Abram was the first in scripture to be called 'Hebrew'. Why? What does it mean? Is it only referring to the lineage that Abram descended from? Or, is there an understanding of this discriptive term that also applies to us, as Believers In Christ? This writing explores this concept.
The Sons of Jacob / Israel
Asher; A Straight Forward Journey
KJV Matthew 7:13 “Enter ye in at the strait (narrow; constrained) gate: for wide is the gate, and broad is the way, that leads to destruction, and many there be which go through it: 7:14 because strait (narrow; confined) is the gate, and narrow is the way, which leads unto life, and few there be that find it.”
In the ongoing competition between Leah and Rachel to produce sons for Jacob, God was continuing the revelations of mankind concerning our journey from ‘adam’, and unto Christ. For the journey from ‘adam’ unto Christ is a Spiritual journey that all who pursue God will experience. In the religion that refers to itself as ‘Christianity’, we have been deceived by ‘religious deceptions’ over the millennia through lack of Spiritual understanding, and for failing to rightly discern the words preserved for us from our forefathers. That ‘religious deception’ is not an indictment, but simply the results of failing to Spiritually discern messages that were intended to orchestrate our individual spiritual journeys. As believers, we were all too eager to take these scriptural messages as literal rules and commandments, rather than search for the Spiritual Life imbedded in these instructions. And we have all failed. There is none that have not ‘missed the mark’. There is not one of us that has never misunderstood a scripture, and in our folly, attempted to physically manifest a ‘religious reality’ of a scripture that was actually provided as a Spiritual understanding, and yet we misrepresented that scripture by applying our carnal interpretations and descriptions and actions. It has been, and will continue to be, Our Father’s Plan that we fail miserably when we attempt to naturally manifest a physical reality from a revelation that is first, and foremost, a Spiritual Illumination. For in no way will God allow us to access or understand the Glory of God, nor the Kingdom of God, by observing and applying our carnal interpretations to His Spiritual Blueprint. His Glory He will not share with another (understanding). Yashua answered them, “You do err not knowing (have Spiritual Understanding) the scriptures;” [Matt. 22:29]. Unfortunately that still applies today, though many are now coming to understand the simplicity of this statement from Yashua, “God is Spirit”. [John 4:24]
In our last discussion we looked at the seventh son born to Jacob; Gad. And in the investigation of the name/nature that Gad represents, I tried to illustrate an understanding of coming to a point in our journey, from ‘adam’ to Christ, that we recognize a need to ‘separate’ ourselves from the wayward path that our journey had been taking, and realize a need for a ‘change of direction’. In the competition for preeminence in the role of wife to Jacob, Leah had produced four sons. And then she ceased conceiving. Rachel, desperate to participate in the family, gave her handmaid Bilhah to Jacob as concubine, and Bilhah produced two sons for Jacob. But Rachel was as yet barren, and could not conceive. When Leah faced the reality that she was no longer conceiving, not to be outdone she gave her own handmaid, Zilpah, to Jacob. Zilpah produced a son, and Leah called his name/nature Gad.
KJV Genesis 30:12 “And Zilpah Leah's maid bare Jacob a second son. 30:13 And Leah said, Happy am I, for the daughters will call me blessed: and she called his name Asher (Happy).”
Upon the birth of another son for Jacob, through Leah’s handmaid Zilpah, Leah called the name/nature of this son Asher, proclaiming that she was now ‘happy’ (ah-sher), and ‘blessed’ (ah-sher). The Hebrew word ‘ah-sher’, which we pronounce simply as ‘asher’, Strong’s # H833 thru H838, has been very much misunderstood. And probably the most misunderstood use of this word has been when it has been translated as ‘happy’. The Hebrew ‘ah-sher’ is one of those words, like Gad, which might take several paragraphs of discussion to grasp the importance of the use of this word.
One of the more valuable lessons I was taught as an early ‘convert’ to Christianity was the understanding that God had not called me to His kingdom to “…make me happy”. As I began to familiarize myself with ‘christian’ surroundings, I wanted to be ‘happy’. My Heavenly Father, however, wanted to teach me to be Glad. While I wanted to be happy experiencing the newness of ‘christianity’, My Father wanted me to learn the Joy of His Presence, regardless of the circumstances of my surroundings. I had to learn the lesson that ‘happiness’ is the fleeting emotion of ‘being happy’; happy because what I wanted to happen was unfolding. ‘Glad’, on the other hand, is the heart that can still sense the Spirit Presence of God, even when having no control of what is occurring. ‘Happy’ is being pleased with the ‘happenstance’ of what I wanted to transpire, while ‘unhappy’ is being emotionally deflated with the negativity of the moment. Joy is the stability of knowing the presence of the Wholly Spirit of God, even when the turmoil of chaos seems to reign supreme.
