EAT: akal (verb). Strong’s 398.
Sounds like: ah-kahl
This weekend we Canadians celebrate Thanksgiving… and around the world Jews and Messianic followers of Yeshua are celebrating Sukkot. Both feasts should be a reminder of God dwelling among us and how thankful we should be for that blessing. Thanksgiving and Sukkot is a time when we can gather together with our loved ones and sit at a common table, eating and communing together. Although this year may be very different, and we cannot share a table with as many as we hoped, we can still, at the very least, be reminded that we are not meant to dine alone. Every person at the table (whether together or apart) is a blessing.
Eat, In the Beginning: A Curse Devours the Earth
Eating has a huge role in scripture and it started at the very beginning. Much of the Genesis account was an eating story. It’s about the consumption of poison… eating something that human bodies were not meant to ingest. It’s also a reminder of what we are able to eat… an abundance of good food from God’s banquet table.
Genesis 2:9a, 15-17
Out of the ground YHWH God caused to grow every tree that is pleasing to the sight and good for food… Then YHWH God took the man and put him into the garden of Eden to cultivate it and keep it. YHWH God commanded the man, saying, “From any tree of the garden you may (eat freely) [eat eat: akol t-okel]; but from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat [lo t-okal], for in the day that you eat [a’kal’ka] from it you will (surely die) [die die: moht ta-m’ut].”
God produced an abundant garden, ripe with good food. Humanity lacked nothing. They could eat freely, which a more literal translation should read eat, eat!
But there was one tree, only one, which was not suitable for human consumption, and like a good Father, YHWH warned His children of its poison. That one tree would usher in death, and when God told them that if they ate it they will surely die, the more literal translation read that they would die, die. Of course the Adversary is an advocate of death and chaos, so the serpent used eating as a form of trickery to get humans to eat the poison, and usher in the age of death:
Now the serpent was more crafty than any beast of the field which YHWH God had made. And he said to the woman, “Indeed, has God said, ‘You shall not eat [lo t-ok’lu] from any tree of the garden’?”
The woman said to the serpent, “From the fruit of the trees of the garden we may eat [n-okel]; but from the fruit of the tree which is in the middle of the garden, God has said, ‘You shall not eat [lo t-ok’lu] from it or touch it, or you will die.’”
The serpent said to the woman, “You surely will not die! For God knows that in the day you eat [a’kal’kem] from it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.”
When the woman saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was a delight to the eyes, and that the tree was desirable to make one wise, she took from its fruit and ate [wa-t-okal]; and she gave also to her husband with her, and he ate [wai-y-okal]. Then the eyes of both of them were opened, and they knew that they were naked; and they sewed fig leaves together and made themselves loin coverings.
Whereas YHWH used eating (eat-eat) to get them to live, the Adversary turned it and used eating to get humans to die-die. Eve and Adam bought the lie and in their shame they hid in the garden, but YHWH knew exactly where they were and asked:
Have you eaten [akal’ta] from the tree of which I commanded you not to eat [l-bil’ti akal]?”
The man said, “The woman whom You gave to be with me, she gave me from the tree, and I ate [wa-okel].”
Then YHWH God said to the woman, “What is this you have done?” And the woman said, “The serpent deceived me, and I ate [wa-okel].”
And so YHWH cursed the serpent and told him he would eat dust [w-afar tokal] (Genesis 3:14). For Eve, eating the fruit also brought the curse of painful childbirth upon the woman (Genesis 3:16), and of the man, YHWH said:
“Cursed is the ground because of you;
in toil you will eat of it [t-oka’lennah] all the days of your life.
Both thorns and thistles it shall grow for you;
and you will eat [w-akal’ta] the plants of the field;
by the sweat of your face you will eat bread [tokal lekhem],
till you return to the ground, because from it you were taken;
for you are dust, and to dust you shall return.”
The serpent would eat dust, and from dust humans came and would return. In essence the serpent would devour the lifeless, and the humans would return to the place of devouring. Desert and dust and death were mired together, and humans were stuck in the cycle of wandering, toiling and death.
And so Eve (Life) and Adam (Humanity) were sent out of the Garden and into the wilderness to fend for themselves. And they did not fare well. The curse of death was upon them, and the very first story, outside of the garden, was a murder (Genesis 4). Humanity spiralled out of control and became a pollutant upon the earth:
The earth is also polluted by its inhabitants, for they transgressed laws, violated statutes, broke the everlasting covenant. Therefore, a curse devours [ak’lah] the earth, and those who live in it are held guilty.
