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
Levi; A Borrowed Love
As we follow the progression of ‘adam’ to Christ in the narrative of the Sons of Jacob, we begin to discern a pattern of valuable insights. The genealogy of the sons of Jacob is not unlike a progression of understanding that parallels the graduation from one school grade to the next. The ‘story behind the story’ of each of these sons of Jacob teach us progressions about ourselves as we play out our own pageant on our journey to Christ. Indeed, we are birthed Spiritually into the Kingdom. And then we have to begin to grow up into a mature Christ. We are shown an advancement of discovery of the Kingdom of God in the unfolding of this pageant. Leah, feeling rejected and scorned, is producing sons for her husband Jacob, and is revealing to us her own tragedy in the names she ascribes to these sons. Though the story doesn’t specifically tell us, we know that Rachel is also having sexual relationship with Jacob, but she is embarrassingly unable to conceive and give birth. [Gen. 30:1] Rachel is producing no son. There is trouble brewing in the life of this ‘supplanter’ in his role as ‘Jacob’.
Gen. 29:34 And she conceived again, and bare a son; and said, Now this time will my husband be joined unto me, because I have born him three sons: therefore was his name called Levi.
Apparently, the ability to produce two sons for Jacob has done little to assuage the hurt in Leah. As we remember that the name ‘Leah’ is a description of the feelings of rejection, and being negated, delivering sons doesn’t seem to have satisfied her feelings of inadequacy where her husband is concerned. Can ‘Leah’ be a parable of us all in our feelings of rejection and separation from the God of Unconditional Love? Aren’t we all, in our religious deceptions, attempting to produce something of acceptance to a God that we don’t really believe loves us as we are? Are these parable/patterns teaching us of the reality and progression of the Spiritual birth of the Son of God within each of us? Hmmmm.
Most of us are familiar with the ‘parable’ that declares “…three times is a charm”. In the case of Leah, producing a third son doesn’t seem to have provided much balm. The telling of this genealogy doesn’t give us any details about what has gone on in the lives of these characters between births. The nine months of a normal pregnancy can be a long time. Some have believed that time heals all wounds. Actually, time heals nothing. It does, however, allow for the formation of scar tissue; both physically and mentally. Throughout all of this, Leah is still haunted with feelings of rejection, starving for the reassuring love from her husband. Leah is still negated; at least in her heart and mind. “…now will my husband be ‘joined’ (lah-vah) to me, for I have born him three sons: therefore she called this son ‘Levi’ (lah-vah).
The name ‘Levi’ (Strong’s # 3878) is quite revealing when the root of the word is properly understood. Levi (#3878) has been ‘defined’ by Strong’s Concordance as “…from the root #3867; attached; Levi, a son of Jacob;” Many have described this name as ‘joined’, based on how the KJV translates Gen. 29:34. In this verse, the word translated as ‘joined’ is indeed the Hebrew root word ‘lah-vah’, Strong’s # 3867, and therein lies the beginnings of much misunderstanding of the name ‘Levi’ (Strong’s # 3878), of the tribe of Levi and of the Levitical priesthood around which most of the Old Testament revolves.
The primary meaning of the root verb ‘lah-vah’ is that of ‘borrow’. If you ‘borrow’ (lah-vah) something from me, it is doubtful that you would ever consider that which you had ‘borrowed’ as your own personal possession. If you are like me you have probably at some time ‘borrowed’ something, and then forgotten the importance of returning that which you borrowed. You didn’t intend to keep that which you had ‘borrowed’, but sometimes we get so distracted that the return of that which was borrowed becomes lost in the shuffle. I can personally attest to that in my own experience; numerous times. But never once when I ‘borrowed’ something did I intend to make that ‘something’ mine. In the case of Leah and Jacob and Levi, we are told that the name ‘Levi’ means “…to be joined to”. And yet the very word from which ‘Levi’ is derived doesn’t mean ‘to join’ at all. The verb ‘lah-vah’ is dealing with the idea of lending for a temporary purpose. The verb ‘lah-vah’ means simply to borrow, or to lend. Maybe, when naming this third son, Leah was thinking that since she was the first ‘wife’ of Jacob, her sister Rachel had ‘borrowed’ her husband from her. That is the more probable explanation of this scenario. For although Leah was continuing to conceive and give birth, yet in her mind her husband was not ‘joined’ to her at all. She knew that Jacob’s heart was for Rachel. Maybe Leah had determined that a third son for Jacob would ‘borrow’ him back from Rachel. But alas, this is all mere speculation, and the translators didn’t help us very much.
In the western concept of ‘joined’, the idea means to ‘unite’ with; to become in union with another. We are told in Genesis that the union of ‘adam’ with his wife was intended for them to become ‘one’ flesh; united. ‘One’, in the Hebrew concept, doesn’t necessarily mean singular, or singularity. Actually, the Hebrew word we translate as ‘one’ is not often used to indicate singularity, as if referring to quantity. The concept of being ‘one’ is that of becoming in total and complete harmony with the other; united in every aspect. Yashua said, numerous times, “My Father and I are one”. And yet he also told us “My Father is greater than I”. Was Yashua being coy with us? Of course not! While acknowledging that ‘God the Father’ was a greater concept than that of ‘God the Son’, Yashua also declared that he is in complete harmony and unity with all things revealed to him by “My Father”. In our western and occidental mindset we have totally misunderstood many Hebrew concepts, and therefore have taken many things out of context. I believe the ideas surrounding ‘Levi’ are a valid example of western mindsets misunderstanding some common eastern customs and language patterns.
The ‘mystery’ and fascination with the name ‘Levi’ can be addressed by understanding that the verb from which this name is derived, ‘lah-vah’, means “…to borrow”; plain and simple. The word is translated into KJV English as ‘borrow’ and ‘borrower’, ‘lend’ and ‘lender’, ‘join and joined’, ‘abide’ (Ecc. 8:15) and even ‘cleave’ (Dan. 11:34). Prov. 22:7 translates this word both as ‘borrower’ and ‘lender’ in the same verse. The obvious idea this word is communicating is that of a temporary transaction of lending, borrowing or abiding with. None of these concepts can be seriously considered transactions of permanency. These all are referring to actions that have temporary purposes, value and merit. All of these ideas were/are intended to be ‘supplanted’ by a more valuable understanding; and that more valuable understanding is Christ in you and me.
For whatever reasons that Leah was moved to call her third son ‘Levi’ we can speculate and debate. However, if we understand the true meaning revealed in the verb ‘lah-vah’, and the noun ‘Levi’, there can be no question that the importance and permanence that religion has attached to the name and concept of ‘Levi’ as an enduring priesthood has been misunderstood, and misrepresented. Judaism is still trying to elevate the concept of the Levitical priesthood to a level of credibility and glory that was never intended by the Spirit of God. Levi was a temporary loan for the purposes of God’s Pageant to teach us about ourselves, and to illustrate our distancing ourselves from the Spirit of God within. God never intended for us to think that ‘Levi’, or the Levites, were anything more than borrowed actors, performing their role in God’s Great Pageant. For mankind to continue to value and pursue the spiritual benefits of a ‘Levitical’ priesthood is tantamount to a grown up continuing to play with toys and dolls after the Real and True Christ has been given; which he has. To expect to be ‘joined’ to that which is grossly inferior is to completely misunderstand the Character and Nature of Our Father.
Christ is High Priest after the order (dah-vahr, divine orderly arrangement) of Melchizedek. Christ has no fellowship with Levi. “For what accord has Christ with belial? Or what part has a believer with an unbeliever”? [2 Corin. 6:15]
The story of Leah has much to teach us. And this is not the end of the story.
…to be continued.