Tanak Foundations-Concepts in Numbers-Part 15

In Num 15.17-21 we have the Law of the Challah. It says, “When you enter the land” and again it was said to bring the people hope. They would be going into the land eventually, despite the Ten Scouts incident and the judgments that were given as a result. Before they have defeated their enemies and settle down, they were to give a “Terumah” (contribution) when they eat the bread of the land (m’lechem ha eretz), the first of their dough will be lifted up as a “cake” (challah).

Num 15.22-28 discusses the sin offering (Korban Chata) for an unintentional sin. This is a sin done in error, not willful defiance. A sabbath breaker is dealt with in Num 15.32-36. He has gathered wood, probably for a work fire. Exo 35.1-3 talks about the Sabbath and then says they were not to “kindle a fire.” The chapter then goes on to talk about building the Mishkan. To “kindle a fire” can mean several things depending on the context, not necessarily “work.” The people are being told not to make “work fires” in their dwellings for the Mishkan. There were no factories or “Home Depots” around. Everything that needed to be forged in fires for the Mishkan had to done in their homes. The person in our verse was going to work and needed a fire. He was brought before the elders. This law was known, but not the method of execution (Lev 24.12). The Lord said that stoning was the proper mode of execution.

Now we come to the Law of the Tzitzit in Num 15.37-41. In Ezek 8.3 the word “tzitzit” denotes a lock of hair, but in this case, it is the fringes or tassels that were to be placed on the four corners of a garment. These fringes were to have a cord of blue (techelet) in it. The tzitzit were given by the Lord to remind the wearer of the commandments (v 39) and to do them. They were not to follow their own heart and eyes (replacement theology). The word “kanaf” means “corner” and we see this concept in Mal 4.2 where it says, “But for you who fear my name, the sun of righteousness (Messiah) will rise with healing in his wings (kanaf/corners where the tzitzit hung). We see that the woman who had an issue in Mark 5.25-29 touched the tzitzit in response to the Scripture in Mal 4.2. Later on in the chapter Yeshua wrapped a dead girl in his talit with the tzitzit and raised her from the dead (Mark 5.41). Mark 6.56 says that wherever Yeshua went, the sick wanted to touch “the fringe of his cloak; and as many as touched it were being cured.” We see this concept in 1 Sam 24.5 when David cut the tzitzit off of Saul’s garment to show him that his authority to rule as king has been cut off by the Lord. It was also to show Saul that David did not want to kill him because he could have.

The techelet (blue) cord is a reminder of the kohanim (priests) and heaven (Exo 24.110-11). The tzitzit today are put on what is called a “Talit” which basically means a “Little Tent” and it alludes to the Mishkan. Before this, the tzitzit hung on an outer garment. The garment that Yeshua wore and was gambled for had the tzitzit on it. The Torah does not command the wearing of what is called a “prayer shawl” or “talit.”

Our passages here do not specify how to tie the tzitzit or the number of knots. The current customs are post-biblical and rabbinic in origin. The Karaite Jews have their own method concerning the making and tying of tzitzit and it is quite different than the Rabbanites. But the Torah does give the reasons for the tzitzit, as we have mentioned. The tzitzit hang “free” because the Torah is “the Law of Liberty” and is not burdensome (Jam 1.25; John 8.32; Psa 119.45; 2 Cor 3.17; Rom 2.13; Jam 2.20; Luke 11.2-8; Luke 6.46-47; Jam 2.12; Exo 32.16). They were designed to help us believe by looking at what they represent (Torah, authority) and remembering.

The Torah separates us from the world. If we don’t know what that means, just start going out and obeying the Torah and the world will rise up against you in contempt, and they will separate from you. The Lord will give us the desire to keep the commandments according to Jer 31.33, Ezek 11.19 and Heb 8.10.

The word “heart” is understood as “desire.” That is what a new heart is, new desires. This story is about slaves who are learning to become free men. In order to be free, they need the Torah. A true believer will be drawn to the Torah. It may not happen at first, but it will manifest eventually. A true believe will be drawn to the true Tree of Life and the true Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil. Both of these terms are terms for the Torah. If not, then a person is drawn to another Tree of Life and another Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil, which in essence, is their own passions and desires. We all want to be free, too, and we must remember our victories in the Lord. This will give us the strength and courage we need. The Lord will lead us to freedom.

Now, why is the command for tzitzit placed here in the Torah? Because we should remember not to make the same mistake the ten scouts did. The tzitzit remind us to follow God and his word, not our own passions and desires. We are not to stray from his purposes by following evidence that is contrary to what he has already said. The tzitzit tell us that we have a future in the Olam Haba, or the “promised land” even though we don’t get there until we die. Our eyes can only see the reminder of what God said about it, the tzitzit. The lesson is this: No commandments mean no teaching, and no obeying the Lord, which leads to no success.

Now, before we leave this portion, we are going to go back and pick up some additional information on two things. First, we will be looking deeper into who Caleb (Hebrew “Kalev” meaning “dog”), the son of Jephuneh the Kenizite, really was. The second thing we will look at further is women and tzitzit. We will first deal with Caleb. This concept is very important in order to understand the role of non-Jews in the plan of God. He was one of the “good” scouts who came back with Joshua with a good report. We will be quoting from an article called “Caleb the Goy” by Dan and Susan Wheelock. It is a good article with some valuable information, but there are other sources on this subject.

So, we will pick up here in Part 16.

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Tanak Foundations-Concepts in Numbers-Part 14

Israel said they wanted to die in the wilderness in Num 14.2, and that is what they got in Num 14.29. Jewish tradition says the day of the bad report was the Ninth of Av. It seems that anything bad that happened to Israel in history happened on this day. For instance, both temples were destroyed on this day day. The Jews were expelled from Spain in 1492. Jews were massacred in Betar during the Bar Kochba revolt in 133 AD. Jews were expelled from from England in 1290 AD and Germany declared war on Russia, moving the world into World War I. Deportations from the Warsaw ghetto in Treblinka Concentration Camp begin on that day. Get the picture?

In our own personal journey “up the ladder” of spiritual growth we will encounter obstacles. We should not allow guilt to affect us. We should allow the words of Caleb and Joshua to resonate in our minds. We are loved and favored by the Lord, but “do not rebel” (Num 14.9). We should not judge the future through the eyes of the present. You will lose hope for the future. Don’t be held back by our failure to believe in ourselves. Who cares how we look to others as long as we are following the Lord and what he has told us to do. Don’t be concerned with what others think. Be concerned with what we are looking for and what the Lord thinks.

The Lord is bringing his people back to the land today also. Scouts have been sent out and their are giants in the land like terrorists, the PLO, the Syrians, Iranians, Russians, and the United Nations. Later it will be Europe and the False Messiah. The Israelis don’t believe they cane “take the land” or the Temple Mount, so they make deals. They say their wives and children are in harm’s way. They are listening to a bad report and think they must compromise to survive. The United States puts fear into them by saying they will cut off their benefits if they don’t comply. World opinion is against them and they give land away they are not allowed to do according to God’s word.

Some don’t want the promise. They reject the shaliach of the Second Redemption (Yeshua) and God, like they rejected Moses and Joshua in the First Redemption. They don’t want the Torah either. The Lord is pouring out his Spirit on the people with great military victories but most will not believe. They have come to Kadesh and they have balked at God’s purposes. But, there will be a generation brought up in the wilderness who will follow Yeshua (Joshua).

What happened to the ten scouts who gave the bad report? They died on what tradition says is the Ninth of Av. These men were princes (nasi’im) of Israel, men of renown and named in the Torah. They did not get forty years to wander in Kadesh (Wadi Rum). They died immediately. Judgment begins in the household of God (1 Pet 4.17). And what happened to the rest of the people? They died in the wilderness (Num 14.29). There were 603,550 people (men) numbered in the camp in Num 2.32. If you add the 22,273 Levites in Num 3.43, that is a total of 625,823. All of them died except for two people, Joshua and Caleb.

This is serious business here, and what this tells us is this, “Do we really thrust the Lord?” It all comes down to that. When one does not want to follow the Lord, they make things, they make things harder for their children (Num 14.33). The godly inheritance is the only inheritance that really matters. If we can get that chain of belief started, it will extend to the “thousandth” generation in our family (Exo 20.6).

Now, let’s take a look at Num 14.39-45. Too much damage has been done for a simple “I’m sorry.” Instead of obeying, they defy God again, hoping he would change his mind. They decide they will go up and take the land now (Num 14.40). When they went up, they did not take the Ark or Moses with them (Num 14.44). This will not end in success. Only two tribes beat them, the Amalekites and the Canaanites. It’s the same with us. If we have no Torah (Moses) and no commandments (Ark) that is not obedience and there will be no success.

This is a process of self-destruction and it is based on human limitations. In Stage 1, they lose confidence in their ability to succeed because they forgot the Lord. Stage 2 is they can rattle off a host of excuses and recriminations, even indicting Moses. In Stage 3, they “wake up” and realize what they have squandered. Unable to bear it, they heroically declare, “Let us go now” to recapture what was lost, but it was too late. In Stage 4, they were unable to bear the failure and they try to enter anyway. Death is a comforting option, going down in a “blaze of glory.” This satisfies their egos but destroys their lives. But Joshua and Caleb learned the secret (Josh 1.8-9). Get in line with the plan of God and don’t go contrary (right or left). Clearly the strategy was laid out. They needed to implement what God has told them to do. Nothing is impossible of the Lord is involved. He is the one who determines the outcome.

In Num 15-1-16 we will have different laws concerning meal offerings and libations. Num 15.2 says, “When you enter the land” and it is said here to give the people hope. The people are given these laws here because the Lord did not want the people to judge the future through the eyes of their present situation.

In Num 15.14-16 we learn something about the Torah and the non-Jew. A non-Jew must worship this God in accordance with what he said in the Torah, otherwise it is not considered worship. Non-Jews have a relationship to the Torah also, based on Num 15.16; 1 Cor 7.17-19; Ecc 12.13 and Eph 2.11-22. Intentions don’t matter. If one worships in a different matter it is like meat sacrificed to idols and the Golden Calf. It is a form of idolatry if one does not worship in the way that God has instructed in the Torah.

Provisions are made all through the Torah for the same blessings and the same benefits, but to receive these blessings and benefits we must do it the same way that God has instructed. In other words, if we get a blessing for keeping the Sabbath, you won’t get that blessing if you keep a different “sabbath” like Sunday. If you want to “love the Lord” then keep the commandments (John 14.15; 1 John 2.3-4). Even if we don’t know what we are doing, we will be accepted. Using the Sabbath again, it is an issue with people today. We should keep the one Sabbath God specified. There is one law and one ordinance for the Jew and the non-Jew (Num 15.16). The other days of the week do not have the same level of kedusha as the seventh day Sabbath (Gen 2.1-3; Exo 20.8-11). What does “knowing” God mean in Matt 7.21-23 and 1 John 2.3-4? It means exactly what we think it means. Who do we know and who do we not know? Now go back and read Matt 7.21-23 and 1 John 2.3-4 again. If we “know the Lord” we would keep his commandments. If we don’t and we think we are free from the law, then we don’t know the Lord and that is not a good position to be in, especially if we say we know him. It will prove us to be a liar.

We will pick up here in Part 15.

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Tanak Foundations-Concepts in Numbers-Part 13

God’s plan was to take the land “little by little” (Exo 23.30) and not all at once. It is the same with us in our spiritual walk. God does not turn us into a spiritual giant overnight, so we should not get impatient with ourselves. We should not let fears and insecurities stop us. But people want to know everything in the Bible at once, but it does not happen that way. We have to study and work.

So, the question is, what is God’s plan? It was to be “free men and women.” That is why they left Egypt. They cried out to be delivered, and the Lord delivered them with many signs and wonders. They were saved with a “mighty hand” and now they were free. They actually heard the voice of God. They are now poised on the thresh-hold of what it was all about, going into their own land that was promised to the fathers. It is the same with us, but we forget the plan. Free men need a place to go.

Now, let’s talk about this “bad report” in 13.32. When did the change in these princes (the scouts) occur? As soon as they left the presence of Moses. While he was with them they could stand, but the key is to have this ability to stand on their own, but that takes spiritual development. The ten scouts were suffering from fear. Caleb and Joshua tell them this fear is unfounded. They were the “eyes” of the congregation. But others decided to use their mission to investigate whether or not they could take the land, or if it was advisable to even try at all.

So, they have found out that the land was fat and had trees (Question 6 and 7), the people were strong (Question 2), the cities are fortified (Question 5), and there are many there, including “giants” (Question 3).
However, they lied saying the “land is bad” (Question 4) because they said the land won’t produce enough food to support them. What has happened is they thought they had a responsibility to mold public opinion, and we know the rest of the strong. This report made the people weep, complain and cry (14.1). Bad news travels fast and they feared the wrong things and in the end they had a reason to fear. They were sentenced to die in the wilderness (Num 14.29).

They wanted a new leader to take them back to Egypt (14.21) and they were concerned for their wives and children. Its natural to want to protect your family, but don’t let them get between us and the Lord’s plan. The real issue is this, could they trust God with their children? Here is an important concept. To really protect our family we must really follow God’s ways. Even when we fail, he will repair the breach in the next generation. He will find a faithful father and mother. The point is, all of this was for everyone to be free (Exo 3.7). Israel still had a mindset of a slave (slave mentality). They were dishonest and refused to remember what God had done for them in the past. There are no conditions to mistrust the Lord.

We have already discussed the destructiveness of words in “Metzora.” They made the classic mistake of judging the future through the eyes of the present. They wanted to go “backwards” (Jer 7.24). They believed the worst about themselves. They didn’t think they deserved to go in. They forgot their God and who they were. They forgot their covenant. How could a generation that witnessed countless miracles even contemplate a rebellion like this? What a maidservant saw by the sea the great prophets never saw.

The concept of a ladder comes into play here. Nobody automatically gets to the pinnacle spiritually. The idea of a “leap of faith” is a biblical myth. A hasty leap can be reversed by a hasty reversal. Israel was a nation of slaves one minute and they were “pulled out” and they saw miracle upon miracle. They heard the voice of God (Deut 4.33). They were not able to internalize all they had seen and experienced. We must do our part and work in order to grow. It is a steady walk, and with measured steps that carry us up that ladder.

Caleb and Joshua told the people in Num 14.9, “Only do not rebel against the Lord.” We don’t have to be righteous for God to help us, only don’t be in rebellion. There is a story about a young man who was going to travel on a train for the first time. He looked for people like him. He saw some well-dressed people and he knew he wasn’t one of them. Then he saw some vagrants and he figured he should be with them. The train leaves and the young man jumps on with the vagrants. He endures the baggage car, the bumps, the heat, until the conductor comes in. The young man showed him his ticket. The conductor said, “Young man, you should be traveling in first class.” If Israel had trusted the Lord and didn’t have that slave mentality, things would have been different, They were a kingdom of priests, a nation with a kedusha. They were mighty princes with first class tickets, but they thought they were grasshoppers going nowhere. As a result, God judged them. Anyone willing to go back to Egypt was not compatible with the land of Israel.