But this was not what YHWH wanted. Instead He wanted people to live fully and abundantly in His garden. He did not want them to wander aimlessly in the desert, He wanted them to take the straight path back to Him. But humans couldn’t do it alone, they had become slaves to death. To fix their mistake YHWH would send an Anointed One (a Messiah) to conquer death so they could return to the face of YHWH and eat at His table.
But it was a long road to get there and along the way humans notoriously messed up the earth and all the beautiful things in it:
[YHWH:] “I brought you into the fruitful land to eat [le-ekol] its fruit and its good things. But you came and defiled My land, and My inheritance you made an abomination.”
And so we get picture after picture of horrific stories about human consumption.
In one of those stories Jezebel, queen to Ahab, king of Israel, took it upon herself to be the arch-enemy of the prophet Elijah. She threatened Elijah’s life and in response he ran and hid in the wilderness. In his exile he cried out to God to take his life, but YHWH had other plans for him:
1 Kings 19:5-8
He [Elijah] lay down and slept under a juniper tree; and behold, there was an angel touching him, and he said to him, “Arise, eat [qum ekohl].” Then he [Elijah] looked and behold, there was at his head a bread cake baked on hot stones, and a jar of water. So he ate [wai-yokal] and drank and lay down again.
The angel of YHWH came again a second time and touched him and said, “Arise, eat [qum ekohl], because the journey is too great for you.” So he arose and ate [wai-yokal] and drank, and went in the strength of that food forty days and forty nights to Horeb, the mountain of God.
The angel fed Elijah life-giving food which filled him for forty days and forty nights so that he could continue in the work that YHWH planned for him.
A few chapters later Jezebel was found comforting her husband. He was upset because he didn’t get a vineyard that he wanted for himself. Jezebel told Ahab to arise and eat; she would get him what he wanted:
1 Kings 21:5-7
But Jezebel his wife came to him and said to him, “How is it that your spirit is so sullen that you are not eating food [okel lekhem]?”
So he said to her, “Because I spoke to Naboth the Jezreelite and said to him, ‘Give me your vineyard for money; or else, if it pleases you, I will give you a vineyard in its place.’ But he said, ‘I will not give you my vineyard.’”
Jezebel his wife said to him, “Do you now reign over Israel? Arise, eat bread [qum ekal lekhem], and let your heart be joyful; I will give you the vineyard of Naboth the Jezreelite.”
Then Jezebel immediately set plans in motion to kill Naboth and take his vineyard for the king.
In both instances the men were encouraged to “Arise! Eat!” The angel fed Elijah food to nourish him so that he could fulfill YHWH’s commission that he be a prophet. In other words, Arise, eat, and be nourished for God’s purpose.
Jezebel, on the contrary, fed her husband food to nourish his greed and pride, which led to oppression and murder. In other words, Arise, eat and take what you want for yourself!
This begs the question: are we eating to live, or are we eating to die? What are we fuelling ourselves for?
Under Siege: Eating and Devouring
As far back as we can remember humans have fed their bodies in order to fuel their greed and sense of entitlement… and this has had disastrous results, including murder and chaos, and war.
eat [fight for: al til’kham] the bread of a selfish man, or desire his delicacies; for as he thinks within himself, so he is. He says to you, “Eat and drink [ekohl u-sh’teh]!” But his heart is not with you. You will vomit up the morsel you have eaten [akal’ta], and waste your compliments.
One of the hardest parts of living in the Ancient Near East was the continual strain of warfare. It seems as if the Hebrew people were always under attack… from the Egyptians, the Canaanites, the Moabites, the Ammonites, the Philistines, the Assyrians, the Babylonians, the Greeks, and the list goes on and on.
In war, eating was often one of the first necessities to take a bad turn:
The tongue of the infant cleaves to the roof of its mouth because of thirst; the little ones ask for bread, but no one breaks it for them. Those who ate [ha-ok’lim] delicacies are desolate in the streets; those reared in purple embrace ash pits.
