Parashah Mattos- Massei Reflections for the Terminal Generation; Safe within the Boundaries of the Lord.
Psalm 34; 13 Who is the man who desires life, who loves days of seeing good? 14 Guard your tongue from evil, and your lips from speaking deceit. 15 Turn from evil and do good, seek peace and pursue it. 16 The eyes of HASHEM are toward the righteous, and His ears to their cry. 17 The face of HASHEM is against evil doers, to cut off their memory from earth. 18 They [the righteous] cried out and HASHEM heeds, and from all their troubles He rescues them. 19 HASHEM is close to the brokenhearted; and those crushed in spirit, He saves. 20 Many are the mishaps of the righteous but from them all HASHEM rescues him. 21 He guards all his bones, even one of them was not broken. 22 The death blow of the wicked is evil, and the haters of the righteous will be condemned. 23 HASHEM redeems the souls of His servants, and all those who take refuge in Him will not be condemned.
–Mattos- matteh= a branch; a rod; a staff; a tribe.
This Torah Sedra- Parashah- Portion is a double portion and is the last reading for the book of Bamidbar- Numbers. We pick up from the previous sedra in which HASHEM was preparing the people to enter the land and giving them His order for Divinely Appointed times and the offerings that they were to bring. The theme continues in this Parashah in that He is continuing to place before us His priorities for those who are poised to take hold of His promises. We begin with the description of vows and a picture of the order in our homes, the leadership and authority of the husband and his duty to keep his wife’s well being at heart. God charges Moshe regarding his final mission, vengeance against Midian. Rueben and Gad separate themselves from their kin and bring forth their case not to enter the Land of Israel and to remain on the other side of the Jordan. The spoils of victorious battle are accounted for and God expresses His desire for the attention to detail in making accounting and allotting fair portions as well as His value in the portion which would go to the priesthood and the care for the house of God, the Tabernacle. The Lord sets boundaries for the people and the Land and sets His borders. The instructions regarding Levitical cities are presented and the idea that although we have reached this peak and the wandering in the wilderness period may be drawing to a close…life still remains a constant battleground where we are to be aware that there will be pieces to pick up in a broken world, thus the details for cities of refuge for unintentional killers. In addition there is the beautiful chapter in which HASHEM recalls all the stops along the way and orders Moshe to ‘put them in writing’, we will see that despite whatever challenges we have faced…each step on this journey is precious to our King and as He draws us closer to Him He continues to use every single day to teach and refine us as human beings with a destiny…to sanctify His Name on earth and proclaim His unfailing, unalterable, trustworthy Good News at all times! I pray you will be blessed.
Bamidbar 29;39 These are what you shall make for HASHEM on your appointed festivals, aside from your vows and your free-will offerings for your burnt-offerings, your meal-offerings, your libations, and your peace-offerings.
30;1 Moses said to Children of Israel according to everything that HASHEM had commanded Moses.
–Neder (neh-der)= A promise to God; vow.
Shbuw’ah (sheb-oo-aw)=Something sworn; an oath.
I Samuel 1;9 Hannah rose after eating in Shiloh and after drinking; and Eli the Kohen was sitting on the chair, near the doorpost of the Sanctuary of HASHEM. 10 She was feeling bitter, and she prayed to HASHEM, weeping continuously. 11 She made a vow and said, “HASHEM, Master of Legions, if You take note of the suffering of Your maidservant, and You remember me, and do not forget Your maidservant, and give Your maidservant male offspring, then I shall give him to HASHEM all the days if his life, and a razor shall not come upon his head.
19…Elkanah knew Hannah his wife and HASHEM remembered her. 20 And it happened with the passage of the period of days that Hannah had conceived, and she gave birth to a son. She named him Samuel, for [she said,] “I requested him from HASHEM.” 21 The man Elkanah ascended with his entire household to bring to HASHEM the annual offering of his vow. 22 But Hannah did not ascend, as she told her husband, “When the child is weaned, then I will bring him, and he shall appear before HASHEM and shall settle there forever.” 23 Elkanah her husband said to her, “Do what is good in your eyes; remain until you wean him- but may HASHEM fulfill His word.”
Bamidbar 30;2 Moses spoke to the heads of the tribes of the Children of Israel, saying: This is the thing that HASHEM has commanded: 3 If a man takes a vow to desecrate his word; according to whatever comes from his mouth shall he do. 4 But if a woman will take a vow to HASHEM or establish a prohibition in her father’s home in her youth; 5 and her father heard her vow or her prohibition that she established upon herself, and her father was silent about her, then all her vows shall stand, and any prohibition that she established upon herself shall stand. 6 But if her father restrained her on the day of his hearing, all her vows or prohibitions that she established upon herself shall not stand; and HASHEM will forgive her, for her father had restrained her.
–The vows and oaths we make are of the utmost importance. There is more to this than being someone of character, one who’s utterances can be counted on, this subject is far more than lip service. When we confess that Yeshua is our savior and that we will live a life that would honor him, this is a vow. A vow is a promise made between you and the Lord. An oath is to establish a restraint on oneself, however if it is something contrary to the Torah…. it is air and just as easily can be considered invisible. (Ex. “I will never keep the Sabbath.”) The lesson we see before us is that HASHEM is setting up, using the example of the young girl taking a vow or oath upon herself, His ideal for the relationships within the home. The father is the head of the house and must lead his wife and children in all aspects, spiritually and otherwise. If he sees that his daughter is making an statement that would cause her harm or bring a negative result upon her he is able to restrain her and she will not be held accountable by God for what she had stated as a vow or an oath.
There is sound teaching our Father has given us, and He would surely never lead us astray. Our lips and words are very powerful and His are lasting and true…He has given us the guide for life and morality in His Torah and if we use it, by the work of the Holy Spirit in unison with the completed teaching of Messiah Yeshua we will not be bound to the curses that come along with a life prone to falling and sinning…walking idly, or blindly into the future.
Proverbs 4;1 Hear, children, the Father’s discipline, and be attentive to know understanding: 2 “For I have given you a good teaching, do not forsake My Torah.” 3 For I was a son to my father, a tender and only son before my mother. 4 He taught me, and said to me, “Let my words sustain your heart; observe my commandments and live. 5 Acquire wisdom; acquire understanding. Do not forget and do not stray from the words of my mouth. 6 Do not forsake the Torah, and it will guard you; love it and it will protect you. ”
10 Hear, my child, take my words; and they will add years of life to you. 11 I instruct you in the ways of wisdom; I lead you in the courses of fairness. 12 When you walk, your steps will not be constricted, and when you run, you will not stumble.
