Tanak Foundations-Concepts in Numbers-Part 26

Religious people think like Balak. If you do a good deed, a bad one nullifies it and a bad deed can be nullified by a good one. Like the saying in sports, “You are only as good as your last game.” If you don’t win it all, you are unsuccessful. But, if the Lord blesses you no curse can annul that blessing. You are blessed, unless we rebel. That is a major concept in Numbers. It doesn’t matter how many non-Jewish prophets say “Israel is cursed” and “the church has replaced Israel” it doesn’t mean a thing. Israel is still blessed. A curse goes to the third and fourth generation, a blessing goes to the thousandth generation (Exo 20.5-6). The blessing is at least 500 times greater!

In the course of Balaam’s prophecies, he says that one cannot number the fourth part of Israel (23.10). This tells us that Israel camped in four parts, and we have shown earlier that it was in the form of a cross. He also said that God is not a man that he should lie (23.19); when he blesses he cannot revoke it (23.20); he does not see iniquity in Jacob (23.21). In Num 24.5 it contains the Mah Tovu, a portion that is used in Jewish prayer and there is a major prophecy about the Messiah defeating the False Messiah in Num 24.17, “I see him, but not now; I behold him, but not near; a star shall come forth from Jacob, and a scepter shall rise from Israel, and he shall crush through the forehead of Moab, and crush the head of all the sons of Sheth.” Let’s look at some concepts in this verse.

The statement in Num 24.17, “I see him, but not now” is a major prophetical concept that we need to touch on. Eschatology is the study of the Messiah and the Redemption, and eschatology is seen from six reference points. Eschatology is seen from the historical view, Messiah’s first coming, Messiah’s second coming, the Birth-pains, the Messianic Kingdom and the Olam Haba. Prophecies can have numerous fulfillment’s and are not subject to time. We see “in part” now (1 Cor 13.12) and have “tasted the good word of God and the powers of the world to come” (Heb 6.5) now, and that is another way of saying “I see him, but not now” in our verse. We also see the defeat of the False Messiah in this verse where the “forehead of Moab” will be crushed and the head of Sheth will be crushed (Gen 3.15; Hab 3.13, Judges 4.21). Balaam also has another major prophecy in Num 24.20-24 where he alludes to the last days when he refers to Asshur (Russia/Gog and Magog) afflicting Eber (Israel) as we see in Ezek 38-39. We also see Kittim (Europe/Rome of the False Messiah) confronting Asshur (Russia/Gog and Magog-Ezek 38.1-6; Mic 5.5-6), and “he” (Amalek/False Messiah) coming to his end. After this we learn that Balaam went to his place, but he never made it back home (Num 31.8).

All of these truths were spoken by the mouth of Balaam, an enemy of Israel. Israel didn’t even know all these attempts at cursing them was even going on. They did not know that people were looking down of them from the mountains attempting to curse them (Num 23.9-10). But all that didn’t matter because God was protecting them. This is an important concept to remember. Don’t worry about people putting curses on you or that you have curses on you. If you belong to the Lord, you are blessed, not cursed. Even if you don’t know about someone putting a curse on you, it doesn’t matter.

In Num 25.1-9 we learn that when all of this fails, Balaam says “off the record” in Num 31.16 that they should send their daughters down to Israel. They won’t attack you. These pagan daughters should intermarry with them and lead Israel astray. As a result, their God will curse them where he couldn’t. We will look at this in more detail later. Magic won’t defeat them, sacrifices to pagan gods won’t defeat them, paganism and polytheism won’t defeat them, but introducing sin in violation of the Torah will. God will send a plague and 24,000 died because Midianite women enticed the men to worship and to eat a meal consecrated to him.

But, some people think that God doesn’t do this anymore (or does he). Obviously, if you haven’t seen this in your lifetime, it isn’t true, right? How long has God been around dealing with humans? Around 6000 years. Most people today have been around less than 80 years. If we go around thinking that God is like our experience only, that is a very limited view of God. God has said what he is like in the Scriptures. We tend to define God by the things we’ve experienced and seen, not who he has revealed himself to be.

That is why there are so many Christian denominations and groups. They make God into their denominational image instead of letting God be who he says he is. We need to conform to him, not have him conform to us. That also means there are so many ideas about the Lord, his character, how to worship, festivals and what is important. Today, it is Baal all over again.

In some places they are taking youth who are incorrigible to “sacred sites” because these places “resonate something.” This is what we see with Balaam being taken to certain areas by Balak. It’s Baal worship all over again. Ask yourself these questions. Do I follow the culture? Do I trust God or not? Do I follow the Torah or not? Do I stand for the Lord or let others dictate to me? We need to make a decision about who we are going to follow. Are we going to follow the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, the God of the whole earth, the one true God whose name is Yehovah who spoke from a mountain, who gave us commandments and a son to show us the way of redemption? Or, are we going to follow the “Baals” that are all around us. Who will we follow? Learn the lesson of Balaam. Let our speech, thoughts and actions be for the Lord.

In Part 27 we will pick up with the next Torah portion called “Pinchas” and look into what Balaam did to cause the incident in Num 25.1-18.

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

Tanak foundations-Concepts in Numbers-Part 25

In Num 22.22 we learn that the Lord is going to be angry with Balaam because he left right away and did not wait for the princes to call him to go, that was the condition in verse 20. So, the Lord sends an angel to stand in his way. God is going to use a miracle to get his attention. The donkey, symbolic of Balaam’s stubbornness, sees the angel standing with a sword drawn in his hand (symbolic of how Balaam would die-Num 31.8) and turns off the road, and goes into a field. So, Balaam struck her. Then the angel stood in a narrow path of a vineyard, with a wall on both sides of the path through the vineyard. When the donkey saw the angel she pressed herself against the wall, hurting Balaam’s foot (v 24.25). He strikes her again.

Then the angel stood in another narrow place (v 26) and there was no way to turn to the right or to the left. The donkey saw him, and she just decided to lay down under Balaam. This caused him some embarrassment. So, he struck her with his stick. The “wall” being referred to in v 24-25 is thought by some to be the “heap” set up by Jacob and Laban in Gen 31.52. In “Hadar Zekenim” it says they put a sword in the heap. Balaam, who may have been Laban’s grandson was being paid to cross the mound to curse Israel, breaking the covenant. He was killed with this sword in Num 31.8 and Josh 13.22 (it says he was killed with “the” sword, a definite sword).

So we learn that Balaam doesn’t understand what is going on, so he beats the animal. Then the animal talks back to him. The donkey has more insight than Balaam did, a prophet. A donkey talks and he doesn’t even notice because he is caught up with himself. This so-called “seer” could not even discern the presence of the angel.

How many times have we come across people who say “God told me” this or that? And yet, upon close examination, they have not heard from God or even know him, or his word. Now many times has God spoken to us through the news, earthquakes, wildfires and disasters? We should take a longer look at events and try to see the divine force standing with an outstretched sword. But, we don’t in many cases, and we strike out at the closest “donkey” who moves us (a teacher, etc).

The donkey is trying to save Balaam’s life. He should have concluded that the same God that gave him his power of speech is the same God who gave the donkey the power of speech. Balaam was not using his power of speech correctly, and the Lord opened his eyes (Num 22.31). The angel says that he has come out as an “adversary ” (a satan) against Balaam because he was “contrary to me.” This is a case of the angel being a “shaliach” of God, a sent one, an agent who speaks the words of the Lord exactly. The donkey saw the angel three times and saved him (Num 22.33). In Num 22.35, Balaam tells the angel that he has sinned and he will turn back. However, the angel tells Balaam he can go but he is not to curse Israel. He is to “speak only the word which I shall tell you.” Balaam will do what the Lord wants, not what Balak wants.

Prophets are not for sale but Balaam is, and men can exploit God’s ways for their own purposes. We see people talking about the festivals and Jewish thought, but they exploit these things for their own gain. They say to themselves, “What do the people need and how can i make a buck off of it.” They will try to get around what God said to make money or promote themselves. What is important to understand here is a person can be on his way to sin and will not be able to see what is in front of his eyes, like Balaam.

Balaam is going to go to three places (Num 22.41, 23.14, 23.28). He will build seven altars at each spot with a bull and ram offered at each altar This will be a total of 21 bulls and 21 rams. Cursing is expensive. In Num 22.41, Baal is mentioned, so let’s talk for a moment about the Canaanite gods.

The main god of the Canaanites was “El” and he had a brother named Dagon.” The son of Dagon is Baal (son of God) and he is “prince” and “Lord of the earth” and a “storm god.” There is another son to El called “Mot” and he is the god of “death.” Another god is “Yam” and he is “prince of the sea” and his place is in the abyss. He will confront Baal. If Baal fought Yam and prevailed, then we have the seasons of the year. But if Mot prevailed over Baal, then famine would happen. Everything they saw fit this story and it explained the natural occurrences like floods, droughts, wind, rain, snow, the moon and the sun.

