Illustration: "Abraham Entertains Three Strangers"
By Gustave Dor'e
So, just to review:
In part one we concluded:
1) The “Trees of Mamre” was a metaphor for some type of: “religious school” and that when we are told that Abram: “was sitting”, because this verb has the same root as the Hebrew word for: “Sabbath”, we concluded that instead of obtaining knowledge about God by working and studying, it was in fact by resting and thru divine inspiration that Abram received knowledge about God. After all, he certainly didn’t get knowledge by studying the Talmud….
2) “Meat” is a metaphor for: “difficult to understand religious teachings”, while “milk” is a metaphor for: “easy to understand spiritual teachings”. Our conclusion was that, since each type of food in the Torah is a metaphor for a specific type of knowledge, then: “a person who serves food” is a metaphor for: “a teacher”. Hence, when we are told that Abram served “milk” and “meat” together, he was demonstrating his mastery over various aspects of religious knowledge and that he was qualified for the next step (i.e. the birth of Isaac).
3) We talked a little bit about “slavery” and “free men” and that “a slave” represents: “someone who is compelled to study the religion of another”, whereas “a free man” represents: “someone who willingly accepts a teaching”. Along these same lines we mentioned that “a son” is a metaphor for: “a teaching”, thus the phrase: “the son of God” means: “one who speaks God’s word” and has nothing to do with a physical child…Hence, Ishmael is expelled from Abraham’s camp because he is described as: “the son of a slave” (i.e. Ishmael represents the beliefs of a people who were forced to accept God’s word and did not do so willingly).
In part two we concluded:
1) That the number: “50” is related to: "redemption" and that Abraham was asking God if a person could commit a sin so great that his access to God’s word would not be restored (here it should be pointed out that in other articles we defined “sin” as any teachings which deviate from God’s teachings, and has nothing to do with the traditional definition of: “bad behavior”).
Since Abraham stopped asking at the number: “10” and we have the Ten Commandments, the answer seems to be: “Yes, men can deviate so far from the teachings of God that there is no way back…”
2) We then went on to compare: “sex” to “prayer” and we noted that the “7” nations in the land of Canaan were punished and expelled from the land as a result of sexual perversions.
Since we have shown repeatedly that “land” is a metaphor for a “school”, and the number “7” should be associated with "direct communications from God via divine revelations", this should be directly contrasted with knowledge received as a result from men trying to educate themselves. Our conclusion was that: “homosexuality” in the Torah was a metaphor for: "men seeking inspirational knowledge from men, instead of from God".
3) We then discussed that Lot’s two daughters founded two new peoples by having sex with their father, hence confirming that, according to the Torah, Judaism passes thru the father, not the mother; otherwise it would not matter to the girls who made them pregnant. We also pointed out that Lot held “the good seed of God’s word” and this was what was being preserved from Sodom, not his DNA. In order words: Lot had a good understanding of God’s word and, as Abraham pointed out, God as being a good God, could not allow goodness to be destroyed.
In regards to the story of Isaac, we have already discussed several times in other articles the connection between the name: “Moriah” and the Hebrew word for: “teacher” and concluded that the term: “Mount Moriah” was a metaphor for: “a source of higher understanding”. In addition to this, however, the name: “Moriah” also shares the same root with the name “Mamre” which is the Hebrew word for: “myrrh” which is pronounce “mar”.
In part one we mentioned that the Hebrew word for “myrrh” means: “bitterness” and suggested this means “a difficult to understand teaching, which is hard to accept”. Since most people associate: “higher education” with “difficult to understand concepts”, the two names: “Mary Magdalene” (The bitter teacher from the tower”) and “Mount Moriah” (the bitter teaching from the mountain) have basically the same meaning:
i.e. “A difficult to understand teaching from a higher source of knowledge”.
We have also discussed in this article that the name: “Isaac” should be associated with: “doubt” since both Abraham and Sarah are described as laughing in a somewhat incredulous manner when they are told they will have a son (i.e. They didn't really believe they would receive a revelation).
Thus, by his willingness to sacrifice Isaac, Abraham demonstrated his faith in God, in two ways:
1) He is demonstrating that he has eliminated all doubt he had in the power of God (i.e. he is removing the cause of the laughter).
