Tanak Foundations-Concepts in Leviticus-Part 14

We are going to take a look at the concept of Lashon Hara (evil tongue) a little deeper. Keep in mind, this is going to be associated with Zara’at (leprosy) and the Metzora (the one with Zara’at). Lev 19.16 says that we are not to “go about as a talebearer among your people.” Death and life are in the power of the tongue (Prov 18.21) and when a person speaks or listens to lashon hara, thirty-one commandments may be violated. Even though one does not generally violate them all at once, it is important to remember how carelessness can lead one into deeper trouble. Besides lashon hara, there is another concept called “Rechilut” (gossip) which is any communication that generates animosity between people.

Rechilut is often done when repeating lashon hara. For example, John tells Sam that Steve is ugly (John spoke lashon hara), and then Sam tells Steve what John said about him. Sam probably made Steve angry with John, which rechilut.

The Torah does give different situations and conditions, and identifies when speech is forbidden, permisable, and even desirable. One type of lashon hara, speaking lies and slander is called “Motzi Shem Ra” (spreading a bad name). It’s very easy to imagine how lies, and even exaggeration, can unfairly damage someone’s reputation. However, sometimes we speak lashon hara because we forget that in many cases, truth can be subjective (like beauty is in the eye of the beholder) or elusive, in that we don’t always know thew whole picture. We never know the circumstances he has had to deal with. Lev 19.15 says, “In righteousness shall you judge your kinsmen.”

That verse commands us to give the benefit of the doubt. We should always judge other people fairly, believing that there may have been factors that we are not aware. Don’t judge other people unless you find yourself in their situation. As we judge others, you will also be judged. In other words, we should think before we speak and judge. We should try to judge on the side of virtue.

We are going to give some negative commandments found in the Torah relating to Lashon Hara. These include, “You shall not go about as a talebearer among your people” (Lev 19.16; “You shall not utter a false report” (Exo 23.1); “Take heed concerning the plague of Zara’at (leprosy)” (Deut 24.8); “Before the blind do not put a stumbling block” (Lev 19.14); “You shall not profane my holy name” (Lev 22.32); “You shall not hate your brother in your heart” (Lev 19.12); “You shall not take vengeance nor bear any grudge against the children of your people” (Lev 19.18); “One witness shall not rise up against a man for iniquity or for any sin” (Deut 19.15); “You shall not follow a multitude to do evil” (Exo 23.2); “You shall not act similar to Korah and his company” (Num 17.5); “You shall not wrong one another” (Lev 25.17); “You shall rebuke your brother and you shall not bear sin because of him (Lev 19.17); “Any widow or orphan you shall not afflict” (Exo 22.21); “You shall not curse the deaf” (Lev 19.14).

Next we are going to give some of the positive commandments relating to Lashon Hara. They include, “Remember what Yehovah your Elohim did to Miriam by the way as you came forth from Egypt” (Deut 24.9); “Love your neighbor as yourself” (Lev 19.18); “In righteousness shall you judge your neighbor” (Lev 19.15); “If your neighbor be poor and his means fail him when he is with you, then you shall uphold him” Lev 25.35); “You shall rebuke your neighbor” (Lev 19.17); “Before the gray-haired you shall rise up, and you shall honor the face of the old man” (Lev 19.32); “Honor your father and your mother” (Lev 20.12); “From a false matter you shall keep yourself far” (Exo 23.7). In other words, we are to guard our tongue.

What people try to do to another will come upon them, the slanderer themselves. This is called “Middah K’neged Middah” or “Measure for Measure.” There are many instances in Scripture where this happened. For example, Miriam spoke against the wife of her brother Moses in Num 12.1-16 and she was struck with zara’at. The hand of Moses turned white with zara’at after being placed next to his heart in Exo 4.6-7. This showed the evil in man’s heart, and Moses did speak evil against the people and he doubted them. King Uzziah spoke against the lord and offered incense in the Heichal of the Temple when he was not allowed to do that.

The application is this: we all are guilty of this sin. We gossip and slander against someone almost daily. We insult and do harm to others. We think we have the right to walk right into the Temple and before the Throne of God. Like King Uzziah, we offer “incense” and try to “blow a little smoke” of our own against a brother, and facts don’t matter. The one with lashon hara must bear before everyone else what they tried to do to someone else. Let’s go a little deeper.

Peter, and the Jews in general, were instructed in Acts 10 “not to call any man unclean” just because they were non-Jews. That was lashon hara, but this goes for anyone. When we do it, it is like putting the rules of zara’at (leprosy) on someone. Zara’at never really kills you, you have to live with it and it is like slander. You are depressed, isolated, can’t go out in public, and the person feels of no value to anyone. It is a living death and a person is devalued. The person feels like a metzora (leper). They struggle to find self-worth. The Lord told Abraham in Gen 12.1-3, “I will bless those who bless you and curse those who curse you.” Do we want life and goodness? Proper speech is part of that (Psa 34.12-14). Exo 23.1 tells us that listening to gossip makes us just as guilty as the gossiper. Why are our fingers shaped like pegs, and wider at the bottom and more slender at the top? So that when we hear something evil against someone, we can plug up our ears!

There are many reasons why the Second Temple was destroyed and the Jewish people were cast out of the land, and we know they relate to Yeshua. However, the Jewish people and the rabbis asked that question and we can learn the answer in these verses on zara’t and the metzora. Lev 14.33-45 tells us that a leprous house (one with zara’at) is to be torn down. The answer the rabbis came up with as to why the Temple was destroyed and the people scattered was because “We hated without a cause.” They don’t say who they hated exactly, but they know the reason. There is a tradition that says it was because Ya’akov Ha Tzaddik was killed. Don’t know who he was? He is known in Christianity as “James the Just” and the brother of Yeshua (Talmud, Yoma 9b).

The instruction about Lashon Hara is very clear, ‘Don’t do it.” If we are ostracizing someone, or casting insults, or hating a brother, we must “Stop.” Don’t put zara’at on someone, or it will come back on us. The Lord knows how it feels to be seen as “unclean” by others. He has the power to make you clean and take the “zara’at” of of us. Don’t go before the Lord “unclean” or you could get zara’at. Worshipers went to be ritually washed before entering the Temple. When a Metzora purified himself, he would bring two birds. One was offered and the other was set free (Lev 14.7). Why are birds used? Could it be because of their constant “chirping?” It is our constant chirping (chatter) that gets us into trouble.

Why are there two birds? In order to speak evil you need a partner. When we encounter gossip, we should “fly away” or what happened to the first bird will come upon us. To say, “I was only listening” is not an excuse. The listener is just as guilty. That is why the ear of the metzora is anointed with oil and blood (Lev 14.14-17). When we come into the presence of the Lord we should ask ourselves “Have we been involved in lashon hara today?”

These concepts also challenge us to go out and see these people, examine them and understand their lives instead of believing what other people say about them. Look for some way to guide them through the process of being dismissed and to try and ease them back into fellowship with others again. Like the kohanim, we are to be people of peace, love, mercy and compassion. We are not to turn away in fear from such people. We are not to “wash our hands” of any sense of responsibility. People will speak against you, ostracize you, “cut you off” from themselves, treat you as though you were leprous, but don’t get caught up in that. If they don’t repent, what they tried to do to you will come upon their own heads, measure for measure. Just be willing and ready to fellowship with them again after the Lord deals with them, but don’t respond with evil against them, but “fly away” like the second bird (Lev 14.17).

There are “bad times” when danger to the community happens and it requires banishment or being isolated, but we should be open to the grief that accompanies such an event. The “metzorim” or “lepers” today can be prisoners, refugees, immigrants, the poor, disabled, sick, elderly or people with divorces or who have had abortions. They can also be those who have committed a “sin or transgression” that our congregation frowns upon (dancing, drinking, wearing too much make-up, long hair, tatoos or whatever). People with zara’at were not put into “leper colonies” because what we call “leprosy” today is not what we see in the Scriptures. Biblical zara’at is totally different. The metzora lived among everyone else. As a kingdom of priests, we should not harden our hearts and turn away. We should look some painful and ugly realities in the face and help. We should repent of our own sins and imperfections so that we can treat and support those who have been “afflicted” so that they can rejoin us in fellowship again.

In Part 15 we will pick up here.

Posted in All Teachings, Articles, Idioms, Phrases and Concepts, Prophecy/Eschatology, The Feasts of the Lord, The Tanach, Understanding the New Testament

Tanak Foundations-Concepts in Leviticus-Part 13

Ritual impurity prevents a person or object from coming into contact with the Mishkan/Temple and any items with a kedusha. Lev 11.1-8 teaches us about the clean (tahor) and unclean (tamai) four-legged creatures. Lev 11.9-12 tells us about the clean and unclean creatures in the water. Lev 11.13-19 tells us about birds that are prohibited and Lev 11.20-23 tells us about which winged insects that walk on all fours is “detestable” and which may be eaten. Lev 11.24-28 teaches us about defilement through contact. Leviticus 11.29-43 tells us about the creeping things on the earth and finally Lev 11.44-47 tells us about the spiritual purposes for these laws.

The question that sometimes is asked is, “What about a clean animal that dies?” Leviticus 11.39-40 tells us that whoever touches its carcass becomes unclean ritually until evening. If he eats some of the carcass, then he shall wash his clothes and be unclean until evening. The one who picks up its carcass shall wash his clothes and be ritually impure until evening.

Now, here is a concept. If hygienic uncleanliness is meant here, how could a person be “uncontaminated” simply by the setting of the sun? Here is another concept about an animal that “dies of itself.” That would ruin the type of the Messiah. He did not, nor could not, die of natural causes and be our Passover Korban Shelem. Deut 14.21 says, “You shall not eat anything that dies of itself. You may give it to an alien who is in your town that he may eat it, or may sell it to a foreigner, for you are a holy people (with a kedusha) to the Lord your God.”

Again, this has nothing to do with health. The alien or the foreigner was allowed to do this because they will not be entering the Mishkan/Temple or come in contact with holy things (with a kedusha). Remember, that is the reason for all these laws on ritual impurity. Quoting again from the Hertz Pentateuch and Haftorahs, p. 459, “Most laws of purity and impurity apply only in reference to the Sanctuary, and the holy objects connected with it. They did not apply in ordinary life, or to persons who did not intend to enter the Sanctuary.”

Lev 12.1 to 13.59 is another Torah portion called “Tazria” meaning “Conceived.” As a side note, the Torah portions are usually named after a word in the first verse of a portion. This made it easy to keep in mind where you were in the Torah because a Torah scroll did not have chapter and verse like our Bibles. This dates back to the time of the Babylonian Captivity and the portions followed an annual cycle. Some Jewish communities followed a triennial (three year) cycle where where only a third of a given portion was read in a given year. These portions are called a “Parsha” (divide) and are also known as a “Sidra” (order-see “Weekly Torah Portion” on Wikipedia).

This portion describes various states of ritual purity and impurity that can come on a person. Lev 12.1-8 begins to describe the Laws of Family Purity called “Tahor ha Mishpochah.” This portion begins with childbirth and a ceremony called the Law of Separation. The birth of a child is a joyous event, but in the human life cycle there are points of transition. Gaining something new denotes and end to something else.

For a mother this can be particularly dramatic. There is a well known psychological syndrome called “Postpartum Depression.” This may be seen as a pathological form of loss and separation. The Torah recognizes the reality and importance of separation and mourning, and seeks to sensitize the mother to it be commanding that she participate in this ceremony. She is given the status of “Niddah” (12.2,5). She cannot enter the Temple, no sexual relations and she cannot touch holy things until the days of her purification are completed.

In Lev 12.4 it says she is to remain in her “blood of purification” for thirty-three days if she gives birth to a male. Why thirty-three days? If the child was a female, she is to remain in the “blood of purification” sixty-six days. Why sixty-six days? This is a picture of the Messiah and it is eschatological. Yeshua was a male, and he died at thirty-three and was rejected and “cut off” (Dan 9.26). In 66 AD, Israel (seen as female) finally rejected the testimony of the Jewish believers in the Kahal (the eschatological congregation) and it was a “double uncleanliness.” The Jewish war with the Romans was begun resulting in the destruction of the land, the city and the Temple. The people were driven from the land. But, when the days of her purification are completed she must present a lamb as a Korban Olah and a pigeon as a Korban Chatat. Israel will reach the time of her purification and she must present Messiah as her Korban Olah and Korban Chatat. This will allow her to come into the presence of God and touch the things with a kedusha again (12.6-7).

The state of tamai (unclean) does not work according to the rules that we would assume applies. Animals have no “tamai” during their lifetime, but humans do. Believers have a greater level of tamai than unbelievers because to whom much is given, much is required. Tamai is brought on when a “vacuum” is caused by the absence of a previously existing kedusha. The greater the kedusha, the greater the tamai that fills the void. Man was made in the image of God and had a kedusha. It was lost when man sinned in the garden. Yeshua came to restore that kedusha and that is called the Redemption. That is when we will be in the image of God again. After childbirth, the physical status of kedusha is diminished. A “vacuum” is formed and she becomes tamai, unable to enter the Mishkan/Temple (12.4).

Lev 13.1-59 deals with the Laws of Zara’at (Leprosy). Again, clean and unclean here (tahor and tamai) is never used to designate physical clean or unclean. It is a ritual clean and unclean before the Lord and applies only if you plan on coming before him in his “house” (Mishkan/Temple). We learn in Lev 13 that one of the functions of the priesthood was to diagnose zara’at. There is no mention anywhere of going to a doctor if you came down with zara’at (leprosy) in these verses. So, there is something else going on. The word “infection” in 13.2 is the word “neguah” and it means “to touch, strike, a blow.” The question is, by who?

God has the ability to punish our social behavior. There is no escape from Yehovah, a lesson Jonah learned. This not only applies to prayer (we can pray anywhere and he hears us), but it also applies to what we do (he sees us anywhere). Zara’at was a public, physical manifestation for attitudes concerning what is called “Lashon Hara” or the “evil tongue.” This is when one gossips, ostracizes someone, spurns, insults another or slanders another.

This was not an infectious disease, but a physical manifestation of Divine judgment. If you notice in this chapter, the kohen (priest) was the one that made the determination of something was zara’at, not a physician. This was just one of the functions of a priest when he was not on his week-long and scheduled duty in the Mishkan/Temple. If this disease was contagious, why was it allowed to remove articles from your house before the kohen inspected it (14.36)? The quarantine of a person or object depended on the kohen’s ruling. If the kohen did not get a chance to see the infected person, the person could continue to be in contact with others. During a festival, even if there were indications of zara’at, the kohanim would not investigate the person till after the festival. A kohen will not declare a bridegroom “tamai” until after the wedding week. Zara’at needed “spiritual” confirmation from a kohen. When the zara’t covered the whole body, he is declared “clean” by the kohen (13.12-13). Only when Israel (and us) confesses and comes before the priest (Yeshua), admitting that they (and us) are completely guilty and “covered” in sin can we be pronounced clean by the priest (Yeshua). The lesson for us is this.

When we see a “blemish” we have no right to declare it so until we have a spiritual confirmation. This is a lesson in negativity. We can use a bad experience to grow. It may be troublesome, even a handicap, but it isn’t. The only true handicap is in the mind.

There is a term we need to know and the concept is seen throughout the Scriptures. The term is “Middah K’neged Middah” and it means “measure for measure.” This is when justice is served as the slanderer and the gossip are publicly exposed for the destructive force they have become by their tongue. In other words, since you wanted to make another person feel “like a metzora (leper)” God says “I will make your life like a metzora (leper) in judgment.” Just like the metzora (one with zara’at) was asked to leave the camp and was separated from others, their family, their jobs and their normal life, gossips and slanderers try to do the same thing. They try to separate other people from others, their family, their jobs and their normal life by lashon hara, an evil tongue.

With that said, we will pick up here in Part 14 and begin to discuss the concept of Lashon Hara, the evil tongue.