The God of Israel was seen as a competitor to this pantheon and that is why he has some of the same titles (prince, son of God, Lord of the earth). Psa 24.11 says that the earth belongs to the Lord and all that it contains. Yehovah combats the “gods” to take what rightfully belongs to him. This goes on today. Money decides what is or isn’t done. Religious men want to do things so that people will come and give them money, or they don’t want to do something because people won’t come and give them money.

We see this battle of Monotheism versus Polytheism in the Exodus. Competing “powers” or “gods” against Yehovah who has all the power. Polytheism is in direct conflict with Yehovah. Pharaoh was seen as a god and he is in competition with the God of the Hebrews. Besides, Pharaoh had never heard of this “Yehovah” before. The Canaanites believed in a “son of God” and a “prince” who was “Lord of the earth.” Now, here comes Israel with the one true God and people like Balak are threatened (like Pharaoh). The Canaanites are usurping the honor, praise and worship that only belonged to Yehovah. That is the foundational problem with false gods. Balaam joins forces with people who believe in Baal. They can’t distinguish between a false god and the true God. Balaam will try and “fit in” for money.

Has “Baal” gone away today? Not really. This belief is based on fear. Decisions are based on money, not the truth from Scripture. The truth will not be taught because they would lose their congregation, so they teach what people want to hear, for money. Their livelihood depends on the people. If the people get upset, they leave and they lose money and the pastor doesn’t get paid. This isn’t just an ancient story, it happens today. Believers must take a stand and speak the truth, and they must not compromise the truth for the sake of money. When Israel went into the land they told the inhabitants that if they wanted peace with them, Israel will leave them alone. They could stay in their cities. However, if they chose to fight, they would kill all of them. Balaam chooses to fight God, but he will bless Israel instead of cursing them.

Balaam’s prophecies in Numbers 23 and 24 are very messianic and some of the most insightful prophecies in the Scripture. We will learn about Israel, Gog and Magog/Russia, Europe and the False Messiah and his destruction, the redemption, part of what Balaam said is used in Jewish prayer, and much more. We will look a these in our next study. We can figure out what he wanted to curse by looking at what he blesses. In Part 26 we will pick up here.

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

Tanak Foundations-Concepts in Numbers-Part 24

The next Torah portion is called “Balak” and it goes from Num 22.2 to 25.9. Balak means “destroyer” and that is exactly what he tries to do. Israel was on the plains of Moab (of father) and Sihon had taken it from them. This portion is going to be a study in Replacement Theology. Balak was the son of Zippor, which means “Bird.’ You will remember that the wife of Moses was named “Zipporah” which is the feminine form of the name. Balak’s motive for what he is trying to do is replacement theology. Here is a modern example.

In 1990, the Secretary of State for George Bush was a man named James Baker. He appeared before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee and told them Israel was refusing to be moderate and to make peace. Then he said an undiplomatic thing. He gave the phone number of the State Department and said, “When you are ready, call me.” On Jan 17, 1991, Iraq fired the first SCUD missile at Israel, and the Israeli Air Force scrambled. The U.S. State Department panicked and they had to keep the Israeli’s out of the Gulf War or the coalition that was built to fight Iraq would fall apart. Who called whom? James Baker who said “You call me” is the one who came calling and begging. In another irony, in 1981, the Israeli’s bombed the nuclear reactor in Iraq. The person who offered the motion in the U.N. condemning Israel was the ambassador from Kuwait for an act of aggression against their “brothers” the Iraqis. In 1990, the Iraqis invaded Kuwait.

Balak has heard of the sons of Israel and their victory over the Amorites, and they believe they are next. This is an ancient version of the “Domino Theory.” He needs help, so he sends messengers out to a man named Balaam, which means “devourer of the people.” He is from Mesopotamia (Num 23.7). He is a type of the religious man who condemns and curses Israel, like Constantine, the Church Fathers, Martin Luther and modern day teachers. He is a non-Jew who is hired by Balak to curse Israel (22.5).

Balaam will refuse to curse Israel but his error (Jude 11) will come because he told Balak how to get the Israelites to sin by enticing them into sexual immorality, and it succeeds (Num 31.16). If you combine Balaam and Balak, you have Amalek, the perpetual enemy of Israel and a picture of the false messiah and false teachers. Josh 13.22 calls him a “soothsayer” or “diviner.” He is a type of a fake Babylonian religious system and false teachers/prophets.

There are two concepts we need to start out with. First, this story is not about Israel. They are not even part of this story because they are not even aware that all of this is even taking place. The second point is that it is not about what happened, but about what did not happen. Unlike war where Israel fights back in this realm, in the spiritual realm, Israel has to do nothing. All the fuss, the multiple altars, blessings, arguments, different mountain peaks and the repeated efforts to find the right “angle” to hurt Israel all takes place without Israel paying any attention to it. Magic and curses are irrelevant against Israel. Israel was not to rely on magic for success, either.

Sacrifices are repudiated, in general, when they are used to guarantee success (Mic 6.6-8). There is only one way for Israel (and this lesson is for us as well) to fail. If we are going to make mistakes as believers, we are going to do one of three things. Basically, it is the way of Cain, the error of Balaam and the mutiny of Korah (Jude 11). The way of Cain is jealousy and anger, with bitter resentment. Cain thought he was losing his status as first-born. The error of Balaam is causing Israel to sin by getting them to disregard the Torah (Num 31.16). Basically, it is replacement theology for personal gain (2 Pet 2.15). The mutiny of Korah is not being satisfied with your role. He was not anointed to replace Moses and Aaron. Again, replacement theology.

Balaam was a spiritual leader seeking fame and fortune, and he had some knowledge of Yehovah (2 Pet 2.15). He is known as a “prophet” and he was from Aram (22.8). Kings came to him for counsel and he was a contemporary of Moses. What this story shows us is God is not just involved with Israel here, he was working through others who were not in the camp. He had a reputation and he fails. This is not a new thing. Evidently, he had the authority from God to bless (22.20). He should have had a proper estimation of himself. Not everyone who says “Lord, Lord” will enter the Kingdom of God or is even saved (Matt 7.21-23).

Balaam has been asked to curse Israel because Balak fears them. However, prophets don’t go around cursing Israel. His job was to speak the very words God gave him to speak, no more and no less. His job is to speak to the people so they won’t be cursed! Today, so called “prophets” and “teachers” will try to get Jews to turn from the Torah, believe in “Jesus” and follow Christianity. They tell them they don’t have to keep the Sabbath and they can eat pork now, all that has been done away with. But, by believing and teaching this, they are actually going to bring a curse on Israel (Deut 28.15-68).

In Num 22.9 Yehovah says, “Who are these men with you?” Now, he knew who they were but he wants Balaam to see where his heart is. So, in Num 22.10, Balaam says, The King of Moab has sent word to me.” In other words, “see how important I am, Lord? A king wants to see me. My reputation and ministry has spread even to the top of the political world. I am an important guy now!” But in Num 22.12 he tells Balaam not to go with them to curse Israel because they are blessed (Gen 12.3; Prov 26.2). Balaam responds to Balak’s leaders in verse 13, “God has refused to let me go” but that is not what Yehovah said. He said that Balaam can’t go and curse a people who are blessed, but he conveniently leaves that part out of his response.

So, the messengers of Balak returned and said to Balak, “Balaam has refused to come with us” (v 14). In Num 22.17 the king gets the impression that Balaam is holding out because he wants more money. So he sends another delegation more numerous and prestigious than the first one to show Balaam greater respect. So he says to Balaam, I will indeed honor (honorarium) you richly.” He is promising money and a possible role in his court if Balaam will come and curse Israel. But Balaam says that money isn’t the issue. He cannot come and do anything contrary to what the Lord has said (v 18).

In Num 22.19, Balaam wants them to stay the night and he will go and find out what else Yehovah will speak to him. In Num 22.20, God basically says that if they come back, rise up and go with them but he is only to speak the word that he gives him. I never said you couldn’t go to bless them, he just couldn’t curse them. So, Balaam rose in the morning and saddled his donkey. The donkey is symbolic of Balaam’s stubbornness. He is going to get paid to do something that God told him not to do, curse Israel. In Num 22.22 God is angry because God told him to wait for the princes to come (v 20), but he saddled his donkey and left before they arrived. He is already going against what the Lord told him to do. Does Balaam think he is going to manipulate this situation for his own benefit and personal gain (2 Pet 2.15)?

We will pick up here in Part 25.

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

Tanak Foundations-Concepts in Numbers-Part 23

Num 21.10-20 deals with Israel moving and going north to enter Canaan. The places mentioned from here to the end of the chapter will also deal with eschatology and the coming of Yeshua, not just their literal travels. If you go to a map, make note of the Wadi Zered (v 12), the Arnon (v 13) and Moab. Num 21.21-35 deals with the battle with Sihon, the king of the Amorites (“sayers”) and Og, the king of Bashan (in the Golan). Again, when you look at the places mentioned they will also deal with eschatology and the coming of the Yeshua.