In Num 14.20-23 God gave them what they wanted in Num 14.2. They would not see the land of promise. They died in the wilderness, and the children they worried about in Num 14.3 would go into and take the land, and taken in by the Lord. This portion is a lesson in consequences, reward and punishment. So, we are going to take a look at that. Reward and punishment is a by-product of our relationship with the Lord. Consequences is the direct reaction that every action sets in motion. For example, if one breaks a neighbor’s window, what should we do? We should pay for it. This is restitution for damages and he apologizes to compensate for any inconvenience.

In the case of the ten scouts, teshuvah (repentance) and consequences are more complex. On one hand, the re-establishment of Israel’s relationship with God had to be done. On the other hand, the damage to the soul of the nation had to be repaired. A simple “We’re sorry” would not be enough. The closeness with the Lord was re-established in Num 14.20, but the damage had to be repaired. All the people who saw the kivod (glory) and the miracles in Egypt and the wilderness, and still tested the Lord, died in the wilderness (twenty years old and above). The goal of the consequences was to correct that deficiency and prepare the nation to occupy the land. Their punishment was not immediate. Only the ten scouts with the bad report died right away (Num 14.37).

Accepting the difference between punishment and consequences isn’t easy. Most of us would like to make our past feelings disappear, and hope our saying “I’m sorry” is enough. However, some “hurts” just don’t go away with an apology. Certain behaviors carry inevitable consequences. every action results in consequences of reward and punishment. It is our choice to work within the framework of God’s justice and utilize every opportunity to be closer to God and those we love. This was the mistake of the group who attempted to enter the land after the bad report of the ten scouts in Num 14.40-44. They heard the decree of God and wanted to make it “all go away.” Their heartfelt teshuvah and apology would not avert God’s decree. They wanted to believe God would relent and lift the decree. The problem is, they did not take into account that the sin of the ten scouts caused inevitable consequences that wouldn’t just “go away” because they said they were sorry.

What is the spiritual application to this story? The heart wants what it wants. The heart and our eyes are “scouts” for our body, producing sins for it. The eyes see, the heart desires and the body commits the sin and we get what we want (Gen 3.6; Mark 7.23). Israel got what they wanted in Num 14.2, and they died in the wilderness.

In Part 14, we will pick up here.

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Tanak Foundations-Concepts in Numbers-Part 12

The next Torah portion is called “Shelach Lecha” which means “Send For Yourself.” It goes from Num 13.1 to 15.41. Throughout this portion, there is one concept that will stick out, and that concept is ‘Choices.” Israel will be given choices. They were asked to believe that the land was good, so the Lord told them to send people out to get a layout of the land. That is not a bad idea in and of itself.

Now, you should see right away that in the title of the portion we have the “shelach” which means to “send out.” This word is related to the word “shaliach” which means an “agent or a sent one.” This is not a bad idea to seek out some information. God is sending them out to do just that. Strategic information is necessary. The problem is they don’t trust the Lord here. They will use the results of the information to determine whether they could take the land or not. But God had already given them the land, that was not the issue. Later in Josh 2, they went in to look for the best method to take the land. They had learned their lesson.

We will notice right away that those sent in were not spies as some believe. There is no mention of the word “meragei” (spy) in any form in this Torah portion. We have all heard this portion referred to as “The Twelve Spies” but that is not true. They were sent in to “tour” and “explore” the land, but not like spies. There was no need for that type of operation because God already knew everything about the land. They were to travel through it like a tourist. They were shaliachim (apostles) sent by the Lord.

In verse 2 it is translated as “spy” but that word in Hebrew is “tur” and it carries the meaning of a “scout, explorer or guide.” After that, they were to come back with good impressions and reports about all the advantages and beauty of the land. However, we have something very interesting here. Usually we find God’s commands were for the “glory of heaven” or for “the sake of the fathers.” But this is not a command, but given in the sense of “If you want to” and that is why it is given with the personal touch of “for yourself?” God gave them permission to go in to check things out if they wanted to. But, there must be a balance between trust and human effort. Moses thought it was a good idea.

They went in to satisfy their own ego and they were arrogant, They were already negative and had been complaining about going into the land since they left Egypt, and they were going to see what they wanted to see. The mission was fueled by self-fulfillment and it was doomed from the start. Human opinions are tainted and selfishness was involved. The Lord didn’t need scouts, explorers or guides.

What were the disadvantages of not sending them? Maybe they were thinking that future generations would not know how strong the Canaanites were, or maybe they would think that Moses was hiding something. Maybe he thought that once they saw the land they would joyfully go in. That sounds good and maybe there were some good intentions, but that is not what happened.

The people that were sent in were all upright and princes among their tribe (v 3). What in the world made those men act the way they did later? We do know that honest and decent people become corrupt as a result of attaining positions of authority. This situation here is not unique.

One of the men sent in was “Hoshea the son of Nun.” In Hebrew it is “Hoshea Bin Nun” not “Ben Nun.” This may have been a nickname, hinting at his wisdom and understanding. Bin is from the root “binah” meaning understanding. This alludes to the fact that God “took away” from the full “ben” (son) relationship with his father to show that he had an even greater relationship with his spiritual father Yehovah. In fact, “Yeho” is added to his name in verse 16 by Moses and it is now said “Yehoshua.” This is a form of the name “Yeshua.”

Moses sent the twelve scouts to go in and look at the land from Kadesh Barnea (Josh 14.1). They were commissioned to find out the following things (v 18-20). First, what was the land like. Second, to see if the people were strong or weak. Third, how many were there. Fourth, is the land good or bad. Fifth, are the cities open camps or fortified. Sixth, is the land fat or lean. Lastly, were there trees (for building and fruit trees) in it or not. So, questions one, four, six and seven were about the land.

Num 13.21-23 tells us that they came to the Valley of Eshcol (Valley of Clusters) and they cut down a single cluster of grapes and two men had to carry it. This is very meaning ful in Hebrew because the phrase “single cluster” is “eshcol echad” meaning a composite unity. This alludes to the Messiah and his people (John 15.8). It shows we are in the Messiah and are a composite unity. Echad is also used to describe God in the Shema, “Shema Israel, Yehovah eloheynu, Yehovah echad.” The two men carrying the cluster of grapes is also the symbol of the Israeli tourist bureau. They are saying, “Come explore the land.” But, it also symbolizes a “bad report” because it was these men who gave this cluster of grapes that caused so much trouble.

In Num 13.25-33 we have the root of the problem when they returned. Some of the men said that the land was good and had “fruit.” Then we come to Num 13.28 and the word “nevertheless” is used, and that is a key word. They begin to describe the people and how strong they were, and how they fortified the cities. They also said they saw the “Nephilim, the sons of Anak.” In addition, the saw the Amalekites (, the Hittites (terror), the Jebusites (trodden down) and the Amorites (sayers).

Now, one of the men sent in was Caleb, the son of Jephunnah, a Kenizzite (Num 13.6; Josh 14.14). He was descended from Kenaz, a son of Eliphaz, a descendant of Esau (Unger’s Bible Dictionary, p. 627). We will have more on him later. He silenced the people before Moses (so Moses could speak) and said they should go up to take the land. But ten others (not Joshua) said they were not able to go up against the people because they were so strong (13.31). So, they gave a bad scouting report to the people. They also said “There also we saw the Nephilim, the sons of Anak are part of the Nephilim, and we became like grasshoppers in our own sight, and we were in their sight.” The heart of the issue can be seen in v 32, “and all of the the people whom we saw in it are men of great size.”

They saw the natural potential of the land but were unable to muster up the confidence in their own potential, in the hand of a great God, to take the land. They had forgotten all about what God did for them and what he did to the Egyptians. They lacked their own self-confidence, and they did not believe they could succeed.

So we know in Num 13.27 that some of their questions were answered about the land (1,4,6,7), but in verse 28 is the beginning of a problem as we have said. They are not being objective now, but subjective with all their fears and securities. God’s plan was to take the land (v 30) “little by little” (Exo 23.30) and not “all at once.” This is the same strategy in our own spiritual walk. God does not turn us into a “spiritual giant” overnight, so don’t let the fears and insecurities we have stop us either. Our problems may look like the Nephilim, the sons of Anak, to us but they are nothing compared to the power of God.

They forgot about the plan of God from the beginning, and in Part 13 we will pick up there.

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Tanak Foundations-Concepts in Numbers-Part 11

Aaron and Miriam have been called before the Lord at the Ohel Moed because they were gossiping and talking about their brother Moses. Temporarily, they forgot their place, which is the opposite of humility. Moses had a higher kedusha that Aaron or Miriam, so how could they speak against him? So, the anger of the Lord burned against them. Aaron turned towards Miriam and she was leprous (zara’at) and she became a metzora (leper). This meant death if in the wilderness because you had to be put out of the camp and into a real wilderness. Paul alludes to this concept in 1 Cor 5.5 when he tells the Corinthians to “deliver such a one to Satan for the destruction of his flesh, that his spirit may be saved in the day of the Lord Yeshua.” These are idiomatic terms meaning the Corinthians are to expel the offender from the congregation, or “out of the camp” of believers. The domain of Satan is the wilderness, and outside of fellowship with believers was seen as being “in the wilderness” (the world), so they are driving the person out of their presence, or “out of the camp.”

Aaron and Miriam tried to put “verbal leprosy” on Moses and his wife, and they tried to make them feel “unclean.” That’s what we do when we gossip about others. God’s judgments are fair, appropriate and in measure to what we have done. But, the question has been asked, “Why was Miriam afflicted with zara’at and not Aaron?” That is a good question. Aaron was High Priest and may not have been as deep into this sin as Miriam was. He would pronounce her unclean as a priest. He also had a higher kedusha than Miriam as high priest, and had to serve before the Lord in the Mishkan. Aaron repented and interceded for her (v 11-12).

Then the Lord says in v 14, “If her father had spit in her face (to show disgust) would she not bear her shame for seven days (hide herself, not appear with the family)? Let her be shut up for seven days (Lev 13.5) outside the camp, and afterward, she may be received again.” She was healed from the leprosy right away, but she had to remain outside the camp for seven days and follow the protocol for the cleansing of a leper.

We learn from v 15 that the people did not move again until she was restored, and we know she waited for Moses in Exo 2.4 to make sure she was safe, so Moses wasn’t going to leave her. We know from Mic 6.4 God says, “Indeed I brought you up from the land of Egypt and ransomed you from the house of slavery, and I sent before you Moses, Aaron and Miriam.” We see in this verse that God sent Moses, Aaron and Miriam as Shaliachim, as the agents of God, to the people of Israel. She spoke the very words of God to the people. She was also considered a prophetess (Exo 15.20). In addition, she was considered a “tzaddik” or a righteous one, but that term goes deeper than that. The word comes from the word “tzedek” which means to do what is right and correct.

The earthly tzaddik may of course be male or female. One of the more significant righteous women in the Bible is Miriam and she acted as a mediator between the people and her two brothers who, especially Moses, was very close to the Lord and involved in his instruction. Two related episodes confirm her role. One involved the time she spoke against Moses and received the punishment of zara’at, as we have seen in our passages. When a person is stricken with zara’at they had to stay away from the camp for at least seven days. Normally, this person would follow the main group of people as they continued their journey. In the case of Miriam, the people did not move at all until she was brought back into the camp because the cloud did not move.

Among the reasons already given, if we examine the verses closely, we will see that it may have been out of necessity, due to her role as tzaddik. A tzaddik brings forth the flow of blessings from the Lord to the people below. We already know she was sent to the people as a shaliach. We know that the blessings that followed the children of Israel were directly linked to a mysterious rock/well that followed them in their journey. 1 Cor 10.4 says, “and all drank the same spiritual drink, for they were drinking from a spiritual rock which followed them; and the rock was Messiah.”

There is another concept associated with the tzaddik and it is called “The Suffering of the Tzaddik.” We will quote from the book “Ezekiel” from the Artscroll Tanak series. We will go over this again when we get to “Concepts in Ezekiel”, but it would apply here, so we will go over it. This concept also has applications to Yeshua as the suffering tzaddik. It has been discussed by scholars on how the suffering of the tzaddik might serve to atone for the sins of the people. Some have said that the tzaddik’s agony in the sight of the people inspires them to repent. While this may be true, when one looks at this carefully it will give us a more comprehensive picture.

In the Talmud, Sanhedrin 39a, it relates that a “min” (heretic) said to Rabbi Abuha, “Your God is a prankster, in that he made Ezekiel lie on his left and on his right side.” This heretic saw that this was bizarre behavior, even though symbolic. He used this opportunity to mock the Jewish belief in a wise and just God. The story continues that just then a student came to Rabbi Abuha and asked him to explain the significance of the law of Shemittah, which is the obligation to let the fields lie fallow every seven years. Rabbi Abuha said, ” I will answer you you both together. God commanded Israel to let its fields lie fallow every seventh year so that they should recognize that earth belongs to God. They did not do so and were driven into exile. When a country rebels against a mortal king, he will kill them all if he is cruel to them; if he is filled with mercy, he will cause the great ones among them to suffer. So also the Holy one, blessed be he, chastised Ezekiel in order to wipe out the sins of Israel. Thus, according to Sefer Chassidim, God’s Attribute of Justice seeks a punishment for the entire community, but is satisfied when it is meted out only to the Tzaddik.”

“The idea that the tzaddik suffers in lieu of the death of all or part of the community is elaborated upon in Sefer Chassidim. The passage begins with a discussion of the communal responsibility which rests on the entire Jewish nation: All Israel are responsible one for another. The sin of one is the sin of all. This, in his confession on Yom Kippur, the High Priest declares, “I have sinned together with all Israel.” He says this whether or not he personally has sinned. This is in order that people come to feel a sense of love and responsibility for one another and learn to rebuke one another.”

In another interesting concept associated with this, we see in Numbers 20.1 that Miriam died, and the rock/well that supplied their water (which also represents God’s blessings) was not to be found because in verse 2 we learn that there was no water, and the people assembled themselves against Moses and Aaron. This will be discussed later, but this incident will lead to the refusal to let Moses into the land. But we do see a connection between the death of Miriam, the rock that followed them and the absence of water.

The Lord wants us to move on with him. He gives us the best of the birthright, but we should avoid complaining along the way. Instead of complaining, as a question. In a family of congregation there will be complaining. Some “appetite” will not be met. Go to the person and ask, “What do you want?” But, that is not what happens. We go to someone and “share our hearts” thinking it will stay there, but it won’t. When “sharing” your concerns about someone, know you are speaking to many because it won’t stay with that person. If we are “over-burdened” God will send us “seventy” more people to help if you ask. Just don’t complain like Moses did (Num 11.1-15) and Aaron and Miriam.

If your family or congregation needs something, consider what you can do to help. Accept the responsibilities the Lord has given us. Don’t desire the “free stuff” of the past. It’s not about the manna, it’s about the Word of God. Be humble, know your place and put our own ego in the background. Pursue the goal God has given us, not personal accomplishments. We should move when the Lord says to move. The wilderness we are in is a test and life is tough, but keep going.

We will pick up here in Part 12.

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Tanak Foundations-Concepts in Numbers-Part 10

The Lord is going to answer the first complaint of Moses in NUm 11.11-15 in verses 16-18. If Moses would have asked the question for help instead of complaining, it would have been done. We just can’t complain, we need to ask if we need help. The real problem is addressed in Num 11.20, greed and lust was used to reject God’s provision.

We learn in Num 11.21 that there were at least 600,000 people. Three meals a day is 540,000,000 meals a month. Moses doesn’t know how to feed that many (v 22) but the Lord does because he is all powerful (v 23). So, Moses goes out to get the seventy men from the elders as mentioned before.