20 My child, be attentive to my speech; incline your ears to my words. 21 Let them not depart from your eyes; guard them with your heart. 22 For they are life to he who finds them, and healing for all his flesh.
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.
Colossians 3;18 Wives, subject yourselves to your husbands, as is appropriate in the Lord. 19 Husbands, love your wives and don’t treat them harshly. 20 Children, obey your parents in everything; for this pleases the Lord. 21 Fathers, don’t irritate your children or make them resentful, or they will become discouraged.
Bamidbar 30;7 If she shall be married to a man and her vows were upon her, or an utterance of her lips by which she had prohibited something upon herself, 8 and her husband heard, and on the day of his hearing he was silent about her- then her vows shall stand and her prohibition that she established upon herself shall stand. 9 But if on the day of her husband’s hearing he shall restrain her and he shall revoke the vow that is upon her or the utterance of her lips by which she had prohibited something upon herself- then HASHEM will forgive her. 10 The vow of widow or divorcee- anything she had prohibited upon herself- shall remain upon her.
–HASHEM made a vow to keep the Children of Israel as His treasured people. He vowed to bring them to the Land and implant them there forever. He vows that they would never be cut off completely and that He will gather them in, to Him…”they will be a people to Me and I will be a God to them. The word of HASHEM.”
Throughout His word He is making promises that extend to us today, as part of His assembly…in agreement with the terms, the Ketubah- wedding document, the Torah. The picture in the home should be a mirror of what we can see in God’s intention with these laws regarding the vows of the wife in her husbands home.
He is to look out for her best interests and even if what she is doing is in an response to her feeling led to make a vow to the Lord, if he does not consider it to be in her best interest, or if he feels like she will not fulfill it (knowing the serious consequences of breaking a vow to the Lord) , his discernment and word takes precedence in the home. Our husbands should be guarding us closely, and building us up to be strong. Our men should be in strength, empowering us in a Godly way to be women of valor, character, whose words are not considered vain and whose speech is of value. This is what the Lord has shown to us, He is always looking out for our best interests and asks that we submit to His authority and His discernment as to what should and should not be done, as described in His inspired and given word.
If we can look at the Torah in this light, it will cease to be considered a ‘burden’ and we would realize that it is in fact His way of snapping our bonds and removing our yoke…to sin and a selfish way of considering the value of our lives and God given capabilities. Things become placed in order, we live for HASHEM, and are sensitive to His design for the world, realizing that the power of the spoken word (as led by God) propels a person into heightened level of holiness, awareness, consciousness….and these elements can fill our homes when we function in the roles God ordained for man and wife as well.
Ephesians 5;22 Wives should submit to their husbands as they do to the Lord; 23 because the husband is the head of the wife, just as the Messiah, as head of the Messianic Community, is himself the one who keeps the body safe. 24 Just as the Messianic Community (ekklesia-assembly) submits to the Messiah, so also the wives should submit to their husbands in everything. 25 As for husbands, love your wives, just as the Messiah loved the Messianic Community, indeed, gave himself up on its behalf, 26 in order to set it apart for God, making it clean through immersion in the mikveh, so to speak, 27 in order to present the Messianic Community to himself as a bride to be proud of, without a spot, wrinkle or any such thing, but holy and without defect. 28 This is how husbands ought to love their wives- like their own bodies; for the man who loves his wife is loving himself. 29 Who, no one ever hated his own flesh! On the contrary, he feeds it well and takes care of it, just as the Messiah does the Messianic Community, 20 because we are parts of his Body. 31 “Therefore a man will leave his father and mother and remain with his wife and the two will become one.” 32 There is profound truth hidden here, which I say concerns the Messiah and the Messianic Community. 22 However, the text also applies to each of you individually: let each man love his wife as he does himself, and see that the wife respects her husband.
I Peter 2;23 When he was insulted, he didn’t retaliate with insults; when he suffered, he did not threaten, but handed them over to him who judges justly. 24 He himself bore our sins in his body on the stake, so that we might die to sins and live for righteousness- by his wounds we are healed. 25 For you used to be like sheep gone astray, but now you have turned to the Shepherd who watches over you.
3;1 In the same way, wives, submit to your husbands; so that even if some of them do not believe the Word, they will be won over by your conduct, without your saying anything, 2 as they see your respectful and pure behavior. 3 Your beauty should not consist in externals such has fancy hairstyles, gold jewelry or what you wear; 4 rather, let it be the inner character of your heart, with the imperishable quality of a gentle and quiet spirit. In God’s sight this is of great value. 5 This is how the holy women of the past who put their hope in God used to adorn themselves and submit to their husbands. 6 the way Sarah obeyed Avraham, honoring him as her Lord. You are her daughters if you do what is right and do not succumb to fear. 7 You husbands, likewise, conduct your married lives with understanding. Although your wife may be weaker physically, you should respect her as a fellow heir of the gift of Life. If you don’t, your prayers will be blocked.
—Is it a ‘bad’ thing to take a vow or an oath? Did Yeshua think so? Many things Yeshua said have been mistranslated and misunderstood for lack of context. Without the entire counsel of the Living word, without the Torah understanding there is a tendency toward assumption. In addition, without genealogical, geographical and historical context one would not have a proper understanding of many of the things Yeshua had come to repair and restore. The Guardian of Israel, the Builder of Jerusalem had not come to abolish and nullify, He came and will return to resolve and secure!
Bamidbar 30;11 But if she vowed in her husband’s home, or she established a prohibition upon herself through an oath, 12 and her husband heard and was silent about her- he did not restrain her- then all her vows shall stand and any prohibition she established upon herself shall stand. 13 But if her husband shall revoke them on the day of his hearing, anything that came out of her mouth regarding her oaths or the prohibitions upon herself shall not stand; her husband has revoked them and HASHEM will forgive her. 14 Any vow and any oath-prohibition to cause personal affliction, her husband may let it stand and her husband may revoke it. 15 If her husband shall be silent about her from day to day- he will have let stand all her vows; or all the prohibitions that are upon her, he will have let them stand, for he was silent about her on the day of his hearing. 16 But if he shall revoke them after his having heard, he shall bear her iniquity.