Look at the places like the King’s Highway, the Arnon, the Jabbok, Heshbon and Bashan. These places are mentioned in conjunction with the coming of Yeshua to Jerusalem at the end of the Birth-pains. Why does the Torah use this whole story of Sihon and Heshbon? There is a saying, “Man has his plans and God laughs.” That is what history is all about. There are great ironies in history. The Amorites take the land from the Moabites, now Israel had a green light to attack it. God wanted Israel to have it, so he moved the pawns and Sihon conquered Heshbon for the Amorites. Then Israel conquered the Amorites.

We began this portion talking about how the chukim (statutes) are not so easy to understand. We want to quote from the book called “Tehillim” from Mesorah Publications, pages 1419, 1446. A basic explanation is given about this subject of the hard to explain mitzvot, so it begins by saying, “Beis HaLevi emphasizes that all the reasons advanced to explain the mitzvot of Hashem are inadequate, for man cannot comprehend the infinite wisdom of the Divine commandments. The ultimate purpose of all the mitzvot is really one and the same, i.e., an opportunity for the believer to demonstrate his complete submission to the will of the Almighty Lawgiver. True, each mitzvah provides other apparent benefits, but they are only secondary. (For instance: The prime purpose of the mitzvah of charity is to afford a person a opportunity to submit to God’s will by giving away his precious money. The secondary benefits realized by the performance of charity are that the benefactor refines his character and becomes a kinder person, and the impoverished beneficiary has some of his needs satisfied).”

“The true purpose of mitzvot, the enhancement of faith, is often unappreciated because it is a personal, intangible accomplishment that cannot be measured. The secondary achievements of mitzvot, however, are usually tangible and dramatic. They appeal to the emotions and their results are measurable, so most people misconstrue the subordinate benefit for the prime purpose. Therefore, this psalm begins: ‘Praiseworthy are those whose way is wholesome (who seek no reasons for or benefits from any of the mitzvot, whose only interest is to serve God and) who walk with the Torah of Hashem (v 1)’. The Psalmist continues: ‘You have issued your precepts to be kept diligently (v 4)’, i.e., we are commanded to fulfill these precepts simply because they are God’s commands, not because we anticipate receiving any benefits from fulfilling them.”

“The Chukim, statutes, are Divine orders with no apparent rationale. They are designed to teach each Jew to serve God with faith and confidence…The Psalmist hopes: ‘May my ways be firmly guided to keep your statutes (v 5)’; i.e., ‘Your statutes will teach me how to keep your other mitzvot for the right purpose.’ He concludes, ‘Then I will not be ashamed when I gaze at all your commandments (v 6)’, I will not distort the meaning of all your mitzvot and I will not be put to shame because of impropriety. If we deviate even slightly from other mitzvot, and do not preserve a general lifestyle of compliance, then a blind adherence of the chukim appears ludicrous to him.”

“R’Yerucham Levovitz of Mir explained that the ‘ta’am’, taste, of food has nothing to do with its nutritional value. A person could live a lifetime and thrive on tasteless food capsules or intravenous feeding. Out of Divine kindness and consideration, God introduced taste into the nutrients that sustain his creatures. Taste provides us with an incentive to fulfill our nutritional needs, for otherwise, we might neglect our meals and endanger ourselves. The same concept may be applied to mitzvot. Each command is essentially food for the soul, providing spiritual energy needed to keep the spirit healthy and close to God. It really makes no difference what actions God commands, for any action which man performs in order to fulfill God’s will provides spiritual enrichment. Any physical, psychological or social benefits accrued from mitzvot do not constitute the essence of the mitzvah, but are external incentives and stimuli enticing us to partake of the spiritual repast which our souls need. There fore, the Hebrew word describing the reason for the mitzvot is ‘ta’am’, which literally means ‘taste’, because the reasons are merely flavorings which make the essential mitzvot more attractive and palatable to us. Thus, the statute, which has no apparent reason, is called “chok”, which literally means a precise ration of food (see Proverbs 30.8); this commandment is devoid of flavor.”

So, in other words, keeping the commandments is like eating, and the food is the commandments. The reasons for the commandments are like taste and flavor, they make “eating” the commandments more inviting and “palatable” (acceptable to the mind or sensibilities) to us. By not keeping them, and following man made commandments, we spiritually starve and eventually die. Every time we keep a commandment, keep in mind that we are taking a bite of good spiritual food that will keep us strong and spiritually healthy. It is interesting that the word for taste (ta’am) and that is used to describe the reason for the commandments. Commandments are more attractive and “taste” good when we have flavor (reasons). In Prov 30.8 it says, “Feed me with the food that is my portion.” Where it says, “my portion” it is the Hebrew word “chuki” which is related to our word for this Torah portion, “Chukat.”

In Part 24 we will pick up with the next Torah portion called “Balak.”

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

Tanak Foundations-Concepts in Numbers-Part 22

In Num 20.14-23 we see that Israel wants to pass through Edom, Esau’s descendants. Edom says they will not allow Israel to pass through their territory, another test. In the meantime, Aaron dies on Mount Hor near Petra. This is a weakness of the priesthood referred to in the Book of Hebrews. His duties as High Priest pass on to his son Eleazar. Israel had to go around Edom after a brief battle with the Canaanites (21.1-3) where Israel destroyed their cities. Then they set out from Mount Hor by the way of the Red Sea (Edom means “red” and that is why it was called the “Red” Sea by the Israel). They had to go back to go around Edom. The people began to grumble again and spoke against the Lord and Moses. They complained about having been brought out into the wilderness where there were no provisions.

So, we come to one of the best pictures of the crucifixion in the Scriptures in Num 21.6-9. A symbol of judgment will become the symbol of healing and life. Like the Red Heifer, the clean will become unclean and the unclean will be clean The Lord is angry with the people for their complaining and grumbling and so he sends fiery serpents among them and the people are bitten. Then the Lord tells them to make a “fiery” (serpent is added in English) and to set it on a pole or standard. When someone is bitten, they should look at the “fiery” serpent on the pole and they will live.

Now, the Hebrew word for “fiery” is “Saraph” (“Burning one”..one type of angel is the “Seraphim” from this word) and Moses made a bronze (metal of judgment) “nachash” serpent. Now we need to understand that the healing takes place from God perspective, not ours. When the people looked, they saw a snake or serpent, one cursed (Gen 3.1, 3.14= nachash/serpent). However, when the Lord looked at it he saw a “Saraph”, a burning one, a name for an angel or his sent one (Seraphim).

Now, all of this ties into John 3.14-16. To “live” you must be “born again” and the bronze serpent was a symbol of the crucifixion of Yeshua. In John 3.14-15 he tells Nicodemus that just as Moses lifted up the bronze serpent in the wilderness, so to will the Son of Man be lifted up and whosoever believes in him should not perish, but have eternal life. In other words, he is saying to him, “When I am crucified, look to me and live, just like Israel did with the bronze serpent.”

This truth holds true for today. One must look to the crucifixion of Yeshua like one would have looked at the bronze serpent in the wilderness in order to have life. Those that tell the Jews that they don’t need to look to Yeshua on a tree (pole) are like the ones who said “We don’t need to look at a serpent on a pole to be healed from a snake bite. That is ridiculous!” But they died. If the Jews don’t look to Yeshua, they will die from the snake bite of sin. That is what Yeshua is telling Nicodemus.

The people sinned by making the Golden Calf, and its remedy was destruction. Exo 32.20 says Moses took the calf and burned it, then he ground it up into powder, then scattered it over the waters. Then he made the people drink. It was a lack of faith in the Lord in one case, as seen by the making of the golden calf image, and in this case faith in God can be seen when the people looked to the bronze serpent to be healed and live (Heb 11.1). Faith can be seen by action, and unbelief can be seen by action.

Here is a scene that happens because it happens today. Moses has interceded for the people over the snake bites. It is the result of the people grumbling, complaining and rebelling in Num 21.1-5. Someone is bitten, and a relative runs into his tent and says, “Moses says all we need to do is look at the image God told him to make of the bronze serpent that is on a pole as it passes by, and you will be healed.” The sick person says, “What? Just look at it to be healed? That’s silly, who has heard of such a thing. I’m dying here and you bring me stories! I don’t need a serpent on a pole, I need a doctor or someone who can help. Now, get going and get me a doctor!” So he struggles with faith (action) in what God said.

So, that brings us to the question, “What is faith?” We can assure you it isn’t what most preachers tell you. The Faith Movement, as it is called, teaches you that faith is a noun, a thing to possess. Biblical faith is “Emunah” in Hebrew and it is a verb, it is action based on confidence. The word “emunah” is related to the word “Amen” meaning “true.” Biblical faith is made up of three components. The first one is “Ahav” (love of God), the second is “Da’at” (knowledge of God based on confidence and experience) and the third is “Mitz’vot” (commandments of God). All three of these components must be in action in order to have biblical faith. If they are not, there is a breakdown in faith. There is no such thing as “blind faith” in the Scriptures.

