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.