By Joseph Shulam – Thousand Oaks, California.
This next Shabbat all the Synagogues in the world will start reading the Torah from Genesis 1:1 – They will read the story of Creation. In some Christian circles the story of Creation is under attack. It is not considered “historical” – it is considered as an ancient epic poem not to be taken literally. One of the reasons that some scholars have this opinion is that there are two ancient epic poems that precede Moses and both of them have creation narratives. I would like to share a short comparison of the Genesis text with the Enuma Elish – a Babylonian narrative of the creation story and give you my analysis:
Divine spirit and cosmic matter are coexistent and coeternal
Divine ONE creates cosmic matter and exists independently of it
Primeval chaos; Tiʾamat (the goddess of the abyss) enveloped in darkness
The earth a desolate waste, with darkness covering the deep (tĕhōm)
Light emanating from the gods
The creation of the firmament
The creation of the firmament
The creation of dry land
The creation of dry land
The creation of luminaries
The creation of luminaries
The creation of man
The creation of man
The gods rest and celebrate
God rests and sanctifies the seventh day
First of all we clearly see the similarity between these two texts. Second, we also see the differences. In the Genesis account we see that there is ONE creator Divine Spirit. Because of the similarities we have at least three possible explanations:
1. The Genesis text is dependent (has taken or learned) on the Enuma Elish (The Babylonian story of creation).
2. The Enuma Elish and the Genesis texts are dependent on a third source that we don’t know and don’t have. Both of the stories are dependent on a common source that does not exist today.
3. Each ONE has developed the narrative of creation by observance and analysis independently.
In this puzzle all the possibilities are open. The most significant part of these texts is that both of them consider that the luminaries, the Sun and the Moon and the Stars were not created in the initial stage, but first there was a light from God in Genesis and from “the gods” in the Enuma Elish. In other words there is information here that is beyond the scope of natural observance. There is an element that is beyond the common knowledge and understanding that speaks of an undefined source of light that is divine – either by ONE God or by multiple gods of the idolatrous world.
Now let us remember that in the book of Genesis there were no idols and no nations in existence between chapter eleven and all of humanity spoke the same language. Among the nations (הגויים) there must be a latent memory and information that is carried over as an epic of creation that preserves ancient elements and reinterprets these elements in light of their present circumstance – that is idolatrous.
What we have here in my opinion is collaborative information from an ancient historical memory transmitted in the pagan context of the nations and reinterpreted in the idolatrous context of their history. What we have in Genesis is not a part of that historical ancient memory because Israel was not a nation and did not exist before the Tower of Babel. Abraham is called out by the Almighty God in chapter 12 after the fall of the Tower of Babel and the establishment of the nations. Therefore the story of Genesis is a divine revelation and not an epic poem based on a copy of the ancient Babylonian epic Enuma Elish or the ancient Akkadian Epic of Gilgamesh that also has some common elements of historical memory. The most significant difference is that the Divine ONE is independent of His creation. He created the World and all that is in it and HE is still outside of the creation and above it. In the pagan view the God’s are apart of creation and a part of the matter and coexistent with creation. This difference is of the greatest importance because we have a wonderful creation that the Almighty God made for us as human beings and HE is above and beyond the physical creation.
I remember the words of the Apostle Paul that actually says it all: Rom. 1:18-23, “For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who suppress the truth in unrighteousness, 19 because what may be known of God is manifest in them, for God has shown it to them. 20 For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even His eternal power and Godhead, so that they are without excuse, 21 because, although they knew God, they did not glorify Him as God, nor were thankful, but became futile in their thoughts, and their foolish hearts were darkened. 22 Professing to be wise, they became fools, 23 and changed the glory of the incorruptible God into an image made like corruptible man—and birds and four-footed animals and creeping things.”
As the election in America is getting close I would like to urge all people around the world who are reading this prayer list to vote on their keens, to pray for the USA and for the world we live in now. There are so many concerns and issues to pray for our world.
1. There is a new cold war brewing between Russia and the West – Syria is the hotbed in which the seeds of this cold war (that could turn into a hot war in a flash). The Russians are showing their new weapons that with one rocket could destroy an area the size of Texas. There is saber rattling and movement of force close to the Eastern European border with Russia. These are all issues of deep concern – not fear – concern because as Children of God we are concerned with the issues of God and His children worldwide.
2. The election in the USA no matter who gets elected will affect the whole world, and very likely bring some serious changes in our lives. What I pray for every day is simply “LORD COME QUICKLY – MARANA TAA.”
3. Pray for Israel our southern border is heating up again with Gaza and the Egyptian border having incidents and shooting rockets daily. Stand with Israel in prayer. Stand against the false and evil decisions that are being pushed by the Arab/Muslim countries against Israel in the UN and UNESCO. We have access to the Almighty God when we pray in the name of Yeshua and our prayers do matter and have the power like Daniel’s prayer to change the path of future History.
Please keep praying for my family. Pray for Marcia and Barry and Danah and Noaam and Joey and Beth and for me too. I need strength and healing from God for my own body. Marcia is still with her father and mother in East Tennessee and she needs special prayer for her health.
Pray for Yuda and Reuven they are both doing the reserve duty in the I.D.F. now and pray for their protection and safety.
Pray for the over 200 Chinese brothers and sisters who were baptized by Yuda in the Jordan River and also 7 Canadian Native Indians whom Yuda baptized. I pray that the Lord will bless these dear brothers and sisters and give them a full measure of His Spirit to guide them and use them to bring glory to His name and fruit for His Kingdom.
