From: Messianic Bible
Sent: Saturday, February 11, 2012 1:42 PM
Subject: On eagles’ wings: Shabbat Shalom Bjoern, this week’s Torah Portion is Yitro (Jethro)
Carried on the wings of eagles…
Welcome to Yitro (Jethro), this week’s Parsha (Torah Portion).
Please read with us this portion of Torah that will be read in synagogues
around the world during this week’s Shabbat (Saturday) service. We know
you will be blessed!
Parsha Yitro (Jethro)
Exodus 18:1–20:23; Isaiah 6:1–7:6; 9:5-6; Matthew 5:8–20
“Now Yitro (Jethro), the priest of Midian and father-in-law of Moses, heard
of everything God had done for Moses and for his people Israel, and how
the Lord had brought Israel out of Egypt.” (Exodus 18:1)
Orthodox Jewish men reading from the Torah at
the Western (Wailing) Wall in Jerusalem.
Last week we studied God’s dramatic rescue of the children of Israel from
Egypt, the land of bondage and slavery. God’s intention, however, was not
just to bring His people out of misery, but to lead and guide them to their
final destination: the Promised Land, a land flowing with milk and honey, a
place of abundance.
The name of this week’s Torah study, Yitro (Jethro), comes from the
Hebrew root yeter, meaning abundant or exceedingly abundant.
While we are often limited by the confines of our own imagination, God is
able to do exceedingly abundantly (yeter) more than we could ever ask or
think or imagine! (Ephesians 3:20)
An expanse of sunflowers in Israel
Delegate or Burnout
“Moses told his father-in-law about everything the Lord had done to
Pharaoh and the Egyptians for Israel’s sake and about all the hardships they
had met along the way and how the Lord had saved them.” (Exodus 18:8)
When Yitro, who was the priest of Midian and Moses’ father-in-law, heard
of all the great and wonderful things God had done for Israel, he realized
that the God of Israel was the true One God of the universe. Yitro
rejoiced, worshiped God, and offered a sacrifice to Him.
“‘Now I know that the Lord is greater than all other gods, for He did
this to those who had treated Israel arrogantly.’ Then Jethro, Moses’
father-in-law, brought a burnt offering and other sacrifices to God, and
Aaron came with all the elders of Israel to eat a meal with Moses’
father-in-law in the presence of God.” (Exodus 18: 11–12)
Jethro and Moses, by James Tissot
But when Yitro saw that Moses stood from morning till night single-handedly
settling Israel’s disputes, he realized that his son-in-law was at risk of a burnout.
Yitro understood that the effort Moses made on behalf of the people was
putting an excessive strain on him.
Though we’ve come to think of “burnout” as a modern phenomenon, it isn’t,
and Yitro was wise enough to confront Moses and give him some sage advice.
“What you are doing is not good. You and these people who come to you
will only wear yourselves out. The work is too heavy for you; you cannot
handle it alone.” (Exodus 18:17)
He advised Moses to teach the people God’s decrees and instructions
(Torah), and show them how to live godly lives. He also counseled him to
judge only the difficult issues, leaving the easier ones to capable,
trustworthy leaders that Moses would select.
The lesson for us is obvious: If we persist in trying to handle everything
ourselves, we may never get to the truly important things we are meant to
do; but if we learn to delegate, not only will our stress be relieved, but we
will also make way for others to serve, using their unique gifts and talents.
Lifting the Torah at the Western (Wailing) Wall in Jerusalem
On Eagles’ Wings: God’s Personal Protection
“You yourselves have seen what I did to Egypt, and how I carried you
(va’esa eschem) on eagles’ wings and brought you to myself.” (Exodus 19:4)
In this parsha, God says that He brought the Jewish People to Himself
“on eagles’ wings.”
This metaphoric language is rich in meaning.
The eagle (nesher in Hebrew) is protective of its young. While the mother
eagle is training the young to fly, she sometimes flies under them with her
wings spread out to catch them if they fall.
Likewise, God brought out the Jewish People in such a way that He
personally watched over their fledgling attempts at living in covenant and
communion with Him.
The word nesher, however, can also be translated as griffin vulture. This
vulture flies higher than the eagle, and is wonderfully graceful in the air.
On the wing: Once very common in Israel, the largest population of Griffon
vultures in Israel can now be observed at the Gamla Nature Reserve,
which is in the central Golan Heights. This vulture is monogamous and
females lay only one egg per year. Both members of the pair participate
equally in caring for the egg, and change places every day or two.
Furthermore, va’esa eschem (I carried you) is sometimes translated as I
An alternative translation of Exodus 19:4, therefore, is the following:
“You have seen what I did to the Egyptians, and how I elevated you on the
wings of nesharim, and brought you to Myself.”
The phrase “on vultures’ wings” doesn’t sound poetic to speakers of English,
especially in light of the fact that many deem vultures loathsome creatures.
But when one considers this alternative translation, we understand that God,
through His miraculous redemption, raised the Jewish People as a nation to
spiritual heights that were abundantly above anything in the natural world.
This verse speaks to the personal, tender nature of God’s deliverance of the
Jewish People out of Egypt. Not only was their way paved and guarded by
the pillar of cloud and fire, but they were brought into covenant and
communion with God.
Yemenite Jews on rescue planes bringing them to the Promised Land of Israel
In the course of Operation Magic Carpet (1949-1950), the entire community
of Yemenite Jews (called Teimanim, about 49,000) immigrated to Israel.