Posted in All Teachings, Articles, Idioms, Phrases and Concepts, Prophecy/Eschatology, The Feasts of the Lord, The Tanach, Understanding the New Testament

Tanak Foundations-Concepts in Leviticus-Part 12

Leviticus 11 is a very well known chapter. It tells us about the permissible and unpermissible creatures related to consumption. The terms “clean” (tahor) and “unclean” (tamai) are never used to describe physical uncleanness, but are related to the concept of ritual purity. Ritual purity only applies if one was planning to enter the Mishkan/Temple, or was going to have contact with objects with a kedusha (Hertz Pentateuch and Haftorahs, p. 459). These laws will have nothing to do with salvation but are ritual in nature.

Col 2.16-17 tells us that the dietary laws teach us about things to come. But how can food teach about eschatology? The clean creatures teach us about the Kingdom of God, and the unclean creatures teach us about the Kingdom of Ha Satan and the False Messiah. Unclean creatures are never considered “food” in the Scriptures, except for unbelievers.

The Torah is a book about boundaries and declarations, and kedusha relates to what we eat. Israel has a kedusha as a “holy” (set apart) people. They were to be different than the rest of the world. It was the duty of the priest (Ezek 44.23) to teach the difference between the “holy” (what had a kedusha) and the common (“chol”=what didn’t have a kedusha).

Modern research has found that eating “kosher” animals lead to better health, but that is because, for the most part, that the Lord said if we do what he has commanded he would not put any of the diseases of Egypt on us (Exo 15.26). The ultimate motive for these laws is kedusha. Many have died rather than transgress these laws because they wanted to obey the Lord. There is a good book called “None of these Diseases” by Sim McMillen and it is a good source if you want to look at this chapter.

Leviticus 11 can be broken down into two parts. Lev 11.1-23 tells us what creatures are permissible to eat and what isn’t. It does not directly address whether eating an unclean creature will make a person unclean so that they cannot enter the Mishkan/Temple, it simply forbids eating them. Lev 11.24-47 discusses the transmission of “tamai) (contamination/uncleanness) as a practical matter. Contamination affects only the entering of the central sanctuary, eating the kodshai kodeshim (most holy) or kodshai kelim (holy) food, or the touching of items that have a kedusha. It is not a sin or forbidden to become unclean if they will not be entering the Mishkan/Temple or touching items with a kedusha, except for the priests who were never to touch the dead except for certain relatives (Lev 21.1-3). The High Priest was not to ever touch a dead body, not even his father or mother (Lev 21.10.11).

We are not going to discuss these creatures at this time, but we are giving concepts that will help us relate to the Tanak and this chapter, but we will give you some examples of clean animals to give you an example on what can be gleaned about these creatures, conveying concepts associated with the Kingdom of God, and unclean creatures conveying concepts about the Kingdom of Satan and the False Messiah. For example, we are allowed to eat creatures that have cloven hoofs and chew the cud. The cloven hoof teaches us about being sure footed, like deer. Chewing the cud produces milk, which is a type of the Word of God (1 Pet 2.2). The biblical word for “meditate” is “hagah” and it means to “mutter, speak, murmur.” Biblical meditation means to “chew the cud (speak aloud, mutter) God’s word, producing milk.” The rabbit chews the cud (appears to be speaking the word) but it does not have cloven hoofs (does not walk in the Torah), so it is unclean. It is no secret that the rabbit is a symbol of sexual fertility and being promiscuous. A pig divides the hoof (appears to walk in Torah), but it does not chew the cud (produce the pure milk of the Word of God=teaches false doctrine). A clean fish has scales (the armor of God-Eph 6.10-17) and fins (gives direction). A water creature that does not have scales and fins is unclean and called “detestable” (Lev 11.10), which is how we should feel about the Kingdom of Satan and the False Messiah. These are just a few examples of what the Lord is trying to convey here. God has told us what to do and what eat. The same Torah that says, “Love your neighbor” and wants justice, mercy and kindness is the same Torah that tells us what we can eat and not eat. It teaches us to discipline our appetites.

These laws teach us about eschatology , which is the study of the Messiah and the Redemption. It also teaches us about the Kingdom of God as opposed to the Kingdom of Satan and the False Messiah. They teach us to make a distinction between the clean and the unclean creatures, what has a kedusha and what doesn’t , good and evil, right and wrong (Lev 11.46-47). In a sense, the permissible list is like “spiritual food” like in Gen 2.16-17. Isn’t it interesting that the first sin related to food?

What happened with this chapter? Most people have read about these laws, or have heard of them. Just tell some people that you don’t eat pig and see what they say. They will immediately say, “Are you Jewish?” They know exactly who gave these laws. The problem is they have been taught different.

There is a story in the Talmud that illustrates this point. It is called the “Kosher Stove” in Baba Mezia 59a and it goes basically like this. A rabbi declares that a stove was “clean” for woman who asked. Other rabbis said it wasn’t and the first rabbi was devastated because he gave the woman wrong counsel. He should know whether a stove is “kosher” or not, that’s his job. In prayer, the Lord speaks to the rabbis and says, “The stove is clean” and he quickly tells the others. The chief rabbi says, “Brother, it may well be that the Lord spoke to you, but there is no sign to confirm this, so our ruling stands.” So, the rabbis goes back and asks the Lord for a sign. God says, What sign?” He says, “Replant the tree across the street to right in front of the synagogue.” A whirlwind comes along and does it.

All of this was right in front of the other rabbis, they witnessed it, and it went exactly as the rabbi predicted. The chief rabbi says, “Well, we have the sign that God truly spoke to our brother here, but as you can see, this tree has nothing to do with stoves. Therefore, our ruling stands.” So the rabbi goes back and prays, and he says, My brothers will not believe me until you plainly tell them yourself that it is not kosher.” So, the Lord says, SO be it.” He goes back and tells the rabbis that they will hear from God himself. All of a sudden the roof lifts off the synagogue and God speaks in a booming voice, “The stove is kosher.” The chief rabbi says, “Surely we have heard the Lord plainly, but he has also spoken and has given us the authority to make rulings, and we have ruled that the stove was not kosher.” And the voice of God says, “Oh, that’s right. The stove is not kosher!”

The moral of this story is, “Even if a voice from heaven spoke, we don’t believe because we have the right to decide.” This concept is also found in Replacement Theology Christianity which believes that the plain word of God has been “overruled” by Apostolic Authority, which means they believe that God gave the Church Fathers and others (like Popes) the authority to make rulings, even if they contradict the written word of God. For example (and there are many), you can eat the forbidden creatures Of Lev 11, and Sunday is now their “sabbath” and the “Lord’s Day.” Both are clearly contrary to the Word of God.

This concept is what Yeshua was talking about in the story of Lazarus and the Rich Man (Luke 16.19-31). The rich man says to Abraham after he dies that he wants to warn his brothers about this place he was in so that they could avoid it. But Abraham says to him that they have Moses (Torah) and the Prophets (Nevi’im), let them hear them. But the rich man says, “No, Father Abraham, but if someone goes to them from the dead, they will repent.” But he said to him, “If they do not listen to Moses (Torah) and the Prophets (Nevi’im), neither will they be persuaded if someone rises from the dead.”

That is how we think. How does forbidden animals enter into a person’s body? It is only possible when one either does not know or one denies these words from heaven in Leviticus 11. We want to decide what is right and what is wrong. A voice from heaven did come down and tell us what to to do in regards to what is kosher and what is not. They are called “commandments.” A voice did come down from heaven and say, “This is my beloved Son, my chosen one, listen to him” (Luke 9.35). But people in the First Century (and now) said, “We want to choose who the Messiah is and we want to choose what he looks like, what he said and what he believed.” In other words, they want to to pick out certain things they like about what he said and did, and leave out the things they don’t like about what he said and did.

In Part 13 we will pick up here.

Posted in All Teachings, Articles, Idioms, Phrases and Concepts, Prophecy/Eschatology, The Feasts of the Lord, The Tanach, Understanding the New Testament

Tanak Foundations-Concepts in Leviticus-Part 11

Ezra 3.1-6 tells us that the korbanot that we have been looking at were reinstituted after the return from captivity. However, in Neh 7.64-65, some claimed to be kohanim but were unable to prove it. Having searched for verification and none were found, individuals were considered “tamai” (unclean ritually) for the priesthood, and were excluded. Then the governor said to them that they should not eat from the most holy things (kodshai kodeshim could only be eaten within the azarah/courtyard) until a priest arose with the Urim and Thummim, This tells us that by the time of the return from captivity, the Urim and Thummim was lost. This allowed the priest to inquire directly to the Lord for an answer to a question. That meant that they were not used in the Second Temple.

Eschatologically, this will happen again when the coming Third Temple is built. Only people who can be positively identified as kohanim will serve in that Temple. After the Birth-pains, Ezekiel’s Temple will be built and Jews from all over the world will come back to the land. The consecration ceremony in Lev 8.1-36 will be done again very soon, and done again with Ezekiel’s Temple. Isa 66.21 says that the Lord will “take some of them for priests and for Levites.” Of course, Yeshua will not need the Urim and Thummim because he will know who they are and who are of priestly descent. Now, let’s go back to Ezek 3.1-6 and pick up some very important eschatological information. We believe this passage is very prophetic.

The catching away of the believers (or the Natzal seen in 1 Thes 4 and 1 Cor 15) will happen on Yom Teruah (day of the awakening shofar sound), also known as Rosh Ha Shannah, year 6001 from creation. Ezra says that the altar was set up but the foundation of the Temple had not been laid yet. They began to offer korbanot on the first day of the seventhe month (Rosh Ha Shannah). That means the kohanim had to be consecrated at least seven days prior (Elul 24).

Likewise, we believe that it possible that before the catching away of the believers, priests will begin to be consecrated seven days prior in order to begin to offer the korbanot on Tom Teruah, or Rosh Ha Shannah. The Temple does not need to be rebuilt yet based on our passage in Ezra, but they will need to have control of the Temple Mount in order to have an altar. That means that believers will have a “heads up” before the Natzal (rapture) by at least seven days. This happens to be the time needed to consecrate the Temple Mount, the vessels and the priests.

Even before that, the Temple Mount must return to Jewish control. The Dome of the Rock must be removed also. We believe that this will come about through a massive earthquake, like in the days of King Uzziah (the days of King Uzziah is a picture of the days leading up the Birth-pains). That means that the Dome of the Rock and all the other buildings that are there right now will come down. Nobody will be able to blame Israel for such an earthquake, and the situation will be such that Israel will take advantage of it. So, Lev 8.1-36 and the consecration of the priests will play an important role in Bible prophecy. We have additional information on these concepts in other teachings on this site.

The next Torah portion is called “Shemini” (“eighth”) and it goes from Lev 9.1 to 11.47. It is a continuation of the previous portion (Tzav) where Aaron and his sons are consecrated as priests. Lev 9.1 tells us it was the “eighth day” after the consecration ceremony and the number “eight” means a “new beginning.” These passages refer back to what the Lord said in Exo 29.43-46.

Lev 9.22-24 tells us that at first Aaron got it right, and the Lord will appear to them (Lev 9.24). Lev 10.1-7 then continues and it tells us that his two eldest sons die because they will offer “strange fire” with the incense before the Lord. They did not follow the pattern of worship given by God in the Torah. They offered the right incense but they did not do it at the appointed time and not by the appointed people. Remember the definition of “kedusha” and “keep and observe?” The definition of kedusha is “to designate or to set apart for the service of God. This is done by formal and legal restrictions and limitations. The kedusha of time is marked by limits on man’s actions in regard to work and construction.” The definition of “keep and observe” means “to incorporate the things of God into our lives, and staying true to the blueprint (tavnit) God has given in his word. This is done by doing specific things, at a specific time, at a specific place, by specific people.”

Aaron’s two sons, Nadab and Abihu, tried to do something “which he had not commanded them (Lev 10.1-3.” This was not part of the service. Did they consult their teachers about this (Moses and Aaron)? No, they did not. Independent thought and inspiration must be channeled through what God has already said. No “freelancing” was allowed in the worship of God in the Mishkan and temple if God has already told them what to do. And it doesn’t take two people to offer the incense. The services, festivals, and so on cannot be changed by any human authority, not even the sons of the High Priest. This is the basis as to why we can’t keep the festivals (and many other things) today. People are “freelancing” and not keeping and observing the blueprint set down by God. They are trying to “keep” a festival, or do something else, by not doing specific things, at a specific time, at a specific place, by specific people. That violates the very definition of “keep and observe.”

In Lev 10.17-20 we learn that Aaron was asked by Moses why he did not eat of the korban chata (sin offering). The kohanim were leaders and teachers now (Ezek 44.23) and they must “stomach” the mistakes, failures and suffering of the congregational community (the Kahal). The people were to share in the grief of the priests as well. Aaron did not have the right attitude to eat of the korban chata. Lev 10.19-20 says that Aaron answered Moses by saying, “Behold, this very day they presented their sin offering and their burnt offering before the Lord. When things like these happened to me, if I had eaten a sin offering today, would it have been good in the sight of the Lord? And when Moses heard that, it seemed good in his sight.”

Now, the Torah said that it should have been eaten but Moses had sympathy for his brother, and his shock and grief, and did not press his brother any further. He understood. Tragedies happen and difficult questions have no simple answers, but, faith in the Lord as the true judge must be repeated. There are no fast answers. Aaron knew what happened and why it happened, nothing more can be said. It was a hard lesson to learn. What should have been a happy day in his life turned out to be tragic.

Leviticus 11.1-47 is a very well known chapter, especially in the Messianic Movement. It tells us about the creatures that we are allowed to eat, and those that we are not allowed to eat. This part of what has been called the “Dietary Laws.” For a good teaching on the dietary laws, go to the Hertz Pentateuch and Haftorahs on Leviticus 11. The terms “clean” (tahor) and “unclean” (tamai) are never used to denote physical uncleanness, but these terms relate to ritual purity. These laws will only apply if one is going to enter the Mishkan or the Temple, or have contact with objects that have a kedusha (p. 459 of the Hertz Pentateuch).

In Part 12, we will pick up here and discuss these laws in Leviticus 11. We will pick up some valuable concepts here that will give us more clarity about this chapter and these concepts will help apply these laws into our lives.

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Tanak Foundations-Concepts in Leviticus-Part 10

In Ezek 44.23 we learn that the priests had instruction to “teach my people the difference between the holy (kodesh) and the common (chol), and cause them to discern between the unclean (tamai) and the clean (tahor).” The priest was to mold the people and their daily life to satisfy the requirements and expectations of Yehovah, not the religious needs of the people.

Now, the concept of tamai and tahor (unclean and clean), or what most people understand as the Laws of Purity and Impurity, apply only in reference to the Mishkan and the Temple, and the holy objects connected with it. They do not apply in ordinary life, or to persons who do not intend to enter the Mishkan or the Temple (Hertz Pentateuch and Haftorahs, p.459). There is a future context to all these laws because a Temple is coming and described in Ezek 40-48 (See also Isa 2.2-3, 66.21; Micah 4.1-3; Zech 14.16-21). Now, let’s discuss some additional concepts concerning the korbanot.

There are many people who work as a volunteer to collect and distribute clothing to the poor. There are many organizations that do this. Experience teaches us that it would not simply do to hand out clothing, sadly, for many of the indigent such an arrangement would be too embarrassing. Instead, much of the clothing is “sold” for quite nominal sums, freeing the poor (or the buyer) of shame. The condition of the clothing was also critical. Many of the poor were far more sensitive to the way their clothing looked than a person in the average wage bracket. Often a respectable looking piece of clothing would be rejected by these people because it did not appear brand new. Some people would have had no such compunction wearing comparable items, but for many of the poor embarrassed by their status, such clothing was unacceptable.

A sensitivity to the feelings of the downtrodden is evidenced throughout the Torah in ways both bold and subtle. The Torah discusses the regimen of the korbanot brought to the Temple and it displays this concern for the disadvantaged. The Torah allowed different types of korbanot to be brought, permitting each person to bring a korban according to their means. Thus, a wealthy person could bring a bull while a poor person could bring a mincha, a flour or bread offering.