Num 11.25 is a very interesting and informative verse. It is a prophetic verse. In the Targum Onkelos (a commentary on the Torah) it is all Aramaic, except for Num 11.25, which was written in Greek. But why? Because Greek is “another tongue” and the Jewish expectation was this, when the Ruach Ha Kodesh (Holy Spirit) came there would be “other tongues going forth” and of course this is exactly what happened (Isa 28.10; Joel 2.28; Acts 2; 1 Cor 12).

Num 11.26 tells us that two men, Eldad and Medad, remained in the camp and the Ruach rested on them as well because they were of the seventy but had not gone to the tent. It is said they didn’t think they were fit for governing and hid themselves, like Saul will do later (1 Sam 10.17-27), but the Ruach found them. They prophesied in the camp. Well, Joshua heard about this and he wanted them restrained (v 28). They were shocked that God spoke “outside” their group and theological box. The young man who ran to tell Moses about this had limited understanding of what the Lord was trying to do.

Then Moses asks Joshua, “Are you jealous for my sake? Would that all the Lord’s people were prophets, that the Lord would put his Spirit on all of them.” This was going to have a future fulfillment, not only in Acts 2, but in the Olam Haba. This will form the core belief of what was to happen when Messiah came. God was going to move “outside the tent” of Israel on the non-Jews as well (Acts 10; Eph 2.11-22) in the eschatological congregation (Kahal-Matt 16.13-18). Now that the Ruach rested on them, they could help Moses in administration.

Num 11.31-35 tells us that the Lord fulfilled their request for “free food” when he sent quails. While the meat was still between their teeth (when it entered their mouth about to bite), before it was chewed, the anger of the Lord was kindled against the people and the Lord struck them with a plague. As a result, the name of that place is “Kivrot-hattaavah” (graves of lust) because there they buried the people who had been greedy. They preferred the food from the world (11.4-6) over the bread from heaven (Exo 16.1-36; Num 11.7-9). If we reject the bread of life (Yeshua) then the plague of sin will kill us. This story is like ours as individuals.

We are delivered and we get in the “camp” and start our walk in the wilderness. Then we get discouraged and we don’t like Moses, and we miss Egypt. We miss this and that, and we want something that was left behind. Then we start to associate with the “rabble” and start complaining. We want more, and after awhile a whole group starts to act like an individual. The lesson: There is nothing wrong with having an appetite, but when we get out of control and ahead of God we are going to get into trouble. Notice that these lessons are set around the manna. Moses will sum all this up in Deut 8.3, Man does not live by bread alone, but man lives by everything that proceeds out of the mouth of the Lord. It is to test us (Deut 8.2).

Now we move on the Num 12.1-16 for another interesting portion with some concepts we need to know. You would think they would have learned their lesson in Num 11, but now Aaron and Miriam complain. They spoke against the Cushite woman Moses had married previously (v 1). Josephus tells us in Antiquities of the Jews, Book 2, Chapter 10 that Moses conquered Ethiopia (Cush) and was given a princess to marry, and her name was Tharbis. She fell in love with Moses because of his bravery and skill.

Aaron and Miriam say, “Has the Lord indeed spoken only through Moses? Has he not only spoken through us as well?” Well, the Lord heard it. Remember, when you speak to an individual you are speaking to a group, and God hears what we say. Num 12.3 says, “The man Moses was very humble, more than any man who was on the face of the earth.” Now, what does “humble” mean? Basically, it means to “know your place.” Moses knew who he was and he knew his talents, abilities and limitations. His achievements were from God. He knew his place in God’s plan. This something we all need to realize.

A person should have two pieces of paper on them. On one it should be written, “The world was created for me” and on the other it should be written “I came from dust and ashes.” The tree of life is to know when to take out which piece of paper. That is humility. Moses made the most of his responsibility and he needed to think less of himself. He delegated his own ego into the background and served the needs of others. He was less concerned with his own accomplishments.

Aaron and Miriam were trying to take God’s place. Ever have someone interfere and try to discipline your child? How much trouble do they get in? That is what happens when we speak against a brother or sister in the Lord. We try to take God’s place. God is not done with anyone yet and we must try and be patient with others. We may interfere with what God is doing with them.

So, the Lord calls Aaron and Miriam before him. He tells them that God speaks to man in various ways. God speaks in what is called a “Bat Kol (daughter of the voice) which is an audible voice. He also speaks through dreams, visions (like a trance, or “picture flashes” in the mind, etc). He also speaks through circumstances, the Scriptures, messengers, prophecies, a still small voice and dark speech (parables, puns). But when the Lord speaks with Moses, he speaks openly or “face to face.” It was clear and simple. There was no doubt about what God’s meaning was. Moses had a higher kedusha than Aaron and Miriam, so how could they speak against him? So, the anger of the Lord burned against both of them because they did not know their place.

We will pick up here in Part 11.

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Tanak Foundations-Concepts in Numbers-Part 9

In Num 9.1-14 we have some very interesting passages about Passover. In the second year, the first month (of Nisan or Aviv) Yehovah spoke to Moses saying he wanted the sons of Israel to observe the Passover at its appointed time (Aviv/Nisan 14) between the evenings, in the wilderness of Sinai. It will be the only time they will do this in the wilderness.

However, there were some who were ritually unclean because of the dead, so they could not observe Passover on the appointed day, but they wanted to. They came to Moses and Aaron and they asked them why they couldn’t keep it at its appointed time (v 6-7). So Moses told them to wait and he would ask the Lord. Then the Lord said that if anyone becomes unclean because of the dead, or is away on a journey and cannot come to the Mishkan/Temple, he may keep the Passover a month later (v 10-12). God allowed this Passover to be kept outside of the land because he told them to do it, and they had the Mishkan. He also made some changes to the observance since their departure from Egypt.

Now, if you could keep the Passover anywhere, why would the Lord put this into the Torah? If you were away on a journey, why couldn’t you keep the Passover where you were? For more information on these questions, and keeping the festivals today, go to our teaching called “Can You Keep the Festivals Outside of Jerusalem and the Temple Today” on this site. This provision also tells us something else.

The phrase “distant journey” can be applied spiritually as well. Everyone gets a second chance to “come back to the Lord.” We must stress love, mercy and forgiveness and give others a second (and many more) chance. The Torah is not “all or nothing.” We must accept what a person is willing to do, and respect and love them wherever they may be as far as ritual observance.

Num 9.15-23 tells us about the cloud on the Mishkan. When they were to move, the cloud would move showing them where to go. This was not a simple thing in the wilderness. They had to pack up the Mishkan, their tents and belongings, and the animals in order to do this. But life must continue in the Lord. There is a major concept here. We shouldn’t waste our time “waiting on the Lord.” He will lead us in the right way and tell us to move when it is time and when to stop (Psa 37.23). Until then, do what he has told you to do.

In Num 10.1-10 we learn about the “silver trumpets.” Here in these verses we have two silver trumpets, and in 2 Chr 5.12 we have one-hundred and twenty. These trumpets were straight and are called “tzotzrot.” There are several reasons to blow the tzotzrot. When both are blown, all the congregation set out (v 2). In addition, when both are blown all the congregation shall gather at the doorway of the tent of meeting (Ohel Moed).

If only one is blown, then the leaders (nasi), the heads of the divisions (rosh alufim) shall assemble (Isa 13.2; Num 29.1). These are the nobles. These passages allude to the catching away of believers on Yom Teruah and the resurrection of the righteous. Believers will be caught up to heaven to attend the wedding and coronation of the Messiah, and for judgment of our works. Now, when you blow an alarm (a “teruah” note which has short blasts), the camps on the east side will set out (Judah, Issachar, Zebulon). When a tekiah note (one long blast) is blown the second time, the camps that are on the south side (Gad, Reuben, Simeon) shall set out. When the congregation is to be gathered they were to blow without sounding a teruah blast (short notes). The priests blew the tzotzrot.

When they went to war, they were to sound an alarm with the trumpets (v 9). In the day of “your gladness” (five of the festivals) and at the appointed feasts (the two other festivals of Yom Teruah and Yom Kippur)), Rosh Chodesh (new moon), they were to blow the tzotzrot over the Korban Shelemim (peace offerings), the Korban Olah (burnt offering) and they were to be reminders (zikaron) of Israel before Yehovah (v 10).

In Num 10.11-36 we find out that in the second year, in the second month (Iyar) on the twentieth day, the cloud lifted from over the Mishkan, and Israel set out from the wilderness of Sinai. It seems Hobab (Moses’ brother-in-law) did not want to go. He knew he would not have a portion in the land and he wanted to go back to the non-Jewish world and teach them about what he had seen and experienced. He was linked to Israel by emunah (faith) and the God of Israel, and he was going to be a teacher.

Moses persisted with Hobab, and it seems he went with them eventually (v 31-32). He would guide them and be their “eyes” to show them where shade might be, water and of course pasture land. Later, Jericho was given to the sons of Yitro (Judges 1.16) as well as other places (Judges 4.11), and they had a portion in Canaan. So, Israel departed, and Moses said the prayer contained in Num 10.35. When they stopped, Num 10.36 was said. These verses are recited in synagogues today when the Torah is taken out of the ark and when it is put back.

In another interesting concept, in a Torah scroll there are inverted Hebrew letters (nun) at the beginning of v 35 and at the end of v 36. The Hebrew letter “nun” carries the meaning of continuance, activity and life. Inverted or backward “nuns” allude to a quickening of life from the dead (resurrection). Num 10.35 says, “Rise up, O Lord, and let thine enemies be scattered, and let those who hate you flee before you.” This describes the resurrection of the Messiah when he gained victory over death, hell and the grave, and all his enemies were scattered. In Num 10.36 it says, “Return, O Lord, to the myriad thousands of Israel.” This speaks of our resurrection at his return. So, the two inverted nuns speak of two great resurrections.

Num 11.1-35 tells us of a group of troublemakers who got together and began to broadcast their complaints These people were complainers by nature. They had not gone very far after they set out from Sinai, so they weren’t tired and thirsty. They were looking for an excuse to quit and go back to Egypt. They were meditating on the complaints before they ever set out. As a result, the Lord consumed some of the outer camp with fire to warn them.

What is the lesson of Num 11? Don’t complain! Turn complaints into questions when someone complains to us. Ask, “What do you want?” They will tell you and you can resolve the issue.. What did the people want? They wanted meat (v 4) because all they had was manna, right? Wrong! They had herds, flocks and fish (11.22). But that was “their stuff” and they figured that the Lord brought them out into this wilderness so he should provide meat for them, you know, three square meals a day.

Moses was very upset at this and goes to the Lord. He can’t do all of this alone and begins to complain himself. He says “Why have you been so hard on me” and “Why have I not found favor in your sight?” He goes on to say it wasn’t his idea to bring them out of Egypt and now take care of them. Where is he supposed to get meat to feed all these people? He says this is just too hard for him so he might as well just kill him right there. So the Lord tells him to gather seventy men from the elders together and the Lord will come down and the Spirit that was on Moses on the seventy. Then he says the people will have meat the next day. Moses doesn’t know how that will happen (v 22) and the Lord tells him, “Is the Lord’s power limited?” Well, Moses knew the answer to that, so he went out and gathered seventy men around the Ohel Moed. Nobody can lead a bunch of complainers. Life is how you look at it. Some see what’s right in a situation and some see what’s wrong. Everything God did had good in it, and when you see the good and don’t complain life is great.

In Part 10 we will pick up here. We are going to have a great prophecy coming up about the Ruach Ha Kodesh (Holy Spirit) coming upon the believers of the Kahal (Eschatological Congregation) that Yeshua was going to build, starting in Acts 2.

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Tanak Foundations-Concepts in Numbers-Part 8

The next Torah portion is called “Beha’alotcha” which means “When You Go Up” (to light the Menorah) and it goes from Num 8.1 to 12.16. So, we are going to take a look at some concepts found in this Torah portion. There are a few ways to phrase the instructions regarding the lighting of the Menorah, but “beha’alotcha” is not one of them. An expression denoting “ascending” is used for lighting the lamps because this implies that that one must light them until the light “ascends” on its own.

The menorah is also a well-known symbol of wisdom. This command to kindle the menorah is an allusion to every believer. We have an obligation to “kindle” the light of the heart towards Yehovah (Prov 20.27). Inspiration is the key to kindling the heart.

Six outer lamps faced the center lamp called the “Shamash” (servant) and the Ner Elohim (Light of God). These lamps are set in a chiastic structure “A,B,C,D,C,B,A.” It believed by many that the menorah was in the shape of a “V” with the center lamp closest to the Kodesh Ha Kodeshim. The lamp depicted on the Arch of Titus was not the menorah in the Heichal. On the menorah’s shaft is the form of a dragon, one of the false deities worshiped by the Romans and something that would have never been on the Temple menorah. The size of the menorah on the arch is too small and the Temple menorah had feet extending from its base, the Arch of Titus menorah has no feet. The Arch of Titus is not a reliable source for the design of the menorah, especially when it contradicts the Torah (Chabad.Org article “Why Insist on Depicting a Straight-Branched Menorah?”).

It is believed that the menorah was in the shape of a “V” because there there is a tradition that says that for the last 40 years before the destruction of the Temple (starting about 30 AD, the year Yeshua was crucified) the lot for the goat that was to be sacrificed on Yom Kippur did not come up in the right hand of the High Priest anymore, the scarlet thread that was fastened between the horns of the Azazel goat did not turn white, the western lamp of the menorah would not stay lit and the doors of sanctuary would open on their own.

The “western lamp” is the center lamp called the Shammash or Ner Elohim. It could only be called that if the menorah was in the shape of a “V.” The western lamp is a picture of Yeshua, the shammash or servant and the light of God who was killed the very year this lamp would not burn, and it continued that way for 40 years, or until the Temple was destroyed in 70 AD. The western lamp was kindled first, then the others. This lamp is a type of the Messiah and the Torah.

Heavenly truth is derived from the Torah and the Messiah, then the believers walk in that light and take the light to the world. The seven lamps teach “perfection” and “completion.” We know of the Seven Spirits of God in Rev 1.1-4, 3.1, 4.5 and 5.6. The light also speaks of understanding (binah) in Psa 18.28; Num 6.25; Prov 6.23 and 2 Pet 1.19. Messiah can also remove the light (Rev 2.5).

We have mentioned this before in our Temple series, but the windows of the Temple were unusual. In most cases, windows on buildings were wider on the inside in order to get more light on the inside of the building. But that was not the case with the Temple. They were narrower on the inside. Why was that? Because the spiritual light of the Temple shines “outward” to be a “light to the world.” Is that what Yeshua meant in Matt 5.14?

There are several ways to light a candle. One can touch a flame directly to the wick or hold the flame away from the wick until it ignites. There are two ways to teach Torah as well. We can “force it” or we can let them see our passion. We can try and use every educational technique available to inspire them until their own personal interest in the Torah is ignited. Like the menorah, once it is lit it must stay lit.

In Num 8.3 it says that Aaron lit the menorah. The Hebrew says “he’elah nerotaycha.” From the use of “he’elah (caused to go up) we learn that Aaron had a stepping stool which was placed in front of the menorah. In the Mishnah, Tamid 3.9, it says that there was a stone before the candlestick in which were three steps. What is the significance? The stone alludes to the Messiah, the Torah and Sinai (Gen 28; Gen 49; Matt 21.43-44; Dan 2; 1 Cor 10.4, etc). The three steps allude to the Godhead of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit, the three Patriarchs and the three elements of Emunah (faith), consisting of mitzvot (commandments), ahav (love) and da’at (knowledge).

