Parashah Balak God’s Communication Continues; Curses Emerge as Blessings
Psalm 57;2 Favor me, O God, favor me, for in You has my soul taken refuge; and in the shelter of Your wings I shall take refuge; and in the shelter of Your wings I shall take refuge until devastation shall pass. 3 I will call upon God, Most High, to the God Who fulfills for me. 4 He will dispatch from heaven and save me from the disgrace of the one who yearns to swallow me, Selah; God will dispatch His mercy and His truth. 5 My soul is among the lions, I lie with men who are aflame; people whose teeth are spears and arrows, and whose tongue is a sharp sword. 6 Be exalted above the heavens, O God, above all the earth be Your glory. 7 They prepared a snare for my footsteps, my soul is bent over; they dug a pit before me; they fell into it, Selah. 8 My heart is steadfast, O God, my heart is steadfast; I will sing and I will make music. 9 Awake, my soul, awake, O psalter and harp, I shall awaken the dawn. 10 I will thank You among the peoples, O Lord; I will sing to You among the regimes. 11 For great until the very heavens is Your kindness, and until the upper heights is Your truth. 12 Be exalted above the heavens, O God; above all the earth be Your glory.
–This Torah Sedra (Parashah, Portion) of Bamidbar (Numbers) is Balak(Balaq-devastator; empty; waster.). Entitled for the name of the Midianite king of Moav (Moab) who enlisted the help of Balaam [destroyer (Baal) or confuser of the (Am) people], to curse the Children of Israel in order to keep them from entering the Promised Land. The force of the fear of the magnitude and power that would come about when the people of promise take hold of the destiny God appointed for them on the stage He had ordained for this destiny to be illustrated to the whole world is present and growing even today. This is the force of anti-Semitism (darkness), and these wicked men are the pictures of what we are witness today in the times we live. The most incredible wonder in this sedra is the lesson that we are blessed enough to behold in the text, the lesson that the LORD can take a foul and detestable tongue and use it by His command and will to bring forth some of the most beautiful and enduring blessings over the Jewish people that have been revealed in Scripture. The words that come from Balaam’s lips are a message directly from the King to His chosen nation, and the message is one of eternity and mercy, it is one of forgiveness and hope. I pray the Lord will lead us through this adventure as we examine the meaning and instruction the LORD creates from talking donkey’s, angels with swords aflame, curses turned to blessings and another huge lapse for the Children of Israel as the men are seduced by the Midianite women, sent into the camp at the leading of Balaam, and worship their idols.
Bamidbar 22;2 Balak son of Zippor saw all that Israel had done to the Amorite. 3 Moab became very frightened of the people, because it was numerous, and Moab was disgusted in the face of the Children of Israel. 4 Moab said to the elders of Midian, “Now the congregation will lick up our entire surroundings, as an ox licks up the greenery in the field.” Balak son of Zippor was king of Moab at the time. 5 He sent messengers to Balaam son of Beor to Pethor, which is by the River of the land of the members of his people, to summon him, saying, “Behold! a people has come out of Egypt, behold! it has covered the surface of the earth and it sits opposite me. 6 So now- please come and curse this people for me, for it is too powerful for me; perhaps I will be able to strike it and drive it away from the land. For I know that whomever you bless is blessed and whomever you curse is cursed.
–Anti-Semitic, anti-Israel, anti-Jewish language is the very type of speech that was used to spread fear among the people of Moab. King Balak much like other tyrants (ex. Hitler) employed this fear to bring about their purposes. Diminishing the worth of the People of God and devaluing them as human beings.
Moav and Midian are not ‘Friends’, they have warred with each other and only for this purpose of cursing the Jewish people have they come together and we will see the extent of their dedication to this vile cause.
Quwts (koots)= disgusted or anxious; distressed; be grieved; loathe; vex; be weary.
Moab is disgusted with Israel here, in the Tanach this word (quwts) is found four other times:
Rivka ‘loathes’ living because of the daughters of Heth, [Genesis 27;46 Rebecca said to Isaac, “I am disgusted (quwts) with my life on account of the daughters of Heth; if Jacob takes a wife of the daughters of Heth like these, of the daughters of the land, what is life to me?”];
the Egyptians loathe the Israelites for their increase in all forms, [Exodus 1;12 But as much as they would afflict it, so it would increase and so it would spread out; and they became disgusted (quwts) because of the Children of Israel. 13 Egypt enslaved the Children of Israel with crushing harshness.];
God is disgusted with the idolatry of the peoples in Canaan ,[Leviticus 20; 23 Do not follow the traditions of the nation that I expel from before you, for they did all of these and I was disgusted (quwts) with them. 24 So I said to you, You shall inherit their land, and I will give it to you to inherit it, a land flowing with milk and honey- I am HASHEM, your God, Who has separated you from the peoples.];
and in our last Torah portion Chukat, when the Children of Israel complain about the heavenly provision which has been with them all along their journey, accusing God and Moshe of having evil intent, [Bamidbar 21;5 The people spoke against God and Moses: “Why did you bring us up from Egypt to die in this Wilderness, for there is no food and no water, and our soul is disgusted (quwts) with the insubstantial food?” ]
Even at the end of the enticement of Balak to Balaam, he uses the words of the Promise to Avraham Avinu (Father Abraham) and twists in such an overt manner that Balaam is inserted into the role of God, this shows us that the peoples surrounding Israel were well aware of the goings on in their journey’s and aware of the Promise of old. (Genesis 12;3 I will bless those who bless you, and him who curses you I will curse; and all the families of the earth shall bless themselves by you.”)
Jeremiah 48;25 The horn of Moab has been nipped, and its arm broken- the word of HASHEM. 26 Get him drunk, for he has been arrogant to HASHEM; let Moab wallow in his vomit, and him too become a laughingstock. 27 For, was Israel not a laughingstock to you? Was he found among thieves? Yet whenever you speak of him you wag your head. 28 Leave the cities and reside in the rock, O dwellers of Moab; be like the dove who nests in the sides of the pit. 29 ‘We have heard of the pride of Moab, it was excessively prideful: his conceit, his pride, his haughtiness and the arrogance of his heart.’ 30 I know his fury- the word of HASHEM- and it is unfounded; his heroes acted improperly.