This in itself demands an explanation, for instead of allowing a wealthy person to bring an animal korban and the poor person to bring a korban mincha or flour offerings, one might have expected the Torah to simply suggest that everyone present a korban mincha. This arrangement, however, would have had a number of negative aspects associated with it. First, it would prevent the rich from providing what to them would be a more significant korban to Yehovah. More importantly, there was a tremendous psychological process associated with the korbanot. When a person brought an animal korban chata (sin offering), he would confess his sin (vidui) while placing his hands in the head or neck of the animal (semicha). Then, he would watch the animal being slaughtered (shochita). Thus, the highly distasteful experience of watching an animal die would be associated in the sinner’s mind with their sin, and hopefully, they would be deterred from sinning. It had to feel different than just slaughtering an animal for food.

So, the people were allowed to present different types of korbanot according to their financial situations. However, there was a problem that remained, which was, how to alleviate the embarrassment of the poor when they brought their korban mincha. To help lessen their embarrassment, the Torah goes out of its way to change its phraseology concerning the korbanot of the poor. While in other instances, when the Torah speaks of a person offering a korban, such an individual is termed a person. In the instance of the poor man bringing his korban mincha, such a person is called a “soul” (nefesh). Rashi explains that this change in terms was to remind people that in the view of Yehovah, it was not the korban itself but the dedication associated with the korban that mattered. Thus, it was quite possible that the simple korban mincha of the poor was greater than the bull by the rich. Yeshua confirms this concept in Mark 12.41-49.

But, if the poor might have a problem with their status, those who were bringing their korban chata might well have still a greater problem. The activities in the Temple were quite a public event, and to bring a korban chata was like telling everyone that they had sinned or transgressed. To minimize this embarrassment, the Torah insists that both the korban chata and the korban olah (burnt) be slaughtered in the same place in the azarah (courtyard). The korban olah was brought as a korban of devotion and total submission to Yehovah so it lacked negative connotations. When a spectator watched a person bring a korban chata to the slaughtering area (Beit Ha Mitbechaim=”house of/to life”) it would be unclear as to the true status of the korban, whether it was a korban chata or a korban olah. As a result, the worshiper was spared the embarrassment. We learn that the Torah emphasized in both bold and subtle ways the need to avoid causing the pain of embarrassment.

Lev 8.1-36 deals with the Consecration of the Kohanim. This is a seven day process and this procedure will be done again very soon because preparations for a coming Temple are being made right now and this will need to be done before any type of worship can begin there. This coming Temple will be used during the first half of the birth-pains, so this chapter is also very eschatological. Priests will need to be identified and there is a DNA test for that. However, there will be some of the same difficulties in identifying these priests that they had when the Jewish people returned to the land after the Babylonian Captivity.

In Part 11 we will examine some of the eschatological aspects to the consecration of the priests and Ezra 3.1-6, Isa 66.21 and other verses. We will see how all of this fits into the eschatological expectations related to the coming Third Temple, the Temple Mount, the priesthood, the consecrated vessels, the altar and the korbanot.

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Tanak Foundations-Concepts in Leviticus-Part 9

The deep underlying objection to the korbanot comes from Greek and Roman ideology, not the Torah, which is given by God. Paganism, as we have already discussed in Concepts in Exodus, is man’s way of making sense of the world. Mankind saw that there were violent forces and he needed them not to do harm to him, so these forces (powers) were given names and called “gods.”

When you were a farmer, you wanted the earth god to favor you. You didn’t want any trouble from the river god that caused floods. So, pagan sacrifices were given to appease these gods who had control (they thought) over these forces. Humans could avoid the wrath of these gods by given them what they wanted or needed. If that didn’t work, you appeased another god to help. The Torah korbanot were different. They were not “for” God because he doesn’t need them. They were for the people. They taught concepts about the Messiah and the Redemption. The animal was part of the ceremony that taught the worshiper about themselves, sin and mercy. It taught that the worshiper deserved death, but God has spared them. It teaches mercy and the blood was real, and it shakes a person. But the korbanot are also related to the concept of a “Lord’s Supper” and a meal consecrated to God. They were a meal that renewed the covenantal bond that was established at Mount Sinai between the Lord and Israel.

Kirk Douglas is an actor. In 1991 he survived a helicopter crash with an airplane in a “near death experience.” He couldn’t understand why he survived. He realized he had more to give to the world. Up till then, he played games but now he began to study the Torah and take life more serious (He is Jewish). Likewise, in the Temple, the scene of blood and the “near death experience” there was meant to get the person to think “this could have been me except for the mercy of God.” The korbanot were designed to by God to have an impact on the worshiper.

Some korbanot were given and it had nothing to do with sin, but it taught about sin and death. A “near death experience” was meant to move the worshiper to a higher spiritual level. The worshiper was to “slaughter” their animal instincts. It is interesting to note that the place for the slaughtering in the Temple was called the “Beit ha Mitbechaim” which means “the house of/to life.” The korbanot taught life.

The name of God used in the korbanot is Yehovah. We will have a teaching on this name and how to pronounce it at the end of Concepts in Leviticus. This name transcends time because it means “I existed in the past, I will be now, and I will be in the future.” The title “Elohim” is not used because this refers to Yehovah as a “judge.” If Yehovah used that title in the Temple it would lead one to think that a “bribe” was possible, like in paganism. Yehovah refers to God as existing outside of time. We will have more on this name later.

This will help us understand how forgiveness takes place. If a man sinned “yesterday” and repented “today”, how can that undo what he did yesterday? If we understood that Yehovah exists outside of time, then time is not an issue. The korban was to “spill over” into secular life when people “compartmentalized” religious concerns, placing “ritual” above social and moral issues, and the Temple became a hindrance (Hos 6.6). The korbanot remind us of our mortality on one hand, and our mission to “repair” (tikun) the world.

Lev 6.8 to 8.36 is the Torah portion called “Tzav” meaning “Command.” It is interesting to note that God doesn’t tell Moses to “Speak” to Aaron and his sons, or “teach” Aaron and his sons, but “command” Aaron and his sons. Why does it say command? This is connected to the Korban Olah (burnt offering) which is totally consumed on the altar. The worshiper derived no benefit from it, not even a few “bites.” People need to be commanded so that it counter-balances the evil desires of the heart. People are willing to obey God as long as it doesn’t cost them.

Lev 6.9-13 tells us about the command to offer the Tamid, or “continual” offering in the morning and the afternoon, everyday without excuse. We have a command here to “take up the ashes.” We must realize that the menial work in human eyes may be seen y God in the highest esteem. Little, unglorified acts yield a great reward from the Lord. We should never demean the simple chores. So, we learn that the first task that Aaron and his sons are commanded to do is the removal of the ashes from the altar. We can learn a spiritual lesson from “taking out the garbage” so to speak here. With all the loftier duties in the Mishkan and Temple, this is also a lofty work. We should not let things “go to our heads.” It would be natural for Aaron and his sons to think that they were “special” but they are told that the first thing they must do everyday it to “take out the trash.”

Another command we are told is that they were not to let the fire go out on the altar. That means when it rained, snowed, or had high winds or whatever, that fire was not to go out. In the same way, we must also guard against letting the fire go out in our hearts when the hard rain, snow or high winds of life come. This is having a complacent heart, neither hot nor cold (Zeph 1.12; Prov 20.27; Rev 3.16). The kohanim were to watch this fire and to make sure the Tamid was totally consumed on the altar.

Sometimes the High Priest or his designate would come before sunrise to check the altar fire. If a priest was not awake and watching over this fire he would take coals from the altar and set his garments on fore (Rev 16.15). The Tamid ceremony itself is discussed at length in the Mishnah tractate “Tamid.” The services in the Mishkan/Temple is a “continuation” of what began on Mount Sinai and the covenant and continues with Yeshua.

The fire on the altar began by the hand of God in Exo 3.1-2 at Sinai, then Lev 9.24 in the Mishkan, and later in the First Temple in 2 Chr 7.1. The Temple was eventually destroyed by Nebuchadnezzar. When the Second Temple was built, the fire on the altar was not started by Yehovah. It remains to be seen whether the the altar fire in the Third Temple (during the Birth-pains) will be started by the hand of God. The lesson is, we should not let the fire that was started by the Lord go out in our lives.

In Lev 6.14 to 7.38 discussed the “Torah” or “Law” of the Korban Mincha (bread) offering, Korban Chinnuch (ordination offerings), the Korban Chatat (sin offering), the Korban Asham (guilt offering) and the Korban Shelem (peace offerings). We have gone over these previously. For more information, go to our Temple 101 and Temple 201 series on this site.

In Part 10 we will pick up here by discussing the role of the kohanim in relation to the concepts of Tahor and Tamai (ritually clean and unclean).

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Tanak Foundations-Concepts in Leviticus-Part 8

We know studying the korbanot in Leviticus can be tedious at times, but they are very important to understand and that is why we are going over them here. This is only a basic study but it can be full of meaning for you. We want to encourage you to stick with it and take the korbanot to another level. Remember, these are from the Lord and the intricacies of the offerings were learned by the time a person was about 13 years old in Mishkan and Temple times. Paul used the term “rightly dividing the word of truth” in 2 Tim 2.15 when discussing how we should interpret the Scriptures, and this term is taken from the Temple and related to the korbanot procedures we are discussing. We can see where the worshiper had to “rightly divide” what offering he was going to give, what animal to bring, what bread offering to bring, where it was to be taken, how it was divided up after the animal was slaughtered, where to put the blooda and what bread offering is given. The priest had to know exactly what to do along with the worshiper. So, with that said, let’s move on.

In contrast to the animal offerings, bird offerings are slaughtered by a procedure called “Melikah” in which the priest punctures the back of the bird’s neck with his thumbnail and cuts through to the front. In another departure, the blood is not caught in a vessel but it is applied to the altar from the the body of the bird. The following will highlight the differences between the bird chatat (sin) and the bird olah (burnt).

In the Korban Chatat (sin offering) of a bird, the bird is slain on the floor of the azarah (courtyard) near the southwest corner of the altar. The windpipe or esophagus is cut. The blood is applied on the lower part of the southwest corner of the altar. It is applied by sprinkling and draining. The meat is eaten by the kohanim (priests) in the courtyard during the day and one night.

The Korban Olah (Burnt offering) of a bird is slain on top of the altar at the southeast or southwest corner of the altar. Both the windpipe and the esophagus is cut. The blood is applied on the upper wall of the altar and it is drained. The meat is burned on the altar and is not eaten. The chatat and olah of the bird is kodshai kodeshim (most holy and can only be eaten in the azarah).

As we have mentioned before, the Scriptures give thirteen types of Mincha (bread) offerings. The Mincha Solet is wheat, fine flour, mixed with oil and a kometz (a three-fingered scoop) is taken to the altar and burned and the remainder will go to the kohanim. The Mincah Machavat is wheat, mixed with oil and fried on a griddle. The kometz is taken to the altar and burned and the remainder is given to the kohanim. The Mincha Marcheshet is wheat, mixed with oil and fried in a pan. The kometz goes to the altar and the remainder is given to the kohanim.

The Mincha Challah (Challot is plural) is wheat, mixed with oil and baked in an oven. The kometz goes up to the altar and the remainder to the kohanim. The Mincha Rekikim is wheat, baked in an oven with oil smeared on it, baked in wafers. The kometz goes to the altar and the remainder goes to the kohanim. The Mincha Choteh is brought by a person who has done certain sins and cannot afford an animal or a bird korban. It consists of wheat, and no oil or levonah is added. There is a kometz taken to the altar and the remainder is eaten by the kohanim.

The Mincha Chavitin of the High Priest is wheat, mixed with oil and scalded in hot water, baked and fries. It is burned entirely on the altar, half in the morning and the other half in the afternoon. The Mincha Chinnuch (Consecration of a Kohen) is wheat, mixed with oil, scalded in hot water, baked and fried. It is burned on the altar. The Mincha Sotah (jealousy) mincha is barley, and is made with raw flour. The kometz goes to the altar and the remainder to the kohen. The Mincha Omer is barley, mixed with oil, with the kometz to the altar and the remainder to the kohanim. The Mincha Nesachim is wheat, mixed with oil and burned on the altar. The Mincha Chatat is wheat, no oil and no levonah (frankincense), raw flour with the kometz taken to the altar and the remainder to the kohanim.

The following are non-altar baked offerings. The Lechem ha Pannim (showbread) is unleavened and specially shaped. There will be twelve loaves with two spoonfuls of levonah and eaten by the kohanim after they are taken off the table and replaced by newer loaves on the Sabbath. The Sh’tai Ha Lechem are the two loaves on Shavuot, they are leavened and specially shaped. They are offered with two lambs on Shavuot and eaten by the kohanim. The Todah Mincha are ten leavened loaves, ten challah loaves, ten rekikim and unleavened loaves and ten scalded loaves. They are associated with a todah (thanks) offering and one of each kind is given to the kohanim and the rest is eaten by the owner and guests. The mincha that goes with the Nazir’s ram are ten unleavened challah loaves and ten unleavened rekikim loaves. Two breads (one of each kind) is given to the kohanim and the rest is eaten by the Nazir and guests.

As you can see, the Mincha offerings come in many forms. However, they share certain things and features. All consisted primarily of flour, all have at least a part offered on the altar, and some are burned in their entirety. Of those not entirely burned, the part removed from the mincha and burned is known as the kometz; the remainder of the mincha is eaten by the kohanim. Most have added to them a measure of levonah (frankincense) which is also burned on the altar Some mincha offerings are fried or baked before being offered; the resulting loaves are them crumbled and the kometz is taken from the pieces. A mincha may be a communal or personal offering, voluntary or obligatory.

Another thing they have in common as they are part of what is seen as a covenantal meal with the Lord. That is why meat, bread and wine were used. We have covered this aspect of the korbanot previously so we won’t dwell on this too much, but the korbanot had two functions. There was the expiatory aspect and the covenantal meal aspect. The worshiper was “breaking bread with God” and so there was the imagery of a feast being communicated in the Temple in a continual rededication of the covenantal bond initiated at Sinai. This is what is called a “Lord’s Supper.”

As we have discussed before, the Temple was a very, very busy place. Sin had to be dealt with and the rededication of the covenant. The worshiper committed themselves completely to the Lord. The worshiper had to follow the “tavnit” or the blueprint set forth as the Lord gave it. At the time, the Mishkan was the holiest place on earth. The kedusha that was on Mount Sinai was transferred to the Mishkan. It is there that that these korbanot were to be brought until the Temple was built..

We are both physical and spiritual. During our lives, each pull us in its direction. Who we are is determined by our decisions of which one we will follow. We have thoughts, words and deeds. In a korban (offering), the hands are placed on the head, the seat of the intellect. Then sin is confessed, corresponding to speech and words. Then the different parts are burned on the altar. The internal organs in Hebrew are used to illustrate the sites of thought and desire (kidney, liver, brain, etc). The legs speak of our walk and actions. The fat of the animal speaks of lust, folly and that which weighs us down. The worshiper must realize that it should be him on that altar. The korban must feel different than just the ordinary slaughtering of an animal for food or clothing. The worshiper must feel “teshuvah.”

In the Mishkan and in the “Shekinah” (presence) of Yehovah, the worshiper is surrounded by kedusha, which is the focus of the Book of Leviticus. They hear the music being played and sung by the Levites. He smells the bakeries and they can hear the animals. They can see and smell the smoke and all the sights and sounds of people praying. The worshiper should resolve in himself that the direction of his life should be upward. Like the pieces of the animal that has ascended to the altar, the worshiper must elevate themselves to a higher level. When they ate part of the animal, they ingest the ideas associated with that offering and make it a part of themselves.

