Noahide Seven Commandments Torah classes
© 2016 by Rabbi Zvi Aviner
Torah Class THEFT-7/Who could inherit Abraham?
And Abram traveled in the Land (Genesis 12: 6)
All Nations relate to Abraham
As soon as Abraham arrived at the Holy Land, he travelled through it “as an owner who checks his parcel’s borders” (Midrash.) The Owner of the Universe had given him this Land, and now he implemented his ‘possession’ by walking through it.
There was one seemingly unsurpassable biological obstacle to this vision: he had been promised by the Merciful YHVH to have “Children, Wealth and Fame,” yet he had no child. He was 75 y old, his wife Sarah 65, so their prospect of bearing a child was slim indeed.
But an ‘heir’ can be anyone worthy of it. Would he find a qualified person or a group of people who could inherit him? This was on his mind as he travelled through the land. On his way he encountered many (seven) peoples whom he examined carefully.
Interestingly, these people whom he encountered are presented in a specific way: according to their IDOLATRY level. They are presented from the bottom up, the lowest ones at first then the higher ones, who were close to him and could have become his heir.
And even more interestingly is the fact that all the stories revolve around THEFT, ABDUCTION and SLAVERY. This is not incidental, for a person who believed in G-d as the Owner of The Universe. Since the CREATOR is also our OWNER, righteous OWNERSHIP is paramount. THEFT means denying the ownership of the CREATOR.
Let’s note that back in Syria, Abraham could not scrutinize the inhabitants or change their faith. In Syria he was not an owner, and he had therefore no right to intervene in their lives.
Not so in the Holy Land. Here he was the owner, given to him by the OWNER of the Universe. Here he was the LAND-LORD; the Master of the House. This did not mean that he had the right to raise his sword against the tenants or to chase them away. His children, Israel, would have to wait in Egypt four hundred years for the “Sin of the Emorites to ripe.” But as the Landlord appointed by the Owner of the Universe he had the right at least to measure the tenants whether or not they kept the Seven Commandments of Noah. He did not want them to be “Jewish.” All he wanted them was to comply with the minimum moral values reflected in the Noahide Laws.
Note that unlike other ‘religions,’ neither Abraham nor his seed Israel have sought to examine and change the faith of other peoples beyond the Holy Land. Even King David who ruled over territories around the Holy Land did not aspire to change them, beside ASKING them to comply with the Seven Laws of Noah.
He carried the Schechina on his shoulders
Abraham did not travel the Holy Land alone, by himself. On the verse “And Abraham passed through the land…” (Genesis 12: 6) the Midrash points out that the Hebrew word for ‘passed through,’ Va-Yaavor, can be read as ‘passed in front,’ as if Abraham passed ahead of someone else. Who could that someone be? The Midrash says: Abraham passed ‘ahead’ of the Shekhinah of YHVH. The Schekhinah “rode on his shoulders.” And so would Isaac and Jacob do. Hence the saying that “The Patriarchs were like a chariot for the Shechinah.” (Midrash)
Thus while traveling in the Land, the Shekhinah of YHVH rodeo on his shoulders, EXAMINING and assessing the inhabitants in comparison to Abraham. Would anyone be qualified to be Abraham’s heir? Would anyone be qualified even to live side by side Abraham in the Holy Land?
As we’ve said, the inhabitants whom Abraham met in his journey through the Holy Land are presented according to their IDOLATRY level. In addition, these meetings revolve around THEFT.
It is therefore not incidental that while passing through the Holy Land, Abraham engaged in CHARITY, which is the opposite of THEFT. Wherever he traveled, he built an altar and “called YHVH’s name.” He also “Planted a cedar tree, which he called in the name of YHVH,” (Genesis 12: 7-8.) This cedar tree, Eshel in Hebrew, isan acronym for “Food, Drink and Hospitality.” He built “kitchens, hotels and hospitals” for the poor, to cater for them free. This way he implemented what YHVH is asking form us to do. In those places Abraham asked the people to give thanks to the Owner of the World, YHVH ELKM. The prophet therefore calls him “Abraham, my lover” (Isaiah 21)
The phrase “he called in the name of YHVH” reminds us the Enosh who also called YHVH’s name. But whereas Enosh desecrated YHVH Name by calling Her LONE, forgetting ELKM, thereby SEPARATING THE GLUED ONES, Abraham was careful to abide by YHVH ELKM Oneness. In fact, his last test, the binding of Isaac, was all about whether or not he ALSO followed ELKM.
