Parashah Studies


Parashah 36: B'midbar (In the desert / wilderness) by Dr. Daniel Boley

B'Haalotcha “in your making go up” (Numbers) 8:1-12:16 Psalm 68 Z'kharyah (Zechariah) 2:10-4:7 Revelation 11:1-29

Numbers 8 1 Adonai said to Moshe, 2 “Tell Aharon, 'When you set up the lamps, the seven lamps are to cast their light forward, in front of the menorah.'” 3 Aharon did this: he lit its lamps so as to give light in front of the menorah, as Adonai had ordered Moshe. 4 Here is how the menorah was made: it was hammered gold from its base to its flowers, hammered work, following the pattern Adonai had shown Moshe. This is how he made the menorah. • “the lamps, the seven lamps” ◦ both refer to the lamps of the one menorah which provided the only light for the Holy Place • “cast their light forward … so as to give light in front of the menorah” ◦ Oil lamps require a wick of some type to transport the oil from the reservoir up to where the fire is lit. The oil is consumed by the fire, thus producing light and heat. The wick may become charred and less effective, thereby needing to be trimmed. ◦ The light can be “directed” by either a reflector of some type, or by lying the wick to a particular side of the lamp's opening. ◦ The stone relief is from the Arch of Titus in Rome depicting the ransacking of Jerusalem and the Temple, including the golden menorah. • “menorah” is transliterated from the Hebrew מְּנוֹרָה , meaning a chandelier or lampstand. It is the feminine of מָּנוֹר [mah-nōr] meaning ◦ Strong's: a yoke (properly, for plowing), i.e. the frame of a loom ◦ BDB: a beam; a beam (carrying the heddles in a loom) ▪ Strong's indicates that מָּנוֹר comes from נִיר [“neer”, OT:5214], a root probably identical with that of נִיר [“neer”, OT:5216], through the idea of the gleam of a fresh furrow; to till the soil. ▪ Strong's OT:5215 נִיר [“neer”]; from OT:5214; properly, plowing, i.e. (concretely) freshly plowed land • Strong's OT:5216 נִיר [“neer”]; [see OT:5214; OT:5135] properly, meaning to glisten; a lamp (i.e. the burner) or light (literally or figuratively) • OT:5135 נוּר [nūr] (Aramaic, corresponding to that of OT:5216) meaning to shine; fire ◦ Light does not simply pierce the darkness, it literally plows through it. ▪ The Ruach HaKodesh (Holy Spirit) wrote in the first chapter of Yochanan, In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. 2 He was in the beginning with God. 3 All things were made through Him and without Him nothing was made that was made. 4 In Him was life, and the life was the light of men. 5 And the light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not comprehend it. (John 1:1-5, emphasis original) • The Discovery Bible helps bring out meaning that is often glossed over in translations ◦ Emphasis is key to great writing and speaking, in every language, ancient or modern. The Bible constantly stresses words by using literary devices like altered word order, repeating parallel ideas, etc. • Scripture frequently emphasizes words by varying the original (Hebrew and Greek) word order which produces the same effect as stressing words in emails and text messages – by using: CAPITALS, italics, bold, changing the size, font, or color of the emphasized word. Sometimes we emphasize terms by underlining or by special punctuation like exclamations (!'s) and emoticons: smiley :-) or frowny :-( faces. • Emphatic words are focal-points in a paragraph. They help establish and clarify the main point and enable readers to understand other parts of the passage in their relative importance. Scripture anticipates reader-needs by its intentionally sequencing of thoughts, building the main point in the most understandable manner. Paragraph-unity (coherence) is achieved by the effective use of emphasis, along with word-pictures, repetition, etc. (all causing a paragraph "to stand"). Reflection: Emphasis keeps readers on-topic and on-pace with the original author/storyline. Like a musical composition, the Bible causes audience-experience chord-by-chord (word-by-word). [Artists put emphasis in paintings by using converging lines, etc., focusing attention or bringing out vivid contrast.] Altering the emphasis in a sentence greatly affects its meaning. "John called me in the morning" – i.e not anybody else. "John called me in the morning" – did not come in person. "John called me in the morning" – he didn't call you. "John called me in the morning" – not in the afternoon or evening. [Today words are not commonly underlined for emphasis in English any more since this is more difficult to read. Old, manual typewriters could not make words bold or italicized.] • Contrast-emphasis Contrast-emphasis is common in the original (Hebrew and Greek) text and is shown in The Discovery Bible by words highlighted in red and followed by . Every language at times uses words to imply the opposite of what is actually stated. This literary device, called "contrast-emphasis," is relatively common in Scripture (often signaled by unexpected word order or form in the original Hebrew and Greek text). Words emphasized in the original text are highlighted in red in The Discovery Bible and followed by . ◦ Example (Rev 19:10) "Worship God" – not me but only God! Contrast-emphasis can also signal intensification – meaning "not a little" ("not a low degree")! Take for example emphasizing that something is big. A contrast-emphasis exclaims, "It is definitely not small (like perhaps it was expected to be)!" ◦ Emphasized words set the tone of sentences. Example: "Excuse me." "Excuse me" – emphatic contrast meaning, "Excuse you ... it's NOT my fault!" "Excuse me" – sending a sharp, indignant message. • “comprehend” in John 1:5 comes from the Greek καταλαμβάνω [kah-tah-lahm-bah-nō] meaning ◦ Strong's: to take eagerly, i.e. seize, possess, etc. (literally or figuratively) ◦ Thayer's: ▪ to lay hold of so as to make one's own, to obtain, attain to: 1 Cor 9:24 ▪ to seize upon, take possession of • of evils overtaking one: John 12:35 • in a good sense, of Christ by His holy power and influence laying hold of the human mind and will, in order to prompt and govern it: Phil 3:12 ▪ to detect, catch: John 8:4 ▪ to lay hold of with the mind; to understand, perceive, learn, comprehend ◦ Light is from God and the darkness can not comprehend, understand, obtain, attain to, seize, arrest, or stop it.  “hammered gold”  Gold has to be mined, then smelted in hotter and hotter fires until all the slag, dross, and impurities can be removed enough for the goldsmith to be able to see a good reflection of himself in the gold. Here the gold then hammered (pounded, beaten) into shape; possibility over and around another object until it takes the desired form.  Job 23:10 Yet He knows the way I take; when He has tested me, I will come out like gold.  Zech 13:9 That third part I will bring through the fire; I will refine them as silver is refined, I will test them as gold is tested. They will call on My name and I will answer them. I will say, “This is My people” and they will say, “Adonai is my God”  Mal 3:3 He will sit, testing and purifying the silver; He will purify the sons of Levi, refining them like gold and silver, so that they can bring offerings to Adonai uprightly.  Matt 3:11 It's true that I [Yochanan / John] am immersing you in water so that you might turn from sin to God; but the One coming after me is more powerful than I – I'm not worthy even to carry His sandals – and He will immerse you in the Ruach HaKodesh and in fire. (See also Mk 1:8; Luke 3:16)  Heb 12:5 Also you have forgotten the counsel which speaks with you as sons: “My son, don't despise the discipline of Adonai or become despondent when He corrects you. 6 For Adonai disciplines those He loves and whips everyone He accepts as a son.” [Pro 3:11-12] 7 Regard your endurance as discipline; God is dealing with you as sons. For what son goes undisciplined by his father? 8 All legitimate sons undergo discipline; so if you don't, you're a mamzer and not a son! 9 Furthermore, we had physical fathers who disciplined us, and we respected them; how much more should we submit to our spiritual Father and live! 10 For they disciplined us only for a short time and only as best they could; but He disciplines us in a way that provides genuine benefit to us and enables us to share in His holiness.  “following the pattern Adonai had shown Moshe” cf  Ex 25:9 You are to make it according to everything I show you – the design of the tabernacle and the design of its furnishings. This is how you are to make it.  Ex 25:40 See that you make them according to the design being shown you on the mountain.  Acts 7:44 Our fathers had the Tent of Witness in the wilderness. It had been made just as God, who spoke to Moshe, had ordered it made, according to the pattern Moshe had seen.  These verses allow for the possibility that the pattern Moses was shown was a vision or blueprint of some type, but …  Heb 8:5 But what they [the priests] are serving is only a copy and shadow of the heavenly original; for when Moshe was about to erect the Tent, God warned him, “See to it that you make everything according to the pattern you were shown on the mountain.”  Seven is a biblical number for completeness. Gold symbolizes purity and royalty. Light symbolizes holiness, righteousness, and wisdom.  John 8:12 Yeshua spoke to them again: “I am the Light of the world; whoever follows Me will never walk in darkness but will have the Light which gives life.”  John 9:5 While I am in the world, I am the Light of the world. – Yeshua  Matt 5:14 You are light for the world. A town built on a hill cannot be hidden. 15 Likewise, when people light a lamp, they don't cover it with a bowl but put it on a lampstand, so that it shines for everyone in the house. 16 In the same way, let your light shine before people, so that they may see the good things you do and praise your Father in heaven.  Darkness causes problems and must be dealt with.  Don't curse the darkness, turn on the light.  The light needs to be maintained. 5 Adonai said to Moshe, 6 “Take the L'vi'im from among the people of Isra'el and cleanse them.  Those who minister in the things of the LORD are called out from among the called out ones. 7 Here is how you are to cleanse them: sprinkle the purification water on them, have them shave their whole body with a razor, and have them wash their clothes and cleanse themselves.  “purification water”  Eph 5:25 As for husbands, love your wives, just as the Messiah loved the Messianic Community, indeed, gave Himself up on its behalf, 26 in order to set it apart for God, making it clean through immersion in the mikveh, so to speak, 27 in order to present the Messianic Community to Himself as a bride to be proud of, without a spot, wrinkle or any such thing, but holy and without defect.  “shave their whole body”  The hair can speak of what comes from ourselves or what comes from the flesh – both of which need to be done away with.  Much of what we consume, (including drugs, chemicals, and environmental pollutants) can be detected in the hair. Shaving their whole body gives them a complete break with their past and whatever that may have involved.  Our past is just that, our past. It does not need to determine our future. The future is determined by our present decisions and steps.  “wash their clothes and cleanse themselves”  Clothes are a covering for our sin and shame (see Gen 3:7, 21). While we must understand there is nothing we could ever do to “clean ourselves up enough” to make ourselves acceptable to God or earn salvation, once we have been called into a saving relationship with Him there are things the Holy Spirit will has us clean out of our lives. 8 Then they are to take a young bull with its grain offering, which is to be fine flour mixed with olive oil; while you take another bull for a sin offering.  The young bull can speak of our own strength and vigor; we need to serve the LORD in the power of His might, not our own power.  Fine flour has been matured, cut down, threshed, winnowed, and crushed. Olive oil comes from olives that have matured, been plucked or picked up, crushed, pressed, and drained.  John 16:33 I have said these things to you so that, united with Me, you may have shalom. In the world, you have tsuris [tribulation]. But be brave! I have conquered the world!  Beware the “prosperity gospel” and “positive confession” messages that teach we should lie, and deny reality and the truth. Too often they present a steady diet of meringue which may taste good and tickle the ears; but dieting on junk will leave us weak and eventually kill us.  For the time is coming when people will not have patience for sound teaching, but will cater to their passions and gather around themselves teachers who say whatever their ears itch to hear. 4 Yes, they will stop listening to the truth, but will turn aside to follow myths. (2 Tim 4:3)  On the other hand, we do need to ask the LORD to help us see beyond what the physical eyes perceive. May He give us eyes to see reality from His perspective, as well as ears to hear what the Spirit is saying, and hearts that don't know any better than to follow hard after Jesus! Oh to live a life that is radically balanced! 9 You are to present the L'vi'im in front of the tent of meeting, and assemble the entire community of people of Isra'el. 10 You will present the L'vi'im before Adonai, the people of Isra'el will lay their hands on the L'vi'im, 11 and Aharon will offer the L'vi'im before Adonai as a wave offering from the people of Isra'el, so that they may do Adonai's service.  This is not a “call to service,” but a recognition of a God-given calling that was already there.  Ordination to service, to minister, is always before God and public.  “so that they may do Adonai's service”  Rabbis, pastors, priests, and ministers only “work for us” in that they help represent us before the LORD.  They are servants of the Most High God, not our servants.  Faithfully returning to God tithes and offerings of what He allows us to work with is part of our worship, and an act of faith in and obedience to the LORD Who owns it all, yet lets us use the vast majority of what He allows to pass through our hands.  No human being “pays the pastor's salary”! God provides for His servants.  Through tithes, offerings, gifts, and acts of service, the LORD allows us the blessing of participating with Him in providing for His under-shepherds, saints, and for widows and orphans.  “Then I will approach you for judgment; and I will be quick to witness against sorcerers, adulterers and perjurers; against those who take advantage of wage-earners, widows and orphans; against those who rob the foreigner of his rights and don't fear me,” says Adonai-Tzva'ot. 6 “But because I, Adonai, do not change, you sons of Ya'akov will not be destroyed. 7 Since the days of your forefathers you have turned from My laws and have not kept them. Return to Me, and I will return to you,” says Adonai-Tzva'ot. “But you ask, 'In respect to what are we supposed to return?' 8 Can a person rob God? Yet you rob Me. But you ask, 'How have we robbed You?' In tenths and voluntary contributions. 9 A curse is on you, and on your whole nation, because you rob Me. 10 Bring the whole tenth into the storehouse, so that there will be food in My house, and put Me to the test,” says Adonai-Tzva'ot. “See if I won't open for you the floodgates of heaven and pour out for you a blessing far beyond your needs. 11 For your sakes I will forbid the devourer to destroy the yield from your soil; and your vine will not lose its fruit before harvest-time,” says Adonai-Tzva'ot. (Mal 3:5-11, emphasis original)  The religious observance that God the Father considers pure and faultless is this: to care for orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being contaminated by the world. (James 1:27, emphasis original)  “as a wave offering”  Some say as a “heave offering” since it was lifted up to and before the LORD  We need to “lift up” those in the service of the ministry to and before the LORD in prayer and encouragement. 12 The L'vi'im will lay their hands on the heads of the bulls; the one you will offer as a sin offering and the other as a burnt offering to Adonai to make atonement for the L'vi'im.  I find it interesting that the Levites were to lay their hands on the heads of two bulls, that one would be for a sin offering, the other as a burnt offering, and that atonement was involved.  The first letter of the Hebrew alphabet, the aleph-bet, is the א [aleph]. The ancient or “paleo-Hebrew” symbol for this letter is the head of an ox or bull. The א represents strength, power, leader, and the first.  The sages tell us that the letter itself is made up of a vav [ו] and two yods [י].  The ו represents a nail or a hook that attaches, secures, and binds together; and the word “and”  י represents work, and a hand.  