2) He is willing to sacrifice the knowledge received from God, which he has waited so long to receive, trusting that God has some better purpose in mind
Yet, in the end Abraham is not required to destroy Isaac. Instead a full grown ram is sacrificed, which is somewhat surprising because Isaac himself mentioned the sacrifice of a lamb, not a ram.
Regardless, if we were Christians then we would immediately go to the Gospel of John and see the connection made with: 'the word of God' and: "the Lamb of God". Since, however, we are Jewish we must then focus on two other stories:
· The death of Rachel
· The adultery between David and Bathsheba
In short: the name: “Rachel” means: “ewe” and she dies giving birth to her second son: “Benjamin”, who in my opinion should be associated with: “the number eight” (i.e. the 2nd son of the 2nd wife).
After Joseph is born, Rachel asks for another son (i.e. another revelation); hence the Hebrew name: “Joseph” means: “to add”. What we see then is that in order to bring life to Benjamin ( i.e. the new teaching), a sheep must die.
Briefly, in the story of David and Bathsheba their "adulterous act" is described by David himself as: "a sin against God", which reinforces the idea we have repeatedly discussed that: “sex” is a metaphor for: “prayer”. Although the rabbis like to say that Uriah the Hittite divorced Bathsheba, this is clearly a ridiculous assertion.
If Bathsheba had been divorced, then why did God send Nathan to condemn David’s actions? Furthermore: Why did the baby die? And, as we just noted, David himself admitted he had sinned. Finally: Why did Absalom have sex with David’s concubines, just as God/Nathan predicted would happen as a punishment of David having sex with the wife of Uriah?
For our purposes, however, the important aspect is the story told by Nathan.
In short, Nathan said a poor man had a lamb and a rich man took the lamb and fed it to his friends. At first glance, we must scratch our heads and ask: What does all this have to do with adultery?
The connection, as we have discussed many times before in other articles, is that: “a son” represents: “the word of God” and: “meat” represents: “preachings”. We also said that: “each type of food” represents: “a specific type of knowledge” and since: “the Children of Israel” are described as: “the Son of God” in the Book of Exodus, as well as: “sheep”, this clearly demonstrates that: “a lamb” is a metaphor for: “a new teaching by God”.
Returning then to Abraham and Isaac on Mount Moriah, we have shown that he is to experience an extremely high spiritual lesson that is almost incomprehensible to understand. In fact, even today, many Jews don’t like teaching this story because they ask: What kind of loving God would ask Abraham to kill his child? Regardless, what we see in this story is a message that: “God’s word, or God’s mediums, must die, in order that the word of men shall continue to live”.
So, in conclusion, what the story of Abraham's sacrifice of Isaac seems to be suggesting is that all men have doubts and these doubts make the understanding of God’s word impossible. Accordingly, since man cannot teach God’s ways perfectly, their children are always going to have an imperfect understanding of God’s ways. Hence David said: "All men are born in sin"....
Therefore, God allows man to "temporarily" destroy his word by sacrificing a sheep. In other words: "If there is no word of God, then there is no standard by which to compare and judge the imperfections of man’s understanding".
Thus, the removal of a sheep removes sin, because we said that: “sin” represents: “teaching God’s ways incorrectly”. Accordingly, if there is no law, there can be no sin (this, by the way, also explains why the sheep must be without blemish, since it must be a perfect example of God’s word).
Furthermore, we can now better appreciate why Saul was removed as King of Israel, for “merely” wanting to sacrifice Amalikite sheep.
It demonstrated that he absolutely no understanding of God’s laws or God’s ways and King Saul could not even distinguish between God’s ways and the ways of the Amalikites (As a side point: I like to say that the name: "Amalikites" means: "workers" it we accept that the root of this name is the Hebrew word: "amal". Furthermore, in other articles we have already discussed the connection between workers and students. However, scholars are not really sure that the name “Amalikites” is a Hebrew name, so I could be wrong on this point).
I realize this article must be rather “a bitter pill to swallow”, nevertheless, we shall return to this theme during Passover and the blood of the lamb being used to keep out the angel of death. For now I would just like to add that the Pharisee Paul of Tarsus NEVER said that animal sacrifices didn’t work. He admitted they worked. His objection was that they only removed sins temporarily…..
Dror Ben Ami is the author of the book: THE MISUNDERSTANDING:An Introduction to Metaphors, Images and Symbols Found in the Old and New Testaments