. Was it resignation? Fear? Firm faith? Or a mixture of all three?

Nowadays, it may happen that we are asked by an authority figure to do something inappropriate or unethical.

In those cases, it will be wise to follow Jochebed’s example and do what is right.

What happens after that may be a matter of circumstance, or if God sees it fit, He will intervene.

As we all know, in Moses’ case, things worked out, for Pharaoh’s daughter found him, felt compassion for him, and then hired his own mother to nurse him until he was old enough to be adopted by her and live among royalty.

“She named him Moses [meaning: ‘Drawn Out,’ that is, saved out of the water] and said: ‘It is because I have drawn him out of the water,’” (Exo. 2:10).

Little did they know that 80 years later, God would use Moses to intervene and save in a much greater manner.

Genesis, chapters 36-39

~Genesis 38:26

Then Judah examined them and said: “She is more righteous than I am…”

Judah was pretty set on executing his twice-widowed daughter-in-law, Tamar, when he found out she had prostituted herself (Gen. 38:24).

After her second husband died, he deceitfully promised her she could marry his third son once he was old enough (Gen. 38:11).

This was a common Hebrew practice, termed “brother-in-law marriage,” realized to preserve the first husband’s lineage (Gen. 38:8; Deut. 25:5,6). This arrangement also served to provide materially for women who otherwise might end up in dire poverty.

But when Judah’s son came of age, Judah was afraid he would also die so he did not keep his promise to Tamar.

When she realized she had been lied to, she disguised herself as a prostitute and had sexual relations with Judah, who by then was also a widow (Gen. 38:14-16).

Tamar was cunning enough to ask him for some of his personal belongings which she later used to hold him accountable for his actions (Gen. 38:18,25).

The lesson I wish to point out is that although Judah had acted shamefully, he readily admitted he had been wrong.

Judah was a prominent man, eventually receiving his father’s blessing. This was a privilege since only one of his father’s 12 sons could become an ancestor to the Messiah (Gen. 49:10).

Even so, he did not use his influence to hide his error or to crush the woman who brought it to light, thus setting an example for future leaders who likewise make grave mistakes.

Genesis, chapters 29-31

Genesis 29:18~

Jacob had fallen in love with Rachel, so he said: “I am willing to serve you seven years for your younger daughter Rachel.”

This is a point a couple friends of mine made:

Young people shouldn’t be in a hurry to start dating or to find “the right person” because true love is patient and if two people really love each other, it doesn’t matter how long it takes them to wind up together, they are willing to wait.

Genesis 29:32~

So Le′ah became pregnant and gave birth to a son and named him Reu′ben, for she said: “It is because Jehovah has looked upon my affliction, for now my husband will begin to love me.”

And so the race for who could bare the most children begun, for somehow Jacob, who had originally set out to marry Rachel, wound up with 4 wives.

(If you are unfamiliar with the story, what happened is that Jacob was tricked into marrying Leah. He signed up to work another 7 years to get permission to marry Rachel. Rachel was barren and so she gave him her servant to have kids in lieu of her. Leah didn’t want to be left behind so she also gave Jacob her own servant. {Gen. 29:25-27; Gen. 30:3,4; Gen. 30:9}).

The point I want to highlight is that even today, women seem to be under this false illusion that if they have a man’s child or children, he will automatically love her, as if there were something someone could do to project love out of someone else.

In this case I am referring to romantic love.

But, as we saw from the first passage, love is something that flows naturally from one’s self. It cannot be forced or shut off or transferred into a third person.

A lot of women today, especially in my own Latin culture, get themselves pregnant hoping this way their boyfriends will want to marry them.

That is not how love or marriage works. These relationships tend to fall apart within the first ten years leaving deep emotional and financial scars.

On an opposite note, Genesis 30, verses 1 and 2, read:

When Rachel saw that she had borne no children to Jacob, she became jealous of her sister and began to say to Jacob: “Give me children or else I will die.”  At this Jacob’s anger flared up against Rachel, and he said: “Am I in the place of God, who has prevented you from having children?”

Even when you are deeply in love with someone, this doesn’t mean you will be in perfect synchronization or pure bliss, or that you will never need to confront their flaws.

On occasion it will be entirely normal to “flare up in anger” and argue, because we are all imperfect and different.

That doesn’t nullify or subtract from true love in any way. True love endures and becomes more refined.

The moral of all this:

One wife is more than enough. 😉

Genesis, chapters 21-24

Genesis 24:17-20

At once the servant ran to meet her and said: “Please give me a little sip of water from your jar.” In turn she said: “Drink, my lord.” With that she quickly lowered her jar upon her hand and gave him a drink. When she finished giving him a drink, she said: “I will also draw water for your camels until they are done drinking.” So she quickly emptied her jar into the drinking trough and ran again and again to the well to draw water, and she kept drawing water for all his camels.

This passage is about Rebekah and the time Abraham’s servant traveled approximately 500 miles (800 km) to meet someone like her.
Earlier, Abraham’s servant had prayed to Jehovah God that the woman who might offer him a drink of water and also water his camels should be the woman divinely indicated to marry Abraham’s son, Isaac (Gen. 24:12-14).
Rebekah was unaware of this prayer when she carried out this laborious yet hospitable task.
She was also unaware that the man was a servant of Abraham, a relative of hers. This would make him a worshiper of the same deity as her family’s.
What struck me as interesting though is that Rebekah herself had servants- at least two (Gen. 24:61).
Even so, she was not stuck-up or lazy. She carried her own weight and had a kind serving attitude toward others.
Certainly she deserved to partake in the divine covenants, as she was a fine example of what a potential wife should look like.

Genesis 24:57,58

So they said: “Let us call the young woman and inquire of her.” They called Re·bek′ah and said to her: “Will you go with this man?” She replied: “I am willing to go.”

I want to include this other point because I recently read a series of articles that talked about forced marriage of women, often times minors, and how their families go so far as killing them when the brides refuse to uphold the arrangements.

It is striking that around 4,000 years ago women like Rebekah who belonged to her culture enjoyed a right denied to some modern women today.

Genesis, chapters 11-16

Genesis 14:11-16~

Then the victors took all the goods of Sod′om and Go·mor′rah and all their food and went on their way. They also took Lot, the son of A′bram’s brother who was dwelling in Sodom, as well as his goods, and they continued on their way.
After that a man who had escaped came and told A′bram the Hebrew. […]
Thus A′bram heard that his relative had been taken captive. With that he mobilized his trained men, 318 servants born in his household, and went in pursuit up to Dan. […]
He recovered all the goods, and he also recovered Lot his relative, his goods, the women, and the other people.

What I learned:

In this passage, the loyalty of Abram (later Abraham) is center stage as he valiantly steps up to the plate in the search and rescue of his relatives who were being held hostage.
Although it had been Lot who had decided to move his household into the area that wound up being a war zone, Abram pro-actively and without any self-interest or hesitation resolved to organize a campaign to save them.
Abram’s loyalty reminds me of the loyalty God feels for us when we are in trouble and out of options.
“Give thanks to Jehovah, for he is good;
His loyal love endures forever.”
(1 Chron. 16:34).
He is also a God of action, and even when someone falls into the most helpless of states- that is death- he promises to raise them in the resurrection.
“Your dead will live…” (Isa. 26:19).