Considering these together we can see the hand of God reaching down to man, and the hand of man reaching up toward the LORD. What binds them together is the accomplished and ongoing work of God, and each holding on to the other.  Going back to the א, the LORD needs to be the strength of our lives; He is always to be first, and our Leader; preeminent in our lives. We need to “lay hold” of Him, trusting in Him and His provision for our atonement, for our salvation – pictured by the Levites placing their hands on the heads of the bulls: one for a sin offering (atonement coming down, if you will, from the LORD), the other as a burnt offering (thanksgiving, praise, and worship going up, if you will, to the LORD).  When something or someone was totally dedicated to the LORD, it would be through service strictly to God or through fire. Both were “offered up” to Him.  The term “burnt offering” here (and 288 other places in the Tanakh) is עֹלָה [o-lah], the feminine active participle of עָלָה [ah-lah], meaning:  Strong's: a step or (collectively, stairs, as ascending); usually a holocaust (as going up in smoke)  BDB: a whole burnt-offering; an ascent, a stairway, steps  For examples of עֹלָה being used for other than an offering going up in flames see 1 Kings 10:5, 2 Chron 9:4, Ezek 40:26.  עָלָה (used 888 times) means:  Strong's: to ascend, intransitively (be high) or actively (mount); used in a great variety of senses, primary and secondary, literal and figurative  BDB:  Qal verb form: to go up, to ascend; to meet, to visit, to follow, to depart, to withdraw, to retreat; to go up, to come up (used of animals); to spring up, to grow, to shoot forth (used of vegetation); to go up, go up over, to rise (used of a natural phenomenon); to come up (before God); to go up, to go up over, to extend (used of boundary); to excel, to be superior to  Niphal: to be taken up, to be brought up, to be taken away; to take oneself away; to be exalted  Hiphil: to bring up, to cause to ascend or to climb, to cause to go up; to bring up, to bring against, to take away; to bring up, to draw up, to train; to cause to ascend; to rouse, to stir up (mentally); to offer, to bring up (of gifts); to exalt; to cause to ascend, to offer  Hophal: to be carried away, to be led up; to be taken up into, to be inserted in; to be offered  Hithpael: to lift oneself  I bring all this up for two main reasons: 1) I think it's interesting and want to have it handy for future reference (maybe you do too), and; 2) There is a passage in Judges 11 that is troubling to some.  30 Yiftach [Jephthah] made a vow to Adonai: “If You will hand the people of 'Amon over to me, 31 then whatever comes out the doors of my house to meet me when I return in peace from the people of 'Amon will belong to Adonai; I will sacrifice it as a burnt offering.” 32 So Yiftach crossed over to fight the people of 'Amon, and Adonai handed them over to him. … 34 As Yiftach was returning to his house in Mitzpah, his daughter came dancing out to meet him with tambourines. She was his only child; he had no other son or daughter. 35 When he saw her, he tore his clothes and said, “Oh, no, my daughter! You're breaking my heart! Why must you be the cause of such pain to me? I made a vow to Adonai, and I can't go back on my word.” … 39 … And he did with her what he had vowed ….  Theologian and lawyer Dr Gleason L. Archer wrote: The nature of Jephthah's vow has been much misunderstood. In Judges 11:30-31 Jephthah, on the eve of his decisive conflict with powerful Amonite invaders, made a solemn promise to God that if He would grant victory over the foe, then whoever would come forth from the doors of his home to meet him would become the property of the Lord: “And I will offer him up for a burnt offering.” Obviously it was some human being who was to be involved, someone from Jephthah's household or some member of his family, and one who would care enough about Jephthah personally to become the first to greet him. The Hebrew text excluded the possibility of any animal serving as a candidate for this burnt offering since the phrase rendered “whatsoever cometh for of the doors of my house” is never used of an animal (Keil and Delitzsch, Joshua, Judges, Ruth, p. 385). Had it been a beast, there would of course have been no problem about sacrificing it on the altar as a blood offering (which the Hebrew word for burnt offering ['ôlāh] normally implied). But in this special case, since it was to be a human member of the household who would be the first to greet Jephthah, it was out of the question for a literal blood sacrifice to be performed. Why? Because human sacrifice was sternly and repeatedly forbidden by God in his law (see Lev. 18:21; 20:2-5; Deut. 12:31; 18:10). It would have been altogether unthinkable for Jephthah or any other Israelite to imagine that he could please God by committing such a heinous and abhorrent abomination in His presence or at His altar. “You shall not behave thus toward [Yahweh] your God, for every abominable act which He [Yahweh] hates they [the Canaanites] have done for their gods; for they even burn their sons and daughters in fire to their gods. Whatever I command you, you shall be careful to do; you shall not add to nor take away from it” (Deut. 12:31-32). Again, we read in Deuteronomy 18:10-12: “There shall not be found among you anyone who makes his son or his daughter pass through the fire..... For whoever does these … detestable things Yahweh you God will drive them out before you.” In view of Yahweh's well-known prohibition and expressed loathing for this practice, it would have amounted to a complete renunciation of God's sovereignty for Jephthah to have