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Did Abraham speak with Jesus?

17/01/2011

In Genesis 18 three men visits Abraham and promise that he would have a son through Sarah. Hearing this, standing at the tent door, Sarah laughs.

Gen 18:
13 And the LORD said to Abraham, “Why did Sarah laugh, saying, ‘Shall I indeed bear a child, when I am so old?’
14 “Is anything too difficult for the LORD? At the appointed time I will return to you, at this time next year, and Sarah will have a son.”

Abraham appears to speak to only one of the men. Christianity believes that this was the pre-incarnate Christ.

The concept in this passage is very interesting, and it is actually the key to understanding a number of the prophets’ and Jesus’ sayings as well. The concept itself is not in use today (I can’t think of it, perhaps it is still used in Judaism), but it was in ancient time.

I should describe it through the following example.

I am a lord and have a servant who is totally devoted to me. I send my servant with my total authority to a third party to deal in my name. I also tell him what to say.

So my servant goes and deals with the third party. If that person was a Jew, to him there was no difference if he spoke to me directly or through my servant. So if he recorded the servant’s visit, he would record that he was spoken to me and was dealing with me.

This is how prophets, including Jesus spoke the words of the Almighty.

Let me give you a very clear example from the gospels.

Look up Matthew 8:5-13. In that passage the centurion comes to Jesus begging him to heal his sick servant. Keep in mind that the intended audience of Matthew are the Jews.

Now look up the very same story in Luke 7:1-10. We are getting more details about the story since Luke was addressed to the Greeks who were interested in the minutest details. First the centurion sends some of the Jewish elders, then his friends to Jesus to beg him to heal the servant.

The very same event, one written for Jews, the other for Greeks. To the Jews it didn’t matter if the centurion spoke to Jesus directly or through the Jewish elders or his friends.

In the story of three angels visiting Abraham the concept is the same, and you find this idea running through the whole bible. God puts His words in the mouths of His people and they speak in His place.

Here are a few links that may help (especially the second one):

http://www.chabad.org/library/article_cdo/aid/1035957/jewish/Why-is-Eliezer-Anonymous.htm
http://www.chabad.org/parshah/article_cdo/aid/514789/jewish/Let-Me-Be-You.htm

I particularly like this quote from the second article:

“…when we live up to G-d’s desire; fulfilling His will, becoming His agents as it were, we remove all sense of self from the mission and bind ourselves to the source of that mission by becoming one with our G-d in the ultimate unity of existence.”

And here is an excellent definition:

“Shaliach — the word means “agent” and “emissary” — is a halachic (Torah-legal) term for a person empowered by someone else to act in his stead. The shaliach first appears in the Torah in the person of Eliezer, whom Abraham commissioned to find a wife for his son, Isaac. Rebecca was selected and betrothed as a wife for Isaac by Eliezer — she was legally Isaac’s wife without her actual husband having ever set eyes on her or having exchanged a single word with her. In the words of the Talmud, “A person’s shaliach is as he himself.”

There exists a halachic model (the eved or “slave”) for one who has abnegated his will, personality and very identity to that of his “master.” There also exists the model of the “employee” (sachir), who assumes the obligation to perform a certain task for someone else, but whose personality and identity remain separate and distinct from the personality and identity of his “employer.” The shaliach is unique in that he or she retains a great degree of autonomy in carrying out his mission, yet at the same time becomes a virtual extension of the person who commissioned him (the meshaleiach).

The shaliach does not abnegate his intellect, will, desires, feelings, talents and personal “style” to that of the one whom he represents; rather, he enlists them in the fulfillment of his mission. The result of this is not a lesser bond between the two, but the contrary: the meshaleiach is acting through the whole of the shaliach — not only through the shaliach’s physical actions, but also through the shaliach’s personality, which has become an extension of the meshaleiach’s personality.”

http://www.chabad.org/therebbe/article_cdo/aid/1088/jewish/The-Emissaries.htm

Perhaps one can now understand why Jesus spoke the way he did and could forgive sins.

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Categories: Interpretation, Jewish
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