17 These are the decrees that HASHEM commanded Moses, between a man and his wife, between a father and his daughter in her youth, in her father’s house.
–GREEK: Horkos (hor-kos)= a limit; restraint; an oath.
Omnuo (om-noo-o)= to swear; to declare an oath.
We cannot assume that Yeshua would rearrange his own guidelines and institute that vows and oaths were improper by the simple reading of the texts below. What we can assume is that he was trying to teach us a lesson that if we are to make vow to the Lord, it is expected to be kept…if there is ANY chance that you can not keep your word, do not make the utterance at all. Among our fellow, beyond the disappointment it can cause in the party bearing witness, you loose your credibility and if you have His Name written and declared upon your life it is crucial to be as abiding and uncompromising when it comes to your spoken word as possible…so that His Name is not diminished. This is what was meant by Yeshua’s command not to take the Lord’s Name in vain.
Matthew 5;33 “Again, you have heard that our fathers were told, ‘Do not break your oath,’ and ‘Keep your vows to ADONAI.’ 34 But I tell you not to swear at all- not ‘by heaven,’ because it is God’s throne; 35 not ‘by the earth,’ because it is his footstool; and not ‘by Jerusalem,’ because it is the city of the Great King. 36 And don’t swear by your head, because you can’t make a single hair white or black. 37 Just let your ‘Yes’ be a simple ‘Yes,’ and your ‘No’ a simple ‘No’; anything more than that has its origin in evil.
Matthew 23; 16 “Woe to you, blind guides! You say, ‘If someone swears by the Temple he is not bound by his oath; but if he swears by the gold in the Temple, he is bound.’ 17 You blind fools! Which is more important? the gold? or the Temple which makes the gold holy? 18 And you say, ‘If someone swears by the altar, his not bound by his oath; but if he swears by the offering on the altar, he is bound.’ 19 Blind men! Which is more important? the sacrifice? or the altar which makes the sacrifice holy? 20 So someone who swears by the altar swears by it and everything on it. 21 And someone who swears by the Temple swears by it and the One who lives in it. 22 And someone who swears by heaven swears by God’s throne and the One who sits on it.”
—-Was Yeshua against the ritual of washing of the hands? Or was it the fact that in that day there were many different sects of “Observant Jews” (as today) and different stipulations and rules set out in the Oral Law which caused a man to feel condemnation if he washed right to left versus left to right, or only twice versus three times. Was he doing away with the Sabbath command? Or was he demonstrating the fence laws that men had put around “guarding the Sabbath” had made it troublesome for people to find favor in the eyes of their leaders and the community in their Sabbath observance? Was he against making vows and oaths? Or was it the fact that through ‘man made laws’ there were oaths and vows being made under the guidelines that if one made a vow or oath in such a way, on this or that object…the vow would not be considered binding if by chance for whatever reason that might happen to arise the party would find himself ‘unable’ to keep his word. These circumstances diminish the whole point of the Torah lessons and law and this is what I believe Yeshua objected to. I thank God that I am still able to learn and be corrected and uncover new things in the word, that weren’t new at all…only unrevealed. What is becoming more and more clear as the days progress is the assurance that the Good News Yeshua proclaimed and charged his disciples to declare was from the beginning (Bereshit- Genesis) through Revelation. If vows and oaths were ‘bad’ in the eyes of the Master why would one of his angels swear by ‘the One’? If the Good News is strictly from Matthew onward, why does scripture say that the Good News was proclaimed to the Prophets? And what did proclamation did they assert? Return to the Torah of the Lord and He will keep His word! One Lawgiver, One God, One People, One Kingdom. Eternal.
Revelation 10;5 Then the angel I saw standing on the sea and on the land lifted his right hand toward heaven 6 and swore by the One who lives forever and ever, who created heaven and what is in it, earth and what is in it, and the sea and what is in it: “There will be no more delay; 7 on the contrary, in the days of the sound from the seventh angel when he sounds his shofar, the hidden plan of God will be brought to completion, the Good News as he proclaimed it to his servants the prophets.”
Malachi 3;22 Remember the Torah of Moses My servant, which I commanded him at Horeb for all of Israel- [its] decrees and [its] statutes.
Isaiah 56;1 Thus said HASHEM: Observe justice and perform righteousness, for My salvation is soon to come and My righteousness to be revealed. 2 Praiseworthy is the man who does this and the person who grasps it tightly, who guards the Sabbath against desecrating it and guards his hand against doing any evil. 3 Let not the foreigner, who has joined himself to HASHEM, speak, saying, ‘HASHEM will utterly separate me from His people’; and let not the barren one say, ‘Behold I am a shriveled tree.’ 4 For thus said HASHEM to the barren ones who observe My Sabbaths and choose what I desire, and grasp My covenant tightly: 5 in My house and within My walls I will give them a place of honor and renown, which is better than sons and daughters; eternal renown will I give them, which will never be terminated. 6 And the foreigners who join themselves to HASHEM to serve Him and to love the Name of HASHEM to become servants unto Him, all who guard the Sabbath against desecration, and grasp My covenant tightly- 7 I will bring them to My holy mountain, and I will gladden them in My house of prayer; their elevation-offerings and their feast-offerings will find favor on My Altar, for My House will be called a house of prayer for all the peoples.
–Looking back to the work of the Lord through Balaam, the wicked prophet for hire, we realize the extent to unwarranted, irrational hatred of any people, namely the Jews. While Balak, king of Moab was the one who enlisted Balaam to perform the cursing of Israel (which the Lord turned to blessings in his mouth,) Moab was acting out of fear, they had heard all the things that the Lord had done in the wilderness and since the Egypt and the splitting of the Sea of Reeds, they realized that the power the people seemed to have came from their God, one Who could not be defeated and they were frightened that this factor would effect their lives. Balaam and Midian on the other hand functioned out of pure illogical and consuming hatred of the Children of Israel. While Balak sought to destroy their physical bodies, Balaam and Midian sought the destruction of their entire way of life. The morality and higher standard for living given to the people in the Torah and its wise design is a standard that causes true change and separation from the flesh and its nature. This standard was what was warred against, the material of righteous living and its Designer. Balaam and Midian sought to destroy the physical being and eternal rest of the people of God. This is why Balaam’s advise to send the princesses and daughters of Midian into the camp to prostitute themselves out and corrupt the men and the entire camp was such an offense against God and His precious possessions that He charges Moshe with his final mission. Make war, exact vengeance and just punishment for Midian. Moshe doesn’t tarry in fulfilling this mission, even though he had married a Midianite woman (prior to the Torah being given) he does not let this keep him from obeying God. What an example this is to us today. This act of vengeance headed by Phinehas, led by the Ark of the covenant containing the Tablets of Testimony…the message of morality that Midian despised, trumpets in hand…was to be a united effort on behalf of all Israel. All twelve tribes sent the thousand men to the legion, including the Levites. It is here amid the dust of Jacob that Balaam meets his end.