Num 8.2 says, “Give light in the front of the lampstand.” In Hebrew it is “Pannay ha Menorah” or “the face of the menorah.” Aaron establishes a “front” on the menorah. The menorah was on the left, or the south side, of the Heicahl as one would walk in, across from the Shulchan Ha Lechem Ha Pannim (table of the bread of the faces). You will notice that the word “face” is used for both of them.

In order to complete the symmetry, the Torah commands Aaron to make a “pannay” (face) for the menorah. In this way, the “face” of the menorah faced the “faces” of the bread! Now, this is similar to the two faces of the Keruvim over the Ark. In other words, they were “face to face” which was an idiom for Yom Kippur, when the KOhen Ha Gadol (High Priest) went into the Heichal and the Kodesh Ha Kodeshim to minister. He was coming “face to face” with Yehovah.

The menorah speaks of wisdom and understanding. The Bread of the Faces speak of spiritual bread. In the Lord’s Prayer it says in English, “Give us this day our daily bread.” In Hebrew it says, “Give us our bread continually.” This bread continually is not only spiritual bread, but physical as well. Our spiritual needs must be balanced with our physical needs. The Table of the Bread of the Faces was lower that the menorah. Even though sustenance and wisdom serve each other (faced each other), they are separate. One is elevated and the other is lower. Ultimately, we live in order to gain wisdom of Yehovah, not the reverse.

In Num 8.5-26 we begin dealing with the tribe of Levi. They will represent the first-born of Israel. They were to receive of the Lord’s portion. They live in his house and they belong to the Lord. Why is Levi put into this position and chosen for this? According to Jewish thought, they did not bow to Egyptian gods. Moses, Aaron and Miriam were Levites and were sent to the sons of Israel (Mic 6.4) as “shaliachim.” They had a zeal for the Lord, as did the tribe of Levi at the Golden Calf incident in Exo 32.26. Pinchas in Num 25.6-13 Rose up to help stop a plague by killing some of the people who were involved in this idolatry. We also know about Levi who defended Dinah’s honor at Shechem.

The Levitical men were separated from the other tribes. In Num 8.7, they were sprinkled with the waters of purification (Red Heifer), they were shaved and they washed their clothes, becoming ritually clean (able to serve in the Mishakn). The korbanot were offered (Num 8.8) and then they were presented before the Lord, and the sons of Israel laid their hands on them. After that, Aaron presented them before the Lord as a wave offering from the sons of Israel that they may qualify to perform the service. They were “lifted up” before God.

Then the Levites laid their hands on the korbanot to make an atonement. Now the Levites belonged to the Lord (v 14) and they could go into the Mishkan and serve. They were given to God instead of every first-born of the sons of Israel (v 16.17). They were a gift to Aaron and his sons, to help them perform all the duties in the Mishkan and later the Temple. From 25 years old and upward they were to enter into the Mishkan and perform the services. At the age of 50 they “retired” from the service and did not “work” anymore. However, they could assist younger Levites in what they were doing, but they did not do the work themselves (v 23.26).

In Part 9 we will pick up here.

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Tanak Foundations-Concepts in Numbers-Part 7

We are going to go back to the Sotah ceremony in Num 5.11-31 to pick up some additional information. We are going to take a look at how this ceremony may have played a role in the life of Miriam, the mother of Yeshua. We will be using as a source for this study of the Sotah of Miriam the Mishnah, tractate “Sotah” and the book by Alfred Edersheim called “The Temple: Its Ministry and Services” p. 361-365.

We know from Isa 7.14 that a “virgin” will give birth to a son, and it would be a “sign.” So, what was the “sign” that Miriam was a virgin if this prophecy applied to Yeshua? We have touched on this concept earlier but we are going to get into more detail. First, we know that Yochanon Ha Matvil (John the Immerser) was conceived around the end of June (Luke 1.5-38), after Zachariah came home after serving his week in the Temple according to his division of Abiyah. We know when his division served because of the order of service given in 1 Chr 24.10.

Joseph’s reaction to Miriam’s “news” is seen in Mat 1.18-25. She informs him that she is pregnant. She conceived six months after Elisheva (Elizabeth) did with Yochanan, making it the month of Kislev when Yeshua was conceived, around Chanukah. Yochanon is born three months later, around Passover and Yeshua is born six months after that, around the festival of Sukkot. Now, the Sotah portion of Scripture was read in the synagogues (Num 5.11-31) between Sukkot and Chanukah. We are looking for the “sign” of Isa 7.14.

A young woman having a baby was not a “sign” for anyone to look at. It was very common. What is significant is Miriam went to the home of her cousin Elisheva. Zachariah was older and a respected priest, both were called righteous in Luke 1.6 in the sight of God. Miriam went to the house of a respected tzaddik immediately after the angelic visit and stayed three months, or until Passover (Luke 1.56-57).

We know there is a ceremony in the Torah that could prove whether a woman is a virgin or not, and that ceremony is called the Sotah, meaning “one who has strayed.” We are going to take a look at the Sotah ceremony of Miriam, but there is no record of this in the Scriptures. We are presenting this as a way she could have shown everyone that she was a virgin according to Isa 7.14.

The Sotah ceremony was no longer practiced and done away with around 70 AD by Yochanon Ben Zakkai. This ceremony was associated with the Temple, and with the Temple destroyed, it could no longer be done. It will return with the next Temple. There are many other ceremonies associated with the Temple that cannot be done today, including the festivals, picking of lots, biblical leprosy, the Nazarite vow and much more. We know that the time in the wilderness was a supernatural environment, and so was the Temple.

There were two types of Sotah. First, there was the Sotah with no definite evidence. Second, there was the Sotah with some immoral behavior, and there is some evidence, like being pregnant. This is what Miriam was. She is called a “presumptive Sotah.” Sotah 1.1 in the Mishnah says that the husband must warn her before two witnesses, and he may make her drink the bitter waters on the evidence of one witness or his own evidence that she has gone aside in secret with another.

Sotah 1.3 tells us how he must deal with her. He should bring her to the court in that place and they appoint for him two talmidim of the sages, lest he has a connection with her on the way. Did Miriam volunteer for this by going to Zachariah and Elisheva as two witnesses to her behavior up to the festival, and to her credibility? Zachariah is an elder kohen and respected, so she may have volunteered for the Sotah by going to their house in order to see she was a virgin. They certainly would have believed her story because the same angel came to them, and Elisheva conceived in her old age, a miracle at the other end of the age scale. This visit is no small thing and it means something.

The Mishnah tells us the husband would take the suspected wife to the court of his town. They would designate two learned men to accompany him to prove he does not cohabit with her on the way. Sotah 1.4 says they would bring her up to the “great court” and admonish her like they would a witness in a capital case. They would say, “My daughter, much sin is wrought by wine, much by light conduct, much by childishness, and much by evil neighbors; do you behave for the sake of his great name, written in holiness, that it be not blotted out through the water of bitterness?” And they would speak before her words which neither she nor the family of her father’s house are worthy to hear. In other words, they try to instill the fear of God in her.

We are going to see that they will write the name of God (YHVH-Yehovah) on the parchment that was put into the waters of bitterness, and she will drank it. She will have the opportunity to say she is guilty. If she does, they write a bill of divorce (Get) and she is divorced. If she says she is innocent, they take her up to the Eastern Gate, which is opposite of the Nicanor Gate in the Court of the Women. This gate is called the “Gate of the Just” or pure. The ashes of the Parah Adamah (Red Heifer) are there and it was where they purify the Metzora (leper) and a woman after childbirth (Lev 12). So, let’s move on to more of the ceremony.

The Torah says that the husband shall bring his wife to the priest, and shall bring as an offering for her one-tenth of an ephah of barley flour; he shall not pour oil on it, nor put frankincense on it, for it is a grain offering of jealousy, a grain offering of memorial, a reminder of iniquity. This is symbolic of bringing her deeds to God’s remembrance. Then she is brought before the Lord at the Nicanor Gate of the Temple.

The priest takes water in an earthen-ware vessel and he shall take some of the dust that is on the floor of the Temple and put it into the water. The woman stands before the Lord and they let her hair down, and they place the grain offering of memorial into her hands. In the hand of the priest is the water of bitterness that brings a curse. The priest has her recite an oath and says to the woman, “If no man has lain with you and if you have not gone astray into uncleanness, being under the authority of your husband, be immune to this water of bitterness that brings a curse; and if you, however, have gone astray, being under the authority of your husband, and if you have defiled yourself, and a man other than your husband has had intercourse with you” then the priest shall have the woman swear with the oath of the curse, and the priest shall say to the woman, “The Lord shall make you a curse and an oath among your people by the Lord making your thigh waste away and your abdomen swell, and this water that brings a curse shall go into your stomach and make your abdomen swell and your thigh waste away.” And the woman shall say, “Amen, Amen” (meaning “faithfully true” or “I agree”).

The priest shall then write these curses on a scroll, and he shall wash then off into the water of bitterness (Num 5.19-22). The priest takes the grain offering of jealousy from the woman’s hand and he shall wave the grain offering before the Lord and brings it to the altar; and the priest shall take a handful of the grain offering and he offers it up in smoke on the altar. Afterward, he shall make the woman drink the water.

When that is done, then it shall come about if she has defiled herself and she has been unfaithful to her husband, the water that brings a curse shall go into her and cause bitterness, and her abdomen would swell and her thigh waste away, and the woman will become a curse among her people. However, if the woman has not defiled herself and is clean, she will be free of any of these symptoms and she will conceive children.

It is possible that Miriam volunteered for this ceremony. It would have been a powerful sign to the priests and to the people because she had to appear before the Sanhedrin. They would have had a record about this in the Temple that anyone could have checked if they wanted to disprove Yeshua’s messianic claims and to show he was a false prophet, and that his mother was not a virgin. But they couldn’t produce that evidence because if Miriam went through this ceremony, nothing happened to her and she did conceive other children.

Joseph did not require this of her because the angel had already told him what was going on (Matt 1.19-25). She had talked to Zachariah and Elisheva and they knew Messiah was coming. The angel had visited Zachariah and was told the Messiah was coming, and their son Yochanon would be “Elijah” who would come before the coming of the Messiah. This ceremony would have happened in the Temple. We know that Zachariah was deaf and dumb until Yochanon was named at his circumcision (Luke 1.59-64).

Miriam did not need to convince Joseph because he knew she was a virgin and was told as much by an angel that he should not be afraid to take Miriam as his wife because that which has been conceived in her was by the Ruach Ha Kodesh. She would bear a son and they were to call him Yeshua, for shall save his people from their sins. This fulfilled the prophecy in Isa 7.14. Was the ceremony a sign to everyone that this was true? Yeshua claimed to be the Messiah, and you don’t see the priests, scribes or any Temple officials contest the virginity of his mother. Could there have been a record in the Temple of her voluntary submission to the Sotah ceremony?

We will pick up with our next Torah portion in Part 8.

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Tanak Foundations-Concepts in Numbers-Part 6

Num 7.1-59 deals with the dedication of the Mishkan and the Altar. This portion is read at Chanukah because of the concept of “dedication” of the Temple and Altar. This portion also alludes to the 144,000 because each tribe is represented and each tribe brought the exact same thing for twelve days in a row. One would think this would be boring but this chapter has more commentary written about it than any other chapter in the Torah.

This Torah portion is long because it includes seventy verses on the same gifts. It repeats the same thing over and over. What does that mean? It means that many of our deeds are “repeats” of all the generations in the past. Many are repeats from yesterday, yet God loves them and cherishes each one. He wants us to bring the same acts of kindness, mercy, justice, compassion and forgiveness. This also teaches us to avoid “one upmanship” and trying to outdo one another. That is prideful and boastful. This is about gifts. They will go through the blessings of each tribe, then go through the gifts to find clues in these gifts. What do the gifts mean to that tribe?

For example, let’s look at Issachar. Issachar’s blessing from Jacob in Gen 49.14-15 says that they could carry “burdens” and were strong in the Torah. 1 Chr 12.32 says they had insight into the Torah and were devoted to study. So, the silver dish full of flour (bread = word) meant something to them. Man does not live by bread alone (Deut 8.3). To another tribe, the silver bowl with seventy shekels alluded to the seventy souls that went into Egypt in the First Redemption. To another, it was the seventy judges, or the seventy nations of the world. To another it was Abraham’s age at the Covenant between the Halves in Gen 15.

The Torah repeats itself twelve times here, for each tribe. This also teaches that each tribe is stamped with its own special meaning. The next thing we can do is look at the numbers given. For example, twelve is the number of teaching, one hundred and thirty was the age of Jacob when he entered Egypt, ten is the number of judgment, and so on. Another thing we can do is look at what a ram, a bull or a lamb signified. Then look at the metals used. What does gold and silver signify? For some help you can go to our teaching on “Idioms, Phrases and Concepts ” on this site for some information, but this information is quite common in other sources. For example, a ram is symbolic of the “leader of the flock.” A bull is symbolic of vigor, virility and violence. Gold symbolizes deity and the kivod (glory) of God. Silver symbolizes redemption. Our teaching on this has a list you can go down in alphabetical order to find some basic meanings.

The value of a gift is determined by the giver. Although these were the same, they had value assigned to it by each tribe individually. One of the hallmarks of spiritual maturity is to be able to give, but we must also learn how to receive. That is a true test for some people. Some people will not take a gift or help from anyone. That is prideful and not a good attitude to have. People need to receive gifts as well as they give gifts. The difference is this. When giving a gift the attention is on you, the giver. People look at what the gift is and say, “Oh, what a wonderful gift you gave.” On the other hand, when you receive a gift the attention is not on you. We like the idea that “we don’t accept charity from nobody.” That is the American spirit isn’t it. We like to think of ourselves as “self-made” people, but in reality, we all have received help along the way. Giving a gift is easy for some, but receiving a gift can be another story.

In Numbers 7.12 it is time for the tribes to come forward and give their gifts. But why did Judah go first? Why did they come in this particular order? Well, Judah was the first to enter the Red Sea and he was the first to come to the aid of Benjamin in Gen 44.18. Benjamin will return this act of kindness in the drama found in the book of Esther. Judah (the Jews) in Persia was on the brink of destruction because of the evil proclamation of Haman. Up steps Queen Esther, who is from the tribe of Benjamin, and she steps forward to save her people this time. So in this case, Benjamin rescues Judah. Also, the name Judah has the name of God in it (Yehudah) and this name will eventually be put on all the descendants of Jacob.

Nachshon is not called “prince” (or leader) here because that title belongs to the Messiah, who will come from Judah. All the other tribes had a “prince” or a “leader” come forward with the gifts. No tribe outdid the other. There was unity in this. The tribes are putting their seal of approval on the Mishkan and the Altar, and God is establishing a theocracy. In Rev 7.5 Judah is first again when the 144,000 is called. So, this order is according to function and their calling. In Revelation, they groan over the evil they see and God begins to establish a theocracy again on the earth, beginning with the twelve tribes, twelve thousand from each tribe.

