Parashah 1: B’resheit

Torah inside of the former Glockengasse synago...

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I’ve tried before over on Hebrew Root to create weekly commentary on the Parashah (weekly Torah readings)–and to be honest, I didn’t do as well as I should have.  Hopefully, the somewhat more free-form ways of blogging will make it easier to keep up.  So, with that caveat out of the way, let’s dive in:

Torah:  B’resheit (Genesis) 1:1-6:8
Haftarah:  Yesha’yahu (Isaiah) 42:5-21 (Sephardic), 42:5-43:10 (Ashkenazi)
B’rit Chadasha:  Yochanan (John) 1:1-18

The Bible begins with a sublime sentence made up of seven words in the Hebrew:

בראשׁית ברא אלהים את השׁמים ואת הארץ

In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.

Pagan mythologies always begin with the existence of some form of matter and describe the birth of their gods.  The Bible, in contrast, presents God as the Eternal One, the “I Am” from whom all matter and energy were created.  The very existence of the universe, which science agrees did not always exist but had a beginning, testifies to the existence of the One who created it.  This is not a new conclusion, but one as old as the faith:  Rabbi Akiva noted nearly two thousand years ago, “Just as the existence of a house testifies to the builder and the existence of a garment testifies to the weaver, so the existence of the world testifies to God who fashioned it.”  Even earlier than that, another rabbi wrote, “For the invisible things of him since the creation of the world are clearly seen, being perceived through the things that are made, even his everlasting power and divinity; that they may be without excuse” (Rom. 1:20).

In our reading from the prophets, we open with Isaiah echoing the events of the second day of creation when he calls the Holy One, “He who created the heavens and stretched them out, He who spread out the earth and that which comes out of it.”  The fact that God stretched out the heavens is attested to in numerous places in Scripture (Gen. 1:6-8; Isa. 40:22, 42:5, 45:12, 51:13; Jer. 10:12, 51:15; Zec. 12:1; Job 9:8)—so often, in fact, that we can view it as a central theme of the creation.  The stretching out of the universe has also stretched out the light traveling across the universe so that it can be measured by modern scientists.  Robert Jastrow records the upheaval this caused in the scientific community in his book God and the Astronomers.

By his careful choice of the same opening phrase, “In the beginning . . .” for his Gospel account, John leads us to two subtle truths.  The first, that the Messiah Yeshua is the incarnate Wisdom and Torah of God, we explore here.  The second, that through Him the Father has made a new Beginning for creation, is a constant theme throughout the New Covenant Scriptures.  When we understand these two truths, all of Scripture comes together in a consistent, elegantly patterned message of salvation.

Indeed, almost every theme in the Bible finds its origin in this first, foundational parashah reading:  Creation, sin, judgment, the promise of redemption, the Messiah, atonement, spiritual warfare and the final victory over the Adversary, etc.  These themes are woven together like an incredible tapestry towards their conclusion, the renewal of the world, predicted by the prophets and shown in the book of the Revelation.  Those of us who believe in Yeshua the Messiah have the privilage of seeing not only the Creation of the World That Is, but also the Creation of the World to Come set before us.

Shalom.

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