Bamidbar 31; 1 HASHEM spoke to Moses, saying, 2 “Take vengeance for the Children of Israel against the Midianites; afterward you will be gathered unto your people.” 3 Moses spoke to the people, saying, “Arm men from among yourselves for the legion that they may be against Midian to inflict HASHEM’s vengeance against Midian. 4 A thousand from a tribe, a thousand from a tribe, for all the tribes of Israel shall you send to the legion.” 3 So there were delivered from the thousands of the Children of Israel, a thousand from each tribe, twelve thousand armed for the legion. 6 Moses sent them- a thousand from each tribe for the legion- them and Phinehas son of Elazar the Kohen to the legion, and the sacred vessels and the trumpets for sounding in his hand. 7 They massed against Midian, as HASHEM had commanded Moses, and they killed every male. 8 They killed the kings of Midian along with their slain ones: Evi, Rekem, Zur, Hur, and Reba, the five kings of Midian; and Balaam son of Beor they slew with the sword. 6 The Children of Israel took captive the women of Midian, and their young children; and all their cattle and flocks and all their wealth they took as spoils. 10 All the cities of their habitations and all their palaces they burned in fire.11 They took all the booty and all the captives of the people and the animals. 12 They brought to Moses, to Elazar the Kohen, and to the assembly of the Children of Israel the captives, the animals, and the booty to the camp, at the plains of Moab, which was by the Jordan near Jericho.
I Samuel 15;1 Samuel said to Saul: “HASHEM sent me to anoint you as king over his people, over Israel, so now hear the sound of HASHEM’s words. 2 So said HASHEM, Master of Legions: ‘I have remembered what Amalek did to Israel- [the ambush] he emplaced against them on the way, as he went up from Egypt. 3 Now go and strike down Amalek and destroy everything he has. Have no pity on him- kill man and woman alike, infant and suckling alike, ox an sheep alike, camel and donkey alike.'”
9 Saul as well as the people took pity on Agag, the best of the sheep, the cattle and fatted bulls, the fatted sheep, and on all that was good; and they were not willing to destroy them….
13 When Samuel came to Saul, Saul said to him, “Blessed are you to HASHEM! I have fulfilled the word of HASHEM.”
14 And Samuel said, “And what is this sound of the sheep in my ears and the sound of the cattle that I hear?”
–Moshe is angered with the men for they had left the very women who had corrupted the camp alive. Picture it, the women who had incited the defamation of the Name of God declared on His people are now to enter the camp as captives? How much more shameful could something become? This is the outrage of Moshe, it is said he was so angered he was unable to administer the commands for ‘Koshering’ the vessels won in the battle and purification of the men who had become ritually contaminated and that this is why Elazar takes over in speaking with the men of the legion. In the end, according to will and understanding of the Lord all the males and non-virgin women are killed. The vessels that can withhold the heat are passed through the fire, those that could not withstand the fire were immersed in water. All these items could surely have been used in some sort of pagan ritual or could have contained contaminated material, unclean food or food that was sacrificed to idols. These things had to be taken care of first but that is not where it stops for they were next sprinkled with the waters of purification (from the Red Heifer sacrifice). The people and the materials, first cleaned of uncleanliness and then purified, sanctified before they entered the camp.
Bamidbar 31; 13 Moses, Elazar the Kohen, and all the leaders of the assembly went out to meet them outside the camp. 14 Moses was angry with the commanders of the army, the officers of the thousands and the officers of the hundreds, who came from the legion of the battle. 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. 17 So now, kill every male among the young children, and every woman fit to know a man by lying with a male, you shall kill. 18 But all the young children among the women who have not known a man by lying with a male, you may keep alive for yourselves. 19 And as for you, encamp outside the camp for a seven-day period; whoever killed a person or touched a corpse shall purify yourselves on the third day and on the seventh day- you and your captives. 20 And every garment, every vessel and hide, everything made of that which comes from goats, and every vessel of wood you shall purify.” 21 Elazar the Kohen said to the men of the legion who came to the battle, “This is the decree of the Torah, which HASHEM commanded Moses: 22 Only the gold and the silver, the copper and the iron, the tin and the lead- 23 everything that comes into the fire- you shall pass through the fire and it will be purified; but it must be purified with the water of sprinkling; and everything that would not come in the fire, you shall pass through the water. 24 You shall immerse your garments on the seventh day and become purified; afterward you may enter the camp.
Matthew 12;36 “Moreover, I tell you this: on the Day of Judgment people will have to give account for every careless word they have spoken; 37 for by your own words you will be acquitted, and by your own words you will be condemned.”
I Chronicles 29;10 And David blessed HASHEM in the presence of the entire congregation. David said, “Blessed are You, HASHEM, God of Israel our forefather. from This World to the World to Come.11 Yours, HASHEM, is the greatness, the strength, the splendor, the triumph and the glory, even everything in heaven and earth. Yours HASHEM, is the kingdom and the sovereignty over every leader. 12 Wealth and honor come from You and You rule everything- in Your hand is power and strength and it is in Your hand to make anyone great or strong. 13 So now, our God, we thank You and praise Your splendorous Name.
14 For Who am I, and what is my people, that we should muster the strength to donate in this manner? For everything is from You, and from Your hand have we given to You.
–The Lord makes it clear that in all endeavors we must be scrupulous in account taking. In business, in personal dealings we should use a clear perspective and fair measure. [“Forgive, and you will be forgiven. Give, and you will receive gifts- the full measure, compacted, shaken together and overflowing, will be put right in your lap. For the measure with which you measure out will be used to measure back to you!”] In this section the Lord has the people divide up the spoils acquired from the battle among the legion, the assembly and then there is a tribute brought for HASHEM to Elazar. Yeshua commands that we make an account for our words and we know that our heart will also be the reflection of how we measure and apportion our lives in time and effort for the Kingdom and sanctity of the Name of God on earth [Proverbs 27;19 As water reflects a face back to a face, so one’s heart is reflected back to him by another.]
