The Call of Abram
The third Parasha is a long and ongoing journey. If I wanted to take you to one place that fits the reading of the story, I would not find one such place! In this portion our father, Abraham, wanders all over the country and the Middle East for many decades. He begins in Ur Kasdim which is in southern Iraq today, passing all the Land of Israel while building altars in Shechem (Nablus), Beit El and Hebron, descending to Egypt due to the famine, come back and go to rescue his nephew Lot, who was captured and taken to Damascus. Jesus was similarly wandering all over the Holy Land. He was born in Bethlehem, fled to Egypt from fear of the murderous king Herod, grew up in Nazareth, visited Jerusalem several times as a child and a young man. At the age of 30, he had to flee Nazareth to Capernaum, which he made his new home for three years. From there he built his ministry and visited the different synagogues in the Galilee, preached, taught and performed miracles. At the age of 33, he arrived in Jerusalem for the last time.
This portion calls upon us to embark on a spiritual journey to get as close as we can to God, and there is no doubt that the best way to approach God is the way of Abraham and Jesus – to walk in the Holy Land and pray in it: as it is written: “Go from your country, your people and your father’s household to the land I will show you” or “Go, walk through the length and breadth of the land, for I am giving it to you.”
This week I would like to take you back to Jerusalem, to a unique and enigmatic encounter that will illuminate, in particular, the images of Abraham and Jesus. After Abraham succeeded in releasing his nephew Lot from cptivity, he went to Jerusalem to visit the king and the priest Melchizedek, which means “king of justice” in Hebrew. The meeting takes place in a place called Emek Shaveh, which is located in the Kidron Valley between the Mount of Olives and the Old City of Jerusalem.
Melchizedek praises Abraham for his victory and offers him bread and wine. In thanking God for his victory and out of respect for Melchizedek, Abraham gives him title of all his possessions he accumulated during the war. This meeting between the ancient priest of Jerusalem – Melchizedek, and the new minister of Jerusalem, Abraham, echoes that in the apostles chapters 4, 6 and 7 according to which Jesus is the new high priest is explicitly called Melchizedek – King of justice, charity and peace, And like Melchizedek, he too will serve his disciples bread and wine. Thus the circle was closed: Melchizedek was replaced by the priests – descendants of Abraham – the sons of Aaron. These priests were replaced once and for all by Jesus, that is now called Melchizedek, by sacrificing his body, the body embodied in bread and wine, the same bread and wine that was served by Melchizedek to Abraham. Let us also travel in the land, start a spiritual journey and pray in it and eat bread and wine as did Abraham and Jesus.
Itamar Ben David is a professional tour guide and educator. He is one of the most popular Travelujah guides providing valuable biblical, historical and modern day insight on the land of Israel to Jewish and Christian groups and exclusive private tours. He has guided famous media personalities such as Larry King, congressmen and other VIP clients. He and his wife live in Jerusalem.