Bamidbar 22;7 The elders of Moab and the elders of Midian went with charms in their hand; they came to Balaam and spoke to him the words of Balak. 8 He said to them, “Spend the night here and I shall give you a response, as HASHEM shall speak to me.” So the officers of Moab stayed with Balaam. 9 God came to Balaam and said, “Who are these men with you?” 10 Balaam said to God, “Balak son of Zippor, king of Moab, sent to me:11’Behold! the people coming out of Egypt has covered the surface of the earth. Now go and curse it for me; perhaps I will be able to make war against it and drive it away.'” 12 God said to Balaam, “You shall not go with them! You shall not curse the people, for it is blessed!” 13 Balaam arose in the morning and said to the officers of Balaak, “Go to your land, for HASHEM refuses to let me go with you. ” 14 The officers arose and came back to Balak and said, “Balaam refused to go with us.”
–The Lord asks Balaam a question to which He already knows the answer to, Balaam’s pride causes him to wonder, “Does God really know all?”
Nakah (naw-kaw)= to strike; beat; kill; slaughter; punish; be stricken; wound.
Garash (gaw-rash)= to drive out from a possession; to expatriate or divorce; cast out; drive away; expel.
These are the terms that Balak uses when he describes his intentions for the Children of Israel. Balaam, as informs the Almighty about His own people, where they have come from and what has transpired adds LACHAM, as evidence of the hatred he too harbors in his heart toward the people.
Lacham (law-kham)= to feed on; (figuratively) to consume; to battle; devour; eat; overcome; prevail; make war.
Do not be disillusioned as you read the text and consider, is Balaam really that bad of a guy? I mean God does speak to him, he does seem to obey God. From the word there is evidence of the make-up of the man.
II Peter 2; 12 But these people, acting without thinking, like animals without reason, born to be captured and destroyed, insult things about which they have no knowledge. When they are destroyed, their destruction will be total- 13 they will be paid back harm as wages for the harm they are doing. Their idea of pleasure is carousing in broad daylight; they are spots and defects reveling in their deception as they share meals with you-14 for they have eyes always on the lookout for a woman who will commit adultery, eyes that never stop sinning; and a heart that has exercised itself in greed; so that they seduce unstable people. What a cursed brood! 15 These people have left the straight way and wandered off to follow the way of Bil’am Ben B’or, who loved the wages of doing harm 16 but was rebuked for his sin- a dumb beast of burden spoke out with a human voice and restrained the prophet’s insanity! 17 Waterless springs they are, mists driven by a gust of wind; for them has been reserved the blackest darkness.
Bamidbar 22;15 Balak kept sending officers-more, and higher ranking than these. 16 They came to Balaam and said to him, “So said, Balak son of Zippor, ‘Do not refrain from going to me, 17 for I shall honor you greatly, and everything that you say to me I shall do; so go now and curse this people for me.” 18 Balaam answered and said to the servants of Balaak, “If Balak will give me his houseful of silver and gold, I cannot transgress the word of HASHEM, my God, to do anything small or great. 19 And now, you, too, stay here for the night, and I will know what more HASHEM will speak with me.” 20 God came to Balaam at night and said to him, “If these men came to summon you, arise and go with them, but only the thing that I shall speak to you- that shall you do. ”
Psalm 139;20 Those who pronounce Your Name for wicked schemes, it is taken in vain by Your enemies. 21 For indeed those who hate You, O HASHEM, I hate them, and I quarrel with those who rise up against you! 22 With the utmost hatred, I hate them; they have become enemies unto me. 23 Examine me, O God, and know my heart; test me and know my thoughts. 24 And see if I have a vexing way; and lead me in the way of eternity.
Revelation 2;12 “To the angel of the Messianic Community in Pergamum, write: ‘Here is the message from the one who has the sharp double-edged sword: 13 “I know where you are living, there where the Adversary’s throne is. Yet you are holding onto my name. You did not deny trusting me even at the time when my faithful witness Antipas was put to death in your town, there where the Adversary lives. 14 Nevertheless, I have a few things against you: you have some people who hold to the teaching of BIl’am, who taught Balak to set a trap for the people of Isra’el, so that they would eat food that had been sacrificed to idols and commit sexual sin.
Luke 16;15 He said to them, “You people make yourselves look righteous to others, but God knows your hearts; what people regard highly is an abomination before God! 16 Up to the time of Yochanan there were the Torah and the Prophets. Since them the Good News of the Kingdom of God has been proclaimed, and everyone is pushing to get in. 17 But it is easier for heaven and earth to pass away that for one stroke of a letter in the Torah to become void. 18 Every man who divorces his wife and marries another woman commits adultery, and a man who marries a woman divorced by her husband commits adultery.
–Once again we realize there is much that we do not see. The LORD who knows the heart and sees all becomes angered with Balaam “because he was going” with the high ranking men of Balak. Didn’t God tell him, “go with them”? What the Lord sees that we can not simply read is that Balaam goes without the intention of keeping a command of God or of being a vessel for His use. From start to finish Balaam is aligned with the idea of cursing the Children of Israel, he despises them and all the while longs for the chance to make a name for himself and be esteemed over them and in the eyes of his peers. Balaam goes…with the evil intentions toward God’s ‘kids’ in his heart foremost and this is what angers the Lord.
Anti-Semitism and replacement theology stem from the spirit of pride and disobedience. The fuel for these terrible manifestations is fear, the fear of God’s message: He has the Authority to choose, He chooses Israel in perpetuity, His paramount ‘place’ is Jerusalem and those who safeguard and sanctify His Name are to have charge of His Sovereignty there. In the “name of my God” and in the name of religion, in the name of everything holy from ancient days to our current world presence…men have sought to divest and replace the Chosen People from their appointed place always pointing to the ‘problem of Israel’. The hope I have is in knowing that God’s communication with us is steadfast and His message continues to be upheld and defended beyond persecution and death by His faithful…He tells us through the evidence demonstrated by the ‘richness’ of Israel His eternal message: He expects us to live lives of nobility, and it is possible to bring the Sh’khinah (Glory) of the Lord to the world! His people are a force for holiness and righteousness and whatever opposition may arise…what He has planted shall not be uprooted, and for whom He has blessed, curse will emerge as blessing and it shall not be altered by the ideas and doctrines of man.
Proverbs 1; 15 My child, do not walk on the way with them; withhold your feet from their pathways. 16 For their feet run to evil and they hasten to spill blood.