Bamidbar 31;25 HASHEM said to Moses, saying: 26 Calculate the total of the captured spoils, of people and animals, you, Elazar the Kohen, and the heads of the fathers of the assembly. 27 Divide the spoils in half, between those who undertook the battle, who go out to the legion and the entire assembly. 28 You shall raise up a tribute to HASHEM from the men of war who go out the legion, one living being of five hundred, from the people, from the cattle, from the donkeys, and from the flock. 29 You shall take it from their half and give it to Elazar the Kohen, as a portion to HASHEM. 30 And from half of the Children of Israel you shall take one drawn from fifty, from the people, from the cattle, from the donkeys, from the flock- from all the animals-and you shall give them to the Levites, the guardians of the charge of HASHEM’s Tabernacle. 31 Moses and Elazar did as HASHEM had commanded Moses.
41 Moses gave the tribute portion for HASHEM to Elazar the Kohen, as HASHEM had commanded Moses.
Haggai 2;3 Who is left among you who remembers this Temple in its original glory, and how do you view it now? Is it not like nothing in your eyes? 4 So now, be strong, O Zerubbabel- the word of HASHEM- and be strong, the entire people of the land- the word of HASHEM- and fulfill, for I am with you- the word of HASHEM, Master of Legions- 5 the matter [of the covenant] that I sealed with you when you went forth from Egypt. My spirit remains in your midst; do not be afraid. 6 For thus said HASHEM, Master of Legions: There will be one more; it is a small one. I will shake the heavens and the earth and the sea and the dry land. 7 I will shake the nations, and the precious things of all the nations will arrive here, and I will fill this Temple with glory, said HASHEM, Master of Legions. 8 Mine is the silver and mine is the gold- the word of HASHEM, Master of Legions. 9The glory of this Temple will be greater than [that of] the first, said HASHEM, Master of Legions; and I will grant peace to this place- the word of HASHEM, Master of Legions.”
Bamidbar 31;48 The commanders of the thousands in the legions, the officers of the thousands and the officers of the hundreds approached Moses. 49 They said to Moses, “Your servants took a census of the men of war under our command, and not a man of us is missing. 50 So we have brought an offering for HASHEM: each man what he found- a gold vessel, anklet, bracelet, ring, earring, or clasp, to atone for our souls before HASHEM.”
54 Moses and Elazar the Kohen took the gold from the officers of the thousands and the hundreds and brought it to the Tent of Meeting, a remembrance for the Children of Israel before HASHEM.
–When I think about all the ‘unspoken’ miracles of the Bible, all the rhetorical questions posed by God, I think about the fact that all animals for the offerings are His, all the gold, silver and everything else brought to build the Tabernacle and Temples is His. The earth is the Lord and its fullness, all inhabitants ALL is His to do with as He wills. Yet the God I serve has given us freewill. He has put before us life and death, good and evil, the righteous marked out in His word and a wayward route wrought with the confusing lies and deception of the evil one, the destroyer. We have the choice. We can choose to serve Him or choose to spend our life building up treasures here on earth that decay and will not be remembered on the day our bodies return to the dust from which we were formed. In the Torah text we see an incredible thing, this miracle is not identified by the Lord, our humble God awaits for His children to recognize His hand and His presence and the leaders of the legions of Israel have gotten it quite right here. They realize and identify that not a single man of the legion was lost!! Instead of glorifying themselves or putting the credit any where else…they offer a tribute of thanksgiving, honor and glory to the God Who exacts vengeance for us from our foes, and brings just retribution upon the enemy of our soul. Granted, the gold and silver, as in the Temple offerings with King David, come from the Lord, they are His in the first place…but I can only imagine the favor in HASHEM’s eyes when His children honor and glorify Him, giving Him the full credit in the big and small victories of life!
Bamidbar 32;1 The Children of Rueben and the Children of Gad had abundant livestock- very great. They saw the land of Jazer and the land of Gilead, and behold!- the place was a place for livestock. 2 The Children of Gad and the Children of Rueben came and said to Moses, to Elazar the Kohen, and to the leaders of the assembly…
5 They said, ” If we have found favor in your eyes, let this land be given to your servants as a heritage; do not bring us across the Jordan.” 6 Moses said to the Children of Gad and to the Children of Rueben, “Shall your brothers go out to battle while you settle here? 7 Why do you dissuade the heart of the Children of Israel from crossing to the Land that HASHEM has given them? 8 This is what your fathers did, when I sent them from Kadesh- barnea to see the Land and they dissuaded the heart of the Children of Israel, not to come to the Land that HASHEM has give them.
13 The wrath of HASHEM burned against Israel and He made them wander in the Wilderness for forty years, until the end of the entire generation that did evil on the eyes of HASHEM. 14 Behold! – you have risen up in place of your fathers, a society of sinful people, to add more to the burning wrath of HASHEM against Israel. 15 For if you will turn away the people from after Him, He will again let it rest in the Wilderness, and you will destroy this entire people.”
–We know from the idea of the animal sacrifices that the one able to bring the ‘biggest’ valued item would have brought a cow. Livestock is currency, the cattle speak of property and personal gain. Moshe’s bitter disappointment is that he sees Ruben and Gad have not learned from the past and cannot see past their cattle and recognize the long term vision of the Lord for them in the Land of Israel. They have a blindness of spirit and a lack of appreciation of the uniqueness of Israel and furthermore, their potential and destiny there!
Their apathy for the land and their community as a whole and alienation from their brethren is seen as an enemy force. Ruben and Gad suffered from the secular view of the Land of Israel. They were victims of the plague of disconnect from the Land. They could only see the temporal and mundane function of their acquisition and their priorities were all askew. They came with a Godless attitude and we all know that nothing, none of our handiwork…works unless it is “before HASHEM.”
I Kings 8;20 Now HASHEM has fulfilled His word the He spoke, for I have risen in place of the my father David, and I sit on the throne of Israel as HASHEM spoke, and I have built the Temple for the Name of HASHEM, God of Israel. 21 And I have set there a place for the Ark wherein is the covenant of HASHEM, which He made with our forefathers when He took them out of the land of Egypt.
