Fulfilling a Promise

When B’nai Yisrael prayed to a golden calf shortly after God’s revelation at Sinai, God told Moshe (Shmot 32: 9-10) “I have seen this people and behold it is a stiff-necked people. And now, desist from Me. Let my anger flare up against them and I shall annihilate them; I shall make you a great nation.”

Moshe prayed to God to save the nation and emphasized the fact that the merit of the Patriarchs and God’s oath to them should be enough to save Israel. In 32:13 Moshe says “Remember Avraham, Yitzchak and Yisrael, your servants, to whom you swore by Your Self, and said to them, ‘I will make your descendents as numerous as the stars of the heaven; all this land which I have spoken, I will give to your descendents and they will inherit it forever.’”

Rashi comments on the words “Asher nishbati lahem bach”, “To whom you swore by yourself”: You did not swear to them by something that is finite- neither by the heavens nor by the earth, neither by the mountains nor the hills, but only by Your Self. You are eternal and your oath remains forever.

After Akedat Yitzchak (the Binding of Isaac) God sent an angel to call out to Avraham saying (Breisheet 22:16-17):  “By Myself I swear- the word of God- that because you have done this thing, and have not withheld your son, your only one that I shall truly bless you and greatly increase your offspring like the stars of the heavens and like the sand on the seashore; and your offspring shall inherit the gate of its enemy.”

When there was a famine in the Land of Israel, God said to Yitzchak (Breisheet 26:3) “Sojourn in this land and I will be with you and bless you; for to you and your offspring will I give all these lands, and establish the oath that I swore to Avraham your father”.

After God changed Yaakov’s name to Yisrael (Breisheet 35:11-12), He said “I am God Almighty. Be fruitful and multiply; a nation and a congregation of nations shall descend from you, and kings shall issue from your loins. The land that I gave to Avraham and Yitzchak I will give to you; and to your offspring after you I will give the land.”

God promised the forefathers countless offspring who would inherit the Land of Israel. If God had annihilated the nation then His promise would not have been fulfilled.

At that point God renounced the intent of doing evil that He had said He would do to his people.

God’s promise to Avraham has been kept. The Jewish people have multiplied and returned to our land. Now we have to follow the Midrash Or HaAfelah and do our part to resemble the stars in the heaven, which no nation can dominate as opposed to the sand of the seashore, trampled by every tyrannical foot.