If you have ever walked away from a near death experience, like an auto accident, and you looked back and saw your car totaled, you would get a feeling of how precious life is. No toy or gift is worth that feeling. When a real, living animal is looking at you one minute and the next minute it dies right in front of you, you feel it. You get a real sense of the value of life. Have you ever eaten a chicken or a steak? Have you ever worn real fur or leather shoes? Have you ever had a leather purse or coat? If these physical benefits are enough of a constructive purpose or benefit for a person to justify the use of that animal, how much more is the use of the animal in korban for the spiritual benefit of the worshiper as commanded by Yehovah in these chapters in Leviticus?

In Part 9 we will pick up here.

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Tanak Foundations-Concepts in Leviticus-Part 7

When more than one kind of korban was presented (Num 7.16-17) the procedure was usually as follows: the sin offering (chatat) or guilt offering (asham); the burnt offering (olah); the peace offering (shelem) and the grain offering (minchah). This sequence furnishes part of the spiritual significance of the korban system. First, sin had to be dealt with (sin and guilt offering). Second, the worshiper committed himself completely to God (burnt and grain offering). Third, fellowship between the Lord and the worshiper in a covenantal meal, and the renewal of the covenant at Sinai had to be reestablished (peace offering).

Now we are going to talk about the procedures for the animal offerings. We will give the type of korban, its classification as “kodshai kodeshim” (“most holy” and eaten within the Temple/Mishkan) or “kodshai kelim” (“holy” and eaten within the camp), how the blood was applied, what was done with the meat and whether it was eaten or not.

The first one is the inner chatat offering of Yom Kippur. It is kodshai kodeshim and killed north of the altar. The blood is applied in the Kodesh ha Kodeshim (Holy of Holies), the ha Kodesh (Holy Place) and the inner altar of incense by the dabbing of a finger. It is burned outside the camp and it is not eaten (Lev 16). Next we have another inner chatat (Lev 4). It is kodshai kodeshim and killed north of the altar. The blood is applied in the Ha Kodesh (and the inner altar. Sprinkling is done with the finger and it is burned outside the camp and is not eaten.

Next we have the outer chatat, which is kodshai kodeshim and killed north of the altar. The blood is applied on the horns of the altar by the finger. It is eaten by the kohanim (priests) in the azarah (courtyard) for one day and a night. The elevation offering (Lev 1) is kodshai kodeshim and killed north of the altar. The blood is applied on the lower part of the northeast and southwest corners of the outer altar. The blood as applied by “throwing.” It is eaten by male kohanim in the courtyard within one day and a night.

The Korban Asham is kodshai kodeshim and killed north of the altar. The blood is applied at the lower part of the northeast and southwest corners of the altar by throwing. It is eaten by male kohanim in the azarah (courtyard) within the one day and a night. The personal Korban Shelem (Lev 3) is kodshai kelim (holy) and killed anywhere in the azarah (courtyard). The blood is applied at the lower part of the northeast and southwest corners of the altar by throwing. The breast and thigh is eaten by the kohanim and their households and eaten within the camp within one day and a night.

The Korban Todah (Thanksgiving) is kodshai kelim and killed anywhere in the azarah. The blood is applied at the lower part of the corners of the outer altar by throwing. The breast and thigh is eaten by the kohanim and their households and it is eaten anywhere within the camp in one day and a night. The Korban Bechor (Firstborn) is kodshai kelim (Num 18.17-18) and killed anywhere in the azarah. The blood is applied at the lower part of the altar wall by pouring. It is eaten by the kohanim and their households anywhere within the camp in two days and an intervening night.

The Ma’aser of animals (Tithe) is kodshai kelim (Lev 27.32) and is killed anywhere in the azarah. The blood is sprinkled on the lower part of the altar wall by pouring. It is eaten by anyone anywhere in the camp in two days and an intervening night. The Pesach (Passover) is kodshai kelim (Exo 12) and killed anywhere in the azarah. The blood is applied to the lower part of the altar wall by pouring. It is eaten by by anyone who is eligible and registered anywhere in the camp the day it is slaughtered until midnight. Now we are going to discuss the circumstances that call for an animal korban and some further details on each one.

The age of a lamb must be from the eighth day after birth until its first birthday; a kid from the eighth day until the first birthday; a calf from the eighth day to the second birthday; a ram from the beginning of the fourth month until the second birthday; a bull from the first birthday until the third birthday; a goat from the eighth day until the second birthday; and cattle from the eighth day to the third birthday.

The inner Korban Chatat is given as a communal offering on Yom Kippur (male kid); the High Priest on Yom Kippur (bull); a bull for a matter that was hidden from the congregation; a sin offering for communal idolatry (male kid); a bull for the anointed priest (bull). The outer Korban Chatat is given on the mussaf (additional) for Rosh Chodesh (New Moon); the three pilgrim festivals called the Shelosh Regalim, Rosh Ha Shannah and Yom KIppur (male kid); with the two loaves on Shavuot called the Sh’tai Ha Lechem (male kid); personal sin and variable chatat for personal idolatry (female kid); the he-goat of a ruler (male kid); a clean Nazir or Metzora (leper) is a female lamb.

The Korban Olah and elevation offering at the Tamid service is one male lamb in the morning and one male lamb in the evening. The mussaf (additional) of the Sabbath would be two male lambs; the mussaf of Rosh Chodesh, the seven days of Unleavened Bread and Shavuot is two bulls, one ram and seven lambs. The mussaf for Rosh Ha Shannah and Yom Kippur is one bull, one ram and seven lambs. The mussaf for Sukkot on days one through seven is 13 bulls on the first day, going down one bull daily to seven bulls, two rams and 14 lambs. The mussaf for Shemini Atzeret (eighth day of Sukkot) is one bull, one ram and seven lambs. With the Omer there will be one lamb. With the two loaves at Shavuot is one bull, two rams and seven lambs. The mussaf for the High Priest on Yom Kippur is one ram and on the three pilgrim festivals it is from the sheep, goats or cattle. All of these korbanot are males.

The Olah (burnt) for a woman after childbirth, a Nazir and a Metzora is a male lamb; for communal idolatry a bull; for a convert a male sheep, goat or cattle. A Korban Asham for a doubtful sin, theft, betrothed maidservant is a male ram. For a clean Nazir and a Metzora it was a male lamb. The Korban Shelem with the two loaves at Shavuot was two male lambs; for the Chagigah and Simchah on the three pilgrim festivals it was a male or female sheep, goat or cattle. For the clean Nazir it was a male ram. A voluntary shelem was a male or female sheep, goat or cattle. The Todah Shelem (Thanksgiving) was a male or female sheep, goat or cattle. The Olah for the Firstborn was a male sheep, goat or cattle. For the tithe it was a male or female sheep, goat or cattle and the Passover was a male lamb or kid.

In Part 8 we will pick up with the bird offerings.

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Tanak Foundations-Concepts in Leviticus-Part 6

In the past, history has shown us that man has always had superiority and stature over the animal kingdom. But what about today? Many contend that man and animal are equal and that man does not have the superior status that he once enjoyed. So, how did that attitude come about? There are three basic areas of man’s predominance over animals, and these areas are being challenged now.

The first area is that fact that man has a superior intellect. We know that man has such an intellect, but research has revealed that some animals also have a developed intellect. Animal rights people then say that this difference between man’s intelligence and the intelligence of animals is only a difference of degree, not of kind, and so there is no moral reason to assert that man is superior.

Secondly, man is created in the image of God. However, western societies are becoming more and more secular and so this assertion does not carry as much weight as it used to. People don’t even think like that anymore. To make an argument based on this assertion is no longer a counter point to the assertions that man and animal are equals. It is a documented fact that animal activists are less likely to have a biblical worldview than others. The majority of animal rights activists profess to be an atheist or agnostic (Animal Rights Crusade, p.38, 1985). This makes sense because to think that man alone was created in God’s image does not fit well with their idea that man and animals are on equal footing.

Then there is the third area that says that man has the faculty to make moral decisions. We know that man has the ability to make moral decisions between right and wrong, but over the years man finds himself in societies where those decisions are muddied up by relativism. Traditional values have been discarded and relativism is now the rule of the day. This makes moral decisions a personal choice, rather than one that would apply to everyone. People can just pick and choose what to follow.

The morality of the korbanot and the questions surrounding it have come out of the last generation or so. Our society has put animals in higher esteem than other generations. If a person wishes to take the life of an animal they must be “worthy.” Since the 1970’s, the man-animal relationship has changed. Man is not as great as he was, and the animals are not so “second class” as they once were. Social forces have forced this change, which we have seen. With that said, let’s look at how God and the Torah sees this position of man and animal and how this view plays a role on the moral issues that surround animal sacrifices and the korbanot.

The biblical view of this relationship can be found in the Jewish view of the korbanot. There are many sources on this subject and there are certain themes that almost always appear in these discussions that will help us understand this issue, the morality of the korbanot.

There is a biblical view that man is created in the image of God, and man alone (Gen 1.27-28). Man’s dominion over the animals is due to his intellect. For Jewish writers and scholars like Sa’adia Gaon, Maimonides and Nachmanides, this is the basis for man to know and worship God. Man has the power of speech and is able to form relationships with others. His intellect allows him to enter into a relationship with God. Animal rights people will say that the differences between the intellect of man and animals is only one of degree, not kind. However, the biblical view says that this attitude shows an ingratitude. Man can express himself in many ways and can communicate to others and relate to others in various ways. This does not place us on equal footing with the animals, this places us in a category by ourselves. We have been made in the image of God and that alone makes us “light years” ahead and superior to the animals.

So, does all this mean we can use animals? We may claim to be superior to the animals but does that mean we can use animals for our own needs? Man has been given dominion over the animals and the earth according to the biblical worldview. Man can legitimately use animals as a function of his dominance. Man and animals are not in “kinship” with each other as the animal activists like to claim. However, just because man has dominion over the animals does not mean he should not act responsibly?

Man must respect animals. He cannot be cruel to them. The sentiments espoused in our society about animals can find their roots in the Bible. Gen 9.4 says we are not to take a limb from a living animal. Deut 22.6-7 says that we are to chase away the mother bird before taking her eggs. And we are told that we are not to muzzle an ox from eating while it is threshing our floor. These are all examples of the mistreatment of animals. Man must show respect to the animals because they possess a soul (nephesh). They have interests, can experience pain and can love. Kindness towards animals is an ongoing theme in biblical thought. These teachings are meant to do two things. First, these attitudes foster genuine concern for the animal. Second, it can foster within the person a compassionate spirit so that he can deal with other people with more kindness.

Man must also recognize that the Lord is the master of the universe (Psa 50.10-11). Man has been given dominion but man must also realize it is the Lord who has ultimate dominion. God gave commandments that clearly illustrate that man’s dominion over the earth and the animal world is only “in part.” Man cannot work his animal on the Sabbath (Exo 20.10) nor during the sabbatical year (Lev 25.6-7). This shows that that the world belongs to the Lord, not man.

Vegetarians and animal rights activists claim that killing an animal shows that man is incorrectly lording his power over an innocent animal. The korbanot tell us something different. The korbanot show that it is God who is the ultimate king of the universe and he is over everything in it. Those against animal sacrifice will say, “Why does an animal have to do be killed to fulfill man’s religious duties?” This notion only has meaning in a society that puts man at the center of the universe, not God. They say that “man is setting his own rules, even when he worships a god. It is unfair to subject an animal to such actions. Sacrifice, therefore, only serves man.”

However, the Torah tells us that God is at the center and that man was created a “little lower than the angels and has crowned him the glory and dignity” (Psa 8.5). Man can make use of all that God has created through his permission, including animals. Because man has been given dominion, he must give up part of his belongings to acknowledge God as the king. God owns the animals and he has given man permission to use certain kinds in korbanot.

Now, what about those who say that man can use animals for food, clothing and medicine but not for sacrificial purposes? By understanding this issue, we can understand the korbanot. Those who wear leather, eat meat, and use medicine from animal sources, also have an obligation to show that their dominion is not complete and that they recognize God’s dominion over this world. When a person brings a korban to the Temple, the korbanot demonstrate the inanimate, vegetative and animate parts of the earth. These areas are the true dominion of the creator God. Bringing a korban shows God that man has been given dominion over these things and can use these things, but it is God who is the creator and ultimate king. Man answers to the Lord.

For people who would use animals for general purposes, we submit that sacrifices would seem to be morally acceptable in another aspect. We have shown that the korbanot were symbols. By taking the life of an animal there is an expiation of sin and a rededication back to God. We also showed that the korban is also related to a covenantal feast with God, a Lord’s Supper. The korbanot were seen as a renewal of the covenantal bond that was started at Sinai. Now, if the taking of an animal’s life is justified in order to feed, clothe and medically treat a person in the physical, then we would certainly approve of the taking of a life for a higher purpose, in accordance with the commands of God in the spiritual.

In Part 7 we will pick up with the procedure of bringing more than one kind of korban.

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Tanak Foundations-Concepts in Leviticus-Part 5

The idea that sin affects the covenantal bond and defiles the Temple shows us an important concept related to the sin offering. The word in Hebrew for sin is “chatat” and the korban chatat is a way to “wash away” sin. We know that sin can taint a person and how the sinner would then be in need of being purified. As a symbol of washing and purification, the sprinkling of the blood for the korban chatat is more involved than any other korban.

Berman says that all the other korbanot demand that the altar be sprinkled two times. With a korban chatat, it will demand four sprinklings, but on who or what? A leprous house is sprinkled and we have seen that washings for the purification of a person who had been ritually defiled by coming into contact with a dead body is performed by having the body of the defiled person sprinkled. The washings of the sin offering should be performed on the object that has been defiled, the sinner. The sprinkling of the blood on the altar is done at different places on the altar, but never on the sinner themselves.

When the laws of the sin offering say that extra sprinklings should be done on the altar, or in the case of a communal sin offering on the veil (paroket) of the Holy of Holies, it is because the covenantal center (Temple) has been tainted by the sin that caused the sin offering to be brought. The washings of the sin offering then restores the person and the Temple to their former status.

Let’s look at another aspect in the symbolism of the korbanot. We have read that the prophets at times taught about the evil of offering korbanot when Israel did not show proper respect to God. But, if we realize that the Temple avodah (service) is a symbol of the covenant, then we can see why the prophets spoke against such thing when the covenant was being violated. We know that the covenant is eternal and Israel’s behavior can leave that covenant in a nervous tension. When that relationship between God and Israel is full of tension, it would not be appropriate to bring zevachim, or feasts of celebration. It would be mocking God. That is why Jeremiah said what he said in Jer 7.21-23. Jeremiah was not against the korbanot system, but he was saying it was inappropriate to bring them when the people were in a state of breaking the very meaning of the covenant they stood for. Why bring a zevach to renew the covenant when the people were breaking that covenant. The korbanot served a very important symbolic function, but only when there was a proper action and attitude for them to be done.

Now, Berman says that many have said that the korbanot and the Temple system are a problem for them. It is troubling for some to accept the korbanot on moral grounds. This opposition can be seen in two areas. First, in western society, the killing and use of animals is accepted, but the use of animals for religious purposes seems over the top. Others are strict vegetarians and animal rights advocates and the idea that animals are used as korbanot is morally wrong and it goes against their notions that there is a relationship between man and the animals that puts both on the same level. So, lets look at the animal rights and vegetarian position.

First of all, this is not a majority position. However, the premise has been expressed by those who aren’t vegetarians or an advocate for animal rights, too. By understanding the extreme positions we will be able to see the position of moderates. First, what we have is a confrontation of traditional religious positions and the liberal western tradition. To understand why animal offerings are so loathsome to some we need to look at how western people see the human-animal relationship.

In modern society we are seeing a contention between some on how they view life, death, marriage and family. There has been a revolution in these areas since the 1960’s. We have all seen documentaries about DDT and the environment, oil drilling, water, the ozone layer and air pollution. Today it is “global warming.” These issues tried to say that it is in our best interest to confront these problems. Tropical rain forests were called “jungles” years ago but now people say they should not be stripped because there are rare species there that could give us advances in medicine. This idea is applied to plants and animals. We cannot let any animal go extinct because we are harming ourselves, so the logic goes.