Bamidbar 32;16 They approached him and said, “Pens for the flocks shall be build here for our livestock and cities for our small children. 17 We shall arm ourselves swiftly in the vanguard of the Children of Israel until we will have brought them to their place, and our small children will dwell in the fortified cities before the inhabitants of the land. 18 We shall not return to our homes until the Children of Israel will have inherited- every man his inheritance- 19 for we shall not inherit with them across the Jordan and beyond, for our inheritance has come to us on the east bank of the Jordan.”
–Ruben and Gad suffer from “I, Me, My” syndrome. WE shall arm OURselves…until WE will have, and OUR small children, We shall not return to our homes, OUR inheritance has come to US. Not once is the Lord consulted, not once is His Name mentioned, not once is His authority honored. On top of that they have mentioned providing shelter first for their cattle and THEN for their children.
Bamidbar 32;20 Moses said to them, “If you do this thing, if you arm yourselves before HASHEM for the battle, 21 and every armed man among you shall cross the Jordan before HASHEM, until He drives out His enemies before Him, 22 and the Land shall be conquered before HASHEM, and then you shall return- then you shall be vindicated from HASHEM and from Israel, and this Land shall be a heritage for you before HASHEM. 23 But if you do not do so, behold! – you will have sinned to HASHEM; know your sin that will encounter you. 24 Build for yourselves cities for your small children and pens for your flock, and what has come from your mouth you shall do.
–Moshe sets the record straight for Ruben and Gad: “Before HASHEM, you will arm yourselves…; you shall cross the Jordan before HASHEM…; until HE drive out HIS enemies…; the Land shall be conquered before HASHEM….; then you shall be vindicated from HASHEM…; and this land will be a heritage for you before HASHEM. The Name of God or reference to His dominion and power is used by Moshe in these four verses nine times! Things in their proper order priorities straight as he admonishes them by switching their statement, Moshe says…build for your children first and then make the pens for your flock.
Jeremiah 36;1 …this word came from HASHEM, saying:2 “Take a scroll book and write on it all the words that I have spoken to you concerning Israel, concerning Judah and concerning all the nations, from the day that I [first] spoke to you, from the days of Josiah, until this day. 3 Perhaps the House of Judah will hear of all the evil that I intend to do to them, so that they will repent, each man from his evil way, and then I can forgive their sin and transgression.”
Bamidbar 33;1 These are the journeys of the Children of Israel, who went forth from the land of Egypt according to their legions, under the hand of Moses and Aaron. 2 Moses wrote their goings forth according to their journeys at the bidding of HASHEM, and these are their journeys according to their goings forth….
–The journey’s of the Children of Israel included forty two encampments. The first fourteen encampments prior to the spies mission and the final eight were after the death of Aaron.
God guarded their travels, God ordered them to go forth to progress to the next step in His plan, to journey toward the Destiny He had planned for them. Here he lovingly commands that Moshe write it all down. Why? The places of wanderings are significant for our growth and are a part of the destination. While we may wonder “Where are we going?” it is more important to realize where we have been. Where have we come from? What did the Lord show us here? What did we learn?
The Torah is the foundation of our faith and it gives us a better idea of where to go in life.
The Lord desired for the people to have proper perspective when entering the promised Land, he wanted them to reflect on their experiences. Why? The word in the Psalm 78 text below, Acharown- last; final; terminal…refers to a future generation, the last generation at the End of the Line.
Our foundation, God’s Torah is to be taught to our children so that they have the Testimony of the Lord, the recollection of His wonders and so that they will find their heart of service to Him, trust in Him and safeguard His commandments. This is so that their spirit will be steadfast and that they can learn from the mistakes of the past, never refusing to follow His Torah…surpassing and overcoming, rising to the challenges ahead.
Future redemption beckons us to rise to the next challenge. How we arm our children, with the Torah and the entire counsel of the living word. The people were to bring into the land with them the ideals of their forefather Avraham, the commitment to righteousness and to the destiny that will influence the country where they enter with God’s ideals, His vision of morality and peace.
The people of God will spread the word of the Lord, bringing their origins to every destination and bring them closer to God, enabled to enter the future redemption with confidence and hope for a better tomorrow.
Psalm 78; 2 I will open my mouth with a parable, I will utter [and explain] riddles from antiquity. 3 That which we have heard and known and our fathers told us, 4 we shall not withhold from their sons, recounting unto the final generation the praises of HASHEM, His might and His wonders that He has wrought. 5 He established a testimony in Jacob and set down a Torah in Israel, which He commanded to our fathers, to make them known to their sons.6 So that the final generation may know; children yet to be born will arise and tell their own children; 7 so that they may place their trust in God, and not forget the works of God, and they will safeguard His commandments. 8 That they not become like their fathers, a wayward and rebellious generation; a generation that did not dedicate its heart aright, and whose spirit was not steadfast with God. 9 The sons of Ephriam, though armed archers, retreated on the day of battle, 10 [because] they did not guard the covenant of God and they refused to follow His Torah.
Nahum 1;2 HASHEM is a jealous and vengeful God; HASHEM is vengeful and full of wrath; HASHEM is vengeful to His adversaries and reserves hostility for His enemies. 3 HASHEM is slow to anger, but He has great power and He will not absolve [iniquity]. HASHEM- His path is in a storm and in a tempest, and clouds are the dust of His feet. 4 He rebukes the sea and makes it dry, and makes all rivers parched. Bashan and Carmel become devastated, and the flower of Lebanon becomes devastated. 5 Mountains quake because of Him and hills melt; the earth smolders from before Him, the world and all who dwell in it. 6 Who can stand before His fury, and who can rise against His burning wrath? His wrath is poured out like fire and rocks become shattered because of Him. 7 HASHEM is beneficent, a stronghold on the day of distress, and mindful of those who take refuge in Him. 8 With a sweeping flood, He puts an end to its place, and He pursues His enemies with darkness. 9 What can you devise against HASHEM? He is making an end [of you]; misfortune will not arise twice. 10 While they are still tangled thorns and while they are drunk in their swilling, they will be consumed like fully grown straw. 11 From you has come forth a plotter of evil against HASHEM, a lawless counselor.
