How Did Abram Bring Horror Upon Himself and His Progeny?
© Chris Schaefer 2014
Ever wonder why Abram was horrified AFTER he had made an animal sacrifice unto YHWH? Let’s find out. Our text will be Beresheeth/Genesis 15.
1 After these things the word of YHWH came to
Abram in a vision, saying, Do not be afraid Abram: I
am your shield, and your exceedingly great reward.
2 But Abram said, “Master YHWH, what will You
give me, seeing I go without an heir, and he, the son of
Mashek*, Eli’ezer of Damascus is over my house?”
3 Then Abram said, “Look, You have given me no
offspring; indeed the son born in my house is
4 And, behold, the Word of YHWH came to him,
saying, “This one shall not be your heir; but one who
will come from your own body shall be your heir.”
5 Then He brought him outside, and said, “Look
now toward the heavens, and count the stars, if
you are able to number them”: and He said to him, “So
shall your descendants be.”
6 And he believed in YHWH; and He accounted it
to him for right-ruling.
So Abram believing in, trusting inYHWH was what was accounted to him for right-ruling. He was not required to really do anything at that point to secure that promise.
7 Then He said to him, “I am YHWH, who brought
you out of Ur of the Kasdim, to give you this land to
8 And he (Abram) said, “MasterYHWH, how shall I know that
I will inherit it?”
9 So He said to him, “Bring Me a three-year-old
heifer, a three-year-old female goat, a three-year-old
ram, a turtledove, and a young pigeon.”
OK now stop and notice what YHWH told Abram to do. He ONLY told Abram to BRING him those animals. NOTHING MORE.
10a Then he (Abram) brought all these to Him,
So IF Abram would have stopped there, everything would have been fine. But no, after Abram brought the animals to YHWH, he then proceeded further with something that YHWH did NOT tell Abram to do.
10b and (Abram) cut them
in two, down the middle, and placed each piece
opposite the other: but he did not cut the birds in two.
So Abram just did something that YHWH did NOT tell him to do. Let’s see how that works out for Abram...
11 And when the vultures came down on the
carcasses, Abram drove them away.
Consistently throughout Scripture, vultures can represent YHWH using other nations to judge Israel for idolatry and unthankfulness:
Yes, YHWH will bring against you a heathen nation from far away that will swoop down on you from the end of the earth like a vulture, a nation whose language you don’t understand,
Deut 28:47 Because You served not YHWH Your Elohim
with joyfulness, and with gladness of heart, for the
abundance of all things;
Notice, no mention of animal sacrifices as THE way to serve YHWH. One doesn’t usually associate joyfulness and gladness of heart with the slaughtering of animals and and subsequent burning of those animal carcasses.
But there are other references where vultures are emblematic of judgment as well, sometimes quite literally. (1 Kings, 14:11; 1 Kings 16:4; 1 Kings 21:24; Yeshayahu/Isaiah 18:6, Yermayahu/Jeremiah 48:40, 49:22, Habakkuk 1:8)
Either way, these vultures which bother Abram are a foreshadowing of trouble to come...
Resuming in Beresheeth/Genesis 15:12--
12 Now when the sun was going down, a deep
sleep fell upon Abram: and, behold, horror and great
darkness fell upon him.
Now think about this: IF YHWH had wanted Abram to kill and chop these animals as a sacrifice, Then WHY was Abram awarded with HORROR for doing this sacrifice??? Also implication here is that this “great darkness” (gaw-dole' khash-ay-kaw') is something more severe and more menacing than mere night time, has meanings of screaming, heavy, severe, bitter violence.
YHWH then confirms His displeasure in the animal sacrifice:
13 Then He said to Abram, “Know certainly that
your descendants will be strangers in a land that is
not theirs, and will serve them; and they [the Egyptians] will afflict
them four hundred years;”
Now, you’d think that if YHWH was pleased with this animal sacrifice, that there would have been a blessing, but no, instead, Abram’s descendants end up in slavery! Have we seen this pattern of YHWH’s displeasure in other places when somebody does something that YHWH didn’t command? You betcha.
Here’s the first time that YHWH tells Moses how to get water out of the rock at Horeb
Behold, I will stand before you there on the rock at Horeb; and you shall strike the rock, and water will come out of it, that the people may drink." And Moses did so in the sight of the elders of Israel.