undertaken such a thing. It would have been a repudiation of the very covenant that constituted Israel as God's holy people. Equally incredible is the notion that God, foreknowing that Jephthah was intending thus to flout His law and trample on His covenant, would nevertheless have granted him victory over the foe. The understanding of the event involves an intolerable theological difficulty, for it hopelessly compromises the integrity of God Himself. What, then, actually did happen if Jephthah did not offer up his daughter on the altar? As Delitzsch points out, the whole record of the manner in which this vow was carried out points to her dedication to the service of the Lord as a lifelong ministrant at the national sanctuary. Judges 11:37-38 states that she was allowed a mourning period of two months, not to bewail her approaching death, but rather to lament over her permanent virginity (betûlîm) and the resultant extinction of her father's line, since she was his only child. As one set apart for tabernacle service (cf. Exod. 38:8; 1 Sam. 2:22 for other references to these consecrated virgins who performed service at the tabernacle), she would never become a mother; hence it is emphasized that “she knew no man” (Judg. 11:39). This would have been a pointless and inane remark if in fact she were put to death. Jephthah acted as a man of honor in carrying out his promise and presenting his daughter as a living sacrifice, as all true Christians are bidden to present themselves (Rom. 12:1). Had he committed a detested abomination like the slaughter of his own child, he never would have been listed with the heroes of faith in Hebrews 11. (An extended and skillful treatment of this whole issue is found in Keil and Delitzch, Joshua, Judges, Ruth, pp. 384-95). (Gleason L. Archer, New International Encyclopedia of Bible Difficulties, (Zondervan; Grand Rapids, 1982) pp. 164-165.) 13 You are to place the L'vi'im before Aharon and his sons, and offer them as a wave offering to Adonai. 14 In this way you will separate the L'vi'im from the people of Isra'el, and the L'vi'im will belong to Me.  Here too we see a non-typical use of a common term. Looking at verse 12 we saw how the term “burnt offering” could be used in more than just one way. Here we see “wave offering” used in a way out of the norm.  Normally spoken, wave offerings were physically lifted up and waved before the LORD as part of their presentation to Him. They then belonged to the priests (cf e.g. Ex 29:24-27; Lev 23:10-14, 17-20).  “and offer them as a wave offering to Adonai”  This translation comes from four Hebrew words: וְהֵנַפְתָּ אֹתָם תְּנוּפָה לַיהוה la-יהוה teh-nu-phah o-tahm veh-teh-naph-tah to the LORD an offering (as) them and offer  וְהֵנַפְתָּ is the conjunctive Hiph'il perfect 2 masculine singular of נוּף (with the “and” vav (ו) attached) meaning:  to wield  to wave or to shake (the hand)  to wave (hand)  to shake or to brandish against  to swing to and fro  to wave (an offering), to offer  to shed abroad  When a root appears in the הִפְעִיל [hiph'il] pattern, it usually has a causative meaning. (Simon, Resnikoff, Motzkin, The First Hebrew Primer, 3rd ed, revised, (Oakland; EKS Publishing) p. 269)  תְּנוּפָה means:  Strong's: from נוּף [nūph]; a brandishing (in threat); by implication, tumult; specifically, the official undulation of sacrificial offerings  BDB: a swinging, a brandishing; used of God's hand, weapons; waving, a wave-offering (the technical term of a sacrifice); an offering (of gold or brass)  Notice that both of these words are a form of נוּף, making it emphatic, i.e. they were cause these Levites to be totally, completely, unreservedly, continuously given over to the LORD and His service.  How can we, in Messiah, be any less?  I exhort you, therefore, brothers [and sisters], in view of God's mercies, to offer yourselves as a sacrifice, living and set apart for God. This will please Him; it is the logical “Temple worship” for you. 2 In other words, do not let yourselves be conformed to the standards of the 'olam hazeh [this age]. Instead, keep letting yourselves be transformed by the renewing of your minds; so that you will know what God wants and will agree that what He wants is good, satisfying and able to succeed. (Rom 12:1-2) 15 After that, the L'vi'im will enter and do the service of the tent of meeting. You will cleanse them and offer them as a wave offering, 16 because they are entirely given to Me from among the people of Isra'el; I have taken them for Myself in place of all those who come first out of the womb, that is, the firstborn males of the people of Isra'el. • “entirely given” in Hebrew is נְתֻנִים נְתֻנִים[neh-tu-niym neh-tu-niym], a doubling of the Qal passive participle (masculine, plural) of נָתַן [nah-tahn] {ן is the formנ takes if it is the final letter in a word} meaning ▪ Strong's: to give, used with greatest latitude of application (put, make, etc.) ▪ BDB: to give, to put, to set; here in the Qal verb form • to give, to bestow, to grant, to permit, to ascribe, to employ, to devote, to consecrate, to dedicate, to pay wages, to sell, to exchange, to lend, to commit, to entrust, to give over, to deliver up, to yield produce, to occasion, to produce, to requite to, to report, to mention, to utter, to stretch out, to extend • to put, to set, to put on, to put upon, to set, to appoint, to assign, to designate • to make, to constitute ◦ Doubling a word is a means of making something emphatic in Hebrew. ◦ There is a “calling out” from the “called out” in holy service to the King of all kings. It must be always be remembered, however, that this “calling out” to His service is the work of the King Himself; never something we should take upon ourselves. • The repetition of the Hebrew word nethunim implies that the appointment of the Levites to the service of God was extended also to their descendants. (Abraham Ibn Ezra, The Soncino Chumash, p. 840) 17 For all the firstborn among the people of Isra'el are mine, both humans and animals; on the day I struck all the firstborn in the land of Egypt, I set them apart for Myself. 