Naso (5776)- The Adulterous Bride, then and now.
The parasha for this week is the longest in the Torah cycle. It includes an array of situations, instructions and laws. Each one is connected, the order in which they are written identify their importance and relevance to one another. With so much to absorb this author relates the well investigated connection between the Sotah- “wife who has gone astray”, the children of Israel and the calf at Sinai, and each one of us as an “adulterous” bride. To tie these idea together first read carefully the text of Devarim in which Moshe relates the “story” of the people from Egypt to the gates of the promised land.
Satah- שָׂטָה- decline, to turn aside. (This Hebrew verb is found only here in Torah, in these texts of Bemidbar 5.)
Devarim (Deuteronomy) 9; 12 Then the Lord said to me, ‘Arise, go down from here quickly, for your people whom you brought out of Egypt have acted corruptly. They have quickly turned aside from the way which I commanded them; they have made a molten image for themselves.’ 13 The Lord spoke further to me, saying, ‘I have seen this people, and indeed, it is a stubborn people. 14 Let Me alone, that I may destroy them and blot out their name from under heaven; and I will make of you a nation mightier and greater than they.’ 15 “So I turned and came down from the mountain while the mountain was burning with fire, and the two tablets of the covenant were in my two hands. 16 And I saw that you had indeed sinned against the Lord your God. You had made for yourselves a molten calf; you had turned aside quickly from the way which the Lord had commanded you. 17 I took hold of the two tablets and threw them from my hands and smashed them before your eyes. 18 I fell down before the Lord, as at the first, forty days and nights; I neither ate bread nor drank water, because of all your sin which you had committed in doing what was evil in the sight of the Lord to provoke Him to anger. 19 For I was afraid of the anger and hot displeasure with which the Lord was wrathful against you in order to destroy you, but the Lord listened to me that time also. 20 The Lord was angry enough with Aaron to destroy him; so I also prayed for Aaron at the same time. 21 I took your sinful thing, the calf which you had made, and burned it with fire and crushed it, grinding it very small until it was as fine as dust; and I threw its dust into the brook that came down from the mountain.
Para- פָּרַע- overlook, reject; let loose (as reigns)unbridled, TO MAKE NAKED.
Aaron, the Priest, was responsible for the “uncovering” of the people. He left them naked and unbridled and Moses points this out to him. This is the very same term (Para) used in the text of the Sotah (woman suspected of adultery) from our Torah text of Naso. The priest uncovers (para) her hair. If (one way of thinking of it) our hair is our adornment and ornament, covering it allows for modesty and as a married woman- keeps low the levels of attraction by others to look. Being uncovered can mean vulnerability to the temptation to sin (which the people clearly did at the foot of Sinai with the Golden calf) or also danger to be taken advantage of. The people failed to hide their nakedness, they became exposed and played the harlot (idolatry= adultery biblically speaking).
Shemot (Exodus) 32; 21 Then Moses said to Aaron, “What did this people do to you, that you have brought such great sin upon them?” …25 Now when Moses saw that the people were out of control (para פָּרַע)—for Aaron had let them get out of control (para פָּרַע) to be a derision among their enemies—
Bemidbar (Numbers) 5; 18 The priest shall then have the woman stand before the Lord and let the hair of the woman’s head go loose (para פָּרַע), and place the grain offering of memorial in her hands, which is the grain offering of jealousy, and in the hand of the priest is to be the water of bitterness that brings a curse.
In both cases of “adultery” we see there is a trial. The trial includes certain materials. In once case Moshe grinds the golden calf down into a fine powder and scatters it into the water and the sons of Israel drink it (remember the term son can refer to the entire “family” of peoples). In the other case the Priest takes dust from the Tabernacle floor and puts it into the water. In one case is it the object of Idolatry which is being ground down in the other there is also a piece of parchment upon which an oath and the name of God is dissolved in water and the Sotah is made to drink it (after she is warned repeatedly not to make such an important oath- should she be guilty and know it). Note, there is no documented application of this ritual taking place at any time. This, to me, could be proof there is something far deeper than the ritual and rites as they are in the simple reading.
Shemot (Exodus) 32;20 He took the calf which they had made and burned it with fire, and ground it to powder, and scattered it over the surface of the water and made the sons of Israel drink …..
Bemidbar (Numbers) 5; 16 ‘Then the priest shall bring her near and have her stand before the Lord, 17 and the priest shall take holy water in an earthenware vessel; and he shall take some of the dust that is on the floor of the tabernacle and put it into the water.
I find it interesting that in the section of text in the Apostolic scriptures where there is an accusation regarding an adulterous woman, Yeshua also does some writing and he does so in the dust of the Temple floor.
John 8; 3 The scribes and the Pharisees brought a woman caught in adultery, and having set her in the center of the court, 4 they said to Him, “Teacher, this woman has been caught in adultery, in the very act. 5 Now in the Law Moses commanded us to stone such women; what then do You say?” 6 They were saying this, testing Him, so that they might have grounds for accusing Him. But Jesus stooped down and with His finger wrote on the ground. 7 But when they persisted in asking Him, He straightened up, and said to them, “He who is without sin among you, let him be the first to throw a stone at her.” 8 Again He stooped down and wrote on the ground. 9 When they heard it, they began to go out one by one, beginning with the older ones, and He was left alone, and the woman, where she was, in the center of the court. 10 Straightening up, Jesus said to her, “Woman, where are they? Did no one condemn you?” 11 She said, “No one, Lord.” And Jesus said, “I do not condemn you, either. Go. From now on sin no more.”