In the Messianic Kingdom there will be a covenant of peace (Ezek 37.26, 39.25; Isa 54.9-10; Jer 31.31-34). There will be life, prosperity and blessings. Do we want to see the Lord? At that time you will be able to see him. He will be right there looking at you, and he will smile. He knows you and we know him. The Messianic Kingdom is known as the Atid Lavo (Future or Coming Age). The world will be much different than it is now, and we haven’t even gotten to the Olam Haba yet.

The dedication of the Mishkan and the Altar in Num 7 is a tremendous thing. The Temple and the Altar are going up again in the very near future, and it will relate to this chapter. It is ironic that most people don’t look forward to this theologically. Secular Jews don’t want it because “it will start a war.” That’s right, it will, just like the Lord said it would. Orthodox Jews have said if the Temple services, the altar and the korbanot started they would have to reexamine Judaism because what they do is not according to the teachings of Moses, and they would need to make massive changes.

Most Christians have no concept about this at all and they don’t even know what is coming, or the ramifications. They don’t believe any of this is even relevant or necessary for today, in fact, they will be against it for the most part. A famous Christian author who was hailed a “prophecy expert” said that the Temple was the Abomination of Desolation in one of his books. On top of all this, we have secular people in the world who have no idea about it. On top of all this we have the issue of animal offerings in this day and age. That will be quite the scene to sort out. But a Temple, an Altar and the offerings are coming and this chapter will again play a vital role.

We will pick up here in Part 7.

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Tanak Foundations-Concepts in Numbers-Part 5

Num 6.1-21 deals with the instruction of the Nazarite. Nazarite comes from the Hebrew word “nazair” meaning “consecrated” or “separated.” This is a voluntary separation from drinking wine, vinegar, grape juice or grapes. They are not to shave their head or go near the dead. The length of the vow varied. It could be a few days or a lifetime. Paul had a Nazarite vow and came out of it by cutting his hair in Acts 18.18. In Acts 21.15-26 it says he came to Jerusalem and to the Temple to give the required animal offerings and other korbanot when the Nazarite vow is finished (Acts 21.23-26). Now, this is around 58 AD and nearly 30 years after Yeshua resurrected and ascended to Heaven. So, let’s go over a few things here.

If the “law” has been done away with and we are not “under the law” why is Paul and the early Messianic believers following the Torah, going to the Temple and offering animal sacrifices (Acts 21.23-26)? Paul and the other believers who offered animal sacrifices here, at the urging of James and the elders, were not doing something that was uncommon. They were not doing this “for show” so they could win over the unbelieving Jews. Paul said he was specifically coming to the Temple to “bring alms to my nation and to present offerings” (Acts 24.17). If Yeshua told them they were not under the law and it has been done away with, Paul and the First Century believers didn’t believe him, and didn’t listen. Even Peter said he remained Torah observant when it came to eating unclean animals in Acts 10.14. The vision he sees is not about permitting the consumption of unclean foods, its about not calling any man unclean (Acts 10.28-35). The fact is, Yeshua never told them the Torah has been done away with and that they were “free from the law” as many teach today. That is a lie and it cannot be supported by Scripture.

Now, getting back to the Nazarite vow. If you are defiled by accident, you would cut your hair and you brought a korban. Then you would start again. When your time is up, you would shave your head, bring the required korbanot and your hair was burned in the fire that was under the fellowship offering (Num 6.18). That is what Paul is doing in Acts 18.18 and Acts 21.15-26. In Num 6.2 it says, “When a man or a woman makes a vow.” What is a vow? A vow brings the future into the present reality using words.

For example, when we vow to do something, our future is pulled down into the present and the reality of the vow is created, and people will treat you as your vow indicates. Time no longer has meaning. Our words have created a new reality, not only for now, but the future. We speak a vow, and it is done. Breaking a vow is painful because we tear reality apart. The Lord requires us to keep vows because we have changed his creation. It is a different place because of our words. Spiritually, what does the law of the Nazarite teach us? It teaches that greatness can be achieved in the smallest of life’s decisions, not the ultimate “big” leap. The Nazir did not have but a few, simple requirements to achieve the great level of kedusha to God (Num 6.8). Communicating with ones family, commitment to Torah, kindness, mercy, justice are small kinds of meaningful actions we can do. Greatness is available by making small steps.

Next we are going to talk about the Priestly Blessing found in Num 6.22-27. There are many traditions concerning it. This is the biblical way to bless people, “speak” the name of God on them (Num 6.27). The blessing comes in three parts and six lines and “you” is mentioned sis times. In Hebrew, this very poetical and it has a structure. Line one has three words and fifteen letters. Line two has five words and twenty letters. Line three has seven words and twenty-five letters. When the priests gave this blessing in the Temple, they were on the steps leading to the Sanctuary building and their backs were to the Kodesh Ha Kodeshim (Holy of Holies). You did not turn your back on God in the Temple, but in this instance they did, but why? This blessing was from the Lord through the priests. It was an inheritance. The name of God “Yehovah” is mentioned three times. We believe that it alludes to the Father, Son and the Holy Spirit.

You will notice that the Lord does not tell the kohanim to bless the people using their own words, but to use the exact form given here. That is because Yehovah is the one blessing the people. This concept can also be seen when the Levitical choir sang. They stood on what is called the Duchan in the azarah (courtyard). Their backs were to the Sanctuary also. This also conveyed the idea that the Lord was speaking to the people through the choir in the words that were sung. The Torah prescribed that only the sons of Aaron were allowed to give this blessing, so let’s look at it briefly.

It begins with the words, “May Yehovah bless you and keep you.” The word “bless” is “bareka” and it means to protect, bring contentment, happiness, health and prosperity. The word “keep” is “V’yishmereka” and the root is “shammar” meaning to guard. The second part is “May Yehovah shine his face on you and be gracious to you.” This means while he is looking at us he is our light. In the desert, the face was oiled and it shined. To be gracious is “Vi’chuneka” and it means to fulfill your prayer. It is related to the word “chanan” meaning healing, help, refuge, strength and rescue.

The third part is “May Yehovah lift up his face to you and give you peace.” To lift his countenance to you means “to take a long look to see what our needs are” Of course, the word “peace” is “shalom” and this ultimately alludes to eternal life. It is a gift and we cannot get this gift by just going out to get it (John 1.13).

As we have said before, you could not turn your back on God in the Temple. But, we also mentioned that the priests reciting this blessing did because the blessing was coming from God. It is the same way with the priests on the Duchan when they were singing. The Psalm was coming from God to the people.

In Num 6.27 it says they were to “invoke” God’s name Yehovah on Israel. The way this is sung today they use “Adonai” in place of Yehovah, but that is not invoking the name of God on the people. His name is Yehovah and we have established that in a previous teaching on the name of God.

Why are the descendants of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob called “Yehudim” (Jews)? The word “Yehudim” comes from the word “Yehudah” (Judah) and it is spelled with a yod (y), hey (h), vav (v), dalet (d) and hey (h). Take the dalet (d sound) out and you have Yehovah (YHVH). When you say “Jews” (Yehudim) it is related to “Yehudah” and you are invoking the name of Yehovah on Israel. That is why there is the concept of Replacement Theology. They want God’s name on them (a sign of ownership) and they want this blessing, but without all that “Torah” stuff. Yehudah (Judah) means “praise” and it is the same thing as saying “halleluyah.” That’s why Yehudah has taken prominence as the name for Israel.

Replacement Theology wants the blessing but not the curse. That is why certain denominations within Christianity say they are the true “Jews” (Yehudim) and teach that they have replaced Israel. They teach that the blessing belongs to them, but the curses belong to Israel. Now, Christianity will reach out to Jews and say they want to bless Israel, and that is a nice thing to do, but they also want to turn the Jews into Christians, which isn’t too nice. However, these Christians have no intention of turning from their ways to follow the Torah either. It’s only a one sided deal here. They want the Jews to forsake the Torah like they do, go to church on Sunday like they do, accept a Jesus” that is foreign to the Scriptures like they do, they want them to eat forbidden things like they do, they want them to keep Christmas and Easter like they do. In other words, forsake the Torah like they do. But by trying to get Jews to forsake the Torah, they are actually setting them up for failure (Deut 28.15-68).

In Part 6 we will pick up here and begin with Num 7.1-59 and the dedication of the Mishkan.

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Tanak Foundations-Concepts in Numbers-Part 4

One of the concepts we are going to see in Numbers is that it deals with the sins of the mouth. The proper use of speech is important. One example of this is found in Num 5.11-31 in what is called “The Sotah” which deals with a wife suspected of adultery. This is a ceremony that was done in the Mishkan, and later the Temple. It is linked to the ceremony of the Parah Adumah (Red Heifer), the cleansing of a leper and the Azazel on Yom Kippur in several ways.

In the Sotah, the wife is suspected of adultery and she is taken “before the Lord” at the Temple. She is to drink “bitter waters” (5.24) and this is a mixture of water from the Kior and the dust from the Temple (or Mishkan) floor. She would swear that she was not guilty of adultery, but if she was, she would suffer harmful effects. The words of the oath (5.21-24) were written on a scroll and were blotted out in water, which she drank. If guilty, physical deformities could develop, and she was cursed, and eventually die (5.27).

There was no ceremony like this for a man because the woman was a picture of Israel who has been unfaithful to her husband and will drink bitter waters. If she confesses she can be reconciled, if she doesn’t, then she is cursed. This ceremony is not done if caught in the act, as seen in John 8.1-11, that was a trick. In most cases, the people involved were stoned, with the witness who saw them throwing the first stone. In biblical law, there was no capital punishment for a crime if there was not at least two eye witnesses, and they had to be credible. The couple involved were warned before committing the act and they went ahead and committed the act anyway.

The next question is this. If one was a witness to adultery and the act, what were they doing there to begin with? That was the question in John 8.7. Nobody wanted to throw the first stone as a witness because it seems whoever was there did not want to admit it because they were trying to “set-up” Yeshua. They already knew the reputation of the woman, that’s why they used her. Maybe one of their own Pharisee brothers from the house of Shammai was the man with her. Maybe they knew more than that. And where was the man caught with the woman?

Israel has been guilty of spiritual adultery. The bridegroom (Yeshua) has the right to take his bride into this trial by ordeal. This trial by ordeal is called the Birth-pains of the Messiah. Yeshua is saying, “You reject me and are guilty of spiritual adultery. I was the one that made the covenant at Sinai with you and you have broken it. Are you willing and prepared to take this test? She will say, “Amen, Amen” (5.22). This is the first time “Amen” is used in the Scriptures and it is the signal that she is now ready for the test.

Now, this ceremony has another application and it involves the birth of Yeshua. We know that Isa 7.14 is a prophecy a bout the birth of the son of Isaiah, but it also alludes to the birth of Yeshua. The word for virgin in Isa 7.14 is “almah” and it means a virgin or a young woman. In the case of Isaiah’s wife, she was a young woman who gave birth to a son and this prophecy is discussed in Isa 7.10 to 8.3. But almah was also going to apply to Miriam and she was going to have to be a virgin, so that is why the Lord chose that word for this prophecy in Isa 7.14. It was going to have numerous applications and this word can be used several ways. So the sign to Isaiah that God was going to deliver Judah from the two kings (Isa 7.1-13) was his wife (a young woman-“almah”-Isa 8.3) was going to give birth to a son. But, what was the “sign” to Miriam, Joseph and everyone else in regards to Yeshua? A virgin would conceive and give birth, but how could you prove that the woman who gave birth to the Messiah was a virgin?

In Luke 1.21-56 we have the story of Miriam and how she became pregnant, before she ever knew a man. We learn that she immediately goes to stay with Zacharia and Elizabeth after the angelic visit (Luke 1.39). They were priests (Luke 1.5) and she stays with them for three months (Luke 1.56) and then returns home. Why did she do that? Maybe it was because she was supervised by Elizabeth and nobody left her alone, especially with Joseph. At three months, she would be showing. Now, Mary was betrothed to Joseph and he found out that Miriam was pregnant. Joseph was a “tzaddik” or a “righteous man” and he did not want to disgrace Miriam, so he was going to divorce her privately. But an angel appeared to him and told him to not be afraid to take Miriam as his wife. The child within her was conceived by the power of God. That was a hard one to comprehend at first, one would imagine, but in faith Joseph married her, but kept her a virgin until she gave birth to Yeshua. Now, that is the basic story we all know, but the question is this. How could she prove to Joseph and others that she did not commit adultery and that she was truly a virgin according to the prophecy about the Messiah? She could volunteer for the Sotah test!

It is at least possible that this is exactly what she did. She was staying with a well respected priestly family and she could have gone to the Temple and submitted herself to this ceremony. That would explain some of her strange behavior after the announcement that she was going to give birth to the Messiah. By submitting herself to this ceremony, it would have been the greatest “sign” that the child within her was indeed conceived by the power of God and not man to anyone who investigated the claims that Yeshua was the Messiah. This ceremony would have been on record because they kept such records in the Temple. Anyone who doubted the origins of Yeshua and his claims could have gone into the Temple records and done the research that his mother went through the Sotah ordeal on such and such a date and has survived to that very day, meaning she was telling the truth. You will notice that there is not one recorded incidence in the Scriptures where anyone came to Miriam and called her a liar! We don’t know that she did this, but we do have a built-in mechanism in the Torah to prove that she was a virgin at the time of Yeshua’s birth.

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Tanak Foundations-Concepts in Numbers-Part 3

How these tribes were camped and their names will teach us about the Redemption. There were three tribes camped on the east. There was Issachar (my hiring, servant), Judah (praise) and Zebulon (to dwell). This teaches us that his star was seen in the east before his birth (Num 24.17; Matt 2.1) the Messiah came the first time as a “servant” from the tribe of Judah and “dwelt” among men (John 1.14). The tribes on the west are Benjamin (son of the right hand), Ephraim (fruitful) and Manasseh (to forget). Messiah will come as a “son of the right hand” (Matt 26.64) and his kingdom will be “fruitful” and he will cause us “to forget” the past troubles.

So, if the tribes on the east and west teach about the coming of Messiah, then the tribes on the north and south teach about the False Messiah. The tribes on the north are Asher (to prosper), Dan (to judge) and Naphtali (sweetness drips). The False Messiah will come and “prosper” (Dan 11.36) but fall eventually. Asher is a related word to Asshur, the home of Nimrod. The False Messiah may come from the tribe of Dan according to many scholars, but he will be “judged.” He will be a great orator at first, and “sweet word’s” will drip from his mouth (Dan 7.11, 20). Isa 14.13-14 says that Satan (the power behind the False Messiah) desires to sit in the recesses of the “north” where God sits The tribes on the south are Gad (a troop, related to the word for “invade”), Reuben (see, a son) and Shimon (to hear). The False Messiah will come as a “troop and will invade” Israel, Jerusalem and the Temple. He will proclaim himself the “son” of God (1 Thess 2), but he will be defeated when Yeshua comes, and his followers will “hear” charges at the judgment “south” of Jerusalem at a place called Tophet (Isa 66.24; Matt 25.31-46).

When you take the totals of each side, in four parts, it forms a cross. On the west there were 108,100 people (Num 2.24). This is the shortest side, corresponding to the top of the cross. The tribes on the south were 151, 450, and the tribes on the north were 157, 600. These are the most equal and correspond to the part of the cross where Yeshua’s arms/hands were. The tribes on the east added up to 186,400, the longest side, and corresponded to where the legs went.