Isaiah 59;7 Their feet run to evil, and they rush to shed innocent blood; their thoughts are thoughts of wickedness; plunder and calamity are in their roads. 8 They know not the path of peace and there is no justice in their circuits; they have made their paths crooked; all who walk them do not know peace.
Genesis 22;1 And it happened after these things that God tested Abraham and said to him, “Abraham,” and he replied, “Here I am.” 2 And He said, “Please take your son, your only one, whom you love- Isaac- and go to the land of Moriah; to bring him up there as an offering upon one of the mountains which I shall tell you.” 3 So Abraham woke up early in the morning and he saddled his donkey…
–Avraham rose early many times, hastening to pursue and be obedient to the will of the LORD. Even to the point of offering his precious son, he wakes early and sets himself to this enormous task. We know the intentions of Balaam, and not only does this pride filled man go out of the way to saddle his own donkey when he has two servants there to aide him but he is up and atom in order to chase after the evil curses he fully intends to attempt to deliver out over the Children of Israel. The path of Balaam is a wicked one, totally contrary to the message of the Master to the Torah and to God. Solomon expresses the directly opposite path as the evil path Isaiah speaks of. The path to life and peace, the path of the Torah of the King.
Proverbs 3;1 My child, do not forget My Torah, and let your heart guard My commandments, 2 for they add to you length of days and years of life and peace.
5 Trust in HASHEM with all your heart and do not rely on your own understanding. 6 In all your ways know Him, and He will smooth your paths.
13 Praiseworthy is a person who has found wisdom, a person who can derive understanding [from it], 14 for its commerce is better than the commerce of silver, and its produce [is better] than fine gold. 15 It is more precious than pearls, and all your desires cannot compare to it. 16 Length of days is at its right; at its left, wealth and honor. 17 Its ways are ways of pleasantness and all its pathways are peace. 18 It is a tree of life to those who grasp it, and its supporters are praiseworthy.
21 My child do not let them stray from your eyes; safeguard the eternal Torah and [its] wise design.
Bamidbar 22;21 Balaam arose in the morning and saddled his she-donkey and went with the officers of Moab. 22 God’s wrath flared because he was going, and an angel of HASHEM stood on the road to impede him. He was riding on his she-donkey and his two young men were with him. 23 The she-donkey saw the angel of HASHEM standing on the road with his sword drawn in his hand, so the she-donkey turned away from the road and went into the field; then Balaam struck the she-donkey to turn it back onto the road. 24 The angel of HASHEM stood in the path of the vineyards, a fence on this side and a fence on that side. 25 The she-donkey saw the angel of HASHEM and pressed against the wall, and it pressed Balaam’s leg against the wall- and he continued to strike it. 26 The angel of HASHEM went further and stood in a narrow place, where there was no room to turn right or left. 27 The she-donkey saw the angel of HASHEM and crouched beneath Balaam. Balaam’s anger flared and he struck the she-donkey with the staff.
Proverbs 4;23 More than you guard anything, safeguard your heart, for from it are the sources of life. 24 Remove from yourself distortion of the mouth, and distance perversity of lips from yourself. 25 Let your eyes look ahead, and your eyelid direct your path. 26 Weigh the course of your foot, and all your ways will be established. 27 Do not deviate to the right or left; remove your foot from evil.
–Our Groom will create every possible opportunity to change our courses (if they be sinful and contrary to Him) for our own benefit. He courts us with His patient loving hand and calls to us to just hear His voice and turn to it! The LORD uses a beast of burden in this case and he first opens her eyes. She is able to see the dangers ahead and realizes the path they are on is wrong. She sees, Balaam can not see. How many times have we missed the messages the Lord has been sending us?
From the giving of the Torah at mount Sinai we are able to realize the extent to which God on High loves us and desires to communicate His program, His order, His message for life to us! Since Sinai the communication of God with man has made a powerful sound! This sound never stops!! He continues to speak to us and often in the strangest ways and most wondrous places. Through people we never thought we would connect with or places we never dreamed we would find revelation. He continues to speak and send messages and we need to learn to become sensitized to hear them. Balaam is representative of the person who is so desensitized to the idea of an All Knowing, All Powerful God who yet grants us miracles, wonders and favors in every season…he is the person who is continually met along the way with messages of the Unchangeable and the voice of Eternity every day and who argues, set on ‘his own’ path, unwilling to even consider changing his established course. Spiritually blind, this person has set out on a path which counters the undeniable Supreme consistence of the Word, we were endowed with… from the Divine.
In this place, on this path…when we begin to go the wrong way…it is here that we are crushed. If we find ourselves in a place such as this, where there is no where to turn to the right or the left…look up! Return, repent and see the grace of the Lord unfold.
Isaiah 30;19 For the people dwelling in Zion, in Jerusalem. You will not have to weep; He will surely show you grace at the sound of your outcry, when He hears, He will answer you. 20 The Lord will give you meager bread and scant water; your Teacher will no longer be hidden behind His garment, and your eyes will behold your Teacher. 21 And your ears will listen [even] to a word spoken from behind you, saying, ‘This is the path; walk in it, whether you go to your right or to your left.’
–This is the God I serve! Our King has compassion on this poor creature and sends his angel to intercede. We later will see the great irony in the words of Balaam we recognize here. Even the prophet who ‘knows the mind of God’ can’t see what the donkey sees. Balaam who so casually reacts to the donkey speaking to him…fails to recognize that the Lord has caused nature to turn itself all around to turn him from this path of cursing the Jewish people. He is impervious to the forces God has used here and blind to the wake up calls the Lord is making. What wake-up calls are we missing? Do we realize that the association of life events with words such as “accident” and “coincidence” completely remove God’s dominion and authority from our lives? If we truly believe in Him as supreme and have given Him full charge over our day’s we will realize that His hand is in every single thing. Life, death, light, darkness, curses and blessing. The hidden message here is that it is never too late to turn things around! I pray that we will not fight that which we can not clearly see, and not march headlong into the path of ignorance and indifference to the wondrous eternal messages God has placed all around us in His eternal word, unveil our eyes O LORD!
Hebrews 4;12 See, the Word of God is alive! It is at work and is sharper that any double-edged sword- it cuts right through to where soul meets spirit and joint meets marrow, and it is quick to judge the inner reflections and attitudes of the heart. 13 Before God, nothing created is hidden, but all things are naked and open to the eyes of him to whom we must render an account.