OK, Moses, the one who is the main spokesman for the Torah in this book, obeyed YHWH that time and everything went fine... that is until YHWH told him how to do it the second time;
7 And YHWH spoke to Moses, saying,
8 Take the rod, and you gather the assembly
together, You, and Aharon your brother,
and speak unto the rock before their eyes; and it shall
give forth water, and You shall bring forth to them
water out of the rock: so You shall give the
congregation and their beasts drink.
9 And Musa took the rod from before YHWH as he
10 And Moses and Aharon gathered the
congregation together before the rock, and he said to
them, “hear now, you rebels; should we now bring
water for you out of this rock?”
OK, so far, so good, Moses took the rod with him and gathered the assembly together, just as YHWH commanded... BUT THEN
11 And Moses lifted up his hand, and with his rod he
STRUCK the rock twice: and the water came out
abundantly, and the congregation drank, and also their beasts.
Just like Abram, Moses ADDED SOMETHING that YHWH did NOT command either to do.
How did that fare for Moses?
12 And YHWH spoke to Moses and Aharon,
“because YOU DID NOT BELIEVE ME,
and did NOT treat me as set apart in the
eyes of the children of Y’sra’el, therefore
you shall not bring this congregation into the land
which I have given them.
Now, it is possible that Moses was punished seemingly more severely than Abram, because Moses already had opportunity to learn from Abram’s mistake of ADDING TO YHWH’s command, but that is only a guess, and later on Abram (called Abraham) would have to go through a trial that few ever did, that of enduring YHWH’s bluff for Abraham to sacrifice his own son Yitzchak.
So, why did Abram sacrifice animals to YHWH which YHWH did not command Abram to sacrifice? We must remember that Abram was raised by his idolater father, Terah. Terah and the culture in which they lived sacrificed animals to their idols. It was their modus operandi. These kinds of compulsions are deeply ingrained, and perhaps even passed on to subsequent generations through genetic memory. The Scriptures call this tendency or compulsion to do a certain type of sin “iniquity”. So even though Abram was correctly focused upon honoring YHWH the Most High, he still had this compulsion to do it in a method similar how his father and the surrounding culture worshiped idols. YHWH did not want Abram to default to this animal sacrifice system, but Abram did anyways, and subsequently brought calamity upon his future generations. Yet YHWH showed mercy to Abram by deferring the trouble.
Now let’s take a look to see what the Apostle Kefa/Peter had to say about the sacrificial system which Moses instituted after the golden calf fiasco (it’s important that it was AFTER-- because before that, there was NO command to sacrifice animals):
Nazorean Acts of the Apostles Book 1 chapter 36
“When meantime Mosses, that faithful and wise steward, perceived that
the vice of animal sacrifices to idols had been deeply ingrained into the people from
their association with the Egyptians, and that the root of this evil could not
be extracted from them, he allowed them animal sacrifices, but permitted it to be
done only to YHWH, that by any means he might cut off one half of the
deeply ingrained evil, leaving the other half [of evil] to be corrected by another, and
at a future time; by Him, namely, concerning whom he said himself, ‘A prophet [this is speaking of Yahusha] will YHWH your Elohim raise unto you, whom you will hear even as myself,
according to all things that He will say to you. Whosoever will not hear that
prophet, his spirit will be cut off from his people.’”
Nazorean Acts of the Apostles Book 1 Chapter 37a-b
“In addition to these things, he also appointed a place [tabernacle] in which alone it
should be lawful to them to sacrifice to YHWH. And all this was arranged
with this view, that when the fitting time should come, and they should
learn by means of Yahusha that YHWH desires mercy and not sacrifice!”
For I desire mercy, not sacrifice, and acknowledgment of Elohim rather than burnt offerings.
The whole tabernacle/temple system, (along with the ark of the covenant, which was fashioned after the original Egyptian arks) was NEVER part of YHWH’s perfect will. It was ONLY within His permissive will, and He permitted it because of the peoples’ iniquity or compulsion to emulate those who’d enslaved them, along with their feeling that they HAD to do animal sacrifices. So even though YHWH permitted it to cure the Hebrews of idolatry, it was not His perfect will to let the sacrificial system continue indefinitely.
