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Balak Numbers 22

Weekly Torah Section: Balak Numbers 22:2-25:9, HafTorah Micah 5:1-6:8

Micah was a prophet from the flat country in Judea and prophesied for over half a century. He was a contemporary of Isaiah and Hosea. He prophesied during the reign of three Judean kings, the last being Hezekiah. Jeremiah refers to Micah in Jeremiah 26:18-19. In Micah 5:1-5 he speaks of the coming Messianic age, where the Messiah will be born, about  his role as the Good Shepherd and the one who brings peace. I want us to look mainly at verse 8 in chapter 6. What does the L-rd require of us? He requires us to “do justice,” “love kindness” and to “walk humbly with G-d.”

 

Let us look at each of these phrases to help understand what G-d requires of us. We can see these same principles mentioned also in Jeremiah 9:23-24 and again in Mark 12:33. The word Justice in Hebrew is “Mishpat.” Today in Israel a court room is called “House of Justice” or “Beit HaMishpat.” In a biblical sense justice means more than just punishing the guilty and finding the innocent not guilty. It also includes what we might call social justice or looking out for and standing up for the poor, the widowed and the orphan. How can we do justice today? How can we do what G-d requires when He says to us, “To do justice?”

The second word, loving kindness in Hebrew is, “Chesed.” It can also be translated as mercy. In Micah’s day it also meant loyalty or faithfulness to G-d. It carried the idea of reciprocity toward G-d for His goodness and faithfulness to us. How do we do this or express this today in our own lives?

The third phrase is “walk humbly with G-d.” In Hebrew this is “Hatznea.”  It means to walk humbly and with modesty. The opposite traits would be arrogance and pride. To walk with G-d in this way means to have a healthy respect or fear of G-d. It means to constantly be aware of G-d’s overwhelming presence, to live our life of faith in an unassuming manner without seeking out public praise. What are some ways we can exercise this in our own lives?

Next I want us to look at the Torah section in Numbers 22:2-25:9. As we talk about this I want you to think of how Israel’s enemies saw them. How did G-d picture them to Moab? G-d was hard at work protecting Israel through supernatural ways. He turned the curses of her enemies into blessings. Try as he might, Balaam would not curse Israel, but blessed her instead.

In Numbers 22:22 we see the angel of G-d appear. It is humorous that Balaam, the master seer, did not see the angel first but his donkey did. How often do we miss G-d because we might be set on acting according to our flesh?

G-d surrounded Israel with His grace. In Numbers 25:1-3 what was Israel doing while G-d was protecting them?  G-d spared Israel from being destroyed for their sins of idolatry and having relations with the Moabite women. He punished the guilty but spared the nation. Look at what He did for Israel. He protected them, forgave them, supplied their needs, and spoke blessings on them. He did this because He was faithful to His covenant with them and because He loved them. He relates to us in much the same way even when we do not deserve it. G-d spoke to His people, even through the words of someone like Balaam. Read Numbers 24:5-9. These words are still spoken ever Sabbath in the synagogue service. May G-d, when He looks at us say how lovely we are in His sight.