They did not camp like a mob like you see in the movies, but it had order and organization. They had to make it easy to go outside the camp to the latrines and to gather wood, etc. So, each side camped long-wise in order to do this. That means they camped in four parts around the Mishkan. In Num 23.10 it says that Balaam said, “Who can count the dust of Jacob or number the fourth part of Israel?” In Num 22.41 it says that Balak took Balaam up to a high mountain and he saw from there “a portion of the people” or the end of the camp. He saw the fourth part of the camp and he couldn’t even count them. What part of the camp was it? Probably the east portion with 186,400 people plus. Remember, these numbers are only the warriors, not everyone.

So, the way they camped was eschatological and the camp formed a cross. If you had a drone and could fly over the camp, you could see it like God did. Israel camped in four corps and twelve divisions. We will also notice that the three tribes that camped together had relationships to each other. The tribes on the east (Judah, Issachar, Zebulon) are sons of Leah. The tribes on the south (Reuben, Shimon, Gad) are Leah’s sons and a son from her maid Zilpah (Gad). The tribes on the west (Ephraim, Benjamin, Manasseh) are descendants of Rachel. The tribes on the north are Dan, Asher, Naphtali) are the sons of the two maids Bilhah (Dan, Naphtali) and Zilpah (Asher). The duties of the Levites (Gershon, Kohath and Merari) are discussed in Num 3.25-39), so let’s move on to the next portion.

This portion is called “Naso” which means “to elevate” and this alludes to “lifting up the head” to be counted, and this portion covers Num 4.21 to 7.89. The census began in 4.1 with Kohath and it now continues with Gershon and Merari. The Levites were to be 30 years old up to 50 years old. They entered the “service” (tzava meaning warfare) to do the work (melakah) of the tent of meeting (ohel moed). Their duties were seen as spiritual warfare.

This Torah portion is the longest in the Torah (176 verses) and it continues with the duties of the Gerhsonites. It has more commentary that just about any other Torah portion. There will be six different topics discussed and we will do an overview as we have said before.

Why is this portion called “Naso” meaning to lift or elevate? They are “lifting” up the heads of the Levites in order to number them. Why is the word “also” used of Gershom in Num 4.22? They were not to feel left out or less important just because they weren’t carrying the “important stuff” or had the less glamorous jobs. This is also called “Naso” because the Levites were to “lift up” the Mishkan (4.25). There is a lesson here.

The order of God’s people is that those that “lift up” the Mishkan or do the work of the Mishkan should be lifted up by others,too. There has to be cooperation and we are told to “take up one another’s burdens” (Gal 6.2). No problem is insignificant. We may think someone’s problems are meaningless, but that doesn’t make them go away. When we lift up the burdens of another we are like a Levite lifting up the Mishkan of God, because that is what the body of Messiah is.

Num 5.1-10 tells us how to deal with an unclean issue. We are told that it must be dealt with quickly. In a congregation, this may involve a conflict of some sort. We must remember that they are our brothers and sisters, not an enemy. The conflict can be based on a misunderstanding, nothing willful. We must try to treat others the way the Lord treats us. Sin must be “put out” especially if it is unrepentant. What we are going to see in Numbers is that it will deal with the sins of the mouth, and the proper use of speech will be important.

In Part 4 we will pick up in Num 5.11-31 and a ceremony called the Sotah which deals with a woman suspected of adultery. This ceremony could also be related to the birth of Yeshua as we will explain.

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Tanak Foundations-Concepts in Numbers-Part 2

Numbers 2 begins to tell us the story about the arrangement of the camp into four corps. Why is this important? Because we learn in Gen 1.2 that the natural state of creation was chaos, not order. The Torah tells us that the maintenance of order is not a natural act, it is an act of the will, all the time. When we are not engaged in something then chaos will soon follow. Look at a house that is not properly maintained. In a short time it will look very run down and chaotic.

The arrangement of the camp not only talks about order, but it alludes to biblical eschatology, or in other words, the study of the Messiah and the Redemption. We will develop this out later. Now, how many warriors are there at this point? They had 603,550 according to Num 1.46 and 2.32. There were 500,000 in Operation Desert Storm and at the height of the war in Vietnam. If you were a little desert town or tribe and you saw this horde coming your way you might be a little afraid. Then you begin to hear the rumors about what happened to Pharaoh and Egypt, and now you are very afraid.

Israel was organized and they have power, numbers and leadership. Being in this camp meant “life.” Being outside of this camp meant “death.” Now, that is an important concept that needs to be remembered because it will relate to many Scriptures because being put out of the camp meant death. No enemy could penetrate them and they could move as a unit. This unit was made up of four corps with twelve divisions. Units win wars, not individuals.

Num 1.54 says, “Thus the sons of Israel did; according to all which the Lord had commanded, so they did.” That is the definition of humility right there. They know their place. This Torah portion describes the arrangement of the tribes, so what’s the big deal?

Tradition says that God arranged the tribes according to how the twelve sons carried Jacob out of Egypt in Gen 50.6-11. We have already shown you how this procession followed the same basic path Moses would take leading Israel to Canaan in Concepts in Genesis. Already, the people are clear about their place in the tribes of Israel.

The lesson here is to know your place and anything else doesn’t work. Arrogance is like idol worship. True humility means living with the reality that nothing else matters except doing the right thing. Humble people are not dependent on the opinion of others. Doing the right thing isn’t always popular or consistent with or ego needs. An arrogant person is not concerned about right and wrong, only himself and how things will turn out for them. The attitude is, “I am all that counts.” Humility knows its place. If you are in a position to lead, then lead. If not, defer to others and follow. The problem, as we shall see, comes when others want to usurp a position where they don’t belong. When others want to lead and they are not sent to lead, can cause problems unless the true leaders steps up and fulfills his role. Humility can be found in Num 1.1. Can you find it?

The desert symbolizes emptiness. That means to receive the Torah (instruction) we must first “open up” to the living waters. To shrink back, you are no longer in the wilderness, or desert, but a “deserter.” Why did the Lord wait till the second year to number the tribes and put them under separate banners? Because the central focal point that would rally the tribes was the Mishkan and the services. It was not completed until just before Passover of the second year. When we unite around the Torah, Messiah and the service of God, then our differences complement one another and help us reach our goal, which is to know Yehovah (Jer 9.23-24).

In the book of Numbers, or “B’Midbar” (in the wilderness), we learn some lessons about congregational life. When we go camping with someone, we learn some things about each other. It can build unity when you know someone. It’s like going through boot camp with someone. You get to know what the other person is made of. That’s why Marines feel a kinship to other Marines even if they don’t know them. They have been through the same tough times. Class reunions can be like that. One can form bonds with people and you want to see them again. On the other hand, if one does not form these bonds you don’t go camping with them or to class reunions.

Congregational life should be like that. The word used for Israel in the wilderness is “kahal” or “assembly” (Deut 9.10, 10.4, 18.16). They were an assembled congregation. They had to serve one another, creating bonds. They helped one another through tough times, worked on projects together and fought the same battles. How can we tell we are “in the wilderness?”

We will get lonely with no signs from the Lord on what to do. Its easy to get lost and our “tracks” will disappear fast. We think we won’t survive without a map or compass. We have no water and are aimless. Everybody goes through it, so hang in there. Keep praying, studying and keep well watered on the Word of God. You will come out of it eventually. A man was once asked to come up with a statement that would fit any occasion. He thought for a minute and then said, “This too will pass.” Being in the wilderness may be exactly where you should be but it won’t be forever. There is a line from the movie “Ten Commandments” with Charlton Heston. Moses has been taken to the wilderness and let go by Pharaoh. He is struggling to survive and the narrator says, “And he was led into the wilderness where holy men and prophets are purged and cleansed, until after all human strength is gone, he made as strong as metal and is ready to be used in the service of his Maker.”

We can learn a lesson from B’Midbar to help us if we are starting a bible group or congregation, our “flag or tribe” so to speak. First, the road must be mapped out. The stones are removed from the way and all involved know their place. Next, you identify the leaders. They are the “sons of God” like the leaders in Num 1.5-45 were “sons” of someone. We must always use the principles of theocracy (The Lord is the head). Then we set up a routine and make it obvious. Set the the standards and order to that routine, like meeting times, what the service will look like and who does what, and when. Organization avoids anger and offending someone. You must always stay mobile and be prepared to move. The Lord has taught us basic routines in the services. You can go into any Torah based congregation that keeps the Sabbath and commandments and feel right at home. There is a unity and a bond.

In Num 2.1-34 we have the account on how Israel camped around the Mishkan. We will have three tribes camping on the east, west, north and south. How these tribes camped and their names will be very eschatological, and we will pick up there in Part 3. We will tell you which tribe was where and how their names relate to prophecy about the coming of the Messiah and the False Messiah in the Day of the Lord.

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Tanak Foundations-Concepts in Numbers-Part 1

We are going to study some overall concepts found in the Book of Numbers. In a Hebrew Bible, this book is called “B’Midbar” which means “In the Wilderness.” This book is also called “Chumash Ha Pekudim” or the “Book of Counting.” It will pick up where Exodus left off. This book is full of lessons learned so that we do not repeat the same mistakes (1 Cor 10.4). We have the Torah given to the people of Israel and now God is establishing the government.

Again, we are not going to go verse by verse and get into massive detail, that will be for another time, but we are going to give some ways you can look at significant portions and then do a further study. We will bring out some basic concepts we feel are important to understand this book and all of the Scriptures for that matter. We will break this book down by Torah portions.

The first Torah portion is called “B’Midbar” meaning “In the Wilderness.” It goes from Num 1.1 to 4.20. Right off, we can see in verse 3 that the Lord wants to count his people like a good shepherd would after some traumatic experience. This will be the third census, and second one in a year. The first one was before they left for Egypt in Exo 1.5. The second one was before they left Egypt for the wilderness in Exo 12.37.

A “counting” tells us that each individual is unique but they are also a part of something bigger. There will be a contribution that they will need to make. Each of us are individuals, but we belong to a family unit, and a “tribe” also. Numbers are not meaningless to a shepherd.

Now, look at the title? What has happened over the last year or so? They have been delivered from Egypt and are now in the wilderness, they have actually heard the voice of God and lived, they have received the Torah, there has been the Golden Calf incident, the priesthood has been established and the Mishkan built, the services and the korbanot have begun. That is a big change compared to what they were used to. Now they are preparing to move into Canaan, and a workforce and an army is established. As a result, there are lessons we need to learn through this book.

First of all, who were these people? They had witnessed the out-right miracles of God in ways never before seen. They have seen the power of God, like no other generation. However, they were stiff-necked, complainers and obstinate and they opposed Moses and rebelled. In other words, they were like us. They were not unique or different than we are and their struggles are our struggles. They needed to recognize and accept their total dependence on the Lord, and this is our obligation, too. They needed to listen to God and his rules and regulations, so do we. What did they do sometimes? They invented creative ways to get around what he has said that allowed them to do what they wanted to do, rather than just obey him. Sound familiar? We do the same thing.

There will also be a prophetic application to this “in the wilderness” experience because it will happen again when Israel flees into the wilderness during the Birth-pains (Rev 12.1-17). Also, the Lord is numbering the people for an inheritance, war and work. Why does the Lord say he spoke to Moses “in the wilderness” in verse 1? We already know where they were.

There is something that prevents people from learning the Torah and it is called “kap’dan.” It is being fussy, rigid, unaccommodating and people like that cannot learn and study. They have to have everything right, like the temperature, mood, music, lights, seats and so on. A “kap’dan” is one who is easily offended. In order to learn and absorb Torah we must be the opposite of a kap’dan. We need to be adaptable, not rigid and accommodating, like a wilderness. We should not be thinking too highly of ourselves, able to drink in the waters of life.

We also begin to see a military structure being built in Chapter 1. We have leaders of the tribes (“Nasi Matot”) and we have divisions called “alphay” (thousands). Each tribe is a “mishmar” (division). Three tribes make up a “corps” and Israel had four corps, made up of twelve divisions. Each division was made up of “mishpocha” (families) and each family was made up of households (squads). They had to come together and carve out an existence in the wilderness.

One of the things the Torah teaches us is organization. We have the story of Noah and the Ark, Abraham ran a large household. When Joseph was in Egypt he was very organized. Just look at the story of Creation. The universe is very organized and we set our time according to it. The Mishkan and it construction was organized. The Avodah (services), the priesthood, the agricultural system with the Yovel and the Shemitah was organized, and the list goes on. So, this Torah portion is no exception. The nation had to be organized. They were not going to be in the wilderness forever, they were going into the land. Here is another concept associated with the word “wilderness.” In Hebrew, it is “midbar” and we know they received the Torah (the Word of God) in the wilderness. The word “midbar” has the same root in Hebrew as “m’dabehr” meaning “to speak.”

The leaders will be 20 to 50 years old and Levi was numbered from one month old and they will not be listed among the rest of the tribes (1.47). The people needed to be trained for battle. Just because God was leading them into the promised land doesn’t mean they didn’t have to fight for it. David believed he could defeat Goliath but he wasn’t being presumptuous. He had to go down to the Valley of Elah and meet him. He also picked up five stones to throw with his sling. Why five? That has been discussed over and over again and there are many interpretations like the five books of Torah, or the five giants killed (2 Sam 21.22). But it can be as simple as this, in case he missed.

The Lord is initiating his form of government called a “Theocracy.” This form of government has the Lord at the head and servants are delegated to perform certain functions, carrying out his will. The father is the head of the family. Other fathers who can take on added responsibility for other families takes on that position. This goes on until they are organized under one head. These “heads” don’t stand alone. They are the “sons” of another. Their honor always points up, and what they did reflected back on their fathers. We have “names” but we are the “sons of our father.” That is what a theocracy is. When we believed, we became the sons of Yehovah, and in the Father’s house (1.18). What we do reflects on him.

So, Israel has a law and now they have a government being organized here. We have a similar organization in Rev 7.4-8 with the 144,000. The Lord has a routine and duties that need to be assigned. There is a setting up and a setting down while in the wilderness. Why was Levi singled out? Because they defended Dinah (Gen 34.25) and stood with Moses at the Golden Calf incident. The Mishkan was very important. The kedusha that was on Mount Sinai could now travel with them into the land. The tribe of Levi was dedicated to defending it. We know it was an expensive building and expertly crafted, but that is not why nit was important. The Mishkan had the kedusha of God, the Shekinah, in their midst. They took care of the Mishkan because this connection between God and man should not be broken, it was that important.

Everyone has their place, their own “row to hoe.” Each tribe had their own flag. It was not like in America, a “melting pot” under one flag. This is because each individual is unique and each group is part of the whole. Everyone had something unique to offer. The Lord doesn’t want everyone to be the same. There were tribal connections, as we see here. These tribal connections were very important and we will see this later with King David as he organizes the kingdom. No special status was given for personal merits, abilities and scholarship. The purpose for this organization in our Torah portion is clear.

There are millions of people in this wilderness that needed get organized and they had to know “what flag” they were under (know their place). A change that is anticipated and planned for isn’t too bad, but imagine if everyone did what was right in their own eyes? God called the moves and how to do it. Every tribe had their own load to carry and their own role. No jealousy or striving for their own glory and status is seen here.

In Part 2 we will pick up here and begin to talk about the arrangement of the camp into four corps. This will also have an eschatological meaning.