Psalm 119;10 With all my heart I sought You. do not let me stray from Your commandments. 11 In my heart I have stored Your word, so that I would not sin against You. 12 Blessed are You, HASHEM, teach me Your statutes. 12 With my lips I recounted all the ordinances of Your mouth. 14 I rejoiced over the way of Your testimonies as much as in all riches. 15 Of Your precepts I speak and I look at Your paths. 16 I occupy myself with Your statutes, I will not forget Your word. 17 Bestow upon Your servant that I should live, that I may keep Your word.
18 UNVEIL MY EYES THAT I MAY PERCIEVE WONDERS FROM YOUR TORAH.
Bamidbar 22; 28 Balaam said to the she-donkey, “Because you mocked me! If only there were a sword in my hand I would now have killed you!” 30 The she-donkey said to Balaam, “Am I not your she-donkey that you have ridden upon me all your life until this day? Have I been accustomed to do such a thing to you?” He said, “No.” 31 Then HASHEM uncovered Balaam’s eyes and he saw the angel of HASHEM standing on the road with his sword drawn in his hand. He bowed his head and prostrated himself on his face. 32 The angel of HASHEM said to him, “For what reason did you strike your she-donkey these three times? Behold! I went out to impede, for you hastened on a road opposite me. 33 The she-donkey saw me and turned away from me these three times. Had it not turned away from me, I would now even have killed you and let it live!” 34 Balaam said to the angel of HASHEM, “I have sinned, for I did not know that you were standing opposite me on the road. And now, if it is evil in your eyes, I shall return.” 35 The angel of HASHEM said to Balaam, “Go with the men, but only the word that I shall speak to you-that shall you speak.” So Balaam went with the officers of Balak.
–Satan (saw-tawn)= an opponent; the archenemy of good; adversary; withstand.
Yarat (yaw-rat)=to precipitate or hurl, to be rash; be perverse; turn over; headlong.
Derek (deh-rek)= a road; journey; pathway; (figuratively) a course of life or mode of action.
The Hebrew text of verse uses the words above, it seems to be evident that the adversary is present, present in Balaam and is fueling his ‘hidden’ precipitance (passionate) to curse Israel. This is why the angel stands opposite him who is rushing headlong into this corrupted path. Yet, having set out to use Balaam for some of the most amazing and prophetic messages for Israel and the people of God with ears to hear, He grants Balaam just enough rope to ‘hang himself’.
Bamidbar 22;37 Balak said to Balaam, “Did I not urgently send to you to summon you? Why did you not go to me? Am I not capable of honoring you?” 38 Balaam said to Balak, “Behold! now I have come to you- am I empowered to say anything? Whatever word God puts into my mouth, that shall I speak!”
41 And it was in the morning: Balak took Balaam and brought him up to the heights of Baal, and from there he saw the edge of the people. 23;1 Balaam said to Balak, “Build for me here seven altars and prepare for me here seven bulls and seven rams.” …3 “Stand by your burnt-offering while I go; perhaps HASHEM will happen toward me and show me something that I can tell you.” He went alone. 4 God happened upon Balaam and he said to Him, “I have prepared seven altars and brought up a bull and a ram on each altar.”
–Thus far God has only come to speak to Balaam at night, now that they in the light it is only that he happens upon Him. The Hebrew here word qir-ah means an encountering, accidental, friendly or hostile.
There are two things to consider here, Balak and Balaam are evidently aware of the rites of animal offering among the Children of Israel and HASHEM in the Mishkan (Tabernacle). They, like many, may have seen this as a way to gain favor in His eyes and score some points. The sacrificial system was never meant to buy God’s love, it was always a way that the people could draw near to the Lord in a way that the culture would appreciate and understand and foremost as a foreshadowing of the atoning work of Yeshua. These are things that Balak and Balaam are ignorant of, this practice is repeated by them several times throughout their scheme and is clearly futile.
Micah 6;6 [You ask,] ‘With what shall we approach HASHEM, humble myself before God on high? Shall I approach Him with burnt-offerings, or with calves in their first year? 7 Will HASHEM be appeased by thousands of rams or with tens of thousands of streams of oil? Shall I give over my firstborn [to atone for] my transgression, or the fruit of my belly [for] the sin of my soul? ‘ 8 He has told you, O man, what is good! What does HASHEM require of you but to do justice, to love kindness and to walk humbly with your God?
Bamidbar 23;5 HASHEM put an utterance in Balaam’s mouth, and said, “Go back to Balak, and thus shall you say.”…7 He declaimed his parable and said: “From Aram, Balak, king of Moab, led me, from the mountains of the east, ‘Come curse Jacob for me, come bring anger upon Israel.’ 8 How can I curse?- God has not cursed. How can I anger?- HASHEM is not angry. 9 For from its origins, I see it rock-like, and from hills do I see it. Behold! it is a nation that will dwell in solitude and not be reckoned among the nations. 10 Who has counted the dust of Jacob or numbered a quarter of Israel? May my soul die the death of the upright, and may my end be like his!” 11 Balak said to him, “Go now with me to a different place from which you will see them; however, you will see its edge but not see all of it- and you will curse it for me from there.” 14 He took him to the field of the lookouts, to the top of the peak, and he built seven altars and brought up a bull and a ram on each altar.
–Hear the words of Lord, the message to His people, the sounding of His heart for all Israel and those grafted in to hear! The message which is unfathomably reviving and restoring, the communication of the immense Love the Lord has for His children which He LONGS for us to take note of, to hear and to repeat in continuity. He says to Israel (and the message remains): I have not cursed you. I am not angry with you. I see you from your heights and you are strong.