War often led to famine. In king Hezekiah’s reign, the Assyrians, under king Sennacharib, threatened to destroy Jerusalem by forced starvation. Hezekiah gave words of encouragement to his people, and urged them to trust YHWH, but king Sennacharib’s political advisor (Rabshakeh) tried to convince them that Hezekiah was wrong and that their God would not save them:
2 Kings 18:27
But Rabshakeh said to them, “Has my master sent me only to your master and to you to speak these words, and not to the men who sit on the wall, doomed to eat [le-ekol] their own dung and drink their own urine with you?”
Rabshakeh pointed out that they would have to resort to the horrific eating of dung (either their own dung or dove dung) and their own urine if they did not submit. And following that appalling image, he painted a picture of delicious abundance if they turned away from YHWH and king Hezekiah’s leadership:
2 Kings 18:28-32
Then Rabshakeh stood and cried with a loud voice in Judean, saying, “Hear the word of the great king, the king of Assyria. Thus says the king, ‘Do not let Hezekiah deceive you, for he will not be able to deliver you from my hand; nor let Hezekiah make you trust in YHWH, saying, “YHWH will surely deliver us, and this city will not be given into the hand of the king of Assyria.” Do not listen to Hezekiah, for thus says the king of Assyria, “Make your peace with me and come out to me, and eat [w-iklu] each of his vine and each of his fig tree and drink each of the waters of his own cistern, until I come and take you away to a land like your own land, a land of grain and new wine, a land of bread and vineyards, a land of olive trees and honey, that you may live and not die.” But do not listen to Hezekiah when he misleads you, saying, “YHWH will deliver us.”
The king of Assyria was pretending to be God. When YHWH took His people through the desert towards the promised land, He told them it would be a land of milk and honey (Exodus 3:17). King Sennacharib promised them much the same. His speech encouraged them to trust in him as a god, rather than YHWH, the true Elohim. Sennacharib promised them figs, grain, bread, wine, olives and honey. He also promised them life over death, but this was not his promise to give. Only YHWH would provide and deliver them from death to life.
Not surprisingly, YHWH swiftly defeated the Assyrians and saved His people. However, centuries later, the people of Jerusalem would not fare so well with their new enemy, the Babylonians. They had turned far away from God, and so God turned away from them. They were defeated by the Babylonians and, again, were forced into exile. In sorrow and defeat the Psalmist wrote “I have eaten [akal’ti] ashes like bread and mingled my drink with weeping…” (Psalm 102:9)
The horrors of war in the Ancient Near East brought on some appalling circumstances regarding eating. Cannibalism, which YHWH despised, was not uncommon (Deuteronomy 28:53, Micah 3:1-4, Ezekiel 5:10-11). They even came to such desperation that they ate their own children (2 Kings 6:28-29, Lamentations 4:10). War and destruction only led to more desperation and death.
Live for YHWH and Eat Well
Still, even in response to such horrors of the war, YHWH, was a forgiving God. He only asked that His people turn to Him, and walk in the right path leading back towards His presence. They were given a choice: live for YHWH and eat well and good, OR refuse YHWH and be eaten by the sword:
“Come now, and let us reason together,” says YHWH, “Though your sins are as scarlet, they will be as white as snow; though they are red like crimson, they will be like wool.
If you consent and obey, you will eat [t-okelu] the best of the land; but if you refuse and rebel, you will be devoured [t-uk’lu] by the sword.” Truly, the mouth of YHWH has spoken.
Of course those who loved YHWH were always at risk of persecution by those who rebelled against Him. King David, who was consistently under the treat of evil foreign powers, understood this:
[David:] YHWH is my light and my salvation; whom shall I fear? YHWH is the defence of my life; whom shall I dread?
When evildoers came upon me to devour my flesh [le-ekol et b’sari], my adversaries and my enemies, they stumbled and fell. Though a host encamp against me, my heart will not fear; though war arise against me, in spite of this I shall be confident.”
YHWH was very clear: He would protect His family; He would protect those who turned to Him and sought Him out:
“Also the tree of the field will yield its fruit and the earth will yield its increase, and they will be secure on their land. Then they will know that I am YHWH, when I have broken the bars of their yoke and have delivered them from the hand of those who enslaved them. They will no longer be a prey to the nations, and the beasts of the earth will not devour [lo tok’lem] them; but they will live securely, and no one will make them afraid. I will establish for them a renowned planting place, and they will not again be victims of famine in the land, and they will not endure the insults of the nations anymore. Then they will know that I, YHWH their God, am with them, and that they, the house of Israel, are My people,” declares the Lord YHWH. “As for you, My sheep, the sheep of My pasture, you are men, and I am your God,” declares the Lord YHWH.