So, what is Emunah? It is hard to define in English but it basically means “confidence.” But, we can tell you what it isn’t. The opposite of faith is unbelief. Some people think it is doubt, but doubt isn’t all bad, but it is not the opposite of faith. Doubt can move us into knowledge, to seek it (Jer 9.23, Jer 31, 1 Cor 13) through study. This leads us to action and confidence. In Exo 19 we have a story that gives us the steps of faith and the breakdown of faith. The first four sons of Leah in Gen 29.31-35 teach this. First came Reuben (See, a son). First we see Yeshua. Then came Shimon (to hear/obey). Then once we see Yeshua, we hear and obey his word. Then came Levi (to join). Then we are joined to the Lord. The fourth son is Judah (praise). Once we see Yeshua, obey his word and are joined to him, we become a praise.

Moses has been up Sinai before, so he has a love for God (ahav), a knowledge of God based on confidence because of his experience on Sinai (da’at), and now he is obeying the mitzvot (commandment) to bring the people to the mountain. All three components of faith at work in Moses. So, Moses brings them near (Exo 19.17), but the people saw what was going on and “stood afar off (Exo 20.18).” Then they tell Moses to talk to God for them, and then tell them what to do (Exo 20.19). The breakdown is when the people stood afar off when they were supposed to come up (Exo 20.21). But, what made Moses draw near? The people could have done that, but they didn’t. Faith (emunah) broke down.

God drove the affects of Egypt from Moses for forty years. He was raised in the seat of idolatry. He knew God had called him to deliver the Israelites at forty years old, but he will not be sent till he is eighty years old. He had to be a shepherd for forty years. When Moses first came up to see the burning bush, he was in fear. He also had unbelief (Here I am Lord, send Aaron!). But that eventually moves to emunah. This is what enables him to draw near and speak to God face to face, not in dark sayings.

The Torah contains all that God has made known of his nature, his character, purposes and of what he would have man to do but not in the limited sense of legalism. It is to know the Lord, that is our calling (Jer 9.23-24). In Psa 53.1 it says, “A fool has said in his heart there is no God.” Anciently, there were very few atheists. The word for “fool” there is “naval.” That means one who is morally corrupt. They acknowledge a creator or a “god” but they refuse to believe that he (the god) was interested in holding him accountable for his deeds.

But, Hosea 4.6 says in English that “My people are destroyed for a lack of knowledge.” But in Hebrew it says, “My people are destroyed for a lack of “the” knowledge (“ha da’at”). We are to study “the knowledge” (Torah) because if we don’t, we would be destroyed. And if we don’t know (da’at) what God said (mitzvot), how can we have faith? There are two of the components of faith right there. Love isn’t enough for faith because John Said if you say you love God and don’t keep the mitzvot (commandments), you are a liar (1 John 2.3-4). Even Yeshua said if you loved (ahav) him you would keep the mitzvot (commandments).

Emunah was seen as the highest form of worship. In Greek thought, the word “school” is “scholazo” meaning “leisure.” You did it in your leisure time. In Hebrew thought, it is seen as your life and worship. We must “rightly divide” (a term from the Temple referring to properly dividing up a korban) the Word of God. So the progression downward is knowledge, to doubt, to unbelief. Faith (emunah) is action based on what God has said (mitzvot/commandments), the knowledge of God based in confidence and experience, and a good attitude (Ahav/love of God). We have more information on Emunah on this site in our teaching called “Emunah-Faith.”

This is the question today and the Torah. Will we go with the Word of God and what he told Moses? Moses told us what to do, that is how simple all of this is. People don’t want to do it because they don’t understand this story. If they listened and obeyed, they lived. If they didn’t, they died.

We will pick up here in Part 23.

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

Tanak Foundations-Concepts in Numbers-Part 21

Moses and Aaron gathered the people, but Moses was angry with them and struck the rock instead of just speaking to it. Water comes forth anyway and everyone drank, but Moses has made a big mistake. This act of striking the rock ruined a picture of Yeshua that the Lord was trying to illustrate. In Exo 17 Moses struck the rock and water came forth. The word “rock” there is “tzur” and it is a rock with no cleft in it. This is a picture of the crucifixion.

Yeshua (the “rock” in 1 Cor 10.4; Matt 16.18; Deut 32.4; Zech 3.9, 12.3; Dan 2.31-45; 1 Sam 17.40) was struck and gave living water so that the people might live. This time, Moses only needed to speak to the rock. The word “rock” here is “cela” with a cleft (to hide in). Yeshua does not need to be struck (crucified) again to give life. But Moses disobeyed the Lord on this. It wasn’t as if he misunderstood what the Lord said. He talked with Yehovah face to face (Num 12.8).

If anyone had his ticket punched to the Promised Land it was Moses. But if the leader is lost he cannot lead. To whom much is given, much is required. Yehovah will protect the validity of what he is trying to teach. even Moses makes mistakes. Moses knew what was coming and he decides to play a little game with the people. They have been giving him a hard time so he decides to get back at them. He is thinking, “You have been giving me trouble, but to show you I am above all that I will give you water anyway.” He wants to strike them, but instead he strikes the rock. They were like rocks, hard-headed and stiff-necked. But, he was to speak to the them and engage, he was their teacher.

In the first instance in Exo 17 is like the letter of the law. It can be strict and harsh. But Num 20 was to be like the “spirit” of the law, the essence and intent that gives life. Together, the letter and the spirit is what the Torah is all about. But some will say, “Didn’t Paul say that the letter kills, but the spirit gives life” in 2 Cor 3.6? Yes, he did, so let’s look at that verse.

Paul is illustrating the difference between the two schools of the Pharisees that were the biggest teachers of the people in the First Century. The Pharisees were broken into two main groups, the House of Hillel (Beit Hillel) and the House of Shammai (Beit Shammai). The House of Hillel is where Paul came from. His teacher was Gamaliel, the grandson of Hillel. The House of Hillel taught the “spirit” or essence/intent of the Torah. The House of Shammai adhered to a strict and harsh “letter ” of the law interpretation. What Paul is saying here is strict observance of the Torah can “kill” compassion, mercy and kindness. But, the “spirit” or essence and intent of the law gives live to it. When Yeshua contended with the “Pharisees” it was almost always with those from the House of Shammai, not Hille, and this can be seen in Matt 23.1-39.

Soft speech saves us from anger and verbal persuasion is better than force. The solution is education based on values. Moses asks, “Shall we bring forth water for you out of this rock?” In other words, “After all you have done to us, we should help you?” But Moses knew the Lord was going to give them water. He already said he would do it in verse 8. Moses decides he is going to play this to his advantage. That’s the problem with knowing the future. We don’t know how to use it correctly. We would probably exploit it to our advantage, too.

Forget the fact that Messiah is coming soon and the judgments, we would think in our mercenary hearts, “Can we make a buck somewhere in all of this?” Prophecy “experts” today think they know the future and they exploit it all the time for money. Before Y2K, people were prophesying that the end was coming and they were selling their tapes and having seminars about what the “Lord told me.” The when you checked them out, you would find that they were making plans for their ministries after Y2K was supposed to happen. One author believed that the Shemittah year was coming and there would be an economic collapse. But he didn’t give the book away to people to save them, he sold the book. If his message was from God (and we know it wasn’t), why was he selling the in formation that could save them? This reveals where their heart was all along.

In this case, Moses really makes a big mistake here. He doesn’t believe the Lord because he didn’t do what the Lord said to do. He tried to exploit the situation to his advantage. This was also prophetic of Messiah (the rock). He was struck the first time, and now all you need to do is speak to the rock to be saved (living water). But, he was struck again for personal exploitation, just like Yeshua is today for personal exploitation and personal gain. Moses abused his authority (rod) and if he did it in simple things, he would do it in important things. If we are faithful in little things, we will be faithful in big things.

What happens when “contention” (Meribah-verse 13) comes in? We make mistakes, even if we are a “Moses.” It brings out the worst in all of us. How ironic it is for us to help others, but sink into unbelief and sin. In the face of unloving and ungrateful brothers and friends, do we continue to serve? The answer should be “yes.”

Num 20 describes a collapse in leadership. What would have gone through our minds to see Moses and Aaron in so much distress? They were yelling at the mob, groveling before the enemy. All the consultants, flow charts and empowerment workshops in the world would not atone for a lack of leadership. There was leadership up to this point. If it wasn’t Moses, it was Aaron, or Miriam, or a developing leader like Joshua. If all this failed, there was Yehovah.

Sometimes leadership is not very systematic. There is a saying, “Crazy times call for crazy solutions.” Was Moses a failure? No, he left the world a better place. He succeeded when he obeyed the Lord. Moses did a good job. Many times he went before the Lord, but this time he did not believe him (verse 12). He went from compassionate to impatient, and he made mistakes, too. The people got their water and were happy, but Moses got the consequences. Leadership is now going to pass to the next generation. That’s it, no explanation and no protest from anyone that is recorded here (verse 12). The incident just ends and the Scriptures move on to Num 20.14-23.