Bemidbar (Numbers)5; 19 The priest shall have her take an oath and shall say to the woman, “If no man has lain with you and if you have not gone astray into uncleanness, being under the authority of your husband, be immune to this water of bitterness that brings a curse; 20 if you, however, have gone astray, being under your husband, and if you have defiled yourself and a man other than your husband has had intercourse with you” 21 (then the priest shall have the woman swear with the oath of the curse, and the priest shall say to the woman), “the Lord make you a curse and an oath among your people by the Lord’s making your thigh waste away and your abdomen swell; 22 and this water that brings a curse shall go into your stomach, and make your abdomen swell and your thigh waste away.” And the woman shall say, “Amen. Amen.” 23 ‘The priest shall then write these curses on a scroll, and he shall wash them off into the water of bitterness. 24 Then he shall make the woman drink the water of bitterness that brings a curse, so that the water which brings a curse will go into her and cause bitterness….28 if the woman has not defiled herself and is clean, she will then be free and conceive children.
In Matthew we see the accused woman is forgiven by the one with the Authority to do so. At Sinai we know that there was forgiveness as well and because of Moshe’s intercession for both Aaron and the people, the groom (God) and His Bride (Israel) were restored. This strained relationship- much like the situation with the Sotah and her jealous husband, is repaired. The Sotah and her husband come to this point because they did not want to go through with a divorce. The ritual would allow for him to know without a shadow of doubt if he could trust her again. Her shame would be turned into fruitfulness for in the end of the ordeal if she is found “innocent” she is promised to bear children and be fruitful (with her husband, relationship restored). I know that each one of us has been unfaithful, this author is daily filled with fault in my innocence toward my Groom. This is one reason I know that Yeshua came and died for my infidelity, in order to restore me to my Maker and allow rectification for what had been astray between us. He too was uncovered, stripped naked and bore that shame…taking my place before the “court”, he too was made a curse among his people to make the way for me to approach and become attached to the eternal covenant blessings. He too drank a bitter mixture while enduring his ordeal on my behalf and he took that cup willingly so that I would not have to. Therefore because he did take my place, to give me another chance at life and fruitfulness….I will walk in his Torah and strive to imitate him every day. The one, forgiving until the last! Loving despite the shame! Faithful though I was unfaithful.
Matthew 27; 28 They stripped off Jesus’ clothes and put a scarlet robe on him. 29 They made a crown out of thorn branches and placed it on his head, and they put a stick in his right hand. The soldiers knelt down and pretended to worship him. They made fun of him and shouted, “Hey, you king of the Jews!” 30 Then they spit on him. They took the stick from him and beat him on the head with it.
Mathew 27; 48 One of them quickly ran and brought a sponge. He filled it with vinegar, put it on a reed, and held it up for Jesus to drink.
Psalm 69; 19 You know my reproach and my shame and my dishonor; all my adversaries are before You. 20 Reproach has broken my heart and I am so sick, and I looked for sympathy, but there was none,and for comforters, but I found none. 21 They also gave me gall for my food and for my thirst they gave me vinegar to drink.
Galatians 3; 27 For all of you who were baptized into Messiah have clothed yourselves with Messiah. 28 There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free man, there is neither male nor female; for you are all one in Messiah Yeshua. 29 And if you belong to Messiah, then you are Abraham’s descendants, heirs according to promise.
Hosea 2; 14 “Therefore, behold, I will allure her, Bring her into the wilderness and speak kindly to her. 15 …. And she will sing there as in the days of her youth, as in the day when she came up from the land of Egypt. 16 “It will come about in that day,” declares the Lord, “That you will call Me Ishi And will no longer call Me Baali. 17 “For I will remove the names of the Baals from her mouth, So that they will be mentioned by their names no more…. 19 “I will betroth you to Me forever; Yes, I will betroth you to Me in righteousness and in justice, In lovingkindness and in compassion, 20 and I will betroth you to Me in faithfulness. Then you will know the Lord.
I am certain that God is One, not a number or even a concept of unity. God is all things, in the good and the difficult, in the delightful and even working in the painful. He knows the earthly fleshly issues we tackle and battle all the time and yet He goes far above and beyond what we can fathom. He calls His people in love and He calls to His Bride in faithfulness. My daughter and I recently had a blessed conversation which allowed me to remember how much we need our redeemer. The One who will take our filth and infidelities and advocate for our release. From what? From the bonds of recourse for our willful sins. Yes, there certainly is punishment and consequence….this we suffer in this world and in this flesh and in this lifetime. The condemnation though can not follow us once we are released from this flesh and taken before Him. In His courtroom we will stand there and certainly be filthy, the accuser will bring forth all our sins and lay them out against us. Fortunate are those who has a High Priest to take the very cup we are meant to drink for us. He has taken our bitter result, dissolved the claim for divorce and restored us to our Husband. I know that God has not traded in His chosen people for any other people because it is clear that His forgiveness and mercy goes far beyond our merit, or any merit we could ever hope to acquire and obtain in this lifetime.
Baruch attah Adonai Eloheinu Melech haolawm
Blessed are You Lord our God King of the universe, You have blessed us with Your Torah of Truth and blessed us with the entire counsel of Your living word, You along have planted among us Life Eternal.
B’Shem Yeshua HaMashiac, Amein