Along with this concern for the utilization of these species for our benefit goes the concern for nature and the animals on a moral level as well. They contend that we must preserve nature in its original condition, not only for ourselves, but it is the moral thing to do. Nature, they say, is an entity with a distinct and independent existence. Construction of dams or waterways are being fought by environmentalists because they are afraid a certain creature may go extinct. To agree with the elimination of a certain species is morally wrong.

By the late sixties, the environmental movement had spread and Congress passed legislation for endangered species and organizations had set up funds for the welfare of animals. This led to movements that were concerned with cruelty to animals. Movies and documentaries were done showing cruelty in harvesting fur and certain fur trades were stopped. Poachers in Africa are being pursued and how veal calves are treated brought an outcry. This led to some giving animals an almost human quality. Certain emotions that we have for humans were now being experienced in the same intensity for animals. Animal protection is now called “animal welfare” and translates the idea that animals have the same emotions and interests with those needing “human welfare.”

These trends have brought forth a new way we view the animal-human relationship. In western society, it is now quite common to see people view each species with a certain sanctity that drives us to make sure they are safe. Then it went to having concern for individual members of every species. Any animal that was treated cruelly is viewed as a moral offense. The offender is judged in the same way as cruelty to a human would. The coming together of the sanctity of life for a species and the treatment of individual animals has brought forth another stage in the development of human concepts about the human-animal relationship. The next stage is the idea that animals, like humans, bear certain “rights.”

The idea of animal rights puts forth the notion that the use, killing or “murder” of any animal, even for medical research, is a moral offense. In 1977 there was an international symposium on this issue and 150 people signed a declaration entitled “A Declaration Against Speciesism.” It went on to say, “We condemn totally the infliction of suffering upon our brother animals, and the curtailment of their enjoyment, unless it be necessary for their individual benefit…We believe in the evolutionary and moral kinship of all animals and we declare our belief that all sentient creatures have rights to life, liberty and the quest for happiness” (“The Temple: Its Symbolism and Meaning Then and Now” by Joshua Berman, P.148).

What are the consequences of such an action? By saying “speciesism” they are saying that this is discriminatory, just like “racism” and prejudice is towards another race, or discrimination towards another sex is “sexism.” By saying “evolutionary kinship” they mean that humans are just another expression of the evolutionary process and is no different than the animal evolutionary process. By “moral kinship” they mean that animals have the same rights as humans.

Now, we know that these ideas are not in the majority in western culture, but there examples of this in western culture. The word “zoo” is short for zoology and it is a place where living beings live and can be seen. Animal rights activists oppose such terms because these “animals are being penned for our pleasure.” So, certain zoos have changed their names to wildlife conservation societies.

As a result, this gives us an idea as to why animal sacrifice, as prescribed in the Torah, is very upsetting to some. But this is not the only reason why animal sacrifices are opposed. Animals in recent years have attained an elevated status. Why have animals achieved such a status? How does one come to the conclusion that man and animals are equal? What has caused the estimation of man to decline to such an extent that this conclusion can be made to begin with?

In Part 6 we will pick up here?

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Tanak Foundations-Concepts in Leviticus-Part 4

We have seen that the Temple was a place where the covenantal relationship was seen, and there is no place in the Sanctuary that brings out this concept more than the Shulchan Ha Lechem Ha Pannim, or “The Table of the Bread of the Faces.” Lev 24.8 refers to this bread as “an everlasting covenant for the sons of Israel.” This bread on display is a covenant forever.

We have gone over the furniture in the Heichal and that is where the table of bread was located. This bread was replaced every Sabbath and this gives us the idea that this is an ongoing series of meals in the Temple. This bread symbolizes the covenant at Sinai and it is to be seen as a meal and celebration where the covenant is constantly renewed. The idea of feasting in the Temple as a avenue of worship will seem strange to many who are not familiar with the Temple, the korbanot or the zevachim, but it fits in nicely with what the Lord is trying to teach us.

We would think that the highest form of worship would center around what man could do, like prayer, music and meditation. We would think that speech would be be at the core of the avodah (worship), but it isn’t. The idea of feasting and the consumption of the korbanot is actually the highlight. Eating is an everyday thing and we think that it is removed from the “majesty” of worship. So, just how does feasting become such a highly regarded form of worship activity in the Temple? To stand before God in the Temple is to feel and know God’s “closeness” to us. It is his house and his shekinah was experienced everywhere. When a person is happy he celebrates with a feast. These meals, symbolized by the korbanot, were an expression of man’s joy at being close to the Lord in his Temple.

The next logical thing we are going to look at is the blood connection to Mount Sinai. The primary focus of the korbanot in the Temple was the blood of the animal. It had to be collected and sprinkled in the prescribed way and place or it was not valid. We have already listed the eleven steps when offering a korban in an earlier teaching. The sprinkling represented the life blood and the rededication of the nephesh (soul). Blood symbolizes man’s soul, his essence. As a result, blood symbolizes commitment. There is a saying about breakfast. When you eat eggs it shows that a hen was involved, but eating the bacon shows that the pig was committed.

When a person commits to someone, they are not only agreeing to do certain things, they are committing to give entirely of himself. His “soul” (nephesh) is defined by the object of their devotion. This transforms the nephesh, or soul, and there is no other symbol that more dramatically illustrates this transformation than the blood, which symbolizes the soul. A covenant between two parties represents such commitment. In the Bible, it is the blood that signifies the level of commitment. The Torah given at Mount Sinai was ratified in blood (Exo 24.3-8) and Yeshua ratified the Brit Chadasha (the Renewed Covenant) with his own blood.(Luke 22.20).

The Temple avodah (service) gives us greater insight when we see it in relation to the events that happened at Mount Sinai. Sprinkling the blood was very important and it was symbolic of the commitment between God and his people. In our verses in Exo 24.3-8, we see that the blood was first sprinkled on the altar (v 6) and then it was sprinkled on the people (v 8), showing their commitment. The term “zerika ha dam” (sprinkling of the blood) at Sinai is the only time this term is used outside of a Temple avodah (service) context. So, the sprinkling of the blood in the Temple has the same symbolism as the sprinkling of the blood at Sinai. When the blood of a korban, no matter what kind, is sprinkled on the altar it represents the owner. This applies if it is an individual or an entire people. It is a renewal of the covenantal relationship between God and the one offering the korban.

We have mentioned before that the korbanot give us two interpretations of the Temple avodah. First we talked about expiation, or the removal of guilt, and secondly, they illustrate the action of parties who have entered into a covenant. These are are related in the fact that the Temple is a place of expiation and it is a function of a covenantal center. Sin not only causes the status of the sinner to decline, but it affects the covenantal relationship. God equates disobedience with the breaking of the covenant in Lev 26.14-15). If sin damages the covenant, then the rituals associated with the korbanot help heal that breach to the covenantal relationship.

The relationship between expiation and the covenant will help us understand a strange theology associated with the Temple. This is the idea of “tum’at mikdash” or the idea that the Temple becomes defiled because of the sins of the people. We see this when we look at the the Torah in Lev 20.3 which tells us that God is against a person who gives his offspring to Moloch. This idea is also seen in Lev 16.15-16 where the High Priest on Yom Kippur slaughters the goat of the korban chatat (sin offering). By doing this he “shall make atonement for the holy place because of the impurities of the sons of Israel, and because of their transgressions, in regard to all their sins.” Jeremiah refers to the idols and sins of Judah as bringing ritual impurity into the Temple (Jer 7.30).

The concept of defiling the Temple sounds a little strange when we think that the Beit ha Mikdash was the “house of kedusha.” How does sin defile the Temple and the vessels? The answer to that question is in the question. The Temple is God’s house, but that is not the only concept associated with the Temple. It is also the central point of the covenant between God and his people. As a result, any breach in that covenant has consequences in the Temple. When sin stains the covenant, its symbol (the Temple) becomes stained along with it.

In Part 5 we will continue with the idea of “tum’ot mikdash” (defiling the Temple) and then we will enter into a discussion about the morality of animal sacrifice.

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Tanak Foundations-Concepts in Leviticus-Part 3

The Bible is full of imagery on a variety of topics. It is our “tavnit” or blueprint. With that said, it is not surprising that we see the idea of a zevach as a covenantal meal there in Exo 24.3-11. We see that the Lord has given the commandments and the people have agreed to them by saying, “All the things that the Lord has commanded we will do!” After that came the the covenantal meal. We now know why the elders ate and drank after this. They have agreed to enter into this brit and so there was a celebration.

We see the idea that this meal at Sinai was seen as a zevach in Psa 50.5 where it says, “Gather my godly ones to Me, those who have made a covenant with me by sacrifice (zevach).” This shows the concept of intimacy which existed at the time between the Lord and the Jewish people at this time. We also see that two types of korbanot were offered as this covenantal bond was made. Exo 24.5 says that olot and shelemim (peace offerings) were offered. We have touched on the olah previously and we will talk about the shelemim later.

Remember, the olah is offered on the altar and it is totally consumed. This shows complete dedication to God. Israel was showing their total commitment to God when offering the olah, as does a person when he offers an olah. The Korban Shelemim (plural) that were offered is the first mention in the Torah of this particular category. The laws of the shelemim are different from the others in this particular fashion. It is the only korban where the owner of the animal partakes of the meat. In the case of a korban olah the meat is entirely “burnt” on the altar. When a korban chatat (sin) or a korban asham (guilt) is given, sections are reserved for the officiating priest but none of it is left over for the offerer. We will look at the chatat and the asham later in this teaching.

The words used in relation to the korban shelem gives us some interesting things. While the word zevach can refer to any korban, it is used the most in regards to the korban shelem. In our passage in Exo 24, the Torah says that the olah offerings were brought, and then it says they slaughtered the zevachim as korban shelemim. In other words, the korban shelemim were zevachim (a feast of meat) and the korban olah were not. Sharing and coming together are essential elements of the korban shelemim.

In conjunction with the korbanot we will see that salt was used, but what did it symbolize? How many times have we seen salt on the dinner table, especially in a Jewish home? When a meal started, some will sprinkle salt on the bread. Lev 2.13 says that salt was added to every animal offering on the altar. Why does it say “the salt of the covenant of your God shall not be lacking from your grain offering?” The term “salt covenant” appears in several other places. When God tells the priests they will receive certain portions of the offerings in place of land (Num 18.19), he says that the covenant of salt is an “everlasting covenant of salt.” In other words, the covenant at Sinai is going to be preserved before the Lord forever. That rules out the false teaching in Christianity and other religions that the Torah has been done away with. The reason that this teaching keeps going is because most people who say they believe in the God of Israel don’t really know what this God has said.

In another example of the usage of salt covenant, we see in 2 Chr 13.4-5 that Abijah stood and said in verse 5, “Do you not know that the Lord God of Israel gave the rule over Israel forever to David and his sons by a covenant of salt?” This verse is saying that God promised David a dynasty with a covenant of salt. Just like salt preserves, God will preserve the line of David.

When the Torah says that salt was to be sprinkled on every korban it tells us the same thing as these verses we have mentioned. Salt symbolized God’s everlasting promise to the priests and the line of David. When salt is placed on the korbanot, it also says that the bond between Israel and the Lord is forever. So much for another false teaching of Christianity and others that says the Lord has rejected Israel and has replaced it by the “church.” The korbanot, therefore, is a vehicle used by God to symbolize this covenant of salt because they (korbanot) are an ongoing rededication to God through the zevachim as celebratory feasts. This celebration takes place in the “house of God” which is the Temple. In a simple sense, when an offerer went to the Temple, they were going to God’s house to have a celebratory and covenantal feast with him and to get right with their Father.

We have talked about the Tamid offerings before. These offerings are offered two times daily and they are an olah. Num 28.1-6 tells us that a korban olah is offered on behalf of the entire kehilat (congregation). These offerings signify the total dedication of Israel to God. Why does it say in verse 6, “It is a continual burnt offering which was ordained on Mount Sinai as a soothing aroma, an offering by fire to the Lord?” The simple answer is, olot were offered on Sinai and the Lord does not want it ever to be discontinued. The idea of a covenant meal is seen. The olah of Sinai, which gave the idea that Israel wanted to enter into the covenant, is seen in the Temple as a picture of that commitment. When it says in Num 28.6 that the olah is a “soothing aroma” to God the Torah gives sensual abilities to God, but this is what is called an “anthropomorphism” which is a word that gives us the idea that God participates in the covenantal feasts and that is one reason they are called a “Lord’s Supper.”

The korbanot teach us about two things. They have expiatory aspects to it and they are symbols of a covenantal feast. One korban may have aspects that teach the expiation (to put an end to the guilt) of sin, while another carries the idea of a feast. The main symbolism of a korban chatat and a korban asham is to help the sinner recover and to move the person to be repentant. They are not referred to as the “food of God” nor does the owner eat any of it. On the other hand, they do have some similar characteristics of a covenantal feast, like bread and wine, and they do have salt.

The korban olah has other aspects to it that speak of a covenantal feast. The offerer does not partake of the korban olah because it is to symbolize a total dedication to God. But, it is a figurative feast for the Lord because it is often described as a “soothing aroma” to God, and God described it as “My food” in Num 28.2. But Berman says, “Of all the animal offerings, however, the shared meal par excellence is the korban whose very name is mentioned in conjunction with the word zevach-the korban shelemim. When a korban shelemim is offered, the owner partakes of the meat and shares it with others, while God considers it ‘food’ or ‘sustenance’ (Lev 3.10) and a pleasing odor.”

In Part 4, we will pick up with the concept of the Lord’s Supper and the eating of bread with the Lord, symbolized by the Shulchan ha Lechem ha Pannim or “the Table of the Bread of the Faces.”

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Tanak Foundations-Concepts in Leviticus-Part 2

What we are going to describe with the korbanot is what God calls “worship.” Abraham is going to Mount Moriah to offer a korban and says it is worship (Gen 22.5). Israel was to go three days into the wilderness to offer kornanot and “worship” the Lord (Exo 12.31). Israel will worship God with sacrifice and offering (Isa 19.21). Paul came to Jerusalem to offer korbanot and to worship (Acts 21.17-26, 24.11,17). How was a korban offered? Which animals were acceptable? Let’s look at the eleven steps needed in bringing a korban. The first step is called “Hava’a” and it means to bring a korban. Next comes the “Semicha” or the “laying on of hands.” Now, this is not a magical gesture establishing a “point of contact” between God and man. This is what is taught in Christianity and how man thinks. Semicha is not meant to symbolically imply that the korban is a substitute for the individual either. Instead, it is a solemn attestation that the korban has come from that particular individual who is performing the semicha on the korban.

Third, we have the “Vidui” or “confession.” After that we have the Shechita” or the slaughtering. Then the “Kabalaaah ha Dam” or the “receiving” of the blood. The the “Holacha” which means the “walking” of the blood. Next, the Shefichat Sherayim” which means the “pouring out” of the leftover blood. After that comes the “Hafsdhata Venituach” which is the “skinning and severing.” Then comes “Hadacha” or the “rinsing” and lastly the “Melicha Vehaktara” which is the “salting and burning.”

The animals that are acceptable as a korban are the ox or bull, the sheep, the goat and birds called “Torim” which are the mature turtledoves and “B’nai Yonah” or young turtledoves. There will be five steps to offering a bird. First we have “Melika” which is the “severing” of the head from the torso of the bird with the thumbnail. The priest that did this had to be very skilled, and had a long thumbnail. Then comes the Mitzvi ha Dam” which is the “pressing” of the blood. Then came the “Haktorat ha Rosh” which is the “burning of the head.” Then came the “Hashachal Beit ha Deshem” or the “disposal of the extra parts” and lastly came the “Haktarat Ha’of” which is the “burning” off the korban.