Nazorean Acts of the Apostles Book 1 Chapter 37 b-f (Kefa/Peter speaking)
“And all this was arranged
with this view, that when the fitting time should come, and they should
learn by means of Yahusha that YHWH desires mercy and not sacrifice!, and
they might see Him who should teach them that the place chosen of YHWH,
in which it was suitable that victims should be offered to YHWH, in his
wisdom; and that on the other hand they might hear that this place, which
SEEMED chosen for a time, often harassed as it had been by hostile invasions
and plunderings, was at last to be wholly destroyed. And in order to
impress this upon them, even before the coming of Yahusha, who was to
reject at once the animal sacrifices and the place, it was often plundered by enemies
and burnt with fire, and the people carried into captivity among foreign
tribes, and then brought back when they betook themselves to the mercy of
YHWH; that by these things they might be taught that a people who offer
animal sacrifices are driven away and delivered up into the hands of the enemy, but
they who do mercy and righteousness are without animal sacrifices freed from
captivity, and restored to their native land. But it fell out that very few
understood this; for the greater number, though they could perceive and
observe these things, yet were held by the irrational opinion of the vulgar:
for right opinion with liberty is the exclusive right of a few.”
And see, this, THIS is some of what Yahusha spent time teaching Kefa/Peter. And THIS is what the hardliners of Judaism and Messianic Judaism-wanna-be ‘s don’t want you to hear, so that we remain bound to the animal sacrifice/temple system by anticipating a return to the inferior system-- much as a dog returns to it’s own vomit. Now lets be honest-- does YHWH need overcooked burnt-to-a-crisp animals to be happy? Does He need it protein for Himself? Does He really like it when people destroy His animals for the supposed forgiveness of sins instead of consuming necessary protein? Does anyone honestly get warm feelings of joy whilst reading the minutae of the animal sacrifice system in the Torah? Yeah all Messianics dutifully read through it, but do any of you gain joy from it???
It could also be said that the protestant-catholic conglomerate of Christianity wants to keep this from you as well, because it is conspicuously absent from the Book of Acts (not to be confused with the Nazorean Acts of the Apostles), because IF they can shield the public from Kefa’s/Peters dictation which clearly reconciles the B’rit Hadashah (“New Testament”) with the Tanakh (“Old Testamemt”), then they can perpetuate a false dichotomy between the B’rit Hadashah vs the Tanakh so that believers will be forced to choose one over the other despite the fact that there SHOULD be no conflict whatsoever.
At this point, someone is surely to bring up the incident of Qayin and Hevel (Cain and Able). So let’s have a look at it in Beresheeth/Genesis chapter 4, starting at v. 3:
3 And in process of time it came to pass, that
Qayin brought of the fruit of the ground an offering to
Qayin did not bring the best of the fruit, he only brought some fruit. Meh. Nothing special. It does not say that he burnt the fruit to a crisp, it does not say that he vaporized it through incineration. He just simply brought it and offered it YHWH. The Hebrew word for offering is the feminine noun (min-khaw') which means gift/tribute-- it does not de facto mean a gift that has been chopped up subsequently destroyed by fire.
4 And Hebel, he also brought of the firstborn
of his flock and of the fat there. And
YHWH had respect for Hebel and for his offering:
Once again, Hebel merely BROUGHT an offering to YHWH, it does not say that he slaughtered the firstborn, it does not say that he incinerated and burned the firstborn to a crisp. However a distinction is made between the firstborn of the flock vs. the fat. Since fat indicates abundance, and it is not something we’re supposed to deliberately eat, he offered it to YHWH. By what method he offered the fat, it does not say. However unlike Qayin, Hebel brought THE BEST of his flock and abundance to YHWH, and so THAT is why YHWH respected Hebel and his offering. The Hebrew word for offering there is min-khaw-tov which is a feminine noun which means good gift/tribute and is the same root as Qayin’s offering-- it is most commonly associated with grain offerings, but like it’s root, it does not de facto indicate that it has been chopped up and subsequently destroyed by fire.