Now who are the seven categories of peoples that Abraham encountered in his travelling through the Holy Land?
ABRAHAM MEETING SEVEN CATEGORIES OF NATIONS
1: The Canaanites
The first peoples mentioned in Abraham’s travel, are the Canaanites as it says:
“And Abraham passed in the land…
And the Canaanite was then in the Land,” (Genesis 12: 6)
The Canaanites’ spiritual level was at the bottom. They excelled in poetry, craftsmanship, music and trading, but they worshipped idols of wood and stones, tall mountains and magnificent trees. They also practiced Sacred Prostitution in their temples for the Ashtoreth, the goddess of fertility. And worst: they offered their firstborn sons to the idol Molech to be burned by fire. Among the seven categories that Abraham met, they set at the bottom of faith.
For many years it was believed, that the Molech idol worshipping involved only passing the children between two bonfires. But recent archeology findings in Northern Africa unraveled the Molech’s statue surrounded by burnt children’s bones.
Engaged in Organized Theft
In addition, the verse says that “the Canaanites were then in the land,” (Genesis 12: 6.) Rashi comments: “The Canaanites at that time were conquering the land from the hands of the Semitic Emorites.” The Canaanites, descendants of Ham, had no business in settling the Holy Land which had been allocated by Noah to his son Shem. Hence the Canaanites engaged in the business of the day: ORGANIZED THEFT, stealing land of other nations by the sword.
Abraham, the descendant of Shem, was more qualified to own the Holy Land than the Canaanites. Yet he did not attempt to take it by a sword. Instead, he would purchase land from Emoriates with good money. To burry Sarah.
2: Next: Abraham and ‘Pharaoh’
The second of the seven groups that Abraham encountered was the Egyptians, as it says:
“And there was hunger in the land.
So Abraham went down to Egypt to dwell there…” (Genesis 12:10)
The scholars hold that Abraham did not go down to deep Egypt, but rather to a northern district close to the Holy Land, ruled by a powerful local Egyptian governor. The name Pharaoh actually means “a great house.” The historians tell us that in the era around 1900 BC powerful Semitic tribes, Habiru, invaded Egypt from North. It is possible that the Pharaoh mentioned here was a Semitic Habiru.
You know the story. In short, the Egyptians ABDUCTED beautiful Sarah and took her to Pharaoh. YHVH then plagued Pharaoh and his household and he did not consummate any relationship with Sarah. He then let her go free, giving Abraham plenty of gifts.
Many commentators see the story as a prelude for the story of Exodus.
But one can simply examine the story in the context of Abraham’s traveling.
The Egyptian’s faith was one step above the Canaanites. They were idol worshippers for sure, yet they did not sacrifice children to the Molech. They worshipped death and practiced witchcraft, and indulged in sexually promiscuous and homosexuality. “Men marries men, women married women, which is called the Filth of Egypt,” (Midrash.)
So here again the Torah presents the Egyptians in the context of ABDUCTION and THEFT. Sarah was abducted for Pharaoh. Later, Israel would be enslaved by force.
In the eyes of Abraham, the only OWNER is the CREATOR. Theft and abduction are cardinal sins against the true ONWER.
3: Next: Abraham’s nephew, Lot
Until now Abraham met pagans. From here on he would meet peoples who either knew of followed THE SEVEN NOAHIDE COMMANDMENTS. Their faith is presented in ascending order. IN addition, they all involve in a sort of THEFT. Could any of these groups become Abraham’s heir?
Next to the Egyptians, the Torah mentions Abraham’s nephew, Lot, as it says:
“And to Lot too, who walked with Abraham,
was sheep and cattle and the land could not carry them together……
And Abram said to Lot: let there be no strife, I say to you…
Separate yourself from me, I pray you,
If you take the left hand then I shall go to the right,
If you will take the right hand, I shall go to the left….
So Abraham settled in the land of Canaan, while Lot settled in the plain,
and his pitched his tent as far as SODOM….” (Genesis 13: 6-12)
Lot, a Noahide who regressed
Lot was among the group of faithful disciples that followed Abraham and Sarah to the Holy Land. His father, Haran, was a martyr for the Seven Commandments of Noah, being thrown alive to the burning oven of Ur. Abraham survived the test, but his brother Haran perished.