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Tanak Foundations-Concepts on the Name of God-Conclusion

The Yom Kippur war broke out on Oct 6, 1973. The Syrians invaded Israel in a surprise attack, although Israel was warned by Jordan it was coming but that warning fell on deaf ears. At 2 pm, everyone was in the synagogues or participating in Yom Kippur services somewhere when the attack began. It was difficult, and Syria invaded with fourteen hundred tanks against Israel’s one hundred and forty-four tanks.

As the war went on, this got worse because Iraq, Morocco, the Jordanians (reluctantly) and the Saudis got involved. It was an Arab alliance to take Israel out. A tank brigade called the Barak Brigade of Israel got wiped in the first few days. The Syrians attacked with a three-pronged attack, attacking the north, south and the central part of the Golan Heights. The attacks in the south and central parts of the Golan were successful. They broke through and the Syrian tanks had reached a pointy that overlooked the Galilee.

From there they could move right into Israel, cutting the nation in half and move into Tel Aviv. There was nothing to stop them. But they did a curious thing. They stopped. Why did Syria stop? They were 12 miles from where Israel stored their tactical nukes. The answer is, nobody knows why. It seems the Syrian command structure dictated that they had to wait for the northern prong to break through and catch up.

The decisive battle was in this northern area of the Golan. What does fourteen hundred tanks look like? The Nazis invaded the Soviet Union with two thousand tanks across a 900 mile front. Syria invaded Israel with fourteen hundred tanks across a 50 mile front. It was one of the greatest tank battles in history. The major battle took place in what is called the “Valley of Tears.” It was named by Israel because of the tears of the Syrians. Israel was outnumbered 15 to 1. They held off the Syrians for four days. How did they do it? Why did the Syrians stop in the south and central parts of the Golan?

After four days, there were three tanks still fighting in the northern section of this valley. To the south there was a hill called Booster Hill, and there were four tanks there, for total of seven. They held off hundreds of Syrian tanks. Reinforcements finally arrived after four days, and now they had thirteen tanks. These tanks were pieced together from existing tanks that were damaged. The crews had already been fighting.

The Syrians turned around and retreated. The few Israeli tanks chased them back to Syria. This is a fulfillment of Lev 26.8, “Five of you will chase a hundred, and a hundred of you will chase ten thousand, and your enemies will fall before you by the sword.” Seven tanks survived, they fought the 7th Syian Division, in the seventh Hebrew month of Tishri, on the seventh day of the week, from the 77th Tank Battalion, of the 7th Israeli Armored Brigade, after 77 hours of battle.

There is a war memorial to the 7th Armored Brigade and the memorial says, “Behold Yehovah, he comes with fire and like a tempest his chariots.” The word for “tank” in Hebrew is “Merkavah” or “chariots” (Isa 66.15). The emblem for this brigade has the letters “ayin, zayin” in Hebrew at the bottom for “77” and it is pronounced “Oz” meaning “strength” as in “Migdal Oz” (Strong Tower) in Prov 18.10. Remember David and the stones that killed Goliath? They came from Migdal Oz. But this still does not explain what happened.

Why did the southern and central units of the Syrian army proceed and push through? There is an Israeli documentary that was made about this called “Zero Hour.” It was made by Orthodox Jews. In the documentary it said that the victory came because “people began to recognize the holy name of God.” During an investigation and debriefing of a captured Syrian commander, he said in response to a question as to why they stopped in the Golan Heights, “I would like to see you cross the Syrian line if you saw an entire row of white angels standing on the mountain line, and a white hand from heaven motioning you to stop. I stopped.”

Israel has fought Syria before anciently. 2 Kings 6.8-17 describes an incident. Israel knew what Syria was going to do. They thought they had a spy among them. But they realized that Israel had a prophet among them named Elisha and he was telling the king of Israel what the Syrian king was saying and planning. So, they try to kidnap Elisha in Dothan, and they surrounded the city with horses and chariots (tanks). Elisha had a servant who said “What are we going to do?”

So Elisha said there are more with us than with them. He then prayed for the eyes of the servant to be “opened” using the name of Yehovah. Yehovah opened his eyes and he saw the mountain and it was full of horses and chariots of fire all around Elisha. Is this what happened in 1973?

Now, we need to be intellectually honest about this. Many have used other names of God, like Yahweh, Yahveh, Yahuah and the like and will have a hard time changing to another. But, here is the thing we need to keep in mind. In the Karaite community there is a tradition and they have a concept called, “Search the Scriptures well and do not rely on any man’s opinion.” In other words, don’t just blindly follow what we say, or anybody. Even if we are right, then you are basing your relationship with God on what we say, rather than on what God says for yourself.

Now, that doesn’t mean you can’t use other resources like books, tapes, videos, the Internet and other things, but we need to check them out as we use them. True biblical discernment will play a major role here. Check out the evidence for yourself on the name of God being Yehovah. If we are wrong, and you go out and just repeat what we say without doing your homework, its your fault.

That Karaite concept is also a fundamental concept found in the Scriptures. We are to check the oracles of God about what anyone says (Acts 17.11). Check out the Hebrew Bible to see how the name is written for yourself. You can see the Aleppo Codex, Leningrad Codex and other sources for yourself on the Internet. So far, there has been 1000 Hebrew sources for the name of God being Yehovah. You can see the name with full vowels written in the oracles of God, the best ones available. Once you are convinced and convicted about Yehovah, then call upon him using his name. Start learning all you can about that name from people who know what they are talking about. The Scriptures say, “Our help is in the name of Yehovah, the maker of heaven and earth” (Psa 124.8); “I am Yehovah, that is my name; and my glory will I not give to another, neither my praise to graven images” (Isa 42.8); “The name of Yehovah is a strong tower (migdal oz); the righteous run to it and are safe” (Prov 18.10).

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Tanak Foundations-Concepts on the Name of God-Part 8

The Aleppo Codex and other Masoretic manuscripts were written in Tiberius, Israel. That is a very interesting bit of information because we are told that during the time of the Second Temple there were three manuscripts of the Scriptures in the Temple. They were called the “Temple Courtyard Manuscripts.” We are even told there was a guild of scribes called the “Temple Courtyard Proofreaders” who would take Bibles written anywhere in the world that were brought to Jerusalem and compare them with these three Temple Courtyard Manuscripts.

We know that two of these manuscripts survived the destruction of the Temple, and one was brought to Rome because Josephus mentions it. It was kept in the palace of the Emperor. The other one according to a third century rabbi is called the “Manuscript of Maon.” Why is it called by this name? Because this rabbi says “Today it is Beit Maon.” As it turns out, Beit Maon is up on the hill overlooking Tiberius, just a few miles. The scribes are based in Tiberius and they are copying the Aleppo Codex that matches these proto-Masoretic Dead Sea Scrolls of over 1000 years earlier. They are writing it right next door to the place where one of the Temple manuscripts survived to at least the third century AD.

Some will say that the Jews who copied the Scriptures “invented” the vowels out of their hearts. They also say they falsified the consonants, but let’s stick to the vowels for now. One of the evidences that this is not true is in Lev 23.4, which says, “These are the appointed times of Yehovah, which you shall proclaim them (otam).” We are to proclaim the festivals at the time God appointed them. This became a big point of conflict at the end of the first century, in the time of Rabbi Akiva. There was a rabbi who was the head of the Sanhedrin named Gamaliel II. He is the grandson of the Gamaliel in the book of Acts, Paul’s teacher. Two witnesses came before him to testify they had seen the new moon. He accepted their testimony and proclaimed the beginning of the month and were able to set Yom Kippur.

Rabbi Joshua was sitting in the back and he knows the witnesses were lying. He decided that he could not observe Yom Kippur based on the testimony of these two witnesses. We would celebrate Yom Kippur with his family alone, one day after everyone else. Gamaliel ordered Rabbi Joshua to appear before him on the day Rabbi Joshua believed to Yom Kippur, and to publicly desecrate that day. This is how religious men think. They talk about “unity” but what they really mean is “uniformity.” Rabbi Joshua doesn’t know what to do, so he seeks advice because he can’t go to Gamaliel on the day he knows is Yom Kippur because of Lev 23.4 He does not know what to do.

Rabbi Akiva comes along and tells Rabbi Joshua not to worry, he will interpret this away for him. He changes the vowels in “otam” (them) to read “atem” (yourselves). Now it can read “You shall proclaim yourselves.” That means that whenever you proclaim those days, even if you are mistaken, etc, God has no other times than what you yourself proclaim. This is based on a change of the vowels. This is a key component in rabbinical thinking. They think they have the authority based on Lev 23.4 to make the festivals whenever they want them to be. This is how Hillel II came along in 359 AD and made up what is now the Jewish Calendar. He used the best science he had at the time but it was been outdated for 1600 years. We can go outside for ourselves and see the new moon, and we can see the Jewish Calendar is several days off. Why is this important? This happened about the year 90 AD, and what Rabbi Akiva did was change the vowels of “otam” to “atem.”

Now, which way do you think they read this in the synagogues? They read it as “otam.” That’s because Rabbi Akiva can make any interpretation he wants, but he did not have the ability or authority to change the vowels. They were fixed in stone, even in 90 AD. So, don’t let anyone tell you that the scribes made up the vowels.

There is a list of the twelve stones in the breastplate of the High Priest. One of those stones in Exo 28.17 and 39.10 called “bareket.” It means “emerald” or “carbuncle.” When the word “bareket” appears in Ezekiel 28.13 this word is vocalized as “barkat.” Why is that important? Because every Jew at that time knew the book of Exodus. If you are going to vocalize it, you would say it the way it was in Exodus. This shows that the scribes were not just making up the vowels but they were prescribing a pronunciation tradition that went back to the time of Moses and Ezekiel. It preserved how this word was pronounced.

There was a mayor of Jerusalem named “Nir Barkat” or is it “Bareket?” Some call him Nir Barkat, and some call him Nir Barekat because that is the way they heard it in the synagogue when the book of Exodus is read. So, there are differences in pronunciation but the vowels are the same. If the scribes were just making it up they would have written “barkat” with the vowels markings in Ezekiel.

We will conclude this teaching on the Name of God next time.

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Tanak Foundations-Concepts on the Name of God-Part 7

We have all heard of the story about David and Goliath in the Valley of Elah (1 Sam 17), but there is more to this story than what has been usually taught. First of all, it is going to relate to the name of God Yehovah. When most tell the story, they read about how Goliath insulted the name of God but don’t know what they name is. David gets angry, but he can’t use the armor and conventional weapons of the army. Remember, Israel only had two swords in the whole army, one for Saul and one for Jonathan (1 Sam 13.22). Because the Philistines had iron weapons, they liked to fight close, so David was going to avoid that and use what God taught him to use, his sling, a long range weapon.

In the past he used it against a lion and a bear. He realizes that God had prepared him to face Goliath and protect the flock of God. He picks up five smooth stones. Why did he pick up five stones? He had five stones in case he missed. Just because God prepares you doesn’t mean everything goes perfect. He was humble enough about this situation to not get too presumptuous. However, here are some other views on the five stones. The word “rock” is mentioned five times in 2 Sam 22 (v 2, 3, 32, 47 twice). Also, four other giants were killed in 2 Sam 21.22. Moses wrote the five books of the Torah and Psalms is divided into five books, many of which were written by David. The statue of Nebuchadnezzar was destroyed by a rock in Dan 2.45. David was prepared to miss five times and die, but he was going to do the right thing anyway.

In 1 Sam 17.45-47 David says to Goliath, “You come to me with a sword, a spear, and a javelin, but I come to you in the name of Yehovah of the armies, the God of the armies of Israel, whom you have taunted. This day Yehovah will deliver you up into my hands, and I will strike you down and remove your head from you. And I will give the dead bodies of the army of the Philistines this day to the birds of the sky and the wild beasts of the earth, that all the earth may know that there is a God in Israel, and that all this assembly may know that Yehovah does not deliver by sword or spear; for the battle is Yehovah’s and he will give you into my hands.” How many 17 year old boys could give a speech like that today, let alone cut off the head of someone. David was no “snowflake” looking for stress free zones.

He was not going to let this man insult the God of Israel, and he was prepared to die for that, but he was going to do something. Where did the rocks in the brook in the Valley of Elah come from? The brook is trailed back to a place called Migdal Oz, meaning “strong tower.” Prov 18.10 says, “The name Yehovah is a strong tower, the righteous run into it and is safe.” Remember the people that ran into St Paul’s Chapel and were safe on September 11, 2001? God’s name YHVH was written two times on that church? Now David comes against Goliath in the name of Yehovah and uses a rock (symbolic of Messiah) from a place called the strong tower (Migdal Oz) to kill Goliath. Using the theme of five smooth stones, here are “five smooth stones” concerning the Aleppo Codex.

First, there is the Aleppo Codex and the Dead Sea Scrolls. The Dead Sea Scrolls are about 1000 years older that the Aleppo Codex. The earliest scrolls are from about 300 BC. However, the Dead Sea Scrolls are not identical when you compare them. Some are copied carefully and some not so carefully. There is a category of scrolls that have been proofread, and you know because when you read them you will come across a word and see a little letter above the line. This tells you that there is a missing letter. The letter is only missing when you compare it to the Aleppo Codex. Now, just for informational purposes, a codex is a manuscript in book form and a scroll is a scroll.

The Aleppo Codex is about 1000 years younger than the Dead Sea Scrolls. Something had to exist back then that was the source of the Aleppo Codex (more on that in Part 8). Scholars call them the Proto-Masoretic Scrolls. The Masoretic Text is the Jewish version of the Bible, and that existed in some form or another in the Second Temple Period. Most of the Dead Sea Scrolls do not have that characteristic, they are copied haphazardly. They are not what Jews considered authoritative texts of Scripture of that period. The Aleppo Codex was considered by Jews at that time be be an authoritative text of Scripture.

The second stone is that it “looks like an angel wrote it.” That is the reasoning of scholars and scientists of Scripture. When you look at the Masoretic notes on the side, they tell you how to copy Scripture. When they look at other Masoretic texts of that period, 95 % of them match the Masoretic notes. The Aleppo Codex matches these notes 100 %. Most scholars only need the Aleppo Codex. The sad apart is that one-third of the Aleppo Codex is missing. In those missing sections they have to look at 50 or 60 other manuscripts to fill in, comparing what they say. With the Aleppo Codex they only need one manuscript. That is how accurate it is.

The third stone involves the Karaites and the Rabbinical Jews. In that period there was a split between the two groups. Why is that important? Because these groups didn’t trust one another when it came to matters of the Faith. But, what they all agreed upon was the Aleppo Codex as an authoritative source for the Scriptures. Now, if the Rabbinical Jews (called Rabbanites) took a text and just made up letters and vowels, the Karaites would have never gone for it, and vice versa. Both groups knew in the 9th century that it was accurate and an authoritative text of Scripture, and according to them, went back to the time of the Prophets.

The fourth stone is about Maimonides, also called Rambam for short. Rambam used the Aleppo Codex and gave his stamp of approval on it. The fifth and final stone is that the Aleppo Codex is a Karaite manuscript, and the Leningrad Codex is a Rabbinical Jewish manuscript. We had mentioned before that it was Written by a scribe named Aaron Ben Asher in 894 in Tiberius. These two manuscripts are two witnesses for the name of Yehovah. This means that Yehovah is not some sectarian opinion or version, but both opposing views agreed it was Yehovah and transmitted this name from sage to talmid (student) once every seven years, and the true pronunciation “slipped out” with both of these groups. Maybe that was a complete accident, but we believe it was by the Lord’s design. He wanted his name and how to pronounce it to come out.

