Parashat Beresheet: In the Beginning
Beresheet (Genesis) 1:1-6:8
Haftarah: 1 Samuel 20:18-42
Shabbat Rosh Chodesh (Head of the Month)
We are starting another year of the annual cycle of the reading of the Torah - also known as the “Books of Moses”, the “Pentateuch”, or the first five books of the Bible. I am excited to get into another year of writing commentaries on the weekly Scripture portions as I know God’s Word is living and breathing, and I am constantly gaining new insight into it.
The reading from the Haftarah (the prophets and other writings) is a special reading from 1 Samuel 20:18-42 since it mentions the head of the month:
Then Jonathan said to him, “Tomorrow is new Chodesh (month), and you will be missed since your seat will be empty.”
1 Samuel 20:18
As I was reading both the Parashah and Haftarah for this week, one thing that stood out to me is the devastation that can result from pride and jealousy.
In the Parashah we read of the very famous story of Cain and Abel:
Now the man had relations with his wife Eve, and she conceived and gave birth to Cain, and she said, “I have obtained a male child with the help of the LORD.” And again, she gave birth to his brother Abel. Now Abel was a keeper of flocks, but Cain was a cultivator of the ground. So it came about in the course of time that Cain brought an offering to the LORD from the fruit of the ground. Abel, on his part also brought an offering, from the firstborn of his flock and from their fat portions. And the LORD had regard for Abel and his offering; but for Cain and his offering He had no regard. So Cain became very angry and his face was gloomy. Then the LORD said to Cain, “Why are you angry? And why is your face gloomy? If you do well, will your face not be cheerful? And if you do not do well, sin is lurking at the door; and its desire is for you, but you must master it.” Cain talked to his brother Abel; and it happened that when they were in the field Cain rose up against his brother Abel and killed him.
Then the LORD said to Cain, “Where is Abel your brother?” And he said, “I do not know. Am I my brother’s keeper?” Then He said, “What have you done? The voice of your brother’s blood is crying out to Me from the ground. Now you are cursed from the ground, which has opened its mouth to receive your brother’s blood from your hand. When you cultivate the ground, it will no longer yield its strength to you; you will be a wanderer and a drifter on the earth.” Cain said to the LORD, “My punishment is too great to endure! Behold, You have driven me this day from the face of the ground; and I will be hidden from Your face, and I will be a wanderer and a drifter on the earth, and whoever finds me will kill me.”So the LORD said to him, “Therefore whoever kills Cain, vengeance will be taken on him seven times as much.” And the LORD placed a mark on Cain, so that no one finding him would kill him.
Then Cain left the presence of the LORD, and settled in the land of Nod, east of Eden.
Cain’s pride was hurt because the Lord accepted his brother Abel’s offering and not his. His jealousy caused him to take matters into his own hands and to kill his own brother. Proverbs 6:34 says that “For drives a man into a rage; he will show no mercy when he takes revenge;” When we allow jealousy to control our minds, it will drive us into rage which will result in greater sin. When we take matters into our hands rather than letting go of it and letting God’s justice prevail, things will always get worse.
In the Haftarah portion we read of the famous account where Jonathan warned David of his father Saul’s plan to kill him. It was King’s Saul jealousy of David after killing Goliath that brought him to a place of plotting murder against David, especially when he heard the women singing:
“Saul has slain his thousands, and David his ten thousands.”
1 Samuel 18:7
Saul’s jealously turned to anger, which brought about disastrous results and ultimately caused Saul’s tragic death.
My dear brothers and sisters, when we allow jealousy to enter our hearts, it will take over and cause us to sin against God and against our fellow men, even our own brothers and sisters, and those who stand alongside us.
One needs to understand that the by-product of allowing jealousy to enter our hearts is incredibly self-destructive. Proverbs 14:30 says that:
A tranquil heart is life to the body, but jealousy is rottenness to the bones.
And James 3:16 says:
For where jealousy and selfish ambition exist, there is disorder and every evil thing.
I would like to encourage you to take the time to search your heart. Is there any jealousy in your heart rooted in pride or selfishness? Are you looking at someone else’s life, lifestyle, or position and coveting what they have? Is there jealousy that could bring about death in some way?
As followers of Messiah, our minds need to be Kingdom-oriented, and jealousy will not enter the Kingdom of God:
Now the deeds of the flesh are evident, which are: sexual immorality, impurity, indecent behavior,idolatry, witchcraft, hostilities, strife, jealousy, outbursts of anger, selfish ambition, dissensions, factions, envy, drunkenness, carousing, and things like these, of which I forewarn you, just as I have forewarned you, that those who practice such things will not inherit the kingdom of God.
Let’s take the time to search our hearts; let’s repent and return to God, replacing jealously and pride with His peace and the fruit of the spirit!
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