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B'resheet/Genesis 25:19 Now these are the generations of Isaac, Abraham's son; Abraham became the father of Isaac (NASB)
This text bears a strong resemblance to the beginning of Mark's gospel: "The beginning of the gospel of Yeshua the Messiah, the Son of G-d" (Mark 1:1, NASB).Sforno takes the word to mean "chronicles" or "the events of one's life", so using this verse to introduce the following chapters as the events of Yitz'khak's life. Rashi, on the other hand, understands the word to mean "offspring", so limiting them as an introduction to only the next ten verses describing the birth of Esav and Ya'akov.
It is interesting to see that the Torah takes the time to tell us not only that Yitz'khak was Avraham's son, but that Avraham begot (became the father of) Yitz'khak. In other words, it is emphasising that Avraham was the natural physical father of Yitz'khak and that he was not just his adopted son and legal heir. Rashi even suggests thatHaShem created a strong physical resemblance between father and son, so that everyone would recognise the true relationship.
In Bible times, it was critical to know who your father was and the genealogy that you came from in order to claim inheritance rights, tribal descent and position in society. In today's Jewish world it is still very important to know if you are a 'cohen' or 'levi'; hundreds of the descendants of Aharon, the priestly line, gather at the Kotel to bless the people of Israel three times each year.
So the writer of Mark's gospel carries on the tradition in both senses. His text introduces the events of Yeshua's life: This is the story of ..., but it also immediately declares who Yeshua is: He is the Son of G-d. That is who He is, the characteristics He inherits, whose resemblance He bears, so that everyone who sees Him can recognise the true relationship. And as the gospel travels through Yeshua's ministry years, we see Yeshua uniquely portrayed as both the Son of Man and the Son of G-d.
In John's gospel, chapter 8, Yeshua and the P'rushim had a sharp disagreement about parentage. "You know neither Me, nor My Father; if you knew Me, you would know My Father also" (v 19, NASB), said Yeshua, "You are of your father the devil, and you want to do the desires of your father" (v 44, NASB). You can often discern peoples' descent just by looking at them and their behaviour. We tell people who we are all the time without speaking a word, by our attitudes, our clothes and our body language - just the way we look.
Further Study: Romans 8:29; 12:2
Application: Who will you look like today ? Are people going to be able to see the Father in you ?
© Jonathan Allen, 2003
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