18 But I have taken the L'vi'im in place of all the firstborn among the people of Isra'el, 19 and I have given the L'vi'im to Aharon and his sons form among the people of Isra'el to do the service of the people of Isra'el in the tent of meeting and to make atonement for the people of Isra'el, so that no plague will fall on the people of Isra'el in consequence of their coming too close to the sanctuary. • Although there is great joy, satisfaction, and fulfillment in serving the LORD, that service must be in accordance with His Word and His will. Otherwise we risk bringing a plague upon ourselves. • “plague” here is the Hebrew word נֶגֶף [neh-gehf] meaning ◦ Strong's: a trip (of the foot); figuratively, an infliction (of disease) ◦ BDB: a blow, a striking, a plague (fatal) ▪ from נָגַף [nah-gahf] meaning • Strong's: to push, gore, defeat, stub (the toe), inflict (a disease) • BDB: ◦ (Qal) to strike, to smite ◦ (Niphal) to be stricken, to be smitten ◦ (Hithpael) to stumble • One sign of godly leadership is the spiritual health of those following. • One sign of ungodly leadership is the spiritual health of those following. E.g., ◦ Does our world view follow the world, or the LORD and His Word? ◦ Do we tend to value “fairness” more than we do justice, righteousness, purity? ◦ Is our focus more on the material comforts or eternal prosperity? ◦ Do we discount grace and mercy as weakness, or understand and appreciate the cost of each and the amount of controlled strength it takes to extend them? ◦ Do we seek to pay others back for perceived wrongs or allow God to exact vengeance as He sees fit? 23 Adonai said to Moshe, 24 Here are instructions concerning the L'vi'im: when they reach the age of twenty-five, they are to begin performing their duties serving in the tent of meeting; 25 and when they reach the age of fifty, they are to stop performing this work and not serve any longer. 26 They will assist their brothers who are performing their duties in the tent of meeting, but they themselves will not do any of the work. This is what you are to do with the L'vi'im in regard to their duties. • “age of twenty-five” ◦ They began to serve at thirty; our verse refers to a five-year period of apprenticeship beginning at the age of twenty-five (Rashi). (The Stone Edition TANACH, p. 348) ▪ This would make their actual time of service from thirty to fifty years of age just as the descendants of K'hat (Num 4:2-3), Gershon (Num 4:22-23), and M'rari (Num 4:29-30). Numbers 9 1 Adonai spoke to Moshe in the Sinai Desert in the first month of the second year after they had left the land of Egypt; He said, 2 Let the people of Isra'el observe Pesach at its designated time. 3 On the fourteenth day of this month, at dusk, you are to observe it – at its designated time. You are to observe it according to all its regulations and rules. • The LORD had already told His people to observe Pesach (e.g. Ex 34:22-26) and to continually celebrate it (e.g. Lev 23:5). ◦ Our Designer and Maker knows that as fallen humans we need to be reminded more than informed, ▪ so in, through, and by His Word, He reminds us. ▪ Of course, as His people, it is incumbent on us to read and heed it! 4 Moshe told the people of Isra'el to observe Pesach. • As a good leader of God's people, Moses told the people to do what the LORD had said to do. ◦ A sign of a good and godly leader is that they faithfully and consistently preach, teach, and example the Word of God. 5 So they observed Pesach at dusk on the fourteenth day of the month in the Sinai Desert; the people of Isra'el acted in accordance with all that Adonai had ordered Moshe. • As people who want to follow after the LORD, we too will act “in accordance with all that Adonai” orders through His faithful ministers and His Word. ◦ Of course, His faithful ministers will know His voice and His Word, and therefor only direct God's people through God's Word, and ◦ His people, themselves knowing the LORD and prayerfully studying His Word, will be able to discern when human leaders are faithfully leading according to the Word. ▪ Through the decades of our marriage Anne has told me that she knows she can trust me to lead our family because she trusts God and prays for me. • Do we have a vital, dynamic relationship with the LORD? • Do we constantly, consistently read and study His love letters to us (Scripture)? • Do we daily lift up our spiritual leaders in prayer before the throne of God? ◦ Therefore by Him [Yeshua] let us continually offer~ the sacrifice of praise to God, that is, the fruit of our lips, giving thanks to His name. 16 But do not forget~! to do good and to share, for with such sacrifices God is well pleased. 