Lot followed Abraham. But at some point, he changed. The Torah tells us that a ‘strife’ erupted between Abraham and Lot’s herdsmen. Abraham’s men discovered that Lot’s men were STEALING water from the local philistines. For Abraham, this was a cardinal sin. He and Lot would not live together side by side.
So, Abraham says to Lot: “If you go to the right, I’d go to the left; if you go to the left I would go to the right”. Abraham totally separated himself from Lot.
Lot then settled in Sodom, the capital city of stealing. There he became a Sodomite Judge. He adapted the Sodomite ways. His daughters, as seen later, became Sodomite whores.
The Sodomite were NOT idol worshipers. We’ll discuss their faith later. In that sense, Lot fit well into their culture. Lot too did not worship idols, but he reverted from Abraham pure faith to the faith of the Sodomites. He also engaged in stealing. Lot could have become Abraham’s legitimate heir, had he not departed to Sodom.
Abraham separated himself from Lot. Later Moses too would forbid any intermarriage between Lot’s descendant, Moab, and Israel.
But the Shekhinah of YHVH, who rode on Abraham’s shoulders, saw this differently.
From Lot would descend Ruth the Moabite, the grandmother of King David.
4: Next: Abraham meets the people of Sodom
“And the people of Sodom were
evil and sinners to YHVH, exceedingly” (Genesis 13: 13)
The fourth group that Abraham met in the Holy Land was the People of Sodom, whom the Torah describes as “Exceedingly evil and sinners to YHVH.” Rashi explains: “exceedingly evil: they knew YHVH and yet rebelled against Her (Him.)”
We are no longer dealing here with pagans. The Sodomites’ faith was higher than the Canaanites or the Egyptians. They somehow “KNEW YHVH, yet rebelled against Her.” Hence, they were ‘exceedingly cruel, uncompassionate, unmerciful and unforgiving’ ON PURPOSE, in rebellion against YHVH whom they knew.
How did the Sodomites arrive at their weird culture? The commentators present several options:
1. They retained the ancient teaching of Noah, about YHVH, yet rebelled against it
2. They discovered YHVH on their own and rebelled against it; a very unlikely explanation.
3. They learned about YHVH from Noah’s son, Shem, and rebelled against it. A very likely explanation, since Shem lived nearby in his Torah Academy of Jeru-Salem.
What characterized the Sodomites was their rebellion against MERCY while sticking to ELKM’s Law. Unlike what you see in Hollywood’s movies, they did not necessarily indulge in sexual orgies, but rather in CRUEL deeds. We’ll discuss Sodom later in due course. Here it is important to note their mode of THEFT.
The Sodomites knew that stealing less than a minimal value is not punishable. Thus a group of Sodomite thieves ransacked a wealthy person’s home, being careful that each thieve would take less than a minimum. Together however they emptied the house. When brought before the Sodomite Judge, he praised them for observing the law so carefully! Thus they did not enraged ELKM, as they did enrage YHVH!
br>The NAZIS too knew the Bible yet rebelled against it, claiming that the Jewish people poisoned their “Arian nature” by their bible. The ’SS’ stands for Sodomite Society.
Later Abraham would reject any offer from the King of Sodom to share with him any loot. Abraham was afraid that the king would say that he enriched Abraham. In other words: Abraham denied any connection to THEFT.
5: next: Abraham and his close Allies
We ascend in the level of faith. Would any of the new people that Abraham met qualify to be Abraham’s heir?
After the Sodomites, Abraham met a group called “Abraham allies,” as it says:
“Then Abram pitched his tents and came
and dwelled in the Groves of Mamreh (Hebron)
and there he built an Altar to YHVH…”
The three Emorites: Aner, Eshkol and Mamreh, are called “Abraham’s Allies” (Genesis 14:13) since they adapted Abraham’s faith and abided by the Seven Laws of Noah. Potentially, they could become Abraham’s heirs.
The Midrash says that indeed, they aspired to do so. Unfortunately, they failed the THEFT test when they took a share in a loot, something that Abraham adamantly refused to do (Genesis 14: 24.) This alone set them apart from Abraham.
