From: Messianic Bible
Sent: Saturday, March 03, 2012 1:26 PM
Welcome to Tetzaveh (You Command), this week’s Parsha (Torah Portion).
Please read with us this portion of Torah that will be read around the world in
synagogues during this week’s Shabbat (Saturday) service. We know you will
TETZAVEH (You Command)
Exodus 27:20–30:10; Deuteronomy 25:17–19; 1 Samuel 15: 2–34; Hebrews 13:10-16
This week’s Parsha coincides with Shabbat Zachor (remember), which is the
Shabbat immediately before Purim. Because of that, the following special
reading is added to the Parsha:
Remember what the Amalekites did to you along the way when you came out
of Egypt. … When the Lord your God gives you rest from all the enemies
around you in the land He is giving you to possess as an inheritance, you shall
blot out the name of Amalek from under heaven. Do not forget!
(Deuteronomy 25: 17–19)
Orthodox Jewish men reading the Torah at the
Western (Wailing) Wall in Jerusalem.
In last week’s Parsha, we read that God gave to Moses detailed instructions on
how to construct the Sanctuary and called for offerings from the Israelites to build it.
This week’s Parsha begins with the commandment to the children of Israel to
bring the pure olive oil for the menorah in the Mishkan (Sanctuary), so the
lamps in the Tent of Meeting burn continually.
“Command the Israelites to bring you clear oil of pressed olives for the light
so that the lamps may be kept burning.” (Exodus 27:20)
The above replica of the menorah that once stood in
the Holy Temple in Jerusalem was created by the
Temple Mount Institute. Its design is based upon
depictions in the archaeological record. The Institute
has made this menorah in pure gold in anticipation of
the building of the Third Temple.
Oil was also used in the priests’ ordination ceremony. Not only were the
priests’ head anointed with it, but they also presented to God a wave offering
of unleavened bread prepared with oil.
For the morning offering, the priests were to offer a year old lamb with the
finest of flour, oil from pressed olives, and wine.
The oil represents the anointing, which in Hebrew is the same root as Messiah
(Mashiach—the Anointed One) as in “Why do the nations rage… Against the
Lord and against His anointed (M’shichoh)” (Psalm 2:2).
The anointing has everything to do with the flow of the pure olive oil, which
represents two things:
1) The olive tree that represents peace (shalom).
2) The pure olive oil that represents the olives pressed to remove the bitter juices.
Harvesting olives in Israel
Olive oil production in Israel is an interesting process that has many life
lessons about our latent potential.
The workers come and spread out big sheets under the trees and then using
sticks, they beat the branches until the olives fall off. They are gathered in
the sheets and made into pure olive oil.
Just as the olives are beaten off the olive trees, gathered, and then squeezed
or ground up to obtain the oil, similarly, we are like them.
“The Lord called you a thriving olive tree with fruit beautiful in form.”
Just as it takes a serious beating to get those olives off the branches,
sometimes it feels like we are taking a beating in life, too.
Ancient olive press at Capernaum, Israel
In order to make the olives palatable and obtain the pure olive oil, the bitter
juices are ground and then squeezed in an olive press.
Since green olives produce a more bitter oil, they remain under the mill stone
for 30 or 40 minutes, or sometime a heavy rock, to extract the bitterness and
improve the flavor.
So too, do those bitter juices need to be pressed and squeezed out of us in
order that we can be used by the Lord.
And just as it took the finest and purest olive oil to light the lamps in the
Holy Temple, we too need the pure oil of the anointing to burn brightly for
So despite the beating, pressing and grinding that we experience, we should be
patient and not give up hope. The Book of James tells that we need to allow
patience to do its job when we are tested, so that we will be complete and
whole, lacking nothing in our characters (James 1:2-4).
Only then will we end up with enough of the pure olive oil to keep our lamps
lit until the break of day.
“The path of the righteous is like the shining sun, that shines every brighter
unto the perfect day.” (Proverbs 4:18)
The Ner Tamid (Eternal Light), which burns perpetually
in Jewish synagogues before or near the Aron HaKodesh
(Ark of the Law), represents the light that burned
continuously in the western section of the Holy Temple
in Jerusalem. It also reminds the congregants of God’s
providential care of the Jewish People.
As Believers, we must prepare ourselves in order that we will have enough oil
in our lamps to last until Yeshua’s (Jesus) return.
Perhaps, just like at the festival of Chanukah, it will take a miracle for
there to be enough oil to last the required time.
But even if we have just a little oil, just a little anointing, just enough to
light our lamp even a little bit, God can do a miracle and make it last until
He comes for us.
Like the five wise virgins in Yeshua’s parable in Matthew 25:1-13, we need
wisdom how to prepare for the time that we must wait, especially if the
Bridegroom is delayed.
Yeshua said, “And unless those days were shortened, none would survive; but for
the sake of the elect, the days will be shortened…. But he who endures to the
end shall be saved.” (Matthew 24:13, 21-22)
Chanukah commemorates the ousting of the
Greek-Syrian invaders from Israel by the Maccabees,
and the subsequent rededication of the Temple in
Jerusalem. The chanukiah celebrates the miracle
of a one-day supply of consecrated oil lasting eight
days, just long enough for the priests to process
the olive oil dedicated for Temple use.
Bitterness and the Anointing
If it feels like our light has gone out, then perhaps we should check if we
have allowed seeds of bitterness to take root in our heart. Bitterness will
prevent us from enjoying peace – with others, with ourselves and with God.