17 Obey~! those who rule over you and be submissive~!, for they watch out for your souls, as those who must give an account. Let them do~ so with joy and not with grief, for that would be unprofitable for you. (Heb 13:15-17, emphasis original) ▪ The Discovery Bible helps us discover more of the Holy Spirit's meaning in these verses (here presented in brief) : Contrast-emphasis is common in the original (Hebrew and Greek) text and is shown in The Discovery Bible by words highlighted in red and followed by . Every language at times uses words to imply the opposite of what is actually stated. This literary device, called "contrast-emphasis," is relatively common in Scripture (often signaled by unexpected word order or form in the original Hebrew and Greek text). Words emphasized in the original text are highlighted in red in The Discovery Bible and followed by . Example: (Rev 19:10) "Worship God" – not me but only God! Contrast-emphasis can also signal intensification – meaning "not a little" ("not a low degree")! Take for example emphasizing that something is big. A contrast-emphasis exclaims, "It is definitely not small (like perhaps it was expected to be)!" ~ Greek Present ~ prompts the reader to envision the process (progress, repetition) of the ongoing action. The original text calls for Spirit-illuminated imagination to grasp its vivid application. The reader fills out the beyond-translation sense of ~ by inserting a helping word appropriate to the context like: constantly, over-and-over again, habitually, progressively, intermittently, continuously (uninterruptedly), etc. ~! Negated Greek Present Imperative in the original text means, "This action must be constantly avoided (keep on resisting it)!" – or "Stop if it is already underway!" The context can indicate both senses apply at the same time. [Ongoing action is involved in both aspects of this prohibition. This typically requires continuing vigilance, enduring resistance, etc.] ~! Greek Present Imperative commands ongoing action that calls for an ongoing lifestyle – a regular, long-term way of acting. This process can happen again and again over multiple situations, or repeat (progressively) in the same scenario. ~! conveys: "Keep on doing this!," i.e. what must happen habitually, continuously, progressively as a lifestyle (modus operandi). The context dictates which helping phrase is appropriate. Numbers 10 35 When the ark moved forward, Moshe said, “Arise, Adonai! May Your enemies be scattered! Let those who hate You flee before You!” 36 When it stopped, he said, “Return, Adonai of the many, many thousands of Isra'el!” • Although unseen in translations of the Scriptures, these two verses are “set aside” or “bracketed” by inverted נs in the Hebrew. ◦ Rashi comments that these verses “are inserted between two inverted letters nun – corresponding to our use of brackets – to indicate that this section is not in its regular place. The purpose of its insertion at this point is to separate the two narratives of Israel's sins, the one being their hurrying away from the mount of the LORD (verse 33), and the other their murmuring against the LORD (xi. 1)” (The Soncino Chumash, p. 849) ◦ These two verses are set off from the rest of the Torah by means of an inverted letter נ, so that the Talmud (Shabbos 115b-116a) calls these verses a separate “book,” indicating that it has it [sp] own message. In it, Moses speaks not of the people's journey, but of the Ark's progress, for the ultimate mission of the Jew is to bring the Torah and its teachings into every aspect of temporal life. (The Stone Edition TANACH, p. 354) ◦ Some see these verses as prophetic, referring to Messiah. ▪ The first verse pointing to Adonai incarnate, Yeshua, arising from the dead, conquering sin, hell, and death. ▪ The second to Yeshua's return to the many, many thousands of His faithful. Numbers 11 1 But the people began complaining about their hardships to Adonai. When Adonai heard it, His anger flared up, so that fire from Adonai broke out against them and consumed the outskirts of the camp. • We need to guard against complaining about what the LORD is leading us through. ◦ This appears to be primarily a matter of attitude, since others have complained to the LORD with apparent immunity (e.g. Moses in Num 11:11ff; the psalmist in Ps 10; David in Ps 22; the descendants of Korach in Ps 42, 44, 88; Asaf in Ps 74). 4 Next, the mixed crowd that was with them grew greedy for an easier life; while the people of Isra'el, for their part, also renewed their weeping and said, “If only we had meat to eat! 5 We remember the fish we used to eat in Egypt – it cost us nothing! – and the cucumbers, the melons, the leeks, the onions, the garlic! 6 But now we're withering away, we have nothing to look at but this man.” • There was a mixed crowd that went up from Egypt with the Israelites (Ex 12:38), but hadn't yet fully joined them. • We need to beware of complainers ◦ It only takes a little leaven to affect the entire loaf (1 Cor 5:6; Gal 5:9). ◦ The tongue is a small member set on fire from hell (see Jm 3:1-12). • “it cost us nothing!” ◦ Only their very lives: they were slaves! Numbers 12 1 Miryam and Aharon began criticizing Moshe on account of the Ethiopian woman he had married, for he had in fact married an Ethiopian woman. 2 They said, “Is it true that Adonai has spoken only with Moshe? Hasn't he spoken with us too?” Adonai heard them. 3 Now this man Moshe was very humble, more so than anyone on earth. 4 Suddenly Adonai told Moshe, Aharon and Miryam, “Come out, you three, to the tent of meeting.” The three of them went out. 5 Adonai came down in a column of cloud and stood at the entrance to the tent. He summoned Aharon and Miryam, and they both went forward. 6 He said, “Listen to what I say: when there is a prophet among you, I, Adonai, make Myself known to him in a vision, I speak with him in a dream. 7 But it isn't that way with My servant Moshe. He is the only one who is faithful in My entire household. 8 With him I speak face to face and clearly, not in riddles; he sees the image of Adonai. So why weren't you afraid to criticize My servant Moshe?” 