Developing the Theme of Family through the Torah Portions. Number One.

Dr Clifford Denton.

Introduction to the Series.

Oh, how I love Your Torah! It is my meditation all the day. Psalm 119:97.

Picture By Helen McNeill

Since before the time when Jesus (Yeshua*) came into the world, it has been the custom of the Jews to read a portion of the first five books of the Bible each week. These books are the foundation of all Bible teaching and are known, in Hebrew, as Torah. The word Torah means teaching/instruction, so that, read prayerfully, these portions lay the foundation of all God’s teaching. The custom of reading through the Torah, portion by portion each year in this way, unites the Jewish people across the entire world.

It is useful for Christians to consider the benefits of adopting these readings in a structured way into their own Bible reading routine. It brings us into unity with Messianic Jews and restores the Torah at the foundation of our own Bible studies.

The Bible covers a multitude of themes which, begin in these first five books. They weave their way like a tapestry through the entire Bible, from foundation to fulfilment. Each of the weekly Torah portions contains a range of these themes through which God can instruct us through His Holy Spirit. Whatever our personal stage in God’s plan for us, the Holy Spirit will speak as seems appropriate, so there is no formula or ritual in founding our Bible readings in this way. It is the structure that Yeshua (Jesus) grew up with as well as all His disciples, and the Torah mindset is applicable to all our lives.

Our priority at The Cedars School of Biblical Family Life, is to strengthen families so we are taking a special approach with the Torah Portions this year. Rather than pick up a range of different themes each week we will develop the single theme of Family for the entire year!

Our weekly Torah Portion.

Each study will be uploaded onto the Tishrei website ( in time for the weekly Sabbath evening (Friday evening). It will be in the School of Biblical Family Life section of the website. In addition, if you would like to receive the study by email each week please let us know via Please also pass this on to others who might find it useful.

So, to our first study of the year…..

Study Number One

Bereshit: Genesis 1:1-6:8.

14th October 2023/Tishrei 29.

The first word of the Bible is Bereshit. It means In the beginning. Thus begins the account of the history of God’s creation, of His purposes, His priorities, His intentions for mankind and also the struggles that ensued when mankind entered the world. Often Torah is translated Law in our Bibles, which can bring a heaviness linked to dry ritualism, compared with the better translation of the word: Teaching. Nevertheless, God’s teaching relates to the structure of His Creation. His teaching implies that there is order and discipline in the right sense while allowing the freedom of response that He gave to all people who consider what He has taught. Note that when Yeshua (Jesus) returns, according to Isaiah 9:7, Of the increase of His government and peace there will be no end, upon the throne of David and over His kingdom, to order it and establish it with judgment and justice, from that time forward, even forever. This confirms that God’s intended order is embedded in His teaching.

Our reading of the first chapters of Genesis brings a picture of the marvelous order of the universe and all that is in it, speaking always to us, as the writer of Psalm 19 recalls so clearly, of God’s character. The universe was not created as a scientific goal but as a place for mankind to dwell. Into its order, God formed the first man, Adam. But Adam was not to be alone. For a short while he was able to live among all the animals that were created, each with its “partner”, but Adam was alone. God met Adam at his point of need after a time and brought him his “partner” – his woman – his wife. Adam and Eve brought forth children and thereafter all generations so that all mankind came from them – the family of man.

But let’s consider some key Hebrew words that strengthen the understanding of what God had planned.

God brought forth a family and He made sure that this family was established on the most intimate of relationships. Our English Bibles use the word woman for the wife of Adam, but the Hebrew words are better. Adam was ish the Hebrew for man, and God brought out of him ishah. When ah is added to a noun it signifies going forth, so God brought forth from Adam’s own body the one who would be with him. Similarly, in God’s order, through the most intimate physical relationship between ish and ishah, beautiful when sanctified and pure, children came forth into every new generation. Adam’s ishah was not called Eve, but Chava, a word relating to life. Also, the Hebrew Bible does not call her a partner or wife, but ezer cnegdo, meaning a helper comparable, of like kind to Adam. It is important to meditate on these words used originally so that we can consider carefully the foundations for God’s order of mankind founded on family. The picture is of a man in perfect and harmonious unity with his chosen/appointed helper, each complementing the other, to build community on the foundation of family, as intended by God in the beginning.

Yeshua quoted from Genesis when He was questioned about marriage, confirming the continuing intimacy and order of the foundational building block of society which pleases God: For this reason, a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh. Matthew 19:5.

Freewill and the presence of satan, the serpent in the Garden, ensured that God’s order would be contested from the start. Our Torah Portion describes the fall both of the first family and the entire family of mankind. The most beautiful and central purpose of God’s Creation, the family, was distorted, not just in our generation but from the very beginning.

Nevertheless, God left His teaching in written form for all of us to consider prayerfully in all generations. Satan, through temptation, has divided and distorted what God wants us to establish with Him. This is increasing daily across our world today and we are surrounded by evidence of it.

Yet, there is another Bereshit. In the beginning, says the Apostle John, was The Word which became flesh and dwelt among us. He was there in the beginning in the heart and intention of God, to teach us and help us, and through the gift of the Holy Spirit to put things right, including in our families. How much is The Apostle Paul listened to today, whether it be Ephesians 5 and 6 or even more challenging teaching such as in 1 Timothy 2:8-15?

Let us consider such Scriptures and build up this theme of family, God’s precious and high calling, week by week as we study His teaching together. Surely, in these “end times” God is calling us to restore our families to conform to His original intent at Creation.

*Yeshua was the actual name given to the Son of God by the Father. The Name means Salvation because His Name is his character and ministry- “you shall call His name Yeshuafor He will save His people from their sins” Matthew 1:21. Use of His original Name can seem strange to Christians who have adopted the custom of the name Jesus, which entered the Greek and Roman world many centuries ago as an adaptation of the original name given by God. Since, in our own ministry, we are building a bridge with Messianic Jews, we will increasingly use Yeshua for the Lord’s Name.