No longer would the people be overwhelmed and devoured by evil and forced into famine; YHWH would save them. Each person would be responsible for their own relationship with YHWH, and those who chose Him would be forgiven and their sins forgotten:
Jeremiah 31:29-31, 33b, 34b
“In those days they will not say again, ‘The fathers have eaten [ak’lu] sour grapes, and the children’s teeth are set on edge.’ But everyone will die for his own iniquity; each man who eats [ha-okel] the sour grapes, his teeth will be set on edge.
“Behold, days are coming,” declares YHWH, “when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and with the house of Judah… I will put My law within them and on their heart I will write it; and I will be their God, and they shall be My people... I will forgive their iniquity, and their sin I will remember no more.”
The Unsatisfied Eater
But those who refused the gift of God’s salvation would feed on sin and find themselves forever hungry:
My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge. Because you have rejected knowledge, I also will reject you from being My priest. Since you have forgotten the law of your God, I also will forget your children.
The more they multiplied, the more they sinned against Me; I will change their glory into shame. They feed [yokelu] on the sin of My people and direct their desire toward their iniquity.
And it will be, like people, like priest; so I will punish them for their ways and repay them for their deeds. They will eat [w-ak’lu], but not have enough; they will play the harlot, but not increase, because they have stopped giving heed to YHWH.
These people were not feeding on the goodness that God provided. Instead they were feeding on the sins of YHWH’s people. Because they stopped giving any attention to YHWH they could not partake in his abundant giving. They would eat, but leave unsatisfied… always consuming but never being fulfilled.
Isaiah put the concept into more graphic terms:
For wickedness burns like a fire; it consumes [tokel] briars and thorns; it even sets the thickets of the forest aflame and they roll upward in a column of smoke. By the fury of YHWH of hosts the land is burned up, and the people are like fuel for the fire; no man spares his brother.
They slice off what is on the right hand but still are hungry, and they eat [wai-yokel] what is on the left hand but they are not satisfied; each of them eats [yokelu] the flesh of his own arm. Manasseh devours Ephraim, and Ephraim Manasseh, and together they are against Judah. In spite of all this, His anger does not turn away and His hand is still stretched out.
First of all… yuck! But the idea was, they were devouring themselves. They were partaking in their own curse. We may devour ourselves, but YHWH is a compassionate God; when we bite off our own hands, God extends His. He wants to save us and make us whole. Knowing that, humans need to consider where we’re going, and what path we’re following:
Haggai 1:5-8 (see also Isaiah 29:7-8)
Now therefore, thus says YHWH of hosts, “Consider your ways! You have sown much, but harvest little; you eat [akohl], but there is not enough to be satisfied; you drink, but there is not enough to become drunk; you put on clothing, but no one is warm enough; and he who earns, earns wages to put into a purse with holes.”
Thus says YHWH of hosts, “Consider your ways! Go up to the mountains, bring wood and rebuild the temple, that I may be pleased with it and be glorified,” says YHWH.
We need to put the focus back on YHWH… living our lives for Him, so that we can eat and be satisfied. But YHWH understood that we would always struggle with that. In our own prosperity, we would forget God and turn to other, more self-serving, gods:
[YHWH to Moses]: “Now therefore, write this song for yourselves, and teach it to the sons of Israel; put it on their lips, so that this song may be a witness for Me against the sons of Israel. For when I bring them into the land flowing with milk and honey, which I swore to their fathers, and they have eaten [w-akal] and are satisfied and become prosperous, then they will turn to other gods and serve them, and spurn Me and break My covenant.”
Eat and be Satisfied!
Regardless of their forgetful, stubborn, hearts, over and over YHWH forgave them and provided for them.
Joel 2:23-24, 26
…So rejoice, O sons of Zion, and be glad in YHWH your God; for He has given you the early rain for your vindication. And He has poured down for you the rain, the early and latter rain as before. The threshing floors will be full of grain, and the vats will overflow with the new wine and oil…
…You will have plenty to eat [wa-a’kal’tem] and be satisfied and praise the name of YHWH your God, who has dealt wondrously with you; then My people will never be put to shame.