The Hebrew text uses the word Shakan meaning to reside permanently and remain, it is also part of the word meaning Tabernacle. Among the nations the people will not be tabernacle-ing, they will be holy and set apart. They are not regarded or counted by God among the nations. This is the picture we see before us today. Living a Torah life truly means being set apart. Often times once we adopt and begin to adhere to the eternal Torah of our King and master Yeshua…we are met with staunch opposition. We are accused of many things (rejecting Christ, conforming to the Law for the sake of the Law, depriving our children of the rich and lasting rituals based on pagan practices which God despises, leaving grace behind for obedience to man made liturgy, etc.) and what is most disheartening is that these accusations and assumptions are not made by the secular friends, neighbors and family members in our lives…they are sounded by those who profess to ‘live’ in the love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness and self-control of the Spirit. Living a Bible centered, Torah lifestyle means to be truly set apart. You will not fit into any man made mold, what occurs is the Lord sets out to MOLD YOU into a servant who hearkens, is obedient to His will and one who without fear will take up the charge of the Lord as it appears in Scripture. Treasure from heaven. Torah living does not adapt to modern times, or shape our mode of worship, study or community into something which is ‘bigger, better, faster’ , rearrangeable and more palatable for the sake of evangelism and growth in numbers. Living a Torah life defined by God, with an open heart led by the Spirit means our bodies and our secrets are not open for all to see, we are challenged to be set apart and in this journey through the desert…God speaks through His eternal word and will cause you to grow and progress as you walk in faith and obedience because you have discovered what grace really means. The Lord has set the boundaries and limits for us, He has given us His plan and map. He has set before us the door and given us the key, Yeshua Ha Mashiac alive on every page of the Torah!
Job 38;2 Who is this who gives murky counsel, with words without knowledge? 3 Gird your loins like a warrior, and I will ask you, and you will inform Me. 4 Where were you when I laid the earth’s foundation? Tell, if you know understanding! 5 Who set its dimensions? – if you know- or who stretched a [surveyor’s] line over it? 6 Into what are its bases sunken, or who laid its cornerstone? 7 When the morning stars sand in unison and all the heavenly beings shouted, 8 as He dammed in the sea with bolted doors as its flow emerged from the womb, 9 when I put a cloud on it as its garment and a thick cloud as its swaddling, 10 and I constrained it with My limits, and I emplaced a bar and bolted its doors, 11 and said, ‘Until here shall you go, and no further, and only here shall your waves flaunt their majesty!’?
–The curses are stayed before they even come forth and emerge as these beautiful blessings which continue to unfold. The next section is the beyond measure, for it shows us the extent of God’s willingness to love despite horrific failures on our part. What man would find unimaginable, unforgivable, unconscionable….the Lord has the capability to not only see beyond but to change into something completely new, renovated and magnificent for the sake of His Name. The Lord wants Israel to know, that despite ALL the terrible things they have done throughout their wanderings in the Wilderness, all of the unbelievable betrayals they have committed against Him He does not see them as failures, idolaters or heretics. He wants them to see themselves how HE sees them and this communication from Avinu Malkienu (our Father and our King) is for each and every one of us as well! If He is able to bless these people after all that has transpired with the promise that He see’s no iniquity or perversity in them and even further…that He is their FRIEND…how much can we trust that He feels the same for us! I long for the friendship of the King to be declared in my life and in my household, O nothing could be sweeter!
Bamidbar 23;16 HASHEM happened upon Balaam and put an utterance in his mouth; and said, “Go back to Balak and so shall you say.” ..18 He declaimed this parable and said: “Stand erect, O Balak, and hear; give ear to me, O son of Zippor. God is not a man that he should be deceitful, nor a son of man that He should relent. Would He say and not do, or speak and not confirm? 20 Behold! to bless have I received- He has blessed, and I shall not contradict it. He perceived no iniquity in Jacob, and saw no perversity in Israel. HASHEM, his God, is with him, and the friendship of the King is in him. 22 It is God Who brought them out of Egypt according to the power of His loftiness, 23 for there is no divination in Jacob and no sorcery in Israel. Even now it is said of Jacob and Israel what God has wrought. 24 Behold! the people will arise like a lion cub and raise itself like a lion; it will not lie down until it consumes prey, and drinks the blood of the slain.” 25 Balak said to Balaam, “Neither shall you curse them at all, nor shall you bless them at all!” 26 Balaam answered and said to Balak,” Have I not spoken to you, saying, ‘Whatever HASHEM shall speak, that shall I do’? 27 Balak said to Balaam, “Go, now, I shall take you to a different place, perhaps it will be proper in God’s eyes that you will curse them for me from there.”
–The blessings of Israel (Jacob) to his son Judah, the line from which Messiah Yeshua would come are amazing when we read them in conjunction with the scripture of Numbers and Matthew. Jacob speaks of the lion as does Balaam, and the donkey with its colt…Blessed are You my King for the wonders of Your Word.
Matthew 21;1 As they were approaching Yerushalayim, they came to Beit-Pagei on the Mount of Olives. Yeshua sent two talmidim 2 with these instructions: “Go into the village ahead of you, and you will immediately find a donkey tethered there with its colt. Untie them and bring them to me. 3 If anyone says anything to you, tell him, ‘The Lord needs them’; and he will let them go at once.” 4 This happened in order to fulfill what had been spoken through the prophet, 5 “Say to the daughter of Tziyon, ‘Look! Your King is coming to you, riding humbly on a donkey, and on a colt, the offspring of a beast of burden!’ 6 So the talmidim did as Yeshua had directed them. 7 They brought the donkey and the colt and put their robes on them. 8 Crowds of people carpeted the road with their clothing, while others cut branches from trees and spread them on the road. 9 The crowds ahead of him and behind shouted, “Please! Deliver us!” to the Son of David; “Blessed is he who comes in the name of ADONAI!”
Genesis 49;8 “Judah- you, your brothers shall acknowledge; your hand will be at your enemies’ nape; your father’s sons will prostrate themselves to you. 9 A lion cub is Judah; from the prey, my son, you elevated yourself. He crouches, lies down like a lion, and like an awesome lion, who dares rouse him? 10 The scepter shall not depart from Judah nor a scholar from among his descendants until Shiloh arrives and his will be an assemblage of nations. 11 He will tie his donkey to the vine; to the vine branch his donkey’s foal; he will launder his garments in wine and his robe in the blood of grapes. 12 Red eyed from wine and white toothed from milk.