We will pick up there in Part 22.

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

Tanak Foundations-Concepts in Numbers-Part 20

The Book of Hebrews mentions this ceremony to illustrate that the korbanot only dealt with the cleansing of the flesh from a legal state of impurity. They never answered the real issues of the heart. The Second Redemption, or Messianic Redemption, does. Only Yeshua’s blood can deal with the heart (Exek 36.25). So, how does the clean becoming clean and unclean becoming clean apply?

2 Cor 5.21 says, “He made him who knew no sin a sin offering on our behalf, that we might become the righteousness of God in him.” Here is an illustration of this concept. Think about one sin you have committed, and a really bad one, one you would never want anyone to know. Now go and tell ten people what it was. How do you feel? What would you do if we wanted you to advertise that sin in a paper, or on Facebook? It would kill you, and humiliate you. That is what Yeshua did, and that is how we become clean and pure. He faced our sin and it killed him. We are humiliated and try to avoid it. One person’s sin was enough to kill him, but he took all our sin and it killed him. As a result, we no longer have to face those sins.

This heifer was to be unblemished (whole) with no defect (not injured) on which a yoke has never been placed (no works). Biblically, no age was required. The Rabbinical requirements that we read about today are just that, they are the requirements of the Rabbis. The Torah does not specify the age or some of the other rabbinical requirements. The Torah specifies that she must be red in color, without blemish (no limbs missing, etc) and not injured, and it must not have been used to perform any work. The heifer was brought outside the camp and slaughtered in the presence of the Deputy High Priest. The High Priest could not be defiled. Then the priest takes some of the blood with his finger and sprinkles some of its blood toward the front of the Ohel Moed (tent of meeting). He is standing east of it and this is done seven times, like he is wielding a whip.

Then the heifer was burned (the Saraph-“burning one”…more on that in Num 21) in his sight, like the priests looked on with Yeshua. The priest would take cedar wood (red), hyssop (which is called the “striking plant” in Israel. It was used on Yom Kippur, the cleansing of a leper and the first Passover. It alludes to the suffering servant Messiah in John 19.29, and a scarlet cloth. This is tied in to the blood of Yeshua. These three items were put into the burning heifer.

The priest washed his clothes and bathed in water, and afterward, came back into the camp. He would be unclean until evening. The one who burns the heifer will do the same thing. Then a man who is clean would gather up the ashes and deposit them outside the camp in a clean place. The congregation (kahal) would keep it for purification from sin and corpse uncleanness. The one who gathered the ashes washed his clothes and would be unclean until evening.

Now, if a person touched a corpse, they would be ritually unclean for seven days. That one would purify himself from uncleanness with water in the third and seventh day to be ritually clean. If he didn’t do this, the person remained unclean. Anyone who touched a corpse and did not purify himself defiles the sanctuary (Mishkan/Temple), and he was cut off (karet) from Israel. The water for impurity was not sprinkled on him.

If a person dies in a tent (house), everyone who comes into the tent (house) is unclean for seven days. Every open vessel which has no covering tied on it would be unclean. Anyone in an open field who touches a corpse, or a bone or grave, will be unclean for seven days. Ashes of the Parah Adumah are mixed with flowing water, and a clean person took hyssop and dipped it in the water. Then it was sprinkled on the tent (house), the furnishings, the people and the one who touched the corpse, bone or grave.

The clean person sprinkled the unclean person on the third and seventh day, and then the unclean person was purified. He washed his clothes and bathed himself in water and was unclean until evening. If the unclean person does not purify himself, he is cut off from the people (karet) because he has defiled the sanctuary. The water for impurity was not sprinkled on him. This was a perpetual statute.

Now, let’s briefly look at the prophetic implications. We all know that a Temple will be built and standing during the Birth-pains. But, the altar can be operating first without a Temple, which we believe will happen. It happened before in Ezra 3.1-6. They began to offer korbanot on Yom Teruah after they returned from Babylon. We believe that this will happen again. On the day that the catching away (Natzal) of the believers happens, it will be a Yom Teruah, year 6001 from creation. We believe that the korbanot will start to be offered on the altar on that day, but the Temple will not be built yet. That means that believers who will go in the Natzal will see the consecration of this altar and the purification of the priests. They will also see the red heifer ceremony.

All of this has to take place at least seven days before any priest can be purified to offer the korbanot on the altar. So, these are some of the signs we are looking for before the Natzal can occur. This also means that that the Natzal is not “imminent” as some teach and believe. The “rapture” as the Natzal is called cannot happen “at any time.” It has an appointed day called Yom Teruah, or Rosh Ha Shannah. You will also notice in Ezra 3.2 that the High Priest here is a man named Yeshua (spelled with a “J” in English Bibles). This same Yeshua is named “Joshua” in Zech 6.11-12 and Zech 3.1. Here are some other verses with Yeshua in the Hebrew text: 1 Chr 24.11; 2 Chr 31.15; Ezra 2.6, 2.40, 8.33; Neh 3.19, 7.11, 7.43, 8.7, 8.17, 9.4-5, 12.8, 12.24. As you can see, it was a popular name even then. What you will not see is some of the ways Yeshua is said today, like “Yahshua.” That name cannot be found in the Hebrew text, but Yeshua is. Anyone who says “Yahshua” does not know Hebrew. Now, let’s look at Num 20.1-29.

We learn in Num 20.1 that Miriam dies and this is 38 years after the previous verses. In addition, the congregation (kahal) was not the same. Their bodies had fallen in the wilderness. There is no mention of a period of mourning for Miriam, and Moses is obviously grieving at this point. So, we learn that there was no water at this time, and this new generation gathered against Moses and Aaron (v 2). Not only does he lose his sister, but now he has to deal with these people. Instead of consoling him, they contend with him (v 3). The people did not have water when Miriam died, and the people complained saying they wished they had died when their brothers died (at Taberah in Num 11.1-35, Korah and his company, the 14,700 in Num 16.49, etc).

We will pick up here in Part 21 with what happened with Moses and the rock in Num 20.8-13.

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

Tanak Foundations-Concepts in Numbers-Part 19

In Num 17, the Lord is going to settle the issue of who is called and who is not once and for all. Yehovah told the sons of Israel to bring a rod for each of the father’s households, twelve in all. They were to write Aaron’s name on the rod for Levi. The word for rod is “shevet” and it can mean “scepter.” This is a good thing to do. If God called you, he will reaffirm you.

He will reaffirm Aaron because his rod will bud almonds. In other words, a dead branch comes to life. Almonds are called the “hastening fruit” because it is the first tree to blossom in the spring. This also alludes to Yeshua being a “dead branch” and coming to life in the spring at his resurrection on Nisan 17. It also alludes to the fact he may have descended from Levi and Aaron also. We know his mother was related to Zachariah and Elisheva who were not only Levites, but kohanim (Luke 1.5). That means Yochanon Ha Matvil (John the Immerser) was a priest and a cousin of Yeshua. We can also see priestly names in Miriam’s genealogy in Luke 3. For more information on this, go to the article called, “Was Mary a Levite, Making Jesus Both King and Priest?” by Shari Abbott, Reasons For Hope.Com. This rod is a dead “branch” that came alive with fruit of the spring. This is a prophecy of Yeshua coming alive also in the spring (Yom Ha Bikkurim).

The concept of Machlekot” (controversy) is not complete without mentioning its alternative, “Shalom.” When we think of all that we can do to make a situation more in our favor, we should also consider that if we swallow our pride and ego, we can make peace. What are some lessons in this story?

Though Moses and Aaron were in the right, they exposed themselves to insult and humiliation, even trying to halt this tragedy. In acting this way, they demonstrate how far one must go to put our ego aside for the sake of peace. Secondly, it teaches that the “democratic process” cannot be applied to spiritual matters. Leave it to the Lord to be the channel of communication and input. In other words, if God called you and gave you authority, that doesn’t mean he took that authority from someone else.

Before we get into conflicts with others, we should remember Korah and his company. We should ask ourselves some questions, like “Why do I care about this?” “Is it for the sake of truth, or my own concerns?” “What might I lose if I get involved?” “What might the world gain?” “Will it really matter in the long run if I get my way?” The main concern is not only if the job gets done, but that it gets done by the people God has called to do it. In Num 18.1-37 Yehovah repairs the breach further and reconfirms the tribe of Levi and their duties are redefined.

The next Torah portion is called “Chukat” meaning “Statute.” It goes from Num 19.1 to 22.1. The whole topic of ritual purity is called “Chuk” meaning “not easy to explain.” The “shadow of death” hovers over this entire portion. We start out with the ordinance of the “Parah Adumah” or the “Red Heifer” given for the case of corpse impurity, and then we will have the death of Aaron, Miriam and the Isrealites in the bronze serpent incident.