Psalm 22, a Psalm of David, started off in anguish and was quoted by Yeshua (Jesus) on the cross:
My God, my God, why have You forsaken me?
The Psalm is filled with parallels to Yeshua’s crucifixion experience, and the words are heartbreaking. But all was not lost; two-thirds of the way in there’s an atmospheric shift in the poem, and the poem goes from sorrow to victory:
The afflicted will eat [yok’lu] and be satisfied; those who seek Him will praise YHWH. Let your heart live forever!
All the ends of the earth will remember and turn to YHWH, and all the families of the nations will worship before You. For the kingdom is YHWH’s and He rules over the nations. All the prosperous of the earth will eat [ak’lu] and worship, all those who go down to the dust will bow before Him, even he who cannot keep his soul alive.
Remember who was cursed to eat dust?!… and who came from dust and would return to dust? There would come a day when everyone would bow before Him (even the one whose soul cannot live).
Regardless of all the abundance that God provided, the Bible reminded us to eat only what we needed:
Have you found honey? Eat [ekohl] only what you need, that you not have it in excess and vomit it.
If we have eaten our full, it’s always lovely to have leftovers. (I’m hoping there will be leftovers from my mother-in-law’s turkey dinner this weekend!). And believe it or not, the Bible has plenty to say about leftovers! YHWH produced more than just enough to be satisfied. He produced far beyond what we needed; He produced leftovers!
When king Hezekiah asked his people to provide for the priests, they brought so much that there were piles of leftovers:
2 Chronicles 31:10
Azariah the chief priest of the house of Zadok said to him, “Since the contributions began to be brought into the house of YHWH, we have had enough to eat [akohl] with plenty left over, for YHWH has blessed His people, and this great quantity is left over.”
When Ruth and Naomi were destitute and searching for family to help them, Boaz came into Ruth’s life and showed her kindness through food:
At mealtime Boaz said to her [Ruth], “Come here, that you may eat [w-akal’t] of the bread and dip your piece of bread in the vinegar.”
So she sat beside the reapers; and he served her roasted grain, and she ate [wa-tokal] and was satisfied and had some left.
Ruth ate her fill and had food left over. Even with leftovers, Boaz instructed his workers to let Ruth glean the sheaves and even leave some grain out for her. Ruth gathered the excess food and brought it to her mother-in-law:
She took it up and went into the city, and her mother-in-law saw what she had gleaned. She also took it out and gave Naomi what she had left after she was satisfied.
Her mother-in-law then said to her, “Where did you glean today and where did you work? May he who took notice of you be blessed.” So she told her mother-in-law with whom she had worked and said, “The name of the man with whom I worked today is Boaz.”
Ruth married Boaz and together they became the great grandparents of king David, and the ancestors to Yeshua the Messiah, from the line of David.
In another story about leftovers, of the prophet Elisha corrected a poisoned stew so the people, living in a time of famine, could eat (see 2 Kings 4:38-41). Just after Elisha fixed the stew, a man came along with bread:
2 Kings 4:42-44
Now a man came from Baal-shalishah, and brought the man of God bread of the first fruits, twenty loaves of barley and fresh ears of grain in his sack. And he said, “Give them to the people that they may eat [w-yokelu].”
His attendant said, “What, will I set this before a hundred men?”
But he said, “Give them to the people that they may eat [w-yokelu], for thus says YHWH, ‘They shall eat and have some left over.’” So he set it before them, and they ate [wai-yokelu] and had some left over, according to the word of YHWH.
This story draws us right into the B’rit Chadashah (New Testament) and the story of the Yeshua feeding the 5000 with a few fish and barley loaves:
Then Jesus went up on the mountain, and there He sat down with His disciples. Now the Passover, the feast of the Jews, was near. Therefore Jesus, lifting up His eyes and seeing that a large crowd was coming to Him, said to Philip, “Where are we to buy bread, so that these may eat?” This He was saying to test him, for He Himself knew what He was intending to do.
Philip answered Him, “Two hundred denarii worth of bread is not sufficient for them, for everyone to receive a little.”
One of His disciples, Andrew, Simon Peter’s brother, said to Him, “There is a lad here who has five barley loaves and two fish, but what are these for so many people?”
