Parashat Yitro - February 18

יתרו Yitro

Exodus 18.1 — Exodus 20.26

Exodus 20.8-11: “Remember the sabbath day, to keep it holy. Six days you shall labor, and do all your work; but the seventh day is a sabbath to the Lord your God; in it you shall not do any work, you, or your son, or your daughter, your manservant, or your maidservant, or your cattle, or the sojourner who is within your gates; for in six days the Lord made heaven and earth, the sea, and all that is in them, and rested the seventh day; therefore the Lord blessed the sabbath day and hallowed it.”

In the old creation God rested and commanded complete rest on the seventh day. But the first was just a foreshadowing of the new creation (2 Corinthians 5.17). When Messiah died, he entered into a complete rest. This brought the old creation to a close, a fulfillment of the demands of the Sabbath rest. His resurrection was the first act of the new creation. The old creation was one of works; with the death of Jesus we have come into the rest from all of our works (Hebrews 4.1-11).

This does not mean that the physical bodies of believers no longer need regular daily and weekly rest. However, while the saints of Tanach times were seeking God’s spiritual rest, believers in the Messiah have entered into it.

Jewish tradition says that the Messiah will come when the Sabbath is kept perfectly. The Sabbath was the one day on which Messiah himself rested entirely, in the grave between his death and resurrection. He has thus fulfilled even that tradition; his resurrection followed immediately upon his having kept the Sabbath rest perfectly.

[BSI/rp]

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Haftarah: Isaiah 6.1—7.6; 9.6-7

 

Isaiah 6.1—7.6: The nation will reject the Messiah (Matthew 13.15).

 

Isaiah 9.6-7: The targum (Ps-Jonathan): “The prophet said to the house of David, ‘For to us a child is born, to a son is given; and he will accept the law upon himself to keep it, and his name will be called before the wonderful counselor, the mighty God, existing forever, ‘The messiah in whose days peace will increase upon us.’ Great pride will belong to those who perform the law, and for those who keep peace there will be no end, upon the throne of David and upon his kingdom, to establish it and to build it with judgment and with virtue from this time forth and forever. By the Memra of the Lord of hosts this will be done.” (translation of Bruce Chilton)

 

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Rabbi Samuel, the son of Nachman, said: “When Esau met Jacob, he said to him: ‘My brother Jacob, let us walk together in this world.’ Jacob replied: ‘Let my lord, I pray thee, pass over before his servant’ (Genesis 33.14). What is the meaning of ‘I pray thee, pass over’? Jacob said to him: ‘I have yet to supply the King Messiah, of whom it is said, “Unto us a child is born.”’” (Midrash Deuteronomy 1, 20 [on chap. 11.4])

[BP]

Isaiah 9.6: Rabbi Eliezer of Worms says this about the Wonderful Messiah:

“’And his name shall be called Wonderful Counselor …’ No man calls his son God, and therefore it is the Holy One, blessed be he, who names the boy God and Mighty. All these names refer to an event called ‘Wonderful Counselor,’ since ‘you have done wonderful things; your counsels of old are faithfulness and truth’ (Isaiah 25.1); ‘Behold, I will again do a marvelous work among this people, a marvelous work and a wonder’ (Isaiah 29.14)” (Sefer HaShem 158). [TS]

Isaiah 9.7: In this verse the first word, “lemarbeh,” is written with form of the letter mem that normally comes only at the end of a word. This was thought to have messianic meaning. “Bar Kapara expounded at Sepphoris: Why is the word ‘the increase,’ written with a closed mem, and not with the usual mem? The Holy One, blessed be he! wished to make Hezekiah the Messiah, and Sennacherib Gog and Magog. But the attribute of judgment pleaded against it, and said, ‘David the king of Israel repeated so many songs and praises, and you have not made him the Messiah; and yet you are thinking of making Hezekiah the Messiah, for whose sake so many miracles have been performed, and who, nevertheless, has not repeated one song of praise! So that counsel was closed (and hence the closed mem).” (Sanhedrin, 94a)

Shabbat Shalom!

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