Ezekiel 19;1 ..Oh, how your mother was a lioness, crouching among lions, rearing her cubs among young lions. 3 She raised one of her cubs, and he became a young lion; he learned to tear prey, and he devoured men. 4 So the nations were mustered against him, and he was caught in her pit; and they brought him with hooks to the land of Egypt. 5 She saw herself disillusioned, her hope was lost; so she took another one of her cubs and made him become a young lion. He learned to tear prey; he devoured men. 7 He destroyed their palaces and their cities he laid waste; the land and all that fills it then became desolate through the noise his roar. 8 So all the nations of the surrounding countries set themselves against him; they spread their net over him, and he was caught in their pit. 9 They put a collar on him with hooks and brought him to the king of Babylonia; they brought him into fortresses in order that his voice be no longer heard upon the mountains of Israel.
–This time Balaam looks, this time he sees that this people truly possesses the favor of the Most High God…imagine how wondrous a sight it is to witness the order of the encampment of Israel. The ordained order of the Lord, each tribe under his banner, Tabernacle in the Center. From a height it was surely a vast and glorious sight, this time Balaam takes notice and this time it says the Spirit was upon him. This time He issues the prophecies that are repeated in the daily liturgy of the Jewish people to this very day. This time Balaam gets the Promise right, those who bless Israel will be blessed and those who curse will be cursed.
Bamidbar 24;1 Balaam sat this it was good in HASHEM’s eyes to bless Israel, so he did not go as every other time toward divinations, but he set his face toward the Wilderness. 2 Balaam raised his eyes and saw Israel dwelling according to its tribes, and the spirit of God was upon him. 3 He declaimed his parable and said: “The words of Balaam son Beor, the words of the man with the open eye; the words of the one who hears the saying of God, who sees the vision of Shaddai, while fallen and with uncovered eyes:
5″How goodly are your tents, O Jacob, your dwelling places, O Israel; 6 stretching out like brooks, like gardens by a river, like aloes planted by HASHEM, like cedars by water. 7 Water shall flow from his wells, and his seed shall be by abundant waters. His king shall be exalted over Agag, and his kingdom shall be upraised. 8 It is God Who brought him out of Egypt according to the power of His loftiness. He will consume the nations that oppress him and crush their bones, and his arrows shall pierce them. 9 He crouched and lay down like a lion, and ,like a lion cub- who can stand him up? Those who bless you are blessed and those who curse you are accursed.”
Hosea 14;5 I will rectify their waywardness; I will love them gratuitously; for My anger has turned away from them. 6 I will be to Israel like the dew, and he will blossom like a rosebush, and his roots will strike out like the [cedars of] Lebanon. 7 His tender branches will go forth, and his glory will be like [that of] the olive tree and his fragrance like that of Lebanon. 8 Those who dwell in His shade will return; they will revive [like] grain and blossom like a vine; their repute [will be] like the wine of Lebanon. 9 Ephriam [will say], ‘What more need have I of idols?’ I will respond and I will gaze upon him. I am like an ever-fresh cypress tree; your fruit will be provided from Me.
–The next portion of the curses which emerge as blessings are known in most circles be prophetic and speak of Messiah (Yeshua). Balaam speaks of the Conquering King, Who comes with the sword and will restore all things. (Matthew 10;34 “Do not suppose I have come to bring peace to the Land. It is not peace I have come to bring, but a sword!”
Micah 5;1 Bethlehem- Ephratah- you are too small to be among the thousands of Judah, but from you someone will emerge for Me to be ruler over Israel; and his origins shall be from early times, as from days of old. 2 Therefore, He will deliver them until the time that a woman in childbirth gives birth; then the rest of his brothers will return with the Children of Israel. 3 He will stand up and lead with the strength of HASHEM, with the majesty of the Name of HASHEM his God. They will settle [in peace], for at that time he will be great to the ends of the earth, and this will [assure] peace.
Bamidbar 24;10 Balak’s anger flared against Balaam and he clapped his hands. Balak said to Balaam, “‘To curse my enemies did I summon you, and behold! you have continually blessed them these three times! 11 Now, flee to your place. I said I would honor you, but- behold! HASHEM has withheld you from honor.” 12 Balaam said to Balak, “Did I not speak to your emissaries whom you sent to me, saying, 13 “If Balak were to give me his houseful of silver and gold, I cannot transgress the word of HASHEM to do good or bad on my own. Whatever HASHEM speaks, that shall I speak.’ 14 And now, behold! I go to my people. Come, I shall advise you what this people will do to your people in the End of Days.”
15 He declaimed this parable and said: “The words of Balaam son of Beor, the words of the man with the open eye. 16 “The words of the one who hears the sayings of God, and knows the knowledge of the Supreme One, who sees the vision of Shaddai, while fallen and with uncovered eyes.
17 I shall see him, but not now, I shall look at him, but it is not near. A star has issued from Jacob and a scepter-bearer has risen from Israel, and he shall pierce the nobles of Moab and undermine the children of Seth. 18 Edom shall be a conquest and Sier shall be the conquest of his enemies- and Israel will attain success. One from Jacob shall rule and destroy the remnant of the city.”
20 He saw Amalek and declaimed his parable and said: “Amalek is the first among nations, but its end will be eternal destruction.” 21 He saw the Kenite and declaimed his parable and said: “Strong is your dwelling, and set in a rock is your nest. 22 For if the Kenite should be laid waste, till where can Assyria take you captive?”
23 He declaimed his parable and said: “Oh! Who will survive when He imposes these!” 24 Big ships from the coast of Kittim will afflict Assyria and afflict the other bank- but it, too, will be forever destroyed.” 25 Then Balaam rose up and went and returned to his place, and Balak also went on his way.
–There is a profound meaning in the Lord’s usage of the evil prophet Balaam in delivering this message of His eternal promise and love for the people, the Children of Israel. His promise remains and is reaffirmed when Yeshua came for his brethren and the wild branches grafted into the tree of Israel. Not only is it incredible to recognize that the Lord creates the very best of things from even a path we stray down and even despite our failures and falling’s away…God takes evil and sin and death and turns it upside down to establish new life, righteousness, redemption and hope! Consider this: From the horrors of anti-Semitism and the holocaust the nation of Israel in the Promised Land was born! Out of the inquisitions and centuries of persecution and forced conversions the Jewish people have preserved the Torah and writings in the original language (Hebrew) to this day.
Ruth was a granddaughter of Eglon, king of Moab, who himself was a grandson of Balak, king of Moab the one who set out to curse Israel. The descendants of Ruth are Jessie, David, and Yeshua.