Jesus said, “Have the people sit down.”
Now there was much grass in the place. So the men sat down, in number about five thousand. Jesus then took the loaves, and having given thanks, He distributed to those who were seated; likewise also of the fish as much as they wanted. When they were filled, He said to His disciples, “Gather up the leftover fragments so that nothing will be lost.”
So they gathered them up, and filled twelve baskets with fragments from the five barley loaves which were left over by those who had eaten. Therefore when the people saw the sign which He had performed, they said, “This is truly the Prophet who is to come into the world.”
Yeshua not only multiplied the barley loves (just as Elisha had), but he did it to an even more impressive number. Elisha had twenty loaves of barley to give to one-hundred men; Yeshua had five barley loaves to feed five-thousand. It’s no wonder why people saw Yeshua as the great Prophet.
Just after feeding the 5000 (with fish and barley bread), Yeshua spoke these famous words:
Jesus said to them, “I am the bread of life; he who comes to Me will not hunger, and he who believes in Me will never thirst. But I said to you that you have seen Me, and yet do not believe. All that the Father gives Me will come to Me, and the one who comes to Me I will certainly not cast out. For I have come down from heaven [recall manna], not to do My own will, but the will of Him who sent Me. This is the will of Him who sent Me, that of all that He has given Me I lose nothing, but raise it up on the last day. For this is the will of My Father, that everyone who beholds the Son and believes in Him will have eternal life, and I Myself will raise him up on the last day.”
Only hours before heading to the cross Yeshua shared one final meal with his closest friends. He offered them the bread of life:
While they were eating, Jesus took some bread, and after a blessing, He broke it and gave it to the disciples, and said, “Take, eat; this is My body.” And when He had taken a cup and given thanks, He gave it to them, saying, “Drink from it, all of you; for this is My blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many for forgiveness of sins. But I say to you, I will not drink of this fruit of the vine from now on until that day when I drink it new with you in My Father’s kingdom.”
After singing a hymn, they went out to the Mount of Olives.
It was on the Mount of Olives that Yeshua would be arrested, tried, and sent to His own execution. And He did it all so that we could be redeemed and be able face YHWH in heaven, when our day on earth is done.
Eat at my Table
YHWH yearns for us to sit in His presence, share a meal and fellowship with Him. He wants us to eat at His table:
YHWH has sworn by His right hand and by His strong arm, “I will never again give your grain as food for your enemies; nor will foreigners drink your new wine for which you have laboured.”
But those who garner it will eat it [yok’luhu] and praise YHWH; and those who gather it will drink it in the courts of My sanctuary. Go through, go through the gates, clear the way for the people; build up, build up the highway, remove the stones, lift up a standard over the peoples.
Behold, YHWH has proclaimed to the end of the earth, say to the daughter of Zion, “Lo, your salvation comes; behold His reward is with Him, and His recompense before Him.” And they will call them, “The holy people, the redeemed of YHWH”; and you will be called, “Sought out, a city not forsaken.”
This was a great promise to the people. Salvation was theirs! They would no long suffer under food insecurity, they would lead people to the banquet, and bring people through the gates towards God’s Table.
But not everyone has accepted the invitation to feast at God’s table. Yeshua told the parable about the man who gave a big dinner and invited many, but they all came up with pitiful excuses.
“And the slave came back and reported this to his master. Then the head of the household became angry and said to his slave, ‘Go out at once into the streets and lanes of the city and bring in here the poor and crippled and blind and lame.’
And the slave said, ‘Master, what you commanded has been done, and still there is room.’
And the master said to the slave, ‘Go out into the highways and along the hedges, and compel them to come in, so that my house may be filled. For I tell you, none of those men who were invited shall taste of my dinner.’”
This should be the goal of all of us… to sit at YHWH’s Table. When king David’s best friend (Jonathan) died he promised that Jonathan’s son would feast at his kingly table:
2 Samuel 9:7-11
David said to him (Mephibosheth), “Do not fear, for I will surely show kindness to you for the sake of your father Jonathan, and will restore to you all the land of your grandfather Saul; and you shall eat (bread) [tokal lekhem] at my table regularly.”
Again he prostrated himself and said, “What is your servant, that you should regard a dead dog like me?”