Most of them had never seen an airplane before, but they believed that
Isaiah 40:31 spoke to God’s promised to return the children of Israel to Zion
“on wings of eagles.”
On Eagles’ Wings: Modern-Day Deliverance
“…those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength. They will soar on
wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and
not be faint.” (Isaiah 40:31)
Exodus 19:4 has a modern-day parallel.
On the heels of the Holocaust, Jews emigrated from Europe to Israel.
Following the 1947 United Nations Partition Plan, however, the situation for
Jews living in the Arab world became progressively more dangerous.
In Yemen and Syria, Arab pograms (violent riots of looting, killing and
raping) were launched against the Jewish People.
In 1948, when Israel declared itself a nation, the situation grew even worse,
and the violence spread. The steady trickle of Jews fleeing Arab countries
became a river and by the early 1970s, approximately a million Jews left,
fled, or were expelled from their homes in Arab countries.
In response to an increasingly perilous situation for the Yemenite Jewish
community, Israel organized an airlift, officially code-named On Wings of
Eagles (nicknamed Operation Magic Carpet) after the verse in this week’s
parsha verse: I carried you on eagles’ wings (Exodus 19:4).
A happy Yemeni Jew giving the sign of success.
This rescue, which was carried out in secret between June 1949 and
September 1950, was not made public until several months after its
Most of these Yemenite Jews had never seen such a thing as an airplane or
even an automobile and were afraid to board the planes. The air force
pilots were worried about what they might do onboard.
But instead of panicking, they sat calmly after their rabbi explained the
promise in the word of God to carry them on the wings of an eagle. And
here were the Eagles’ wings provided to carry them back to Zion.
In total, 48,000 Jews were flown from Yemen to Israel. By September
1950, Yemen was largely empty of Jews. The eagle could rest.
In honor of this daring secret operation, a street in Jerusalem and another in
Herzliyah has been named Kanfei Nesharim (Wings of Eagles).
The Children of Israel at the foot of Mount Sinai, where
Moses received the Ten Commandments.
The Ten Commandments
“On the morning of the third day there was thunder and lightning, with a
thick cloud over the mountain, and a very loud trumpet blast.” (Exodus 19:16)
The visible symbol of the divine presence of God, the pillar of cloud by day
and of fire by night, accompanied the Children of Israel on their way through
the desert (Exodus 13:21–22).
But when the Israelites reached Mount Sinai, there was something more:
God spoke to the nation of Israel from a dense cloud, and there was loud
thunder and lightning and the sounding of the shofar.
While flames of fire enveloped the smoking mountain of Sinai, His majestic
voice pronounced the Ten Commandments that to this day are still
considered relevant, and a guide of conduct for all of humankind.
The first five commandments deal with our relationship with God. The
second five deal with our relations with our neighbor.
Yeshua summed up these 10 mitzvot (commandments), indeed the entire
Torah, with the following: “’Love the Lord your God with all your heart and
with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind’ and
‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’” (Luke 10:27)
This 1768 parchment by Jekuthiel Sofer emulated the 1675
Ten Commandments at the Amsterdam Esnoga synagogue.
“We will do everything the Lord has said.” (Exodus 19:8)
At Mount Sinai, the Jewish People entered into a covenant with God
willingly and enthusiastically.
The conditions of the covenant were laid out and the responsibilities of each
party clearly specified.
What took place between God and Israel at Mount Sinai may be likened to
a marriage ceremony.
In a Jewish wedding ceremony, the conditions of the covenant between the
bride and groom are written in the ketubah, the Jewish marriage contract.
A Jewish bride signing the ketubah during the wedding ceremony
The cloud at Sinai was the chuppah, the marriage canopy, under which the
Jewish bride enters into the covenantal relationship of marriage with her bridegroom.
At Mount Sinai, God clearly states His expectations of His bride, and what
He is prepared to offer. Israel, His bride, said, “I do.”
Every bride is given a token as a sign that she is betrothed. What was the
token of betrothal God gave to Israel?
It is the Shabbat. God said it will be a ‘sign’ between Him and the people
God also gave to His bride a wedding gift: the land of Israel.
Under the Chuppah: Orthodox Jewish wedding in Vienna
The Shavuot (The Feast of Weeks)/ Pentecost Connection
“‘This is the covenant I will make with the people of Israel after that
time,’ declares the Lord. ‘I will put my Torah in their minds and write it
on their hearts.’” (Jeremiah 31:33)
According to Jewish tradition, the Ten Commandments were given on
Shavuot (Feast of Weeks), which is the exact same time that the Ruach
HaKodesh (Holy Spirit) descended upon the disciples with a supernatural
manifestation of speaking in other tongues (Pentecost)!
If we truly want to be ‘living epistles,’ and walking, breathing Torahs, as we
are called to be, we need to be empowered by Ruach HaKodesh in our
“You show that you are a letter from Messiah, the result of our ministry,
written not with ink but with the Spirit of the living God, not on tablets of
stone but on tablets of human hearts.” (2 Corinthians 3:3)
We long for the day when we will see God’s Torah written on every Jewish
person’s heart. We hope you will partner with Bibles For Israel in hastening that day.
Preparing to read the Torah at the Western (Wailing) Wall in Jerusalem
Our prayer for you this week, Bjoern, is that the Lord will renew your
strength and protect you with His outstretched wings, and that you will
“soar on the wings like eagles”.
Shabbat Shalom and Shavua Tov (have a good week) from all our ministry staff.
“I will bless those that bless Israel.” (Genesis 12:3)
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