God is the master planner and His ways are mighty and magnificent! He has a plan for all of us and if we would trust Him. He has lovingly prepared and given us the ‘way’ to get there, and in every bit of it is meant to glorify and magnify Yeshua! Light to His righteous path for us.
John 14;1″ Do not let yourselves be disturbed. Trust in God and trust in me. 2 In my Father’s house are many places to live. If there weren’t, I would have told you; because I am going there to prepare a place for you. 3 Since I am going and preparing a place for you, I will return to take you with me, so that where I am, you may be also. 4 Furthermore, you know where I am going; and you know the way there.”
Proverbs 6; 21 Tie them to your heart always; entwine them upon your neck. 22 As you go forth, it will guide you; as you recline, it will guard you; and when you awake, it will converse with you. 23 For a commandment is a lamp and the Torah is light; and reproving discipline is the way of life, 24 to guard you from an evil woman, from the smoothness of the foreign woman’s tongue.
–The end of the sedra of Balak brings us to the terrible account of the Midianite women and the men of Israel. As we read the scripture below keep in mind the elements of making covenant in the ancient world. There is a verbal declaration, blood or an offering, and it is sealed with wine and a meal.
Deuteronomy 32;15 Jeshurun became fat and kicked. You became fat, you became thick, and you became corpulent- and it deserted God its Maker, and was contemptuous of the Rock of its salvation. 16 They would provoke His jealousy with strangers; they would anger Him with abominations.
Jeremiah5;26 For wicked men are found among My people, who lie in ambush like a trap that snaps shut; they set a snare; they trap people. 27 Like a cage full of fowl, so their houses are full of deceit; thereby they have grown great and wealthy. 28 They have grown fat and corpulent, and also transgressed through wicked deeds….
Bamidbar 25;1 Israel settled in Shittim and the people began to commit harlotry with the daughters of Moab. 2 They invited the people to the feasts of their gods; the people ate and prostrated themselves to their gods. 3 Israel became attached to Baal-peor, and the wrath of HASHEM flared against Israel. 4 HASHEM said to Moses, “Take all the leaders of the people. Hang them before HASHEM against the sun- and the flaring wrath of HASHEM will withdraw from Israel.” 5 Moses said to the judges of Israel, “Let each man kill his men who were attached to Baal-peor.”
–Balak and Balaam look out over the assembly of Israel, they know of the battles the Lord has fought for them and realize these people can not be conquered by warring with them. They seek out methods of divination and curse and attempt to cause the people to be overcome by words that will cause them to be seen as a people who are “damned”, the Lord continually reveals that His word regarding Israel shall stand and none shall thwart it. The only way that Israel is manageable and manipulated is when they are in the throws of sin. Sinning against their God will be their undoing and this is the only way to cause them to stumble. Balaam knows their weakness and through his recommendation the princesses and high society women of Midian are sent into the camp to lure, tempt and overcome the men of Israel. The men, in the throws of passion are convinced to bow and offer worship to the idols of the temptresses and they eat of the meal of the ‘dead’…those who defile the Name of God and devour the purity of the people of God.
Numbers 31; 15 Moses said to them, “Did you let every female live? 16 Behold!- it was they who caused the Children of Israel, by the word of Balaam, to commit a betrayal against HASHEM regarding the matter of Peor; and the plague occurred in the assembly of HASHEM.
Psalm 106;28 Then they attached themselves to Baal Peor, and ate the sacrifices of the dead. 29 And they angered Him with their behavior, and a plague broke out among them. 20 And Phinehas arose and executed judgment, and the plague was halted. 31 It was accounted to him as a righteous deed, for all generations, forever.
–There was but one man who stood up for the sanctity of God. While the rest of the people mourned and wailed, even before the face of Moshe was this act of defiance taking place…Phinehas stood with zeal and spear and the plague was halted. The next Torah portion goes in depth about the meaning of the actions of the people and of Phineas, the one with whom God seals an eternal covenant of Peace.
Bamidbar 25;6 Behold! a man of the Children of Israel came and brought a Midianite woman near to his brothers in the sight of Moses and in the sight of the entire assembly of the Children of Israel; and they were weeping at the entrance of the Tent of Meeting. 7 Phinehas son of Elazar son of Aaron the Kohen saw, and he stood up from amid the assembly and took a spear in his hand. 8 He followed the Israelite man into the tent and pierced them both, the Israelite man and the woman into her stomach- and the plague was halted from upon the Children of Israel. 9 Those who died in the plague were twenty-four thousand.
Micah 6;3 My people, whatdid I do to you and how did I tire you? Testify against Me! 4 For I brought you up from the land of Egypt and redeemed you from the house of bondage; and I sent Moses, Aaron and Miriam before you. 5 My people, hear now, what Balak, king of Moab schemed, and what Balaam son of Beor answered him, [and all the events] from Shittim to Gilgal- in order to recognize the righteous acts of HASHEM.
–Why does this portion of blessing end with more transgression and plague?
I believe it is to show us that we all have a very long way to go. The work HASHEM has begun in us will not come to an end…until we are able to serve Him eternally in His House. We are continually to walk in faith and actively work to uncover relationship with our King. We are in turn charged to remember that among the blessings and promise comes responsibility and we are charged to behave as those who bear His Name. It is for His Name’s sake we will be shown mercy and for that reason alone, that we are His and He has claimed us. Before we rest in the promise and the grace idly, let us remember that we serve a merciful Father and Righteous Judge. Each one of us will stand before the Judge and He will not forsake even one of His Children nor will He fail to respond in just reason. The time in which we find ourselves now is the period of the “three weeks” or “dire straits”. For the Jewish people throughout history this has been a period of remembering…without HASHEM forefront there is no wiggle room…no chances for ignorance of the vivid messages He has sent us….no place to turn to the right or the left from the lasting and enduring communication He continues to divulge to us. Let us cling to Him and entreat with our hearts for forgiveness and mercy upon us for the sins and curses of this and past generations…may they emerge as an eternal message of blessing over Israel and all God’s people. Through all things may His righteousness be seen!!
Micah 7;8 ‘Do not rejoice over me, my enemy, for though I fell, I will rise! Though I sit in darkness, HASHEM is light unto me! 9 I shall bear the fury of HASHEM for I have sinned unto Him, until He will take up my cause and execute judgment for me; He will bring me out into the light; I will behold His righteousness.