We will be using as a source the “Summary of the Laws of Korbanot” from the book “Vayikra” from Mesorah Publications, p. 326-334 in discussing the korbanot. This is one of the best sources you can have if you want a concise overview of these korbanot. There will be five main categories of korbanot listed in Leviticus. The Korban Olah is the burnt offering (Lev 1, 6.8-13, 8.18-21, 16.24). This can be a bull, ram or a male pigeon for the poor. This korban was consumed totally in the fire on the altar and had to be without defect. It is a voluntary act of worship and used for atonement for an unintentional sin in general. It can also be an expression of devotion, commitment and complete surrender to God.

The next korban is called the Korban Mincha which is the grain (bread) offering. It is raw flour, deep mold or shallow mold, challah or wafers. There will be thirteen types of “bread offerings.” They are the Mincha Solet, Mincha Challah, Mincha Rekikin, Mincha Machvat, Mincha Marcheshet, Mincha Choteh, Mincha Chavitin, Mincha Chinnuch, Mincah Ha Omer, the Shtai Ha Lechem, Mincha Sotah, the Lechem Ha Pannim and the Mincha Nesachim.

The bread offerings will have certain elements. We have grain, fine flour, olive oil, incense, baked bread (cakes or wafers), salt and no leaven or honey in most cases. These offerings will accompany the Olah and the Shelem (peace) offering, along with a drink offering These were voluntary acts of worship and the recognition of God’s goodness and provisions. Now, this sounds like a meal doesn’t it?

Next we have the Korban Shelem or peace offerings (Lev 3, 7.11-34). This can be any animal without defect from the herd or the flock, with a variety of breads. It is a voluntary act of worship involving thanksgiving and fellowship. It was the only korban eaten by the offeror and it is associated with a covenantal meal between the Lord and the offeror. Another name for this covenantal meal is a “Lord’s Supper.” The next korban is called the Korban Chatat or “sin offering” (Lev 4.1 to 5.13, 6.24-30, 8.14-17, 16.3-22). This was a young bull for the High Priest and the congregation. It was a male goat for a leader, a female goat or lamb for the common person. If poor, they could use a dove or a pigeon, If one was very poor, they could offer a tenth of an ephah of fine flour (bloodless) It was a mandatory offering for an unintentional sin requiring restitution. It was also for cleansing from defilement and making restitution with a twenty percent fine. The last category of korbanot is called the Korban Asham or “guilt offering” (Lev 5.14 to 6.7, 7.1-6). It was a ram or a lamb and it was mandatory for unintentional sin requiring restitution and cleansing from defilement.

Now, before we move on any further, we want to take the time and discuss a little known aspect of the korbanot and how they were related to the concept of a “covenantal feast” called a “Zevach” and how these korbanot will relate to the concept and application of the celebration of the covenantal bond between Yehovah and his people accomplished at Mount Sinai, called a Lord’s Supper. We will be using as a source a book called “The Temple-Its Symbolism and Meaning Then and Now” by Joshua Berman, p. 128-145. Understanding what we are going to present will be crucial in our understanding of the Temple and the korbanot. You will soon see how an understanding of this concept will help us understand why the believers in the first century continued to offer korbanot and why they regarded them so highly, even after the death and resurrection of Yeshua. You will also have a better understanding as to why the korbanot and the Temple will be reinstated after Yeshua returns.

One of the main words in Hebrew that you will see when looking at the portions of Scripture dealing with the korbanot will be the word “zevach.” It is a synonym for korban. In a general, non-sacrificial sense, this word means a feast that is centered around the consumption of meat. Adonijah tried to take the throne from from his father. He slaughtered (va-yizbach) sheep and oxen and made a feast for is supporters in 1 Kings 1.9. Elisha took twelve oxen and slaugthered them (va-yizbachehu) to make a feast (1 Kings 19.21). A woman at Ein-Dor slaughtered a veal calf (va-tizbachehu) to give a feast to Saul (1 Sam 28.24). Now, if the word zevach in a general sense means a feast, then how does this word in a sacrificial sense relate to korban? Who is it that is feasting when a zevach is offered in the Temple?

One of the most ancient acts practiced between entities who are entering into a covenant is the shared meal. In the modern day political world, this can be what is called “state dinner.” After all the diplomatic haggling is done and negotiated, the parties will mark the newly agreed on “covenant” or agreement with a huge and very expensive meal. In the Bible, a covenant between two parties was according to a certain ritual and observed like this. When Abimelech proposed to Isaac that they enter into a “brit” (covenant), Isaac affirmed it by preparing a feast (gen 26.28-30). Laban wanted to part ways with Jacob on friendly terms so they made a covenant. They erected a stone monument and had a meal (Gen 31.44-46). After coming to terms, Jacob had a larger feast (Gen 31.54). The Hebrew used in this verse is very interesting and helpful in our understanding. It says, Jacob then slaughtered an animal” but it reads “va-yizbach Ya’akov zevach.” The verb “slaughtered” and the object “animal” are both derivatives of the root “Z, V, Ch.”

Remember, the central sanctuary, either the Mishkan or the Temple, was the covenantal center of the people of God, both Jew and non-Jew. We have now seen where the word zevach and korban have a relation around the concept of a brit, or covenant. The Temple was the place to remember the covenant at Sinai. This covenant was renewed and made alive on an ongoing basis. Israel rededicates themselves as partners in this covenant when they go there for worship, so we can see how the word zevach and korban are conceptually related. The korbanot express a connection between partners to a brit. As Israel rededicated themselves to the covenantal partner in Yehovah, they bring zevachim to the covenant center (the central sanctuary). These are celebratory feasts that makes anew the covenantal bond. Now, a real feast included wine. Berman says, “With this in mind, the analogy of korban as feast is further buttressed by the requirement that the offering of every korban include the presentation of loaves and wine (Exo 29.40; Lev 23.13; Numbers 15.1-14).”

The zevach, therefore, is a covenantal and celebratory feast in the Temple service. This idea is supported by other things as well. One aspect of the Temple service that bothers some people is that the korbanot are referred to as “God’s bread” or they were a “pleasing odor to God.” Some say that this is only figurative because God doesn’t smell or eat, so why say it? The solution is in our understanding of the word zevach as a covenantal feast. God isn’t physical and when the Scriptures talk about any sensual reaction or attribute of Yehovah in a korban, it is to bring out the idea that the zevach is an experience that is shared by Yehovah with his people. Berman writes, “Man, literally, and God, figuratively, partake in the same feast.”

The word zevach also helps us understand the site where the covenantal feast is brought, the altar. If the expiation of sin was the only purpose of the altar, we would see it referred to as the “mekhaper” which means “that which brings atonement.” But the Bible uses the word “mizbe’ach” which means the “site where the zevach is brought.” It has the same root in Hebrew. The name of the altar (mizbe’ach) teaches us the central concept or idea that the korbanot are zevachim, celebratory feasts.

In Part 3 we will pick up with more on the concept of the korbanot, zevachim and the Temple and begin with the feasting on Mount Sinai.

Posted in All Teachings, Articles, Idioms, Phrases and Concepts, Prophecy/Eschatology, The Feasts of the Lord, The Tanach, Understanding the New Testament

Tanak Foundations-Concepts in Leviticus-Part 1

We are going to look at the Book of Leviticus and we are going to break down the study into the various Torah readings. We are going to go over many of the concepts in this book and we are going to bring out the ones that will help us understand this book. They will also give us a good Tanak foundation. We will not be going over this book verse by verse, but we will go over it trying to bring out some of the concepts, idioms and phrases that will give further understanding of the Tanak as a whole. In a chiastic structure of the first five books of the Tanak, called the Torah, Leviticus is the central theme.

The Book of Leviticus is called “Vayikra” in Hebrew meaning “Called.” This is a book of kedusha, which is the Hebrew word for “holiness.” It is defined as the “the designation and the setting apart of something or someone for the service of God by formal and legal restrictions and limitations. The kedusha of time is marked by formal and legal limits on man’s activities of work and construction.”

Another definition we will need to know if the definition of “keep and observe.” These terms play a pivotal role in Leviticus. This is defined as the “incorporation of the things of God into our lives. It is staying true to the tavnit (pattern) God has given for a specific thing to be done, at a specific time, at a specific place, by specific people.” To understand Leviticus and to have a proper Tanak foundation, these two definitions must be understood and utilized.

Leviticus describes a living, working system in which the ritual purity of the central sanctuary is maintained, whether it was the Mishkan or the Temple. One of the things we need to remember when we talk about the korbanot (offerings), the altar, the priesthood and the functions of the Temple is that all of it came from God. It is where God does business with man. This system is separate and apart from the work of Yeshua. In fact, they compliment each other (John 1.17). The Temple system and the korbanot only dealt with the flesh (Heb 9.13) and Yeshua’s work dealt with the heart.

The word korban does not mean “sacrifice” as so many use the term. It means “to draw near” to God. The korbanot were seen as a restoration of the covenant relationship and a continuation of the covenant meal shared when the Torah was given. The korbanot were like “near death experiences” and they speak of mortality.

There were three elements to a korban. We have the person, the korban itself and the priest. All three allude to Yeshua. The korbanot revealed God’s love for his children. Only the name of God (Yehovah) is used in relation and connection with the korbanot, never “Elohim.” Yehovah is associated with the mercy of God and Elohim (a title) is associated with judgment. So, let’s begin our look into this book and the concepts found there.

In Lev 1.1, we start off with several things. The five books of Moses are chiastic in structure. That means that Leviticus is the focal point of this structure. In the word “Vayikra” there is a small Hebrew letter “aleph” at the end of the word. The next word in Hebrew is “el” (to) and it is written with an enlarged aleph. The small aleph alludes to Moses, and the enlarged aleph alludes to Messiah Yeshua, based on Deut 18.18.

We see right away that this book is about kedusha (holiness). It is a book about priests, and people will ask, “Why learn about that? All that has been done away with anyway.” It is a book about kedusha and they will ask, “Why learn about that? God gives me that.” However, they do not understand what kedusha means.

This book has two strikes against it with most Christians, and most people, for that matter. It deals with the central sanctuary (Mishkan, Temple) and it deals with korbanot (offerings). Lev 1.2 says, “When any man (adam) of you brings an offering (korban) to the Lord.” It then goes on to describe the “who, what, where, when and why” of the korbanot. The word “adam” means “anyone”, even a heathen could send a korban to the central sanctuary. Yet, despite our inability to fully comprehend, the message is clear. The absolution of sin was not complete without the korbanot, from the “adam” to the priest.

We need to get rid of the misconception that the korbanot was a barbaric practice where someone slaughtered an animal. The Hebrew word used is not “sacrifice” as in “giving something up.” It is not an offering, as in bringing a gift or a bribe to appease a god, like we have discussed in Exodus with our comparison of monotheism and polytheism. The word the Lord used is “korban” in Hebrew and it means to “draw near.” The root for this word is “karav” and it means to have intimate contact (Isa 8.3). The korbanot is a means to come closer to God. It is for the spiritual benefit of the person doing the korban that they do this. If we eat hamburger, chicken and use leather for shoes for our physical benefit, how much more for the spiritual?

God doesn’t “need” the korbanot, they aren’t for him, they were for us. The korbanot will allude to several things. The korbanot alludes to the fact that our “animal” or base instincts took over and we sinned. That animal should be us. The blood is real and seeing it shed because of something we did should upset us. We should offer ourselves to God and it expresses gratitude and thanks. Our service to the Lord is to do his will (Torah). They also show us that we can “walk away from death” and this should touch our attitude overall.

Now, when we say “closeness” or “nearness” we are not necessarily talking about something that can be measured in feet and inches physically. A person can be “close” to someone but are many miles apart. There is a concept of space, light, mass, time and energy in the physical world, and these concepts can also be applied spiritually. Spiritual space is like the Temple, spiritual time are the festivals, the sabbath, the Yovel (fiftieth year) and the Shemittah (seventh year). Spiritual light is God’s word, spiritual mass is any entity whose function is to carry out God’s will, like the angels, good or bad. Spiritual energy is the result of that work. Spiritual movement is moving towards God or away from him (Jer 7.24). The Torah wants us to internalize its values and to make it a part of our lives. The korbanot will help us “remember” what we did.

Why does the Torah use “adam” and not “ish” when talking about mankind in Lev 1.2? It alludes to Adam, the father of all of us, and sin. The secret of the korbanot is found in Adam, and we are all related. The name Adam also alludes to the Messiah. It is spelled with an aleph, dalet, vav and mem in Hebrew. The aleph is the first letter of the Hebrew alphabet and it means, “ox, power, strength, first and beginning.” It is symbolic of God. The word for blood is “dam.” Putting this together, the name “Adam” means “blood of God” or “first blood.”

In Part 2 we will begin with the steps involved when offering a korban in the central sanctuary (Mishkan/Temple).

Posted in All Teachings, Articles, Idioms, Phrases and Concepts, Prophecy/Eschatology, The Feasts of the Lord, The Tanach, Understanding the New Testament

Tanak Foundations-Concepts in Exodus-Conclusion

The Passover in Egypt will be the first time Israel as a nation “served” God. And, this last plague involved them, too. They were not going to be exempted this time. The Lord is going to require Israel to take a sheep or a goat and to bring it into their homes for four days. Sheep and goats were Egyptian deities. Then the Lord said they were to slaughter the lamb or goat and to put the blood on the lintels and doorposts of their houses. If they failed to do that, the first-born of that household would die.

Now, to the Egyptians, this was an act of defiance against polytheism and false gods. Fohrman says it was like saying, “Egypt stops at this door. Withing this house, monotheism reigns.” Israel was choosing Yehovah over Pharaoh by doing this. This was putting monotheism right out there in the midst of polytheism. Israel would leave Egypt that night and would begin a long journey. They were going to Sinai first to be given the Torah and the Mishkan. This would enable the kedusha on Mount Sinai to travel with them as they went into the land.

Being first-born is a life of service to the family. In Israel’s case, the family of all mankind. When this status becomes about them, like saying, “I am better than you because I have this special status and relationship and you don’t,” then the first-born has failed. Israel, at times, has done just that. They looked down on the non-Jews and said they could not be saved unless they became Jewish. They would not associate with the non-Jews, nor were allowed to enter the house of the non-Jews. Not all Jews believed this way, but the ruling class, especially the Pharisees of the House of Shammai, gained legislative power in the Sanhedrin and passed what is known as the 18 Edicts of Shammai in 20 BC. The House of Hillel, another group of Pharisees, opposed these edicts but to no avail. They became Jewish law for about 80 years.

When the first-born does not recognize the other children and proudly exalts their status, they are undermining the Father’s plan. Israel’s relationship to the Lord only makes sense when they realize that God is the God of all mankind and he is interested in a relationship with not only the sons of Israel, but the non-Jews as well. When Israel neglects that fact it goes against why they were the first-born to begin with. The killing of the first-born is not the end of the story. There will be one more event that will show the world that there is a creator God who has total control of all things. That is the event we call the the Crossing of the Red Sea.

If the center of the Exodus is the revelation of Yehovah to the world, then this event, though tragic, will shout that message out for all time. We still talk about it and whenever this story is told, it is always included. After the killing of the first-born plague, Pharaoh sends Israel out “as you have said” (Exo 12.31), which means for three days. However, in less than three days he is after them in full pursuit.

Israel is backed up to the Gulf of Suez and 600 chariots are in front of them. Then another miracle happens. The pillar of fire holds the Egyptians back and the sea opens up and it forms walls on both sides. Israel passes through to the other side but Pharaoh and his chariots come after them. They are caught in the sea when the walls collapse and the water comes down on top of them. That is the story everyone knows, but there is so much more to this story.

Where have you heard this before? Are the events at the sea similar to another scene in the Scriptures? Now, we know a great east wind came and blew over the waters all night (Exo 14.21). Where have we heard about another wind of God blowing over the water in the dark? Gen 1.2 says, “Darkness was upon the face of the deep, and the Spirit of God (ruach/wind) was moving over the surface of the waters.” This describes the world before God created “light.” The world was shrouded in darkness and a “wind” of God was “blowing” over the waters.