Then the king called Saul’s servant Ziba and said to him, “All that belonged to Saul and to all his house I have given to your master’s grandson. You and your sons and your servants shall cultivate the land for him, and you shall bring in the produce so that your master’s grandson may have food (bread to eat) [lekhem wa-a’kalow]; nevertheless Mephibosheth your master’s grandson shall eat [yokal] at my table regularly.”
Now Ziba had fifteen sons and twenty servants. Then Ziba said to the king, “According to all that my lord the king commands his servant so your servant will do.”
So Mephibosheth ate [okel] at David’s table as one of the king’s sons.
Mephibosheth didn’t just eat at David’s table, he ate as one of David’s own sons.
This story, where Mephibosheth called himself a dead dog, brings to mind another incident when Yeshua spoke of God’s table:
Jesus went away from there, and withdrew into the district of Tyre and Sidon. And a Canaanite woman from that region came out and began to cry out, saying, “Have mercy on me, Lord, Son of David; my daughter is cruelly demon-possessed.” But He did not answer her a word.
And His disciples came and implored Him, saying, “Send her away, because she keeps shouting at us.”
But He answered and said, “I was sent only to the lost sheep of the house of Israel.”
But she came and began to bow down before Him, saying, “Lord, help me!”
And He answered and said, “It is not good to take the children’s bread and throw it to the dogs.”
But she said, “Yes, Lord; but even the dogs feed on the crumbs which fall from their masters’ table.”
Then Jesus said to her, “O woman, your faith is great; it shall be done for you as you wish.” And her daughter was healed at once.
Yeshua verbally sparred with this foreign woman, and to His delight she matched His serve. YHWH’s table wasn’t just for the Jews… All who followed Him could come and eat in His presence.
Mephibosheth and (centuries later) the Canaanite woman called themselves dogs. They were marginalized people (orphans and foreigners) who were invited to eat at the King’s table. And that’s the kind of banquet that YHWH has planned for His people. It has nothing to do with status, or rank, or wealth… All are invited to sit at the Table.
Yeshua took this banquet image to the next level. Not only would we get to eat at His table, He would serve us the food. At the Last Supper, Yeshua spoke to His disciples about desiring greatness and living in humility:
And there arose also a dispute among them as to which one of them was regarded to be greatest.
And He said to them, “The kings of the Gentiles lord it over them; and those who have authority over them are called ‘Benefactors.’ But it is not this way with you, but the one who is the greatest among you must become like the youngest, and the leader like the servant. For who is greater, the one who reclines at the table or the one who serves? Is it not the one who reclines at the table? But I am among you as the one who serves.
You are those who have stood by Me in My trials; and just as My Father has granted Me a kingdom, I grant you that you may eat and drink at My table in My kingdom, and you will sit on thrones judging the twelve tribes of Israel.”
Eat this Scroll
The Bible is the beautiful story of humanity’s relationship with the Creator. The Tanakh (Old Testament) and the B’rit Chadashah (New Testament) is our reference book to God’s plan for our salvation. It’s also our guide book which leads us back home to YHWH. It is God’s beautiful love letter to us, His children. We should devour this book!
Your words were found and I ate them [wa-ok’lem], and Your words became for me a joy and the delight of my heart; for I have been called by Your name, O YHWH God of hosts.
There is great joy and delight to be found in YHWH’s word, and by consuming it we are drawn to share the feast:
Then He [YHWH] said to me, “Son of man, eat [ekohl] what you find; eat [ekohl] this scroll, and go, speak to the house of Israel.”
So I opened my mouth, and He fed [caused me to eat: wai-ya-akilehni] me this scroll. He said to me, “Son of man, feed [ta-akel] your stomach and fill your body with this scroll which I am giving you.”
Then I ate it [wa-ok’lah], and it was sweet as honey in my mouth.
Then He said to me, “Son of man, go to the house of Israel and speak with My words to them.”
Ezekiel ate the Book (scroll), which was hand-fed to him by God, and then his speaking produced YHWH’s words to share with the people. If we are to be effective witnesses, we need to consume His word.
Share the Good News! Share the meal! Devour the word of God and use it as a guide book which puts us on the right path, leading to YHWH’s Banquet Hall. When our day here is done we can come home, eat in the Presence of YHWH, and be satisfied with abundance.
Next week: crafty/shrewd/prudent