Psalm 9;8 For HASHEM is enthroned forever, He prepares His throne for judgment. 9 And He will judge the world in righteousness, He will judge the regimes with fairness. 10 HASHEM will be a fortress for the oppressed, a fortress in times of distress. 11 And those who know Your Name will trust in You, for You have not forsaken those who seek You, HASHEM. 12 Sing to HASHEM Who dwells in Zion, proclaim His deeds among the peoples. 13 That the Avenger of blood has remembered them, He has not forgotten the cry of the humble. 14 Have mercy on me, O HASHEM, see my affliction by my foes, You Who raises me above the gates of death; 15 so that I may proclaim all Your praises, in the gates of the daughter of Zion I will rejoice in Your salvation: 16 “The nations sank in their self-made pit, in the very trap concealed, their own foot was ensnared. 17 HASHEM became known through the judgment that He executed; through his own handiwork was the wicked person entrapped, reflect on this, Selah.” 18 The wicked will return to the depths of the grave, all the nations that forget God; 19 for the pauper shall not be forgotten eternally, nor the hope of the afflicted forever perish. 20 Arise, HASHEM, let not frail man feel invincible! Let the peoples be judged before You. 21 HASHEM, place [Your] mastery over them, that the peoples may know they are but frail men, Selah!
Baruch attah ADONAI, Eloheinu Melech ha’olam,
Blessed are You, Lord our God, King of the universe,
You alone have planted among us life eternal.
Blessed are You, Lord, our God, Gracious Giver of Your Torah.
In Yeshua’s name, amein.
–My King it is for you I hunger, it is for You I long, tear me open and carve from me all that is not of You and cause it to be lost forever. Light the way for all Your people, strengthen and encourage us to walk the way You have planned and prepared. May none of Your children stumble on their way to finding You and coming closer to You. Keep our ways firmly planted in Your eternal Truth, in Your Yeshua. Forgive us for our sins, forgive our fathers and please allow for our children to go forth after we have returned to You, with the zeal for Your justice and righteousness we have lacked. Protect and strengthen Your people as we weep along with them and pray alongside them, bless them and restore them to the place You have prepared for them as Your treasure….may we be a part of the eternal blessings, in service and devotion to You.
It is in Yeshua’s name I ask these things, and I ask that only honor and glory come through all of this and that it be for a blessing.
-The Complete Jewish Bible-David H. Stern
-The Stone Edition Tanach- artscroll
-Interlinear Scripture Analyzer
-Onkelos On the Torah- Understanding the Bible text
***Today is the 17th of Tammuz.
The fast of the 17th of the Hebrew month of Tammuz, known as Shiva Asar B’Tammuz, is the start of a three-week mourning period for the destruction of Jerusalem and the two Holy Temples.
The fast actually commemorates five tragic events that occurred on this date:
Moses broke the tablets when he saw the Jewish people worshipping the Golden Calf.
During the Babylonian siege of Jerusalem, the Jews were forced to cease offering the daily sacrifices due to the lack of sheep.
Apostomos burned the holy Torah.1
An idol was placed in the Holy Temple.2
The walls of Jerusalem were breached by the Romans, in 69 CE, after a lengthy siege. (Three weeks later, after the Jews put up a valiant struggle, the Romans destroyed the second Holy Temple on the 9th of Av.)
The Jerusalem Talmud maintains that this is also the date when the Babylonians breached the walls of Jerusalem on their way to destroying the first Temple.
This commences the period of the “three weeks” known as the “dire straits” that pass from this date to the 9th of AV.
Why PAY ATTENTION to these dates leading to the 9th of Av? Take a look at what happened on this day in history:
The twelve spies sent by Moses to observe the land of Canaan returned from their mission. Only two of the spies, Joshua and Caleb, brought a positive report, while the others spoke disparagingly about the land. The majority report caused the Children of Israel to cry, panic and despair of ever entering the “Promised Land”. For this, they were punished by God that their generation would not enter the land. Because of the Israelites’ lack of faith, God decreed that for all generations this date would become one of crying and misfortune for their descendants. (See Numbers Ch. 13–14)
The First Temple built by King Solomon and the Kingdom of Judah was destroyed by the Babylonians led by Nebuchadnezzar in 586 BCE (3175 AM) after the siege in 587 and the Judaeans were sent into the Babylonian exile.
The Second Temple built by Ezra and Nehemiah was destroyed by the Romans in August 70 CE (3830 AM), scattering the people of Judea and commencing the Jewish exile from the Holy Land. According to the Talmud in tractate Ta’anit, the destruction of the Second Temple began on the Ninth of Av and the Temple continued to burn throughout the Tenth of Av.
The Romans crushed Bar Kokhba’s revolt and destroyed the city of Betar, killing over 100,000 Jews, on July 8, 132 CE (Av 9, 3892 AM).
Following the Bar Kokhba revolt, Roman commander Turnus Rufus plowed the site of the Temple and the surrounding area, in 133 CE.
The First Crusade officially commenced on August 15, 1096 (Av 9, 4856 AM), killing 10,000 Jews in its first month and destroying Jewish communities in France and the Rhineland. A grand total of 1.2 million Jews were killed by this crusade that started on the 9th of Av.
The Jews were expelled from England on July 25, 1290 (Av 9, 5050 AM).
The Jews were expelled from France on July 21, 1306 (Av 9, 5066 AM).
The Jews were expelled from Spain on July 31, 1492 (Av 8-9, 5252 AM).
On August 2, 1941, (Av 9, 5701 AM) SS commander Heinrich Himmler formally received approval from the Nazi Party for “The Final Solution”. Almost 50% of the Jews on the face of the earth were captured and killed at that time.
On the 9th of Av, 5702 (July 23, 1942), the mass deportation began of Jews from the Warsaw Ghetto, en route to Treblinka.
Most religious communities use Tisha B’Av to mourn the 6,000,000 Jews who perished in the Holocaust
“…we, with our limited human minds can never truly understand events in our own lives. An illness, an injury, a robbery, a fire — all of these things seem cruel, they seem unfair and even unjust. However, often in retrospect, years later, we will see that because of this we met this one, and this happened and if it hadn’t happened then… who knows what might have happened. So many things that happened were painful at the time of their occurrence, but later on we see that the chain of events was for the good, and HaShem had his reasons for doing it in precisely this way.” Rabbi Menachem Mendel Schneerson