But just to be fair, let’s suppose my understanding of min-khaw-tov is wrong. So HYPOTHETICALLY let’s pretend that the offerings of Qayin and Hebel were both chopped up and burnt up. Let’s see how this fares for Hebel
5 But for Qayin and to his offering He had no
respect. And Qayin was very angry, and his
6 And YHWH said to Qayin, Why are you angry?
And why is your countenance fallen?
7 If you do well, shall it not be accepted? And if you
do not do well, transgression lies at your door. And
to you shall be its desire, and you shall rule over it.
OK, so here we have YHWH with infinite wisdom and knowledge dealing with Qayin who was endowed with free will. YHWH sees and knows Qayin’s iniquity (tendency to sin) and so He warned Qayin. And then this happens:
8 And Qayin talked with Hebel his brother: and it
came to pass, when they were in the field, that Qayin
rose up against Hebel his brother, and killed him.
9 And YHWH said to Qayin, “Where is Hebel your
brother?” And he said, “I do not know: Am I my
So, are we now to believe that in verse 7 YHWH had infinite knowledge, perception and power, and then in verse 8 He suddenly doesn’t? No, He ALLOWED Qayin to slaughter his twin brother, AND He did not raise up Hebel from the dead either-- perhaps for illustrative purposes of a greater truth that will later become apparent. But first He answers Qayin with a rhetorical question to get Qayin to fess up, but Qayin tried unsuccessfully to evade the question.
11 “And now you are cursed from the earth, which
has opened her mouth to receive your brother's
blood from your hand;
12 When you till the ground, it shall not henceforth
yield to you her full strength; a wanderer and a
mover you shall be in the earth.”
13 And Qayin said to YHWH, “My punishment is
greater than I can bear.
14 Behold, you have driven me out this day from
the face of the land; and from your face shall I be
hid; and I shall be a wanderer and a mover14 in the
earth; and it shall come to pass, that anyone that
finds me shall kill me.”
15 And YHWH said to him, “Therefore whosoever
slays Qayin, vengeance shall be taken on him
sevenfold.” And YHWH set a mark upon Qayin, lest
any finding him should kill him before his set time.
So YHWH shows mercy to Qayin-- perhaps moreso towards Qayin’s parents than anything, but nonetheless, the mercy that YHWH shows Qayin far outweighs the protection (or lack thereof) which he allowed for Hebel. So HYPOTHETICALLY, IF Hebel did a slaughtered burnt animal sacrifice, how did it go?
More importantly, Qayin in a sense “sacrifices” his own twin brother to the “god” of his own anger. YHWH responds, NOT by having Qayin pay for his twin brother’s life with his own (via slaughter), but instead, YHWH shows much MERCY to Qayin, even though he really didn’t deserve it. So even right here, the whole incident illustrates that YHWH desires MERCY over sacrifice.
Consider the chain of events:
1. Hebel makes a possible(?) animal sacrifice (?).
2. SHORTLY THEREAFTER, Hebel gets killed by his brother. YHWH does not protect Hebel from this tragedy.
3. Abraham makes an animal sacrifice that YHWH did not ask for.
4. RIGHT AFTER making the UNREQUIRED animal sacrifice, Abraham is filled with horror about the future of his progeny.
5. Abraham, apparently not making the connection between the animal sacrifice he made with the bad news for his future generations, Abraham is then asked the impossible-- to make a human sacrifice of his own son “to YHWH” (of course this is a bluff on the part of YHWH, since He desires mercy OVER sacrifice).
6. As deferred punishment for Abram’s earlier unwanted animal sacrifice, Abraham’s progeny, The Hebrews, end up in slavery in Egypt for 400 years.
7. While in slavery in Egypt, the Hebrews (Abraham’s progeny) end up acquiring or amplifying the tendency to sacrifice animals (the very thing that propelled them into this predicament in the first place! How IRONIC!)
8. After getting the Hebrews out of Egypt, YHWH gives the 10 commandments to Moses to give to the people. While He’s doing this, the people commit idolatry to the golden calf, complete with orgies AND ANIMAL SACRIFICES.
9. After the golden calf fiasco which had animal sacrifices, YHWH institutes an arduous ANIMAL SACRIFICIAL SYSTEM, but specifically unto Himself-- a system that He makes deliberately flawed, deliberately incomplete, deliberately stylized after some of the trappings in Egypt, deliberately interrupted, and eventually , done away with.