Continuing with our Series on startling accounts of Jewish Tradition, here we come to the penultimate part comprising two more eye-openers which would make us glorify our Heavenly Father, all the more…
Hmmm…it’s Lenten season and with Good Friday fast approaching, invariably our attention turns to Genesis 22. Going by the description of Issac as a “Lad” in Genesis 22:5, one (read all Christians) would normally assume that Issac was perhaps a young boy or at best a teenager but never a 37 year old typifying Jesus who too in his thirties carried the wooden cross to same place where 137 year old Father Abraham (portending the Heavenly Father) had led “his beloved son” to, about 2000 years earlier to be “sacrificed”. Hey…Issac “rose again” (Heb 11:19 TLB), so would the Son of God!
Oh yes coming to the right age of Issac…all of 37 years. The Hebrew word “Naar” used to describe Issac as a “Lad” (Gen 22:5) is a relative term used to address someone who is very much younger to you though the latter by himself/herself may be an adult then. Mind you, Issac was younger to his Father by a good hundred years (Gen 21:5)! In yet another melodramatic Scripture portion as Gen 22 (Note: The good Lord always places two witnesses to underscore His point — See Deut 17:6) we see a frantic elder brother Judah addressing his “held for ransom” younger brother Benjamin (born in Patriarch Jacob’s old age — See Gen 44:20 — as such, much junior to Judah) as Naar not once but seven times (Gen 44:30-34) at a time Benjamin himself was a father of ten sons (Gen 46:21)!
Thanks to Archbishop Stephen Langton dedicated efforts, The Bible was divided into Chapters in the 13th Century AD facilitating better navigation through the Scriptures and its subsequent teaching thereof but thematic division style which Langton adopted would sometimes have us believe that there is a considerable time gap between two consecutive Chapters like the one between Chapters 22 and 23 of Genesis which was not the case, all the time. We see at the very beginning of Chapter 23, Sarah who had given birth to Issac at the age of 90, dying at the age of 127 in Hebron (presumably taking care of one of many cattle-breeding farms of the family therein) and Abraham “coming over there” to mourn for her, as evidently he had been at “a different place”. Incidentally, from one of the Cattle-breeding farms at well-watered Beersheba Abraham had gone to Mount Moriah and had returned there after passing his “fiery test of faith”. Thus the Sages teach that Issac was not a little kid but all of 37 years at that defining testing time in his life acceptance of which would make the Christians better appreciate the comparison between Issac and Jesus, who too in his thirties carried the “wood voluntarily on his shoulders” in full obedience to His Father’s instructions (Gen 22:6/John 6:38/John 19:17).
Bye-bye theory that the Israelites were “caged” in Egypt for 430 years (theory most of us have stuck to from our Sunday school times… erroneously), when in fact they stayed there for only for 215 years. Life Application Bible has come-up with a pre-cautionary footnote on Exo 13:40 stating 430 years as per the Original manuscripts is the total period of stay in both Canaan and Egypt and not only in Egypt.
A closer scrutiny of “Sage” Paul’s observation in Gal 3:17 courtesy his solid training in OT History under a respected Rabbi Gamaliel (Acts 5:34/22:3) would once and for all shatter the myth that Jews stayed in Egypt for 430 years. He points out clearly that the time gap between the Abrahamic Covenant and Sinai Covenant was 430 years and not the stay of the Jews in Egypt which was limited to only 215 years from the time Jacob landed in Egypt at the age of 130 (Gen 47:9) with his sons.
If from the Abrahamic Covenant (Gen 12/15) to the birth of Issac was 25 years (Gen 21:5), then from that point to the birth of Jacob was a lapse of another 60 years (Gen 25:26). Jacob would eventually land in Egypt 130 years thence making it a sum total of 215 years from the origin of the Abrahamic Covenant till the arrival in Egypt. If we minus this figure from 430 years which is the total time gap from Abrahamic Covenant to the one at Sinai, we would get the exact time period of their stay in Egypt which is 215 years (exactly half). This is also in consonance with the Divine Promise in Gen 15:16 that Abraham’s descendents would come back from Egypt in the fourth generation…Levi-Kohath-Amram-Moses (Exo 6:16-20). Folks, we better listen to Sages on this matter, better still we listen to our own Apostle Paul…lest we end-up with a serious “time related lapse”…
Prayer: Father, how we are so reassured by the Scriptures that You are a Covenant-keeping God. We glorify Thee once again in Jesus’ Name. Amen.
An Unworthy Servant
J and SM Ministries
To access the entire “What the Sages Teach” mini-series, please click here.)