–The imagery the Lord is using is repeated throughout scripture. We can not see ahead as He can, we do not understand with His understanding, yet when He asks Moshe to exact vengeance upon Midian, women and children some may shudder…without understanding one might read the Bamidbar text and cringe as He commands that ALL inhabitants be driven from them…ALL. These nations have chosen their path, they have been consumed with idolatry and rage against the God of the Heavens and Earth the Almighty, Most High God…of Avraham, Isaac and Jacob and His people. He knows and discloses that if they are not completely separated from Israel, that they will become a thorn…a hedge of thorns…and pins in their eyes….they will loose sight of their King and their destiny to serve Him. To be the bearers of the Testimony of the Almighty and faithful preservers of His presence in the earth.
Bamidbar 33;50 HASHEM spoke to Moses in the plains of Moab, by the Jordan, at Jericho, saying: 51 Speak to the Children of Israel and say to them: When you cross the Jordan to the land of Canaan, 52 you shall drive out all the inhabitants of the Land before you; and you shall destroy all their prostration stones; all their molten images shall you destroy; and all their high places shall you demolish. 53 You shall possess the Land and you shall settle in it, for to you have I given the Land to possess it. 54 You shall give the Land as an inheritance by lot to your families; to the many you shall increase its inheritance and to the few shall you decrease its inheritance; wherever its lot shall fall, his shall it be, according to the tribes of your fathers shall you inherit. 55 But if you do not drive out the inhabitants of the Land before you, those of them whom you leave shall be pins in your eyes and a surrounding barrier [of thorns] in your sides, and they will harass you upon the Land in which you dwell. 56 And it shall be that what I had meant to do to them, I shall do to you.
Job 23;2 Still today my speech is bitter; my hand is worse than my sigh. 3 If only I still knew how to find Him, I would approach His seat; 4 I would set out my case before Him; I would fill my mouth with arguments! 5 I would know what words He could answer me and I would understand what He would say to me. 6 Would He contend with me through superior power? No! He would only direct Himself to me. 7 There [my] uprightness would be proven before Him, and I would be forever released from my Judge! 8 Behold, I go to the east, He is not there; to the west, I cannot discern Him; 9 though He created the north, I do not see Him [there]; He cloaked the south so I cannot see Him. 10 For He knows the way that is mine; He has scrutinized me, and I have emerged like gold. 11 My feet have held fast to His footsteps; I have kept His ways and have not strayed. 12 I do not move away from the commandments of His lips; I have cherished the words of His mouth more than my sustenance. 13 He is unique, and who can contradict Him? His soul desires and He does! 14 For He will complete my just allotment; and with Him are many such
–The beautiful passages above from Job speak of an all powerful God who sets out limits, borders, and justice for all creation. The invisible God we believe in and trust in completely…will exact justice and righteousness for there is nothing fallible or temporary about Him. There are no mistakes or illusions, no deceptions and He is fair and faithful. When the Children of Israel enter the Land He sets their boundaries and borders. The Torah is the expression of these boundaries for our lives, in every single way, Messiah Yeshua did not come to move these boundary markers. For us as well, as we stay safely in the boundaries of HASHEM, His Torah, we show that we are satisfied with our allotment. We bear witness to the idea that our God does not move or change things as with the whims of human beings, and He is completely separate and different from the world and those in it who remove the boundaries completely! Look at the world, there are no more clear boundaries between what is good or evil, between the truth and lies, even within creation…the lines between man and woman and personal relationships are blurred and completely distorted….we are in danger of falling, having strayed far off course.
Bamidbar 34;1 HASHEM spoke to Moses, saying: 2 Command the Children of Israel and say to them: When you come to the land of Canaan, this is the land that shall fall to you as an inheritance, the land of Canaan according to its borders. 3 Your southern side shall be from the Wilderness of Zin at the side of Edom, and your southern border shall be from the edge of the Salt Sea to the east. 6 The western border: It shall be fore you the Great Sea and the district; this shall be for you the western border. 7 This shall be for you the northern border: From the Great Sea you shall turn to Mount Hor. 11 The border shall descend to the Jordan, and its outskirts shall be the Salt Sea; this shall be the Land for you according to its borders.
13 Moses commanded the Children of Israel, saying: This is the Land that you shall divide as an inheritance by lot, which HASHEM has commanded to give to the nine- and-a-half-tribes. 14 For the tribe of the children of Rueben have taken according to their fathers’ house, and the children of Gad according to their fathers’ house, and half the tribe of Manasseh have taken their inheritance. 15 Two-and-a-half tribes have taken their inheritance on the bank of the Jordan by Jericho, eastward toward the sunrise.
-HASHEM ensures that the Children of Israel know that upon entering the Land they will need to apportion the Levitical cities, they are responsible for taking care of their spiritual leadership because the Levites to not inherit land in the same way they will. What joy there must be in the gates of these cities! These are the men who serve before HASHEM in the holy Mishkan, the image of solemn priests cloaked in black chanting under their breath should be forgotten in this place and replaced with the vibrant, energized, completely God conscious Kohanim. Bedecked in white singing praises loud and clear!
Bamidbar 35;1 HASHEM spoke to Moses in the plains of Moab, by the Jordan, at Jericho, saying: 2 Command the Children of Israel that they shall give to the Levites, from the heritage of their possession, cities for dwelling, and open space for the cities all around them shall you give to the Levites. 3 The cities shall be theirs for dwelling, and their open space shall be for their animals, for their wealth, and for all their needs. 6The cities that you shall give to the Levites: the six cities of refuge that you shall provide for a killer to flee there, and in addition to them you shall give forty-two cities. 7 All the cities that you shall give the Levites: forty-eight cities, them and their open spaces.
–In a fallen world we know that life will be permeated with death, the Torah reinforces the value of life and a need for justice to prevail among people of God. All those in covenant with God would be afforded both the privileges and responsibilities of the Torah.