In Num 19.1-22 we learn that the Parah Adumah is slain outside the camp. All others are done inside the camp. The word “adumah” has the same root as the word “Adam.” So, right off, this is alluding to something. In Num 19.2 it says, “This is the statute (chuk) of the Torah” not the “statute (chok) of the Red Heifer.” This alludes to the fact that the Torah is not to be obeyed based on our understanding. We are committed to observing it whether we understand the command or not.

Also notice that it says, “Which Yehovah has commanded.” This was not a new law. This is going to be a Law of Purity, similar to what we have read in Leviticus. Remember, the purity laws only apply if we were intending to enter the Mishkan/Temple. Rabbi Hertz in his “Pentateuch and Haftorahs” on p.459 said, “It is to be noted that most laws of purity and impurity apply only in reference to the sanctuary and the holy objects connected with it. They do not apply in ordinary life, or to persons who do not intend to enter the sanctuary.”

The Parah Adumah is a unique procedure. Rabbinic thought says that King Solomon did not understand it. How do the clean become unclean, and the unclean becomes clean? Everyone associated with this procedure becomes unclean ritually. Remember, ritually clean and unclean only pertains to a person who intends on entering the Mishkan/Temple.

The heifer is burnt outside the camp, and the ashes are mixed with water and sprinkled on the person who is wanting to enter the sanctuary. There is a good commentary on the Red Heifer in the Hertz Pentateuch and Haftorahs where it says that the Sages and the Rabbis don’t understand it, but they also don’t believe in Yeshua either. Yochanon Ben Zakkai was a sage in the First Century who died in 90 A.D. He said that “the dead man does not make anyone impure, neither do the ashes dissolved in water make pure; but the law concerning the Red Heifer is a decree of the All-Holy, whose reasons for issuing a decree behooves not mortals to question.” Yeshua said basically the same thing in Mark 7.6-23. The bottom line of this ceremony is that it teaches about Yeshua (Rom 10.4; Psa 40.7; Luke 24.27). What animal is taken outside the camp for slaughter and has the ability to ritually purify a person? Only the red heifer. What offering is taken outside of the camp and has the ability to cleanse a sinner? Only one, Yeshua, and that is the explanation. This is neither a “korban” (offering) or a sacrifice.

There is talk today about the Red Heifer. In the 1980’s and 1990’s a man named Vendyl Jones was looking for the ashes of the last red heifer. Some have been trying to breed one. And every so often a calf is born that may be a candidate. Jones was looking for the ashes of the last red heifer because the the ashes from the previous heifers and were used to cleanse the priests doing this ceremony. Some say that the old ashes are needed to start the ritual cleansing of the Temple and the priesthood, and the holy items. However, nobody knows how all this will work out. What if the old ashes are never found? Then a new heifer will be needed and slain without the ashes of the previous ones. But, how do you cleanse the people cleansing the priesthood if there are no previous ashes? The people doing the cleansing need to be ritually pure to do the sprinkling, so where do they come from?

Young children of priestly descent are being raised right now who are ritually pure. They live in a place where there are no dead bodies buried anywhere and they do not venture out into the neighborhood and are ritually clean. They will do the ceremony if there are no ashes (Mishnah, Parah 3.1-3). They will sprinkle the attending priest, and then the cleansing of everyone and everything begins after that. For more information on this, go to the tractate “Parah” in the Mishnah.

This ceremony will bear a tremendous witness to the world, and Israel will get plenty of attention. It will be the first ceremony done before any of the korbanot can be offered on the coming altar. This ceremony will start a seven day purification process for the priesthood and any of the holy objects that will be used. Anyone who intends on coming near this altar will have to be sprinkled with these ashes. This ceremony, dating back 3500 years, will have an application today.

In Part 20, we will pick up here.

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

Tanak Foundations-Concepts in Numbers-Part 18

In this rebellion, everyone had heard God speak with Moses and Aaron. Why would Korah and the others rebel against them? Our outward actions reflect our inner turmoil. The lack of spiritual and psychological wholeness will cause quarrels and arguments before we get involved with “machloket” (controversy). We should look into our hearts for the turmoil that we are about to create for ourselves.

In Num 16.1 we have the phrase in Hebrew “Vayilach Korah” which means “Korah Took.” What did he take? He took himself and challenged Moses and his authority. He also took himself out of the blessings. Some would say he was “taken” with himself. Moses answers, “Tomorrow morning the Lord will make known who is his, and who is not.” This will give them time to collect themselves and recognize their error. Spiritually, “tomorrow” alludes to the Olam Haba when there will be no doubts who belongs to the Lord and who doesn’t.

In Num 16.3, Korah charges Moses with nepotism. He is jealous over the fact that Aaron was High Priest. Jealousy will deprive Korah of the peace he should have been enjoying. We can ask ourselves, could we tolerate a neighbor who is living in luxury? How about a neighbor who has a happier marriage, is closer to his children and living in a meaningful existence?

In the field of computers, you can usually make mistakes, correct them, and move on with no consequences. In the medical field you can’t do that. Feed back is not fast enough. The consequences for a mistake could be deadly. Spiritually, most people are not sufficiently in touch with the heavenly realm to recognize immediate feedback from our actions. Some will take time.

As a result, we need teachers who can show us if we are doing God’s will or not. God placed Moses and Aaron in that position, and we need “Moses” (Torah) guiding us and teaching us today. Moses is still guiding us to the Promised Land. We need to be willing to set aside our arrogance and recognize we need good Torah teachers today.

Korah had a strategy. The wilderness generation was still in its spiritual infancy. This mutiny occurred soon after the twelve scouts incident. Moses was set up by the Lord as their teacher. He will try to connect their inexperience and immaturity, and to guide them. It was up to the people to accept them. Moses could not be the one to proclaim his own role given to him by God. That is why he doesn’t answer Korah. He is going to let the Lord confirm his role.

Korah tried to take advantage of the people’s low-point to elevate himself. His strategy is based on jealousy. He could not dispute the fact that Moses was a prophet, but Korah wanted to limit his function to only speaking what God said, but don’t interpret. He wanted to undermine Aaron. Moses and his role was “one generational.” He was not going to give another Torah. But Aaron’s role was multi-generational. His sons would go on teaching the people for all time. The High Priest was the focus, not the position of Moses as lawgiver, interpreter and prophet.

Once Moses was undermined as the interpreter of Torah, Korah could challenge him with his handling of the twelve scouts situation. It was his idea. Moses delivered the punishment. In Korah’s mind, “Who says the nation was saved?” Just because Moses said they were saved doesn’t mean it was true, Korah thought. Who really knew what transpired between the Lord and Moses? He tried to cast doubts. So, they rebel and blame Moses!

So, everything considered, Korah was perfect to lead this mutiny. He had charisma, he had a pedigree similar to Moses and Aaron. And besides, this is just another family schism (Cain and Abel; Esau and Jacob; Joseph and his brothers). He was ambitious and intelligent. But in the end, it was the Word of God spoken by Moses which proved to be what counted. How does this apply today?

Beware how we choose our friends and allies. Pay attention to who is influencing us. Are they for our own good? Bad company corrupts good morals. Two hundred and fifty Reubenites found that out the hard way (16.35). They camped near Korah and were influenced by him (south side). Korah was not interested in serving the people, or getting closer to God. He was only interested in status and honor.

Rebellion and autonomy (means “self “laws” and you can see the root word “nomos” in the word) have their place, but first we must measure the motives behind them. Only then will we have a clear sense of the road ahead. We need to find out if it is for the sake of God or for ourselves. Dissent can be destructive if the motive is distorted. The character of dissent and the motivation is one of the lessons of Korah. He was manipulative and selfish, not morally honest and he had ulterior motives. The test of a true believer is not whether he believes, but “what” he believes. It is not whether he obeys, but “what” he obeys. The critical task of a serious believer is to see through the blind obedience of the “pious” and discern the motivation of the dissenter.

In Num 16.6-7, we have a parallel to an earlier event which involved a fire pan and incense. In Lev 10, it describes the death of the two sons of Aaron, Nadab and Abihu. They were not supposed to take their censors and put incense in them before the Lord. So Moses basically says, “Go ahead if you don’t believe me. Let God decide if you should be priests.”

In Num 16.21 we know that God threatens to destroy the whole congregation. Moses then asks, “When one man sins, will you be angry with the entire congregation?” So, in Num 16.23-24 the Lord tells the congregation to separate from Korah and his allies. From this we learn that the larger congregation was not active in the rebellion, and did not remain near Korah and his group (16.27). So, the “getting back” from around Korah, Dathan and Abiram and their dwellings showed that they did not share their views. If one did not separate from them, they would share in their punishment.