Pray for Netivyah. Our services are full every week and people are standing because there is not enough room in the Synagogue space for everyone to sit down. We appreciate the guest from all around the World, but we need you to join us in prayer for the growth of the local brothers and sisters. We ask you to pray for the young families in our congregation – they are wonderful but each has special challenges and needs that your prayers for them will surly be a blessing!
Pray for the scholarship fund that we provide for students who are disciples of Yeshua. We provide scholarships now to 19 students in Jerusalem and also to more students from the Galilee. These scholarships are 200 dollars per month per student. They are actually covering most of the tuition in the University. It is a big help and we are doing this in order to encourage Disciples of Yeshua to study and build up the future of the Body of the Messiah in Israel with well-equipped men and women of God with good jobs and honorable professions. We need your help and your prayer for this project that is already more than 20 years old. We have students who have received this scholarship and now they are lawyers and nurses and scholars and you name it, even plumbers and electricians.
Keep praying for the Hamotzi – food distribution program. It is growing and we expect to have 150 needy families before the 1st of January 2017 that will receive food every week from the Hamotzi program. For those of you who don’t know Hebrew Hamotzi – is the prayer that is said before eating bread in meals. This is the new name given to the Soup Kitchen by Yuda and those who are actually doing the food distribution program.
Please keep praying for the sick brothers and sisters from all around the World. I would like to ask you to pray for some friends who have a need for God’s blessing on their work: Chung and Sister Lee. I have special concern for our dear brother Goh and his family, and for Sister Christy, Sister Laurel, and for Brother Michael Kenzevic.
These are brothers who have needs in their work and God is gracious to bless and help those who have concern to bless others.
Please don’t forget to especial pray for healing and strength for our dear brother Tom from Murfreesboro, Tennessee, and also in the same town pray for Bobby, and Emet, and Joe, and Gloria D., these are all very precious brothers and friends are battling serious health issues.
We continue to pray for Gary in Jerusalem, Aharon (Don and Nancy’s Son) is still struggling with a tumor in his brain keep him in your prayers please! Also keep his family in your prayers. Yuri Marianenko is fighting a prostate cancer. Our wonderful older brothers and sisters need our prayers: Ahuvah Ben Meir, David Stern, Marcia Shulam, Sarit, Miriam, Ilana, and Leah. This week I am adding to this prayer list our dear sister Lydia – lift her up in your prayers and ask for special encouragement for her from the Lord Himself.
We lift up our dear brothers and sisters Ruby, Clara, Paulo, Naomi, Tim Tucker, Anna, Anne-Mirijami, Satu-Maria, Anna-Majia, Sinni Tuuli, Erki and Sirpa, and Evelina, Eva H., Liz in Georgia, and Horace and June Marcia’s parents.
We especially lift up before your throne of mercy Marcelo’s father and mother in Belo-Horizonte.
We pray for the following dear brothers and sisters: Pastor Curita in Tokyo, Toru San, and the husband of Yumi, Sadako San, Shoko San, Takeo Sensei and Tomoko San all in Japan.
May the Lord bless you from Zion and bless your coming and going in all things of His Kingdom! Please remember Genesis 1:1 – God created the Heavens and the Earth – this blue star called Earth has a Master that makes it run and bloom with beauty and loves His children ONE and All.
P.S. – Before the election Elhanan Ben-Avraham send me a part of WASHINGTON’S INAUGURAL ADDRESS-1789- as he laid his hand on the Bible.
“Such being the impressions under which I have, in obedience to the public summons, repaired to the present station; it would be peculiarly improper to omit in this first official Act, my fervent supplications to that Almighty Being who rules over the Universe, who presides in the Councils of Nations, and whose providential aids can supply every human defect, that his benediction may consecrate to the liberties and happiness of the People of the United States, a Government instituted by themselves for these essential purposes: and may enable every instrument employed in its administration to execute with success, the functions allotted to his charge. In tendering this homage to the Great Author of every public and private good I assure myself that it expresses your sentiments not less than my own; nor those of my fellow-citizens at large, less than either. No People can be bound to acknowledge and adore the invisible hand, which conducts the Affairs of men more than the People of the United States. Every step, by which they have advanced to the character of an independent nation, seems to have been distinguished by some token of providential agency. And in the important revolution just accomplished in the system of their United Government, the tranquil deliberations and voluntary consent of so many distinct communities, from which the event has resulted, cannot be compared with the means by which most Governments have been established, without some return of pious gratitude along with an humble anticipation of the future blessings which the past seem to presage. These reflections, arising out of the present crisis, have forced themselves too strongly on my mind to be suppressed. You will join with me I trust in thinking, that there are none under the influence of which, the proceedings of a new and free Government can more auspiciously commence.
I dwell on this prospect with every satisfaction which an ardent love for my Country can inspire: since there is no truth more thoroughly established, than that there exists in the economy and course of nature, an indissoluble union between virtue and happiness, between duty and advantage, between the genuine maxims of an honest and magnanimous policy, and the solid rewards of public prosperity and felicity: Since we ought to be no less persuaded that the propitious smiles of Heaven, can never be expected on a nation that disregards the eternal rules of order and right, which Heaven itself has ordained: And since the preservation of the sacred fire of liberty, and the destiny of the Republican model of Government, are justly considered as deeply, perhaps as finally staked, on the experiment entrusted to the hands of the American people.
Having thus imported to you my sentiments, as they have been awakened by the occasion which brings us together, I shall take my present leave; but not without resorting once more to the benign parent of the human race, in humble supplication that since he has been pleased to favour the American people, with opportunities for deliberating in perfect tranquility, and dispositions for deciding with unparellelled unanimity on a form of Government, for the security of their Union, and the advancement of their happiness; so his divine blessing may be equally conspicuous in the enlarged views, the temperate consultations, and the wise measures on which the success of this Government must depend.”
George Washington- 1789