Bamidbar 35;9 HASHEM spoke to Moses, saying: 10 Speak to the Children of Israel and say to them: When you cross the Jordan to the land of Canaan, 11 you shall designate cities for yourselves, cities of refuge shall they be for you, and a killer shall flee there- one who takes a life unintentionally. 12 The cities shall be for you a refuge from the avenger, so that the killer will not die unless he stands before the assembly for judgment. 16 If he had struck him with an iron implement and he died, he is a killer; the killer shall surely be put to death. 17 Or if with a hand-sized stone by which one could die did he strike him, and he died, he is a killer; the killer shall surely be put to death. 18 Or if he struck him with a hand-sized wood implement by which one could die, and he died, he is a killer; the killer shall surely be put to death. 19 The avenger of the blood, he shall put the killer to death; when he encounters him, he shall put him to death. 20 If he pushed him out of hatred or hurled upon him from ambush, and he died; 21 or in enmity struck him with his hand and he died, the assailant shall surely be put to death, he is a killer; the avenger of the blood shall put the killer to death when he encounters him.
–These laws set the stage for awareness, caution and realism. The Land of Promise will yet be filled with challenges to overcome and lessons to learn. We read about the unintentional murder, who by some circumstance was party to the loss of life. While he awaits judgment or during his exile he is caused to be near the Levites in their cities, in the cities of refuge. The unintentional murderer is one who has lost the spark for life, saddened and confused. Although he may not incur the death penalty he still has inflicted loss and pain upon family members, friends, and the community and must be caused (with God’s amazing equal measures of justice) to live apart from his ‘set’ life. The family members don’t have their loved one any more, thus he is caused to dwell apart from his loved ones, only here can he be a part of the tragedy inflicted upon others. To be near the holy Kohanim this man will learn the desire for life once more. The discover the desire to repent.
We all need a place of refuge. We need a place of happiness, a place where we can find comfort from the ordeals and adversities of life. The Biblical Believer’s Home must be this place of security, filled with a sense of happiness and a spirit of contentment. Children especially need the home to be this place of refuge from the pressures of peers in the world, school, etc. When they come home it shouldn’t be just ‘more of the same’ (i.e. shouting, degradation, discouragement, humiliation, etc.)
Shabbat, the Lord’s Sabbath is the key to this rest, Shabbat is the ‘city of refuge’ of the week. This time should be filled with praises for God, for each other, filled with words of Torah and Scripture… allowing each week for us to re-learn honor, dignity and beauty, desire for life!
Bamidbar 35;22 But if with suddenness, without enmity, did he push him, or he hurled any implement upon him without ambush; 23 or with any stone through which one could die, without having seen, and caused it to fall upon him and he died- but he was not his enemy and did not seek his harm- 24 then the assembly shall judge between the assailant and the avenger of the blood according to these laws. 25 The assembly shall rescue the killer from the hand of the avenger of the blood, and the assembly shall return him to his city of refuge where he had fled; he shall dwell in it until the death of the Kohen Gadol, whom one had anointed with the sacred oil. 26 But if the killer will ever leave the border of his city of refuge, and the avenger of the blood will kill the killer- he has no blood-guilt. 28 For he must dwell in his city of refuge until the death of the Kohen Gadol, and after the death of the Kohen Gadol the killer shall return to the land of his possession.
John 8;30 Many people who heard him say these things trusted in him. 31 So Yeshua said to the Judeans who trusted him, “If you obey what I say, then you are really my talmidim, 32 you will know the truth and the truth will set you free.” 33 They answered, “We are the seed of Avraham and have never been slaves to anyone; so what do you mean by saying, ‘You will be set free’?” 34 Yeshua answered them, “Yes, indeed! I tell you that everyone who practices sin is a slave of sin. 35 Now a slave does not remain with a family forever, but a son does remain with it forever. 36 So if the Son frees you, you will really be free!
–Another way to look at these verses brings us to remember there is a wanton murderer, the destroyer, the good news is we have a blood avenger, Yeshua. The word in our text seen as avenger is Ga’al, meaning redeemer (as in kinsman redeemer). In the times of the Ancient Near East it was the fear of this practice of the blood-avenger which was a deterrent for this crime, the blood-avenger kept murder in check so to speak.
Once again we realize that outside of the borders, determined by the Lord, there is no refuge.
We who have been sold into sin await our Redeemer to kill the murderer who stole our soul .
[ Romans 7;14 For we know that the Torah is of the spirit; but as for me, I am bound to the old nature, sold to sin as a slave.]
The avenger is the Redeemer and he is also our High Priest or cohen gadol, and it is only after the death of the Kohen Gadol that one who fled to the city of refuge may return to his life and freedom. By Yeshua’s death for us we are free, not free of the boundaries or responsibilities of the life we’ve been blessed with, not free to ignore the reflections of the past, but free because of what Yeshua accomplished…free of fear and condemnation, able to take refuge in his deep and lasting Shalom!
Hebrews 2; 14 Therefore, since the children share a common physical nature as human beings, he became like them and shared that same human nature; so that by his death he might render ineffective the one who had power over death (that is the adversary) 15 and thus set free those who had been in bondage all their lives because of their fear of death. 16 Indeed, it is obvious that he does not take hold of angels to help them; on the contrary, “He takes hold of the seed of Avraham.” 17 This is why he had to become like his brothers in every respect- so that he might become a merciful and faithful cohen gadol in the service of God, making a kapparah (cover-atonement) for the sins of the people. 18 For since he himself suffered death when he was put to the test, he is able to help those who are being tested now.
At the end of each book of the Torah of the Lord we are encouraged by this blessing, it is my prayer for us all!! :
“Chazak! Chazak! Venischazeik!”
Be Strong! Be Strong! And may we be strengthened!
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 the Torah. Amein.
–ADONAI, Lord, My King. I pray that we will never loose our grip on Your Testimonies, I pray we will cleave to the foundation of Torah which holds us up, I pray that the reflections of your servants will not be lost or ignored by us, or by our children…or dismissed by any generation to come. I pray that we will recall all the stops on the journey’s You have taken us through and learn from all of it as I pray You will continue to teach us. I pray that as the world removes all boundaries we will dwell in security in Your eternal allotment for us, and see this allotment and assignment as a precious gift. I pray we will never choose to remain behind, guarding misplaced priorities while our brethren move toward Your promise and that we take up our destinies to declare Your justice and morality to the people and over the places we rest.
Thank You Abba for giving us everything! Yeshua! Thank You for giving us a redeemer who rescues and saves…he is rest and freedom, and in Yeshua’s name I ask these things…
-The Complete Jewish Bible-David H. Stern
-The Stone Edition Tanach- artscroll
-Interlinear Scripture Analyzer
-Onkelos On the Torah- Understanding the Bible text
-The Stone Edition Chumash- artscroll