“Pursue peace with all people, and holiness… looking carefully lest anyone fall
short of the grace of God, lest any root of bitterness springing up cause
trouble, and by this many become defiled.” (Hebrews 12:14-15)
Bitterness, when allowed to take root and grow in our hearts, will not only
cause us trouble, it will also defile many around us, including our loved ones.
Sometimes trials and tribulations come into our lives to squeeze the bitterness
out of us. God may be that heavy rock that sits upon our lives until we are
purified and refined.
“I say to God my Rock, ‘Why have You forgotten me? Why must I go about
mourning, oppressed by the enemy?’” (Psalm 42:9)
Orthodox Jewish men reading from a Torah scroll
inside the synagogue of the Kotel (Western Wall).
Haftorah (Prophetic Portion)
“This is what the Lord Almighty says: ‘I will punish the Amalekites for what
they did to Israel when they waylaid them as they came up from Egypt.’” (1
The alternate Haftorah reading for the Shabbat Zachor (which means
“remember”), which precedes the Festival of Purim, recalls how Amalek, the
ruthless enemy of Israel, attacked them in the wilderness when they fled Egypt.
Not only did they attack Israel at Rephidim, they also resisted Israel’s
entrance into the Promised Land.
God therefore vowed to blot out the memory of Amalek from under heaven
and to be at war against the Amalekites from generation to generation.
(Exodus 17:14, 16)
The Almighty God has a long memory when it comes to attacks against His
covenant people Israel. He remembered Amalek’s attack and generations later
executed judgment against them:
“Now go, attack the Amalekites and totally destroy all that belongs to them.”
(1 Samuel 15:3)
A yad (Torah pointer), which literally means ‘hand’, is used to keep one’s
place while reading from the Torah scroll, which a scribe metiiculously writes
by hand using aquill and specially prepared ink.
But King Saul did not fully obey God’s command. He spared Agag, the king
of the Amalekites, and took the best of the livestock.
“But Saul and the army spared Agag and the best of the sheep and cattle, the
fat calves and lambs—everything that was good. These they were unwilling
to destroy completely, but everything that was despised and weak they
totally destroyed.” (1 Samuel 15:9)
Therefore the Lord was sorry that He had ever made Saul to be King of Israel.
“I regret that I have made Saul king, because he has turned away from me
and has not carried out my instructions.” (1 Samuel 15:11)
When confronted by the prophet Shmuel (Samuel), King Saul did not own
up to his sin, but instead tried to cover it. As Saul saw the prophet
approaching he said, “The Lord bless you! I have carried out the Lord’s
instructions.” (1 Samuel 15:13)
The book of Proverbs tells us that those who cover their sins will not prosper
but those who confess and forsake them will find mercy (Proverb 28:13).
Samuel explained to Saul that God desires our obedience more than our
sacrifices. He also likened the sin of rebellion to witchcraft, and arrogance
to idolatry (1 Samuel 15:22-23). These are serious sins indeed!
Samuel rebukes Saul for sparing King Agag, by Julius Schnor
When Fear of Man is Stronger than Fear of God
In the end of this portion, Saul provides the reason for his failure to carry
out the Lord’s command and instructions – fear of man!
“Then Saul said to Samuel, ‘I have sinned. I violated the Lord’s command
and your instructions. I was afraid of the men and so I gave in to them.’”
(1 Samuel 15:24)
Scripture says that the fear of man is a snare, but those who trust in the
Lord will be safe (Proverbs 29:25).
Whatever the cost, we must fear God and not men, though it may cost
us our reputation, our friends, or even our lives!
The apostle Paul said that seeking to please men prevents us from being a servant
“Am I now trying to win the approval of men, or of God? Or am I trying to
please men? If I were still trying to please men, I would not be a servant of
Messiah.” (Galatians 1:10)
Esther before Ahasuerus, by Andrey Ryabushkin
Purim and the Amalekites
Why is this portion of Scripture read just before Purim, the story recorded
in the Book of Esther?
It’s because Haman, the villain in the story of Esther, was an Agagite, a
descendant of Agag, king of the Amalekites.
“After these events, King Xerxes [Ahasuerus] honored Haman son of
Hammedatha, the Agagite, elevating him and giving him a seat of honor
higher than that of all the other nobles.” (Esther 3:1)
According to rabbinic tradition, between Saul’s capture and Samuel’s execution
of King Agag, this Amalekite king sired a child who was the forefather of Haman.
Had King Saul fully obeyed God’s command, the lives of the Jews of Persia
may never have been threatened at all. (The story of Purim is about
Haman’s devious plan to murder all of the Jews in the Persian Empire.)
Orthodox Jewish boys watching the proceedings at the Western (Wailing)
Wall in Jerusalem.
This Haftorah (Prophetic portion of Scripture) reminds us of the importance
of fully obeying the voice of the Lord, and not giving only partial obedience
to His word. The consequences for our choices may prove crucial to future
Nevertheless, the Persian Jews had become complacent and were content to live
under a foreign ruler in a foreign land. They did not feel an urgency to return
to the Promised Land to rebuild the Temple in Jerusalem.
And just like Haman’s rise and fall led to a new direction, so too, more
recently the rise and fall of Hitler led to a new direction for the Jewish
People in the 20th Century.
It’s a fact of history that the significance of Purim was not lost on Hitler.
He banned Jews from celebrating Purim and in the January of 1944, he that
said if the Nazis were defeated the Jews could celebrate “a second Purim.”
Like the olive, the Jewish People had been beaten, pressed and crushed, but
just a few years after Hitler made this statement, the State of Israel was reborn.
Shabbat Shalom from all of our ministry staff in Israel!
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