War between Empires
The Torah devotes several chapters to describe Abraham’s society and their ORGENAIZED THEFT. While Abraham was traveling in the Holy Land, a major war broke out between four mighty “kings of the North” who had subdued “five kings of the south,” including Sodom.
Thus, for twelve years the five kings of the south SERVED the northern four kings. On the thirteenth year they rebelled (Genesis 14:4.) The Northern allied came back to take the taxation by force. It was ORGENIZED THEFT per excellence.
The outcome was predictable: a total defeat for the south. The victorious kings captured peoples and property from Sodom, among them Lot, Abraham’s nephew.
Abraham the warrior
Hearing about the failure, Abraham took his household, and together with the his allies he redeemed the captives. Unlike his allies, he did not take anything from the loot. He only wished to release the abducted peoples.
6: Abraham and Malki Tzedek
The victorious Abraham was first greeted by “Malki Tzedek, the King of (Jeru) Salem” as it says:
“And Malki Tzedek, the King of Shalem (Salem) brought out bread and wine
And he was a priest to the El the Most-High
and he blessed him and said,
Blessed is Abram to the EL the Most High
Who Buys (Possesses) the Heaven and the Earth,
And blessed is El the Most High
who has delivered your enemies into your hands.
And he (Abraham) gave him a tenth of everything…” (Genesis 14: 18-20)
Who was Malki Tzedek?
He is “the King of (Jeru)Salem, a priest to El The Most High.”
To be considered a priest in Abraham’s eyes, Malki Zedek must have kept Noah’s Seven Commandments; otherwise Abraham would not give him a “tithe.”
As one of Abraham’s followers, he mentions “EL, the Most High, Who Buys (Possesses) the Heaven and the Earth. Malki Tzedek blesses Abraham by Abraham’s own vocabulary. The CREATOR is also the OWNER of the Heavens and the Earth.
But Malki Zedek made two fatal error☹( 1) He does not mention YHVH (20 he calls El as Supreme, inferring the existence of other, minor deities. He believed in G-d’s PARTNERS.
Abraham dinned with him, yet he would not qualify to be Abraham’s heir.
Some say that Malki Zedek was Noah’s son, Shem. This does not fit, since Shem would not made such grave spiritual errors.
7: Abraham’s fear and Eliezer
The seventh figure who is mentioned in Abraham’s journey is his trustworthy servant Eliezer. Abraham would later send him to seek a bride for Isaac. At this point in the story Abraham was struck by fear. Let’s remember that Isaac was not yet born. As it says:
“After these things that had happened
the words of YHVH came to Abram in a VISION saying,
Fear not Abram, I shall remain a shield for you,
Your compensation shall be immeasurable…” (Genesis 15: 1)
He feared what?
Some say he was struck by fear that he had exhausted his merits so that if the four Kings would come back against him in vengeance, no more miracles would happen to him (Rashi)
But from Abraham’s answer to YHVH, we see that his fear was about having no heir, as he says:
“What would you give me and I am childless,
And my household master is the Damascus Eliezer…”
Who was ELiezer?
He was among the faithful disciples of Abraham in Damascus, Syria, who followed Abraham to the Holy Land (Genesis 12: 5.) The name “Damascus” can also be read as “the one who poured waters from his master to the peoples,” meaning he became a known teacher of Abraham’s faith.
As such, he was qualified to be Abraham’s heir. Why then was Abraham so fearful of this happening?
But there was another side of Eliezer. On the verse: “Abraham said to his old servant who controls everything he had”(Genesis 24: 2) the Midrash remarks that “Eliezer resembled Abraham” so much that people sometimes mistook them from each other.
But when Abraham made Eliezer swear to bring a bride from his family (Genesis 28: 3) the rabbis noted that “Eliezer was a CHEATER.” He wished his own daughter to marry Isaac. But this was only a flag, showing that deeply in his heart he did not follow Abraham’s faith. He wished only to steal Abraham’s posture and wealth.
In fact, after the passing away of Abraham, Eliezer reverted to idolatry and disappeared from history. y possible heir was ELiezer, whom he suspected of trying to STEAL the leadership from him. No wonder that Abraham was so fearful of him taking over.
What would Abraham do now?
Who could become Abraham’s heir?
END OF THEFT 7