In Part 8 we will pick up here and begin to discuss how the Aleppo Codex may be tied to three Second Temple Scrolls called the “The Temple Courtyard Manuscripts.” Two of these scrolls survived the destruction of the Temple.

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Tanak Foundations-Concepts on the Name of God-Part 6

There are other top Masoretic manuscripts with the name of God written out with full vowels along with the Aleppo Codex (924 AD). One thing first, the Aleppo Codex has missing pages due to a fire in 1947. The Arabs saw no value in it and discarded it. Most of the Codex was found but it has missing pages. We also have the Leningrad Codex (1005 AD); the British Library Or 4445 (920-950 AD); the Cairo Codex of the Prophets (895 AD); the Damascus Crown Sassoon 507 (10th Century) and Sassoon 1053 (10th Century). These are key manuscripts.

In the Leningrad Codex, YHVH is written with full vowels in Lev 25.17, “So you shall not wrong one another, but you shall fear God; for I am Yehovah your God.” The British Library Or 4445 has full vowels in Lev 22.9, “They shall therefore keep my charge so that they may not sine because of it, and die thereby because they profane it; I am Yehovah who sanctifies you.”

In the Cairo Codex of the Prophets, in Ezek 7.4 it says, “For my eyes will have no pity on you, nor shall I spare you, but I shall bring your ways down on you, and your abominations will be among you, then you will know I am Yehovah.” In the Damascus Crown Sassoon 507, in Deut 6.4-5 it says, “Hear O Israel, Yehovah is our God, Yehovah is one. And you shall love Yehovah your God with all your heart.” Three times it is written fully! Yeshua said this was the greatest commandment of all in Matt 22.35-40. In the Damascus Crown Sassoon 1053, in Exo 10.9, it says, “And Moses said, “We shall go with our young and our old; with our sons and daughters, with our flocks and our herds we will go, for we must hold a feast to Yehovah.”

The most accurate manuscript is the Aleppo Codex by Aaron Ben Asher. It turns out that there are two manuscripts written by Aaron Ben Asher’s father. His name was Moshe Ben Asher. Now we know where Aaron learned to do manuscripts. The Ben Asher family of scribes go back to at least 650 AD. The father Moshe wrote the Cairo Codex of the Prophets in 895 AD, but there is a second Moshe Ben Asher manuscript which is in the Russian National Library in St. Petersburg. That location has over 1500 Bible manuscripts and many are from this early period. Ivri 2-B-88 from 908 AD was written by Moshe Ben Asher and it also had God’s name written out with full vowels.

Our Bibles came from the work of the Ben Asher family of scribes in Tiberius between 600 and 1000 AD. There was a rival family of scribes called the Ben Naftali family, but some say there are no Ben Naftali manuscripts anymore, so says the current wisdom. However, there are two Ben Naftali manuscripts, and until Hebrew manuscripts were digitalized, very few people knew they existed. One is from the Russian Library, Ivri 2-B-5 and the other is Ivri 2-B-63. Both of these have the full vowels of God’s name written out as Yehovah.

So, not only do we have it in the Ben Asher family of scribes but we also have it in their rivals work. They both knew the name was pronounced “Yehovah.” They were also a part of this Jewish conspiracy of silence that did not want the people to know or speak the name. In their head they know it, but in their hand they put in the full vowels. The earliest dated manuscript from 894 AD in the Russian National Library is Ivri 2-B-100. This was part of the personal Bible of Saadia Gaon, who was the leading rabbi of the 9th and 10th century. He literally was the lead rabbi in the world. He defended Judaism against the Karaites and is considered a hero in Rabbinic Judaism. His name is in the manuscript of his Bible and this Bible has the full vowels of God’s name as Yehovah.

Aaron Ben Asher was a Karaite. The Karaites maintain that all the commandments handed down to Moses by God were recorded in the written Torah without an additional Oral Law. As a result, the Karaite Jews do not accept as binding the written collections of the oral tradition in the Mishnah or Talmud. The Cairo Codex of the Prophets is in the Karaite Synagogue in Cairo today.

The great opponent of the Karaites, Saadia Gaon, has Yehovah in his Bible. This is not some crazy Karaite “thing” about the name, it is found in the Bible of the leading rabbi in Judaism of the 9th and 10th century. We have two completely different witnesses who were not colluding to create some kind of falsehood. The Vatican even has a manuscript called “Hebrew 448” (1100 AD) which says in Gen 21.33, “And there he called on the name of Yehovah the everlasting God.” The name is written with full vowels.

Now, we have mentioned before that there are over 1000 manuscripts with the name Yehovah in them. There are people who are searching available manuscripts and are finding YHVH written with full vowels, and there are 1010 as of 2018. This name has been a secret for over 1000 years and these manuscripts go back to 894 AD. When the scribes put in the full vowels it is consistently read as Yehovah. There are three different types of vowel pointing. They are the Tiberian, Babylonian and the Land of Israel. All the “schools” of vowel pointing say Yehovah.

The 1000th manuscript found with the name says, “and serve in the name of Yehovah” (Deut 18.5). Later on in the manuscript in Deut 18.15 it has YHVH written with full vowels saying, “Yehovah your God will raise up to you a prophet like me from among you, from your countrymen, you shall listen to him.” This clearly refers to Yeshua as the Shaliach of the Second Redemption. This name is important for all people (Psa 148.13; Mal 1.11).

Now, there is a misunderstanding out there of the name Yehovah. There are people who are teaching that “Hovah” means “destruction.” If you look into Strong’s Concordance, which is the extent of their Hebrew knowledge, there is a word “hovah” that means “destruction.” So, in their limited Hebrew knowledge, they say Yehovah means “O hail, destruction.” That is not how Hebrew, or English, works. For instance, if you say” assume” you are not saying to make an “ass” out of “u” and “me.” Assume comes from the Latin “Assumere.” It has nothing to do with “ass” but only sounds like it. Assume has as much to do with the word “ass” as Yehovah has to do with the word “hovah.” It is sickening to tie in the two. Why would anyone strip the “yod” (‘) from YHVH and turn it into “destruction?”

God’s name clearly comes from the words “hayah, hoveh and yihyeh” which are three forms of the Hebrew verb “he was, he is, he that will be.” If you take “hoveh” from that root it doesn’t mean “destruction” but “she is.” Why tie it to a completely different word? This is done by people who do not know Hebrew. There is no connection between the name Yehovah and the word hovah because they are from two unraleted Hebrew roots: HYH “to be” and HVH “destruction.” The beauty of “hayah, hoveh and yihyeh” is it means “to be” and when you add the Hebrew letter “Yod” (‘), it means “he was, he is and he is to be” or in other words, Yehovah. The book of Hebrews and the book of Revelation both say that about God (Heb 13.8; Rev 1.4,8). For more information on this, go to “Nehemiah’s Wall” and the article “A Disastrous misunderstanding of the name Yehovah.”

Now, let’s look at the exact same five names. If a “YHV” (yod, hey, vav) appears at the beginning of a name, it is pronounced “Yeho” as in Yehoshua, Yehonatan, Yehoachaz, Yehochanan and Yehotzadak. If the “YHV” (yod, hey, vav) appears at the end of a name it is pronounced “Yahu” as in Yeshayahu, Natanyahu, Achazyahu, Chananyahu, Tzadakiyahu. These five names mean the same thing, even if it begins with “Yeho” or ends with “Yahu.” Now, the name of God begins with a “YHV” (yod, hey, vav) so it is “Yeho” and that is what they find in the Hebrew manuscripts.

There is a verse in Prob 18.10 that says “The name of Yehovah is a strong tower (Migdal Oz), the righteous run into it and are safe.” On September 11, 2001, as the terrorists were destroying the towers of men, they proclaimed the name of their false god. At that very moment in Israel, the true pronunciation of YHVH was being revealed to be proclaimed in the earth, from the Aleppo Codex.

A strong tower, like a “keep” in castles, is the last refuge when everything else fails. His name is like that to us. Now, there is an example of this concept associated with September 11. 2001. There is a church in New York City, right next to ground zero. It is called St. Paul’s Chapel of the Trinity. When the two towers collapsed, this chapel was untouched even though it was 0.2 miles from the WTC. It was built in 1766 and George Washington attended it when he was in New York, it was the capital. People ran into this chapel as debris was crashing all around them, and found refuge.

The reason it is relevant is because at the front of the chapel is a sculpture of Mount Sinai. At the bottom of it there is the Ten Commandments, and up at the top of Mount Sinai, with light coming out of it, was the name of God in Hebrew (YHVH). The man who designed this is Pierre Charles L’Enfant, who did the basic design for Washington, DC. How many churches have the name of God written in Hebrew at the front? Not many. On top of that, on one of the arches, God’s name YHVH appears again. Is it possible that this is a fulfillment of not only Prov 18.10, but Exo 20.24 where it says, “In every place that I cause my name to be mentioned, I will come to you and bless you.” People literally ran into a place where the strong tower of God was, not the strong tower of men that was crashing down, and found safety.

In Part 7 we will pick up here.

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Tanak Foundations-Concepts on the Name of God-Part 5

We have been talking about Rabbinical Jewish sources for the name, but what about Biblical sources? So, we are going to look at the Aleppo Codex. The Aleppo Codex is the most accurate copy of the Bible in existence. It was written in 924 AD by Aaron Ben Asher in Tiberius and it was endorsed for its accuracy by Maimonides. Along with the Leningrad Codex, it contains the Ben Asher masoretic tradition.

To this day, when they want to print a Bible in Hebrew, they base it on the Aleppo Codex. God’s name is written 6,827 times in the Aleppo Codex. Nehemiah Gordon is a Karaite Jew and was a proofreader for a Hebrew Bible using the Aleppo Codex and he had been praying for years to know how to pronounce the name of God (YHVH). So the following account is his story on how he discovered the true pronunciation of the name and it is an important story to tell.

Gordon had heard all the different variations on how to pronounce the name of God just like everyone else has. He heard Yahweh, Yahveh, Yehuah and all the others. Each had good arguments but at the end of the day, how would he know which one is true? His prayer was to see it in the oracles of God, the Bible, the Scriptures, preserved by the master scribes. He wanted to see how it was written in these early “vocalized” manuscripts (with the vowels).

He was working on his Masters Degree in 2001, and he had a research position which was with the Hebrew University Bible Project. He would have photographs and printed pages to proofread the Aleppo Codex. It was common knowledge at that time that the name of God was written with the vowels from “Adonai.” But, that was factually untrue by what he saw. He had access not only to the Aleppo Codex, but he also had access to the Leningrad Codex. It was obvious that the name did not have the vowels of Adonai. By the way, you can get the Aleppo Codex and the Leningrad Codex on-line now.

What it had was two vowels written, and a third vowel was missing from the name. YHVH had to have a vowel marking associated with those first three letters, and one was missing. It was intentionally missing on a repeated basis, both in the Aleppo Codex and the Leningrad Codex. No reader could read it the way it was written. But he still had his prayer to know how to read the name. He did not want that information based on a man’s theory, but how it was preserved by the scribes. However, the scribes didn’t preserve it so it could be pronounced.

As Gordon was doing his proofreading he would come across the name YHVH and one of the vowels was missing. Then one day he found the name with all the vowels. The missing vowel was there. It was in Ezek 3.12 which says, “Then the Spirit lifted me up and I heard a great rumbling sound behind me, ‘Blessed be the glory of the Lord in his place.'” He looked at YHVH in that verse (Lord) and it had a full set of vowels, and it was pronounced Yehovah.

At that moment, Gordon gets a phone call that told him that a plane had just flown into the World Trade Center in New York. The date was September 11, 2001. He thought that it was a fluke accident. He did not have the Internet or a Smart phone so he thought it was a small plane that had an accident. It had happened before with the Empire State Building.

He put down the phone and he was not thinking about the accident. What he was thinking about was whether or not the YHVH he found with the vowels written out was a fluke. He had just found the full vowels in the name, in the Aleppo Codex, the most accurate manuscript in the world. So, he decided to quit working and just look for YHVH, to find a second witness. So he goes over page after page, word for word. Then he finds the vowels missing again whenever he comes across where the name was.

After about 15 minutes of this, he comes across another verse in Ezek 28.22 which says, “Thus says the Lord God, ‘Behold, I am against you, O Sidon, and I shall be glorified in your midst. Then they will know that I am the Lord when I execute judgments in her.'” He finds the full vowels in the first instance of YHVH there. When YHVH appears next to Adonai you are to read it as Elohim (God). At that moment he gets a second call saying a second plane just flew into the World Trade Center. Now he realizes that this was no accident in New York, and he realizes that finding the name YHVH with full vowels was not an accident either. It was not a fluke.

It took time to process both things that were happening. Two years later he was talking to a friend about all this and the friend asked him if he realized the significance of the timing. Gordon honestly said he didn’t. He missed the forest because of the trees. He was told by his friend that at the exact moment these terrorists flew those planes into the two towers, they shouted out the name of their god. They proclaimed the name of their god at the exact moment that the Creator of the Universe was revealing his name. He wanted his name known and allowed Nehemiah Gordon to find it.

Needless to say, Gordon struggled with this because in Jewish thought they don’t get into the “spiritual” but only “the facts.” But this was clearly the hand of God. He found out that the Aleppo Codex contains the name written out six times. There was only two in the book of Ezekiel. If he had been working on other books that day, like Jeremiah, he would not have come across any of them. If he had been working in the book of Isaiah, he would have found one, not two. It was only in Ezekiel that he could have found two in the span of time it took for those two planes to strike the towers. As those terrorists were proclaiming the name of their god, Yehovah was revealing how to proclaim his name (Deut 32.3; Exo 33.19; Psa 20.7; Heb 2.12; Ezek 39.7; Rom 9.17). This was clearly the hand of God and the timing was unmistakable. Others have seen these vowel markings but never made the connection, or pointed them out, and certainly not with the timing that accompanied any revelation to it.

The Leningrad Codex has the name written 6,828 times, and the name was written with full vowels 50 times. The Leningrad Codex is second only to the Alepo Codex in importance. The thing is, nobody connected it together until September 11, 2001. Gordon was looking for an answer to a prayer, and not according to the traditions of men or some hypothesis. He wanted an answer according to the oracles of God the way it was preserved by the Hebrew scribes (Rom 3.1-2). Until one asks that question, you can be staring it right in the face and not see it.

How can you place the name of God on someone in a blessing and not know how to say the name (Num 6.22-27)? It is a fact that it is written as “Yehovah.” The name has been discovered in over 1000 manuscripts now (as of 2018). We will have more on that later. Other references in the Alepo Codex with the name written out is 1 Kings 8.11, “For the glory of Yehovah filled the house of Yehovah.” The second time Yehovah is used in this verse it does not have the vowels and it is basically unpronounceable in Hebrew. Another one is 2 Kings 20.9, “And Isaiah said, ‘This shall be the sign to you from Yehovah; that he will do the things he has spoken: shall the shadow move forward ten steps or go backwards ten steps?'”

In Part 6 we will begin with a listing of other top Masoretic manuscripts with the full vowels written in the name.

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