9 The anger of Adonai flared up against them, and He left. 10 But when the cloud was removed from above the tent, Miryam had tzara'at, as white as snow. Aharon looked at Miryam, and she was as white as snow. 11 Aharon said to Moshe, “Oh, my lord, please don't punish us for this sin we committed so foolishly. 12 Please don't let her be like a stillborn baby, with its body half eaten away when it comes out of its mother's womb!” 13 Moshe cried to Adonai, “Oh God, I beg you, please, heal her!”  Miryam and Aharon began criticizing Moshe on account of the Ethiopian woman he had married, for he had in fact married an Ethiopian woman.  Racism is nothing new.  When are we going to get over ourselves and realize that a person's tan is only about one millimeter thick. Everyone looks the same on the inside!  The epidermis is the outer layer of skin, varying in thickness from 0.5 mm on the eyelids to 1.5 mm on the palms and soles. (, accessed 06 Jun 15)  Last I checked all people were included in the “human race.”  Culture and ethnicity can also be issues for some. Thankfully Yeshua can help us get beyond this too, as there will be people from every group in His kingdom (see e.g. Rev 5:9; 7:9; 14:6 where the word translated “nation” comes from the Greek ἔθνος [ethnos] from which comes the English “ethnic” group).  The mouth speaks with overflows from the heart. Matt 12:34  This episode in Numbers 12 begs the question, if Miriam and Aaron were both criticizing Moses, why was only Miriam struck with this terrible disease?  The answer is two-fold: 1) As the priest Aaron would be the one to proclaim someone unclean because of disease; and then, hopefully, later clean when healed. 2) Looking at the Hebrew for verse one we read … וַתְּדַבֵּר מִרְיָם וְאַהֲרֹן veh-ah-ha-ron mir-yam va-teh-da-behr and Aharon Miryam and spoke How does this answer the question at hand? Hebrew culture and practice is that when there is even one man in any group of people the group is described using the masculine form. Here are one man and one woman, and yet the term translated “and spoke” is feminine and singular, telling us that even though Aaron was there, Miriam was the one doing the talking; she was the instigator. (For my fellow Hebrew students, this is the Pi'el, imperfect, 3 person, feminine singular form of דָבַר.)  The anger of Adonai flared up against them, and He left.  “flared up” here comes from the Hebrew חָרָה [khah-rah] meaning:  Strong's: to glow or grow warm; figuratively (usually) to blaze up, of anger, zeal, jealousy  BDB: to be hot, to furious, to burn, to become angry, to be kindled  “anger” here comes from the Hebrew אַף [aph] meaning:  Strong's: properly, the nose or nostril; hence, the face, and occasionally a person; also (from the rapid breathing in passion) ire  BDB: nostril, nose, face; anger  This was a righteous anger that, anthropomorphically speaking, would shoot up the breathing rate and flare the nostrils.  No disrespect to the LORD (or the San Antonio Spurs), but Cantor's illustration of this idea reminded me of something I'd seen when we lived near Chicago.  Now this man Moshe was very humble, more so than anyone on earth.  “humble” here in the Torah scroll is עָנָו. Normally it is spelled עָנָיו (with a yōd [י], the smallest letter of the Hebrew alphabet).  It is said that Moses struggled with writing this, especially about himself, but God told him to do so. In his humility, Moses left out the yōd. In this way he was doing what the LORD said, and still not claiming such a moniker for himself. 14 Adonai answered Moshe, “If her father had merely spit in her face, wouldn't she hide herself in shame for seven days? So let her be shut out of the camp for seven days; after that, she can be brought back in.” 15 Miryam was shut out of the camp seven days, and the people did not travel until she was brought back in.  Seven is a biblical number for completion, so how might that apply here?  Her shame in what she did was complete.  Her healing was complete: from the tzara'at, from jealousy, from a sharp tongue, from a critical spirit  Her restoration was complete.  Scripture says, “Here is a statement you can trust: anyone aspiring to be a congregation leader is seeking worthwhile work” (1 Tim 3:1). But this is not something to be entered into lightly or a position one assumes for themselves.  Leaders in God's house must be appointed and anointed by the LORD.  They will incur a stricter judgment from God since they are to represent Him and His interests.  Shepherds smell like sheep. They can not lead from an ivory tower. They can not lead from behind. They have to be among and mingle with the sheep, so they can know each other and the sheep can learn to trust them. Then the shepherd can step out and lead.  Shepherds need to maintain a close walk and proper relationship with the Chief Shepherd.  Leaders need to be regularly strengthened and encouraged in the LORD.  They and their families need to be continually lifted up in prayer.  May God help us to be sheep that make it easier for our shepherds to shepherd.

Parashah Schedule

To view the current week's reading, view the schedule.

What's a Parashah?

Parashah is a Hebrew word that means portion. 

Synagogues around the world read the same parashah each Shabbat. The Torah is divided into 54 weekly portions so that the whole Torah is read annually. Selections from the Haftarah (Prophets) are also read each week, and in Messianic congregations, selections from the Brit Chadashah (New Testament) are included. Holiday selections are also listed for the Feast Days.

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