Thursday, 31 July 2008

New Name

Did you know that the disciple Matthew was also called Levi? I just found that out. pretty cool. so i looked into the name- always nice to have a cool biblical alternative name eh? Levi means "joined" or "attached" from the Hebrew word yilaveh.
Levi as well as being a disciple/tax collector in the new testament, was the third son of Jacob and Leah. When she gave birth, Leah is supposed to have said, "maybe now my husband will be joined to me because I have borne him three sons". Wow. unpack that one why don't you?

We tend to look at Rachel, Jacobs second wife, as the significant one, the more loved one, the one who bore Joseph. How often do we look from Leah's side of the fence? I find this really interesting to look at because i have often struggled with feeling like an outsider, despite feeling like i have every reason to be accepted. Leah was the older sister, had given Jacob more children, but was unloved. We see in the name she gives her son, the longing to be finally joined with her husband- not legally, that was already taken care of; but in his heart. She wanted to be one with him.

We find ourselves in much the same position as Leah oftentimes, even when it comes to God. God chose his people, Israel first. As Gentiles, we are not part of the covenant he made with Abram, (later Abraham). We are outsiders. Over there are the people of the covenant, those with whom God shares a testament. But we are over here ignorant of His ways, chasing after gods of our imaginings and bowing down to any hint of significance or greatness we can create.

And yet God, in His indescribable mercy chose to include us in His covenant. The problem with the old, and its dependance on the actions of men, chosen men yes, but fallen men nonetheless, has been wiped away with the new covenant, which depends only on Himself. God swears a covenant by Himself. Not dependant on us. And inclusive of us. Romans 11:17 calls us Gentiles "wild olive branches" that have been grafted into the root. This "grafting in" is kind of similar to the "joining" in the Leah story, i think. But the inclusion in the amazing heritage and promise God made for his chosen people is an incredible honour. Its easy to forget our place. We did not start this. God in His grace simply chose to graft us in.

"Levi/Levy, Standard Levy לוי Tiberian Lēwî ; "joining"
"The text of the Torah argues that the name of Levi refers to Leah's hope for Jacob to join with her, implying a derivation from yilaveh, meaning he will join."

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