Gen 1.2 gives us the same three things we have at the parting of the sea: darkness, wind and water. Then the Lord brought forth light and it separated between the light and the darkness (Gen 1.3-4). At the sea, a pillar of light separated Israel from the Egyptians and it would not allow the Egyptians to get any closer (Exo 14.19-20). There was a cloud and darkness, and it lit up the night (v 20). Rashi, a famous rabbi, says that the pillar separated Egypt from Israel and it was darkness to the Egyptians and darkened the already black night, but Israel had light on the other side. God separated light and darkness, just like he did in creation.

On the second day of creation, God said in Gen 1.6-7, “Let there be an expanse (sky) in the midst of the waters, and let it separate the waters (above) from the waters (below). And God made the expanse and separated the waters which were below the expanse from the waters which were above the expanse; and it was so.” In other words, the waters were parted. Now, there was an expanse (sky) of breathable air between the waters in heaven and the earth. The word for “heaven” in Hebrew is “shamayim” which means “sham” (there is) and “mayim” (water), or “there is water.”

At the sea, God separated the waters from the waters to make a path of breathable air for Israel to pass through. Exo 14.22 says, “And the sons of Israel went through the midst of the sea on the dry land, and the waters were like a wall to them on their right hand and on their left.” There are more similarities between the creation story and the crossing of the sea. Genesis 1.9 says, “Then God said, ‘Let the waters below the heavens be gathered into one place, and let the dry land appear; and it was so.” This happened at the sea also. The waters go back and dry land appears.

The word for dry land is “yabashah” and it is only used here in Gen 1, in references to the Exodus story, and the story of Jonah. The dry land in Genesis was where human and animal life would be. At the sea, it served to give life to human and animal life. As we have said, we have been using the book called “The Exodus You Almost Passed Over” by Rabbi David Fohrman as a source and on outline for this study of the Exodus. We highly recommend that you get not only this book, but all of his books.

This ends our study of the Concepts in Exodus. Now we move on to Concepts in Leviticus. It is customary to end a section of study with the saying, “Chazak, Chazak, v’nitchazek” which means “Be strong, be strong, let us be strengthened.” We include it here because it includes one of the words we have studied with Pharaoh, “chazak.” Then we say, “You have received instruction from the Book of Exodus. Be strong, apply what you have learned, and rise up to the next level.

Posted in All Teachings, Articles, Idioms, Phrases and Concepts, Prophecy/Eschatology, The Feasts of the Lord, The Tanach, Understanding the New Testament

Tanak Foundations-Concepts in Exodus-Part 92

The next plague is darkness. After that, Pharaoh wants to talk to Moses as usual and he says in Exo 10.24, “Go and serve Yehovah; only let your flocks and your herds be detained. Even your little ones may go with you.” Now, this is surprising. Everyone is allowed to go except their livestock and herds. Pharaoh isn’t even trying to hide his intentions here, he wants to cooperate and he isn’t looking for something to make himself look good in the sight of the people. What does Moses do? He makes further demands!

Exo 10.25-26 says that he told Pharaoh that they must take all of the animals because they must make sacrifices and offerings and they don’t know which type of animal they will need to worship the Lord. So, nothing will be hind if Pharaoh wants to avoid future issues. Needless to say, Pharaoh isn’t very happy about with rejection, and he makes a counter demand to Moses in Exo 10.28. He tells Moses to go away and to not look upon his face again, If he does, he will die. Moses answers in Exo 10.29, ” You are right, I shall never see your face again.”

As Moses walks away, Yehovah tells him to go back and to give Pharaoh one last message. On this very night, about midnight, the first-born in the land Egypt will die (Exo 11.1-8). Now, this plague will be different. Israel will not be exempted unless they do something. They must bring a Korban Shelem, a lamb, and place the blood of this lamb on the lintels and doorposts of their houses. Now, why were the Hebrew first-born at risk?

It involves the concept of the “Bekor” or first-born, so we are going to take some time to teach this concept. Remember, earlier in this story, Israel was referred to as his “first-born” (Exo 4.22). Pharaoh is told he must release his first-born even before the plagues started. If Pharaoh failed to let them go, then the Lord will strike the first-born of Pharaoh. How and when did the Hebrews gain the status of first-born? Exo 4.22 is the first time Israel is referred to in those terms? Was this the status they had before Exo 4 or was it saying that would come after Exo 4?

Rabbi Fohrman says that this was a “hope for Israel’s destiny” and “something Israel had to earn.” But, when would they earn it? How would they earn it? Could it be that when the Lord threatened the first-born of Phar oh if he did not let the first-born of Israel go he was referring to this tenth plague? Is that when the Lord took Israel as his own first-born?

What Yehovah is telling Pharaoh was that there will come a time when I will kill your first-born, and my first-born will live. That would happen if Pharaoh rejected his demand. But how would Israel gain that status? It was through the Korban Shelem, the Passover lamb according to Fohrman. It was a change of status. It actually was a vehicle for a change from slave to first-born of Yehovah. But what does that mean?

The events of the Exodus as we have said before were to accomplish two things. They were to free the Hebrews and to show that Yehovah is the one, true creator God of all. If God set us free from bondage, wouldn’t you want to give that freedom back to God? But how? That is where the Korban Shelem, the “pesach” lamb comes in.

They were willing to do something totally unique for Yehovah because he wanted them to. They wanted to be first-born and that meant that this God, Yehovah, was their Father in heaven. He was not some “power” but a loving being who wanted to have a relationship. Now the Lord is the creator of all and in a sense everyone is related in a heavenly “family.” But, this is where one member of this family took a step to announce to everyone else that they were the first-born. The nation of Israel was created by God and they were the first and only nation to be declared by the Lord to be his first-born.

This declaration related to the Exodus. Was this the plan of God from the beginning? In Gen 1.1 we have the word “Bereshit.” The “B” in that word is “beit” and it means “House.” It is also written very big in a Torah scroll. God was building a “house” from the beginning. The Lord knew what he was doing, but the fathers that built that house didn’t. Things were revealed to them over the years as God’s plan moved forward, the this Passover lamb was part of that p[lan. The world needed a first-born who would go out and teach them about their creator God called Yehovah. They needed to be taught the things of God, and how they (the world) had a heavenly Father, too.

God wanted his values to be passed down to his children. The first-born can serve as a conduit between God and the other nations. That is the heart of what Yeshua said in Matt 28.19-20 when he said, “Go, therefore, and make talmudim (disciples) of all nations, immersing them in the name of the Father, and the Son, and the Ruach Ha Kodesh (Holy Spirit); teaching them to observe all that I commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.”

Moses told Pharaoh the first time they met that Israel was God’s first-born (Exo 4.22-23). God wanted his children to serve him, as any father would. They would be taught and given instructions (Torah) on how to function as first-born in this world. They would be taken to the family land holdings in Canaan, and from there, they would teach what their Father taught them to the world (Deut 4.1-8). If Pharaoh denied God the ability to pass on his values to his children, then Pharaoh/Egypt would be denied the ability to pass on his values to his children.

The Passover was the first time Israel as a nation “served” Yehovah. This plague, as we have said before, involved them, too. They were not going to be exempted so they needed to make a decision. The Lord is going to require that Israel take a sheep or goat, and to bring it into their house. Sheep and goats were Egyptian deities by the way. Then the Lord said they were to slaughter the animal after four days, then put the blood from that animal on the lintel and doorposts of their houses.

In the conclusion, we will pick up here with the concept of the first-born and a comparison between the creation and the crossing of the sea.

Posted in All Teachings, Articles, Idioms, Phrases and Concepts, Prophecy/Eschatology, The Feasts of the Lord, The Tanach, Understanding the New Testament

Tanak Foundations-Concepts in Exodus-Part 91

God says in Exo 10.1-2, “And Yehovah said to Moses, ‘Go to Pharaoh, for I have hardened his heart (kavedti ha lev) and the heart of his servants, that I may perform these signs of mine among them, and that you may tell in the hearing of your son and of your grandson how I made a mockery of the Egyptians, and How I performed my signs among them, that you may know that I am Yehovah.'”

The focus of the plagues has now changed. They will no longer be done to show Egypt and Pharaoh who the Lord is, that ship has sailed now. Now the plagues are to show Israel who he is (v 2). Israel is the focus now. This has not been the case so far. Israel is going to see the Lord’s total and absolute dominion over the most powerful nation in the world. Egypt will be the conduit for the world to know who he is. The total defeat of Egypt for the benefit of an enslaved people will forever be a testimony to the world that there is a God who exists, and this will not be an even match.

The Lord informs Moses that “you will be able to tell in the hearing of your son and of your grandson how I made a mockery of the Egyptians.” The Lord is going to “toy” with Egypt. This powerful nation will be reduced to nothing by the hand of the Lord. Pharaoh’s resistance to God’s plan has now come to an end and Egypt and Pharaoh will do exactly what the Lord wants them to do, yet it will seem like Pharaoh is still resisting and going after what he desires.

The evidence that God has presented can and will be ignored. Reality can be circumvented because of stubbornness. Being wrong about all of this will be like a crown that Pharaoh will wear. He will be proud of it and this stubbornness will be where Pharaoh will hide, even in light of all the events that he has gone through. His hard heart will be his fortress, his hiding place, but in reality, he will be imprisoned in it. That is what happens to anyone who will not respond to the truth he knows to be true. Pride gets in the way, whatever it is. Pharaoh was a god in Egypt, he didn’t submit to anyone. Now he must acknowledge that he is not a god, humble himself before the Lord and all the people, and that would be unthinkable. So, he just ignores the whole thing and buries his head. We have all done this, but hopefully, we have also learned to respond to the truth when confronted with it.

Exo 10.1 seems to indicate that the Lord is the one who is responsible for what is going on in Pharaoh’s heart, but in the Torah it says it was Pharaoh’s decision to be stubborn and it was Pharaoh who encouraged (strengthened) his own heart after the hail, but the Lord was behind it. Pharaoh was going to do what the Lord wanted him to do. God’s sovereignty over Pharaoh is dealt with in Rom 9.1-18. God chooses who he wants to do what he wants, and the Lord is not being unjust here. He says in Rom 9.15, “I will have mercy on whom I have mercy, and I will have compassion on whom I have compassion.” So, at the heart of the matter, it says that all of this does not depend on the will of a man but on God who has mercy. It says that it was for this purpose that God raised Pharaoh up. It was to demonstrate his power in him and that his name might be proclaimed throughout the earth. So, he has mercy on whom he desires, and he hardens whom he desires.

Exo 10.3 says, “And Moses and Aaron went to Pharaoh and said to him, ‘Thus says Yehovah, the God of the Hebrews. How Long will you refuse to humble yourself before me? Let my people go, that they may serve me.'” Now, first of all, who talks to a king that way, especially the most powerful king in the world. A king bowing before God? How could the Pharaoh submit to God? It is not like a Pharaoh hasn’t ever submitted to the Lord, Joseph’s Pharaoh did. But this Pharaoh was not like the Pharaoh of Joseph.

Rabbi Fohrman says this is very ironic. It was like saying, “You have brutally subjugated my people, stripping them of their dignity, and now you will pay for that by subjugating yourself to me, and being stripped of your own dignity.” Talking to a ruler like that isn’t easy, it takes some “chutzpah.” Why make Pharaoh angrier than he already is. His kingdom is being destroyed, piece by piece. What makes the Lord think that Pharaoh is going to go along with this after saying this to him in verse 3.

But when you really look at it, maybe that is the heart of the matter. God said he was going harden Pharaoh’s heart and this was how he was going to accomplish that. The Lord was going to use Pharaoh’s pride against him, which was at the heart of his resistance. Many have wondered why Pharaoh didn’t just let Israel go. It was only for three days. The movies make it look like the Lord was telling Pharaoh to let the people go for good, completely free, but that is not the case. It was only for a period of three days, and that three days is very prophetic by the way.

Pharaoh has already admitted that Yehovah was God and he had sinned (Exo 9.27). Why be all stubborn about it now? The answer is pride. We all suffer from this, and like Pharaoh, Yehovah will target this in us also. Yehovah will put us into “corners” to move us into where he wants us. With Pharaoh, the Lord was not going to let him give up. Pharaoh’s own attitude won’t let him give in, and that will ultimately destroy him.

Mosses and Aaron tell Pharaoh in Exo 10.4-5, “For if you refuse to let my people go, behold, tomorrow I will bring locusts into your territory. And they shall cover the face of the land , so that no one shall be able to see the land. They shall also eat the rest of what has escaped-what is left to you from the hail-and they shall eat every tree which sprouts for you out of the field.” The hail destroyed the produce and the locusts will finish the job.

The problem now wasn’t the locusts, the problem now was starvation. They avoided it with the Pharaoh of Joseph, but this Pharaoh was going to bring it on again. After delivering the words of God to Pharaoh, Moses departed. Pharaoh doesn’t blink, he resists. In Exo 10.7 the servants tell him, “How long will this man be a snare to us? Let the men go, that they may serve the Lord their God . Do you realize that Egypt is destroyed?”

The servants of Pharaoh think Moses is a trap. They think Moses is laying another snare for Pharaoh to fall into. These servants speak very plainly to Pharaoh, as if on the same “level” with the god-king. This shows that Pharaoh is losing his grip over the people. Exo 10.8 says, “So Moses and Aaron were brought back to Pharaoh, and he said to them, ‘Go, serve the Lord your God! Who are the ones who are going?'”

The Torah doesn’t tell us whom brought Moses and Aaron back, but it was probably the servants of verse 7. They want something done and they have a voice that Pharaoh must deal with. As these servants shrink into the background, Pharaoh is ready to deal and says they can go. In response to Pharaoh’s question in verse 8, Moses tells him that everyone is going, plus all the livestock. Pharaoh probably looked shocked when he heard this. That was not going to happen and he refuses to even consider what Moses has said.

The next plague of locusts comes and they eat everything left over by the hail, just as Moses said. And like before, Pharaoh calls Moses and Aaron and tells them in Exo 10.16-17 that he has sinned against Yehovah and Moses. He wants forgiveness and for them to make supplication to the Lord to remove this death from him. So, Moses goes out and asks the Lord to remove the locusts, and a strong west wind came and took the locusts out to sea (the Gulf of Suez). But the Lord hardened (chazek ha lev) Pharaoh’s heart and would not let Israel go (Exo 10.20).

In Part 92 we will pick up here with the next plague of darkness.

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Tanak Foundations-Concepts in Exodus-Part 90

Pharaoh was going to be a part of this revelation of Yehovah to the world from the beginning. Pharaoh isn’t really the center of all this, and Rabbi Fohrman implies that the Lord had an underlying message for Pharaoh here. He says that it was like the Lord was saying to him, “Despite your evil oppression of the Israelites, you can still play a constructive role here. But if you choose not to play it, there will be other ways my ends can be achieved.”

We don’t believe God had a Plan A, a Plan B or a Plan C here in the Exodus story. We believe that all of this, as it played out, was his original plan to begin with. The Lord was going to make his name known to the world and certain people, like Pharaoh, were going to do what the Lord wanted them to do. It would be a good thing if the Pharaoh of Moses was like the Pharaoh of Joseph. It would have been nice for him to let the Hebrews go for the three days into the wilderness to worship Yehovah, but he didn’t. They will go anyway because Pharaoh and Egypt will be destroyed and the whole world will know there is a God in heaven. The one, true God, whose name is Yehovah, will be manifested to all of mankind for ages to come through Pharaoh and Egypt. Egypt is the stage and Pharaoh the Egyptians, Moses, Aaron and the Hebrews are the actors. With that said, let’s look at the plague of hail.

This plague was not like the other plagues in that it was very unique. Like the other plagues, it had a precise time of arrival (“tomorrow”) and that is not unique, but other things are. This plague comes with a warning from Yehovah. He tells them how they can save their livestock and the people who are outside. The other thing that is unique about this plague is that fire will be encased in the ice.

Exo 9.24 says, “And there was hail-and fire flashing continually in the midst of the hail, very severe, such as had not been in all the land Egypt since it became a nation.” The KJV version says the fire “mingled” with the hail. In other words, the fire was encased in the hail.