Lev 19.16 says it is a criminal offense to be a witness in a wrong and to just stand idly by. Now, why isn’t On, the son of Peleth of verse 1, mentioned here? What happened to him in Num 16.24? On completely disappears from this narrative and he is not mentioned among those who died. There is a Midrash in the Babylonian Talmud (Sanh 109b-110a and Korah 24) that says On’s wife saved him by getting him away from Korah and his other allies. Whatever the case, it seems he distanced himself from what happened. Israel has a long history of not appreciating its leaders. This story is to remind us that our strength and calling comes from God, and if we are called by the Lord and sent, he will come to our defense. There is a story about a Jewish warrior who told an enemy, “Why have you come? Have you come to destroy us? If you want to destroy us, then leave us alone, we’ll do it ourselves. If you attack, we’ll join together and fight you.”

In this story, we have an example of proper discernment. Was Korah’s motive “L’shem ha shamayim” (for the sake of heaven) or was he a fool? He convinced prominent Jews to follow him and seemed sincere. That’s why people give money to people like that. It’s hard to turn them down. He seemed like he was doing this for “the sake of heaven.” How do we know if one is for “the sake of heaven?” What is a dispute that is for the “sake of heaven?” It is born out of a similar intent to find the truth. You and your opponent, in reality, are on the same team. There will be different perspectives on Torah observance. It is the goal of the dispute that will endure, not the dispute itself. The underlying intentions were for the “sake of heaven” (truth) and not selfish. The dispute in Num 16 was between Korah and his company and Moses. Korah was motivated by selfishness and they were not on the same team as Moses, Aaron and the Lord.

To see the judgment in Num 16.31-34 must have been a horrible thing, and not easily forgotten. There is a concept in the Tanak that says, “Midah Kneged Midah” which means “Measure For Measure.” They attacked with their mouths and the earth opened its “mouth” and swallowed them alive.

As we have mentioned earlier, Num 16.35 is an eerie parallel to Lev 10.1-2. Aaron’s two sons died bringing illegitimate fire and incense before the Lord. This act was not sanctioned by the Lord in the worship services he gave them, and it was not done at the right time or by the right people. In the same way, two hundred and fifty men were offering illegitimate fire and incense and were killed the same way.

In Num 16.41 Moses is blamed for the death of “the Lord’s people.” This must have grieved Moses. Nothing hurts like being blamed for something you tried hard to avoid. But Korah was unsuccessful in another way. In Num 26.11 it says, “The sons of Korah did not die.” They wrote Psalms 42, 44 through 49, 84, 85, 87 and 88. The prophet Samuel arose from the line of Korah, whose genealogy is recorded in 1 Chr 6.31-38 and 1 Sam 1.1. They were Levites who lived in Ephraim. Samuel learned the lesson of his ancestor Korah and supported the leadership God had given in his day. He anointed two kings and he never tried to usurp their authority for himself, even when Saul went against the Lord.

We will pick up here in Part 19.

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

Tanak Foundations-Concepts in Numbers-Part 17

Our next portion is called “Korach” (Korah) and it goes from Num 16.1 to 18.22. This portion is called “The Machloket (controversy) of Korach.” He is the cousin of Moses and Aaron and this portion is also called “The Great Mutiny.” Korah (baldness) was a Levite, and Dathan (law), Abiram (my father is exalted) and On (vigor) were from Reuben, the eldest tribe. They also joined Korah in this mutiny.

The combination of these people will fuel a mutiny, but there will be two separate issues. Our walk will include these issues. This will be a test of Moses and Aaron and their leadership in a conflict. There will be times of action and a time to be silent. The true test of leadership is how we deal with conflict, especially in a congregational setting.

Not everyone will be happy. Some will like something, while others will not. There are two main mistakes a person can make when in the Marines. You could go AWOL (away without official leave) or you could be involved in a mutiny. Mutiny carried the death penalty and it inspires others to follow. Mutiny is what Korah does against Aaron. He wants to replace Aaron as High Priest. Dathan and Abiram just refuse to obey, they balk and will not cooperate. Korah wanted to do priestly duties when that was not his role.

Conflicts are a drama and each person involved has a role. Every drama will have a villain, the one causing the harm. Then you will have a hero, the one who will right the wrong and finally you have the victims. You can see how these roles were assigned by Korah. We don’t know how this conflict started. Tradition says the arguments were over the tzitzit. Korah said, If your whole garment is blue, why do you need a blue thread in your tzitzit?” He also argued over the mezuzah saying, “If the houses are full of Torahs, why have one on the door?” He also said that Aaron was in it for gain and questioned his motives. Now, this is only tradition so it can’t be on the same level as the Scriptures, but we know Korah was displeased with God’s choices.

This made Aaron the “villain” in the mind of Korah. No matter what the villain does well, it won’t matter It will be dismissed. Values are “assigned” according to what role is assigned. As the “game” goes, people seem to do irrational things. People start to believe their role so they cooperate. On the other hand, if they don’t cooperate, they are seen as “irrational.” Korah wanted to discredit Moses and Aaron. Moses and Aaron didn’t choose to be leaders, God chose them. But Korah said they put themselves forward to be leaders.

We have all seen this in a congregation, or even a Bible Study. Someone feels like they should be the leader and that the current leader “takes too much on for himself.” Then they try to impugn their motives. In an employer/employee setting evaluations like this might be appropriate, but in a spiritual setting of leadership a person should be truly called by God and is not “hired” as an employee. They are anointed by the Lord to do what they do. If a person rises up against that leader, they are rising up against Yehovah, not the leadership of that congregation or group. A “hireling” will fight for his livelihood (gets paid), but the one called by God will look for his defense from the Lord. So, there are two defensive postures. Moses and Aaron did the second the one.

The relationship between leaders and their people should be like this. First, always listen. If the nature of the complaint is disloyalty, drastic action should be taken against the mutiny. Korah recruited 250 Levite princes against Moses, and these were men of renown (16.2). We know that Moses and Aaron were not perfect men. We just went over how Moses sent the twelve scouts into the land, and Aaron blundered at the Golden Calf incident, and lost two of his sons. Nobody is perfect, but Korah resented them anyway.

How could Korah have dealt with this? If he had a question about something that Moses and Aaron had done, he could have gone to them as a brother, with respect. There may be things happening that he didn’t know about. Korah may have done the same thing in their shoes. If his purpose is just to attack using lies, innuendo and rumors as his ammo, then he is the one in trouble. It’s the same with us. We do not want to be like Korah.

In the case of Dathan and Abiram, they refuse the request of Moses to come (16.12). They want to go back to Egypt (16.12-14). Moses is angry (16.15) and he goes to the Lord. Mutinous behavior carries the death penalty, and going back to Egypt meant death. When we are mutinous, we choose death. So, Yehovah is going to settle this once and for all (16.16-35). If the Lord has appointed Moses and Aaron, then he will respond to help them because they sought refuge in him. It is the same with us. If the Lord has appointed us to do something, he will respond to defend us. A congregation that pays its leaders has a right to ask questions, but that leader will get defensive because his livelihood depends on the people. He is an employee of that congregation and should be evaluated. He works for them.

But in the case of Moses and Aaron, they work for the Lord and he placed them there. Action is required in the case of a mutiny, and the Lord does respond in Num 16.20-40. If the Lord does not respond, then the mutiny would have spread. Korah, Dathan, Abiram and their households, and all the men that belonged to Korah perished when the earth opened up and swallowed them (16.20-30). Then fire came down and consumed the 250 men who were burning incense (16.35).

In Num 16.41 the people grumbled against Moses and Aaron, accusing them of getting the Lord to do their dirty work for them. Num 16.42-48 are significant verses. It came about that when the congregation assembled the next day, a cloud covered the Ohel Moed (tent of meeting) and the kivod (glory) of God appeared. The Lord was going to consume the congregation instantly, but Moses and Aaron interceded for them. They did not write them off no matter how they have been behaving. They took the censor of Aaron and put fire from the altar and incense in it and made atonement (means “to restore a covering”) for the people. The incense provided a “screen” for the people. A plague had gone forth and Aaron stood between the dead and the living (an idiom for judgment-1 Chr 21.16; 2 Sam 18.9; Zech 5.9; Ezek 8.3), and the plague was stopped (16.42-48). However, 14,700 people had died already, besides those who died because of Korah. To “provide a screen or covering” for the people is the idea behind Yom Kippur (Lev 16).

Moses has shown Israel to never turn with contempt toward the Lord, or the Mishkan/Temple. Korah’s mutiny caused Israel to turn with contempt towards towards the Mishkan because that was where Moses and Aaron were. The Lord will give us room to complain, but we are never to turn to the Lord with contempt about who he chooses, or how he does things. These passages, especially from Num 16.43-48 is connected to Rev 8.3-5; Lev 16.12 and Ezek 9.1-11.