So, how did the Hebrew word ‘ah-sher’ (asher) get translated so often as ‘happy’? The word ‘ah-sher’ is used many, many times throughout O.T. scripture. It is one of the most prolifically used words in all of the O.T. Most times, however, it is translated as ‘which’, ‘that’, ‘whose’, ‘that which’, etc. The word is used most often as a relative pronoun, or relative particle, indicating a logical and accurate progression of thoughts or events. The word has the responsibility of pointing us, the readers, to the ‘straight forward’ progression of events being described in these verses. Consequently, the most accurate definition of the word ‘ah-sher’, at least for my understanding, is as “…the straight progression”; or, “…the straight path”; or, “…the straight record”. Many Bible students will be familiar with a particular use of this word ‘ah-sher’, for it is the basis for the word ‘Jasher’. ‘Jasher’ is referred to in Joshua and in 2Samuel as a ‘book of remembrance’ that the early ‘Israelites’ were familiar with; or at least aware of. ‘Jasher’, in this context, is referring to a ‘straight record’; or straight and reliable recording of events in the history of the descendants of ‘Adam’. While I have serious reservations about the ‘straightness’ of “The Book of Jasher”, there are many today that put much confidence in this ancient text.
So, how are we to best understand the use of the word ‘ah-sher’ as referring to the second son born of the union of Jacob and Zilpah, a word that Leah chose to describe the name/nature of the son of this event? What, if anything, was Leah prophesying in the birth of this son of Jacob which she chose to ‘name’ Asher? From the background evidence of the many uses and appearances of this word ‘asher’, it seems reasonable to conclude that this word is referring to a ‘straight forward path’; a straight forward and unwavering course of action, or intent, or expression. I believe this is what Yashua was revealing to us in the verses we have recorded in Matthew 7: 13-14.
KJV Genesis 30:11 And Leah said, A troop (separation) cometh: and she called his name Gad.
When we begin to recognize the need for a separation in our own life experiences from those things that continue to be distractions and hindrances to our ‘sanity’ and benefit, we then must begin to recognize a need for a straight forward direction in the patterns of our conduct. A life of reckless and wayward conduct (the ‘broad way’) is a prime candidate for a path of narrows, constrictions and straits, whether self-imposed, or imposed upon us by others. This is the very description of the Hebrew word ‘tzar-rar’, Strong’s # H6887, which gets translated into many aspects of difficulty, including ‘rock’, ‘distress’, ‘enemy’, ‘adversary’, ‘affliction’, ‘narrow’, ‘trouble’, etc. This word ‘tzar-rar’ is the very word used to describe the phrase ‘Jacob’s troubles’ as referred to in Jeremiah 30:7. But this word is also used to refer to God as ‘Rock’, and it is the root from which the word for Egypt is formed. Egypt has become synonymous with being “…between a rock and a hard place”. It seems almost as if Leah, in the naming of the sons of Jacob of which she was in charge, was declaring a change of understanding, and maybe even a necessary ‘course correction’; a course of which Jacob was the progenitor, but of which God was orchestrating the events. The very names of these sons that Jacob was siring were declaring a correction of understanding in this tribal family that had begun in the most chaotic and reckless circumstances and activities. Jacob was being squeezed through straits and narrows and afflictions that were affecting his entire family, and affecting all in whom he came into contact. Jacob was experiencing the consequences of his actions. It was almost as if God, the Author and Finisher, was narrowing the path that this journey must take. Jacob’s journey, to this point, had been one that ‘allowed’ for the bending of the rules. Jacob had demonstrated great confidence in his ability to manipulate events, and people, in order to get his own way. Jacob, ‘the supplanter’, demonstrated a willingness to abandon the ‘straight and narrow’ to satisfy his own carnal appetites. Let’s face it; you cannot desire to be ‘found’, until it is revealed to you that you are ‘lost’. The remainder of Jacob’s journey would require a return to a path of honesty, integrity and humility. Jacob would have to find that “…strait (constrained; restricted) is the way, and narrow is the gate that leads to Life”. On the journey from ‘Jacob’ to ‘Israel’, there would be many disappointments, and even tragedies, to have to endure. Asher would become a declaration of the need for the ‘straight (strait) and narrow path’ that leads to Life. ‘Asher’ is not the Life. ‘Asher’ is the path that leads us to Life. Herein is Life; that you know God, and Yashua haMashiahk (Jesus the Christ), whom God has sent. For ‘asher’ describes a ‘straight forward’ approach in relationship with self, and with others. Asher, as a ‘straight path of life’, would help to avoid many obstacles and self- inflicted difficulties. But more importantly, ‘asher’ is required for surviving and overcoming the tragedies which this journey imposes. Leah prophesied that in ‘asher’, her life would be called ‘Blessed’ (ah-sher). And she was correct, for Leah had more to give to this family than she could yet imagine. And the journey from ‘adam’ to Christ continues.
Shalom, and Shalom on your journey to Life in Christ.