God warning to Egypt shows he was not at “war” with Egypt. This was not a battle of “equals.” God had compassion on those who made him an enemy. A creator God will have mercy on a child gone astray, but not a pagan god. That brings us to the fire encased in the hail. In a polytheistic society like Egypt, these two powers are in conflict. Fire and hail are opposite powers who are at war with each other. They extinguish one another. However, when there is a creator God who created both, then this shows he has the power to control both and he has authority over both of these forces.

What does Pharaoh say after this? Exo 9.27 says, “And Pharaoh sent for Moses and Aaron and said to them, ‘I have sinned this time; Yehovah is the righteous one, and I and my people are the wicked ones.” This is the first time Pharaoh talks about sin, righteousness and wickedness. This is spiritual language, not the language of paganism. You appease a pagan god and power because it is the best thing to do for you. You don’t “sin” against a pagan god, but you can sin against a creator god.

Does this indicate that Pharaoh finally understands? Rabbi Fohrman puts it this way, “YHVH, the creator God, has been in the right this whole time and my people and I, who have been enslaving the Hebrews in defiance of our creator’s will, we have been the wicked ones.” Has Pharaoh come to grips with his creator? Has he finally come to the realization that his polytheistic society is false? If that is the case, then the story would have ended right then and there. Israel would have been able to go for those three days into the wilderness to worship Yehovah, and Egypt would have helped them accomplish that, just like Egypt did when Jacob died. But, we all know that is not what happened.

There will be three more plagues coming, so what is going on here in verse 27? Exo 9.34 says, “But when Pharaoh saw that the rain and the hail and the thunder had ceased, he sinned again and hardened his heart, he and his servants.” The same old cycle begins again. The plague is predicted and comes, Pharaoh calls for Moses and makes promises. When the plague stops, Pharaoh goes back on his word and the cycle repeats. But, this time it is different. This plague and Pharaoh’s change of heart is called “sin.” What makes Pharaoh’s change of heart sin? What is different here? Pharaoh has never made a confession that he was a sinner to a pagan power before. You don’t do that, you appease a pagan power and deity.

However, after the hail, he makes the confession that Yehovah is real and that he has sinned against him, and that he has a responsibility to makes some changes in his life, especially with the Hebrews. To stand against Yehovah is sin. Pharaoh can’t go back now. He can’t undo everything he has seen and said. He knows there is a creator God because of the uniqueness of the hail and so he knows this Yehovah is a creator God and he has been in conflict with him. When Pharaoh goes back on his word here he is taking the truth he now knows and throws it away. It is the work of sin and evil. But Pharaoh also does something else here.

The Torah says he “hardened his heart” (Kaved ha Lev) and his “heart was strengthened” (Chazek ha Lev). This is the first time the Torah uses both terms at one time. Pharaoh “strengthened” himself mentally for what was coming. He is resisting Yehovah on purpose now and that means he will never give in to what the Lord wants on his own volition. He will not do it in obedience to Yehovah, ever.

Pharaoh will later confess he has sinned but it won’t mean anything. There is a difference between “remorse” and “repentance.” Remorse is self-centered. We are remorseful when the consequences of our actions come upon us. A criminal is remorseful when when he is caught and has to go to jail, or receive the death penalty, but that doesn’t mean he has changed. He just regrets what he did because of what is going to happen to him. But repentance is different. This is when he knows his sin has saddened the Lord and his actions have had an affect on others in a negative way. It is like the alcoholic who goes to jail for a DWI and his family visits him in jail. He looks at his family and sees the pain and anguish in their faces and realizes he ha done this to them. He then says that he will never make them feel that way again and gives up the alcohol for good. Remorse is self-centered, repentance has a concern for others and not the self.

Pharaoh is remorseful because he is self-centered, and he will never see the truth as clear as he does after the plague of the hail. Now he is not a player in the drama but a tool in the hands of Yehovah. He rejects Yehovah as creator God, so now Yehovah will use him for his purposes. The focus of the plagues will now change, and they will no longer be done to show Pharaoh and Egypt who Yehovah is, but they will be done to show Israel who he is. The Hebrews will be the focus now, and we will pick up with that concept in Part 91.

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Tanak Foundations-Concepts in Exodus-Part 89

Now we are going to take a look at the next plague of lice. Pharaoh’s magicians will try to mimic this plague but they will be unsuccessful. They could copy the others, but not this one. Exo 8.19 says, “And the magicians told Pharaoh: ‘This is the finger of God.'” The magicians know now that this is not the work of another magician. They conclude that this is the finger and work of God. In a polytheistic society of many gods, to say something is the work of a divine being is not the same thing as saying something is the work of a “creator God.”

When dealing with Pharaoh, the magicians used “elohim” which we have discussed before as a generic term for a “power.” These magicians are not endorsing the Hebraic idea of a creator God, but that a “god” has come against them. What they are really saying is when they talk to Pharaoh is this. We have seen in the plague of lice is that this is not magic. Moses is not a magician nor is he doing magic tricks. This is the work of a god (elohim/power). We advise you to not get too excited here and throw out our polytheistic ideas over a few bugs. Exo 8.32 goes on to say that after listening to the magicians “Pharaoh’s heart was strengthened (Chazek ha Lev), and he did not listen to them, as the Lord had said.”

Pharaoh is going against a power that is stronger than he thought, so he digs in in his heart. The plagues are going along in two areas. These two areas are power and precision. God is going to make a distinction between the land of Goshen and the rest of Egypt. This act of precision will now involve space not just time. This God is king over both space and time, but Pharaoh will ignore and disregard both of these areas (Exo 8.32).

We have another plague coming that will come against the cattle of Egypt. Precision will come into play here in a bigger way. The Lord will predict this plague at a certain time (Exo 9.5) but precision will also play a role in the realm of space as well. Exo 9.4 says, “But the Lord will make a distinction between the livestock of Israel and the livestock of Egypt so that nothing will die of all that belongs to the sons of Israel.” So, the Lord will not only make a difference between Egypt and Israel, but he will do it a the most basic level.

This increased precision will not get past the notice of Pharaoh because Exo 9.7 says, “And Pharaoh sent, and behold there was not even one of the livestock of Israel dead.” What pagan god can do that? Why is Pharaoh even fighting this God called Yehovah? The only control he has to continue is to ignore reality and the obvious, and that is what he does in Exo 9.7. Kaved ha Lev is used to describe the hardening of his heart in order to compartmentalize what is happening. His real enemy is reality as we have mentioned before.

The next plague are boils. The magicians, who duplicated some of the earlier plagues, can’t keep up anymore and they get caught up in the pain of these boils. This plague is so bad, they can’t even function anymore (Exo 9.11). Up till now, it was Pharaoh who hardened his own heart. Now, the Lord enters into the picture and Exo 9.12 says, ” And the Lord hardened (Kabed ha Lev) Pharaoh’s heart, and he did not listen to them, just as the Lord had spoken to Moses.” Why does God intervene now?

We know that the plagues were very severe. Pharaoh could have quit because he wanted to survive, but that doesn’t mean he had changed his mind about anything. He still would have thought he was a “god” and keep going ahead, making up his own rules. The Lord was not going to let Pharaoh get off that easy, and so he comes in to “strengthen” his heart to continue. That is what Exo 9.12 is saying. The plague of boils broke Pharaoh and his courage departed, so the Lord stepped in because the Lord was not ready for Pharaoh to quit. If Pharaoh needed strength to keep going, God was going to give it to him. The Lord wanted Pharaoh’s surrender based on who he was, the one, true creator God. If not, the Lord was going to make sure Pharaoh got what he needed to keep going till the end.

We are at a pivotal moment in this drama. The hail is coming and when one just reads the account in most bibles, the hail just seems like the next plague, but this was no ordinary plague. Moses says in Exo 9.13-14, “Yehovah said to Moses, “Rise up early in the morning and stand before Pharaoh and say to him, ‘Thus says Yehovah, God of the Hebrews, “Let my people go, that they may serve me. For this time I will send all my plagues on you and your servants and your people, so that you may know there is no one like me in all the earth.'”

What does “send all my plagues on you” mean? Does this one plague equal all the others? Is it a unique plague? Will it show Yehovah as the one, true creator God of the Hebrews? This one plague will carry a message about the Lord that equals all the other plagues. God is going to create this plague in such a way that it gets to the heart of Pharaoh because that is the battleground.

Things cannot remain the same after this plague. The Lord says in Exo 9.16, “But, indeed, for this cause I have allowed you to remain, in order to show you my power, and in order to proclaim my name through all the earth.” This goes back to what we said earlier. Why did God strengthen Pharaoh? Why did he have Pharaoh play the role he did in all of this? The Lord is answering all those questions right here. Fohrman says it is as if the Lord pauses right before these plagues get really bad and seems to be telling Pharaoh to get real. Haven’t you wondered why you are still here after all the previous destruction?

There is a concept that says, “The answer to every problem is in the problem.” God gives Pharaoh the answer to all of this when he says that he has allowed Pharaoh to stand. God was going to show Pharaoh what power really is, not like the lame gods that he worships. Why? So that the name of the Lord can be proclaimed through the whole earth. The reason Pharaoh is still here is because there is something bigger than Pharaoh here. Pharaoh was going to be part of the revelation of God to all mankind.

We will pick up here in Part 90.

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Tanak Foundations-Concepts in Exodus-Part 88

Moses puts the truth out there in Exo 5.1. The creator God Yehovah is telling Pharaoh to let his people go because he wants to celebrate with them. Yehovah is God’s name and he is the creator. He expects Egypt and Pharaoh to comply and let them go. The idea of a “celebration” means that this God has a relationship with the Hebrews, which Pharaoh does not understand in his polytheistic view.

Pharaoh, as we know, rejects this command by saying in Exo 5.2, “Who is Yehovah that I should listen to his voice to let Israel go. I do not know Yehovah, and what’s more, I will not let Israel go.” This God Yehovah wants a relationship with his people and Pharaoh has no concept of this. In his mind, you appease or sacrifice to a god, but you don’t have a celebration with them.

Pharaoh has never heard of Yehovah in his pantheon of gods, so he dismisses Moses. However, now he has heard of Yehovah and his theological education has begun. As a result, Moses now teaches Pharaoh with a little more information, in ways Pharaoh will understand. Moses says in Exo 5.3, “The God (El/power) of the Hebrews happened upon us. Let us go, please, for three days in the wilderness and sacrifice to our God, otherwise, he might hurt us with pestilence or with the sword.”

Rabbi Fohrman makes a point by saying this speech was like telling Pharaoh that Moses wants to make things easier for him to understand. In other words, it is like saying, “Forget about the name Yehovah for a second because it was confusing. Let’s agree that this God who sent me to you is an El (power). You know about “powers.” And for a moment, forget what I said about a relationship between this God and the Hebrews, who he also calls Israel. Let’s stick with the name Hebrews for a second. And forget about this idea of a celebration. Let’s just say we are really concerned about our El, our power. Our El might get angry with us if we don’t go into the wilderness for three days to sacrifice to it. You can understand that, can’t you? This El might strike us if we don’t obey. You know what that is like, right? Like if your sun god got angry. All we are asking for, Pharaoh, is a little religious freedom to appease our God in the same way you would appease your gods.”

Now Pharaoh can understand this request. The God of the Hebrews isn’t so different after all. So, Pharaoh says in Exo 5.4-5, “But the king of Egypt said to them, ‘Moses and Aaron, why do you draw the people away from their work? Get back to your labors.'” He goes on to say that the people are many and Moses wants to have the people to cease from their labors? Pharaoh understands exactly what Moses is saying now.

Everyone serves a god, and Israel is afraid of their God and they must appease him, and Pharaoh understands that concept. But he rejects the second statement because the people are being told that they might get a few days off. So, Pharaoh is going to make them work harder. He thinks they fear their God more than they fear him, a god on earth. So far, Pharaoh and Egypt is not coming to the realization that the God of the Hebrews called Yehovah was the creator God, the one true God. That would have been the easy way. His education will have to continue the hard way.

Pharaoh will contend with a God he has never heard of, nor does he even think he is real, but that truth is coming down the track right at Pharaoh. Egypt and the wealth of that nation was obtained, in part, because they had slaves. Egypt will now taste some of the bitterness it has inflicted on Israel. Pharaoh will be educated in the knowledge that there is a one, true creator God and he will also learn that he is a Father who cares for his children.

We have gone over the palace scene with the staff of Aaron and the serpents, so we will not go over that again now. However, when Pharaoh’s magicians duplicated this sign, “the heart of Pharaoh was strengthened and he did not listen to Moses and Aaron” (Exo 7.13). This is the phrase “Chazak ha Lev.” He encouraged himself into thinking his people can counter whatever Moses does. Exo 7.14 says, “And Yehovah said to Moses, ‘Pharaoh’s heart is stubborn (heavy); he refused to let the people go.'” This verse tells us the phrase “Kaved ha Lev” means that Pharaoh hardened his heart, or made his heart stubborn. Pharaoh may think of himself as a man of courage and strength, but God sees it as being stubborn.

Exo 7.12 says, “And the staff of Aaron swallowed all the other staffs.” What a palace scene that must have been! But, what does it mean? Pharaoh could have deduced that his polytheistic views are vain. This could have shown Pharaoh that there is one God, Yehovah, who rules and is the creator. But Pharaoh misses the point, and that is why God tells Moses what he did in Exo 7.14.

He is not strengthening himself for a battle between “powers.” He is being stubborn. He does not want to see the truth, he is hardening himself to it. The phrases “Chazak ha Lev” and “Kaved ha Lev” are going to be all through these passages dealing with Pharaoh and Moses.

We know that the Nile will turn to blood, and the Egyptian are forced to dig wells for drinking water. What does Pharaoh do? His magicians tell him they can do that, too. Using their magical arts, they turn water into blood. Then Pharaoh’s heart was strengthened (Chazak ha Lev) and he did not listen to Moses and Aaron. Pharaoh looked for courage to stay in the fight with this God. Pharaoh thinks his magicians are better than the tricks Moses is pulling, so he thinks if he just holds out all of this will end. This brings us to the plague of frogs. This is the plague where Moses got into it with Pharaoh about when Pharaoh would like Moses to stop the frogs.

Exo 8.9 says, “And Moses said to Pharaoh, ‘The honor is yours to tell me when I shall entreat for you and your servants and your people, that the frogs be destroyed from you and your houses, that they may be left only in the Nile.'” This is letting Pharaoh control the time. So, Pharaoh says, “Tomorrow.” Now, this is a strange answer. Why put up with the frogs for another 24 hours? It is because he wants to see if Moses can turn off the frogs on Pharaoh’s precise schedule. So, Moses goes along with it, but then he says, “May it be according to your word, that you may know that there is no one like Yehovah God.” Why was it important to test the ability of Moses to stop a plague according to a precise time? Moses is making a statement here.

He is showing Pharaoh that precision is God’s trademark. Everything is under his power and control. His plagues are all linked and he does what he wants, when he wants. And, he is even letting Pharaoh pick the time. This is the first time Pharaoh thinks he is up against something, or someone, he has not seen before. This is no magic trick. he begins to think that there might be a power that can be that precise in this world. That is something he doesn’t see in his polytheistic pantheon of Egyptian gods.

Of course, Pharaoh will go back on his word to let Israel go after this plague. Its says in Exo 8.15, “But when Pharaoh saw that there was relief, he hardened his heart his heart” (Chazak ha Lev). He looked for courage to continue. Pharaoh is beginning to see with the frogs that he is dealing with more than a “power.” He begins to see that this God is in control. Had Pharaoh not been so stubborn, he could have abandoned this whole “war” right then and there. But, he won’t do it and keeps on “fighting” despite the evidence. He is no longer fighting Moses or his God, but reality has become his enemy now.

This is what happens when we talk with people and show them exactly what the Word of God says about Yeshua and Torah observance, and they get stubborn about it. We need to remember that at that moment, we stop being the enemy, and their real enemy is now reality itself.

We will pick up here with the next plague in Part 89.

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