Do these verses have an application today? Yes, they do. The Temple service will begin soon. God has chosen Israel and the priests to serve him there. The average Christian leader and believer that will see this happen will see the sons of Aaron being set apart for Temple service. They must not be contemptuous towards this by saying, “The Lord has replaced them with the Church!” But this what will happen. They will commit the sin of Korah, Dathan and Abiram. They will criticize these priests and the Temple. They will say they are illegitimate before God. They will say, “We are the true ministers of God and these Jews are just doing it for personal gain.”
They will blaspheme the altar, the Temple, the priests, the vessels used and the kornanot. The concept of “holiness” is called “kedusha.” We have given this definition in other teachings. A good source for the proper understanding of kedusha/holiness, we recommend the book “The Temple” by Joshua Berman. Blasphemy is taking what God said had a kedusha (Temple, priests, the vessels, korbanot/offerings) and turning it into something without a kedusha. It is also taking something without a kedusha (the Church, their ministers, their instruments of worship, no korbanot/offerings) into something with a kedusha. They will speak against the Temple.

They will be “theologically” opposed to the Temple, the priesthood and the korbanot/offerings on the grounds that “it’s an offense against the one, true and final sacrifice of ‘Jesus’, and they are trampling on his blood. All that has been done away with.” This is a flawed theology. The Temple system is separate and distinct from the death of Yeshua. The Temple, the priesthood and the services were established by God himself. Believers in the First Century knew this and went to the Temple daily (Acts 2.46). They went to the Tamid service where a lamb was offered twice daily (Acts 3.1) and they offered animal offerings nearly 30 years after Yeshua (Acts 21.23-26, 24.17).

What we have gone over in Num 16.1-50 will happen again. Religious people will repeat this mutiny and present themselves in a contemptuous manner before the Lord, and it will be for the same reasons we have seen here. These actions will result in the judgments seen during the Birth-pains (1 Cor 10.1-13).

In Part 18 we will pick up here.

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

Tanak Foundations-Concepts in Numbers-Part 16

We were going to touch on several concepts before we move on in our study. The first concept we will be looking into is who Caleb, the son of Jephunneh, really was. The the other concept is women and the tzitzit. We are not going to go into massive detail on these subjects, but we will give an opinion on them and give some research sources that will help you make up your own mind.

First, we want to deal with Caleb. There are some who believe that Caleb was a non-Jew, and he was first introduced to us by Moses when he sent out the twelve scouts (Num 13.1-6). It seems from these passages that Caleb was a member of the tribe of Judah, but not just a member, he was a prince (Num 13.2…”leader” is “nasi” in Hebrew). There is an article called “Caleb the Goy” by Dean and Susan Wheelock that puts forth their belief that Caleb was a non-Jew. This article can be read on the Internet at “Caleb the Goy” at “www.petahtikvah.com.” In our opinion, this is an interesting article but it has some problems.

Then there are those who believe that Caleb was indeed a Jewish man from the tribe of Judah, just as the Scriptures say he was (Num 13.1-6). He was also a leader of the tribe, or “nasi.” A good article in support of this view is called “Caleb the Gentile?” by Avram Yehoshua at “www.seedofabraham.net.” This article presents a refutation of the belief that Caleb was a non-Jew. Both articles are recommended for your study so that you can see both sides of this issue. These articles are too long to go into here, that is why we have given these sources here, but you will get some valuable information on this topic if you read them. You can decide which view is more accurate. There are many more articles covering both sides of this issue if you really want to get into it in the Internet and in commentaries. It is our opinion at this time that Caleb was Jewish and a leader (nasi) of the tribe of Judah, but there are some good arguments pointing to the other side as well.

The second concept we want to cover is women and the tzitzit. We will look at an article called “Women and Tzitzit” by a Messianic Rabbi named Rav C Yahkov Hartley of Malkaynu Shuvah Ministries in Lapeer, Michigan. This article has some good points and we will like to present it for your consideration.

“The idea that the talit is a gender specific garment is not based on any written Torah mitzvah. In the KJV, Numbers 15.37-41, “And the Lord spake unto Moses, saying, ‘Speak unto the children of Israel, and bid them that they make them fringes in the borders of their garments throughout their generations, and that they put upon the fringe of the borders a ribband of blue. And it shall be unto you for a fringe, that ye may look upon it, and remember all the commandments of the Lord, and do them; and that you seek not after your own heart and your eyes, after which you use to go a whoring that you may remember to do all my commandments and be holy to your God. I am the Lord your God who brought you out of the land of Egypt to be your God; I am the Lord your God.'”

“The word translated as “children” comes from the Hebrew word “ben” can mean children, son or people (of a nation) depending on the context. When used in conjunction with “nation” it always denotes “people” and is thusly translated in the TaNakh as such. The last time that I checked, the women of Israel were considered “people” of the nation of Israel. The word “borders” can mean borders, ends, wings or corners and is translated as “corners” in the TaNaKh.”

“In the KJV, Deuteronomy 22.12, ‘Thou shalt make thee fringes upon the four quarters of thy vesture, wherewith thou coverest thyself.’ The word “quarters” comes from “kanaph” which again means borders, wings, ends or corners. The word “vesture” comes from the Hebrew “kesooth” meaning covering, raiment, clothing. Neither of these two verses is directed to any specific gender. And as you will notice these mitzvoth directly involve only the tzitzit and not the garment on which they are to be affixed. What type of garment is left unspecified.”

“It is my conclusion that the “people” of Israel (men, women and children-as well as the mixed multitude) were (are) commanded to wear “fringes” or “tzitzit” in four places in the corners, borders or ends of their garments with a strand of blue. If a woman feels “uncomfortable” wearing the style and form of the traditional Rabbinic talit there are a variety of forms and options available to women, since any “for cornered” garment can be a talit.”

“Moreover it baffles common sense and logic to claim a rectangular piece of cloth a “male garment.” Men wear shoes, hats, gloves, scarves and coats, are these “male garments” and thus prohibited for women? Before anyone accuses me of being a “women’s libber” I am assuredly most keenly aware and sensitive to the erosion, in modern society, of the distinct roles of men and women vividly described in Torah; and no one is more opposed to the blurring of those distinctions than I. However, I do not consider women wearing a talit to be an overt or covert act of transvestism; such an act is clearly commanded against in KJV, Deuteronomy 22.5, ‘The woman shall not wear that which pertaineth unto a man, neither shall a man put on a woman’s garment: for all that do so are an abomination unto YHVH thy Eloah.’ Not withstanding, I suggest that if the only way one can differentiate between men and women in any given congregation is the wearing of talit, then there are some much deeper problems in that congregation.”

“Traditionally or customarily in Judaism, Jewish men have worn the talit (four cornered rectangular shawl) for prayer and synagogue services with the understanding that men must wear it, but women are not obligated to do so: nor are they prohibited from wearing one (as is clear from the above Scriptural verses). The idea of what is a man’s obligation versus what is a woman’s obligation regarding Torah is also debatable. It has been a Rabbinic opinion (not supported by written Torah) that men are obligated to both the 248 positive commandments and the 365 negative commandments, while women are obligated only to the 365 negative commandments. Thus men have to obey 613 commandments (totality of Torah) but women only 365. Thus we have the “Man’s Torah” and a “Women’s Torah” according to the Rabbinic tradition or custom. Due to this concept, women don’t “have to wear talit or attend synagogue on Shabbat” among other things. I don’t see any evidence in the entirety of Scripture to support such tradition. I am certainly not opposed to all the men’s traditions, except where such tradition inhibits the perfect freedom under Torah.”

“It should be noted that the custom of men wearing the talit varies from community to community. In Orthodox synagogues only the married men wear them and in the Reform and Conservative all males past the age of Bar Mitzvah (13 years). In the Ashkenazi ritual, small children under Bar Mitzvah age dress in a talit made according to their size, whereas in the Polish-Sephardi ritual only married men wear them. In the oriental ritual, only unmarried men wear them. So, you can see there is no “universal” tradition about talit in modern Judaism-because it is based on a man-made tradition, not written Torah.”

“I suggest that in the Torah there is much freedom in this area of the talit, let us not receive the condemnation of Yeshua in the KJV, Mattatiyahu 23.13, “But woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For ye shut up the kingdom of heaven against men: for ye neither go in yourselves, neither suffer ye them that are entering to go in.” This whole issue of male/female talit wearing is as relevant as the issue of how many angels can dance on the head of a pin.

“Written Torah only describes the wearing of tzitzit on your garment and makes no distinction about gender and does not prohibit women from wearing them on their garments. Neither does it prohibit anyone from wearing a talit after sunset which is considered by most Jews to be a violation of the Torah (another Rabbinic tradition without support from the written Torah).”

We will pick up here with our next Torah portion called “Korach” (Korah) in Part 17.

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

Tanak Foundations-Concepts in 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 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.

So, we will pick up here in Part 16.

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

Tanak Foundations-Concepts in 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.

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

Tanak Foundations-Concepts in 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.

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

Tanak Foundations-Concepts in 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.

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

Tanak Foundations-Concepts in 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.

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

Tanak Foundations-Concepts in 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.

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

Tanak Foundations-Concepts in 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.

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

Tanak Foundations-Concepts in 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.

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

Tanak Foundations-Concepts in 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.

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