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Pinchas B’midbar (Numbers) 25:10-30:1

Torah Portion: Pinchas B’midbar (Numbers) 25:10-30:1

Haftorah Readings: I Kings 18:46-19:21

Today we cover the Torah portion Pinchas. This portion is named for the man who stopped the plague that had already killed 24,000 people. The plague was a result of Israel’s sin. However, I want to begin with the story of the five daughters of Zelophehad and their request they brought to Moshe.

I would like us to look first at verse 27:4. This verse reads, “Give us a possession in the midst of the brothers of our father.” Remember, at this time in Israel’s history any inheritance a man left when he died went to his sons. If he had no sons then it went to his closest male relative. In effect, if he had no sons, his inheritance would be lost and any daughters he might have would have no inheritance.

So here we see these five women challenge the system. Let’s look again at our verse to get a clear understanding of what they were asking. The first English word, give, in Hebrew it is derived from the word notan.  It clearly means give. They start by asking Moshe to acknowledge their claim. The third word in Hebrew is a little trickier. The word is achuza. Here in this verse it is translated as possession but it can also be translated other ways. Here the Hebrew word achuza more correctly means a gift or grant. This means it only becomes an inheritance when it passes on to the next generation. When looked at in this way these women were not so much asking for themselves as they were wanting to secure a place in the Land for their children. This would give their children an inheritance that could not be taken from them.

They further added in 27:3 that their father had died in the wilderness of his own sin and was not a part of Korach’s rebellion. His sin being, he did not believe the report of Joshua and Caleb but believed the bad report of the other 10 spies. Remember, the people following Korach all died and nothing was left of them. Because of their part in the rebellion and their death they lost their heritance in the Land. The father of these five women died for his sin of not believing in the goodness of the Land but it did not disqualify his descendants from having a part in the Land. In other words, they were asking for an eternal inheritance for their children in the Land of Promise, one that would give them a secure place among the people of Israel and preserve their father’s name.

In scripture there are words that describe permanent things and temporary things. Temporary things are called perishable while permanent things are called imperishable or eternal. We see the same distinction in the Messianic Scripture. For example, in I Cor. 9:25 Shaul compares an inheritance to that of an athlete who wins a perishable wreath for being the winner of a contest. This wreath will wither away. However,  our prize of eternal life is imperishable. In I Peter 1:23 is also helpful in seeing what these women were wanting and should give us confidence that our inheritance is secure in the Messiah, thank G-d Almighty.

Now, I would like to get back to Pinchas and discuss this man and his actions for a bit. If you remember his story began at the end of last week’s portion. In last week’s portion we read of Israel’s sin in Moab. As a result of worshiping a false god and consorting with the women of Moab, G-d sent a plague and 24,000 died. Pinchas killed the two people who were having sex before the Mishkan/Tabernacle and the plague stopped.

In scripture the word plague is used 103 times. In each case the end came when someone, or the whole nation turned to G-d, confessed and repented from their sins. Today, our world is gripped by a plague. We call it covid-19. As we are all feeling the effects of this plague we are presented with various things that might be the cause of what is happening. We are called on to change our lives by practicing social distancing, wearing a mask and washing our hands often. All these are important and should be followed. However, we see even these safety measures are being used to divide towns, communities, states and even individuals. We have not heard much from the spiritual leaders of our land. It may not be popular to speak of the possible spiritual lessons G-d is trying to communicate to us. However, it is what we as a country and world must have. G-d is saying something to us through the events around us. It is time for the body of Messiah to stand up and speak repentance and confession of sins. It is a time for Republicans and Democrats to unite and call out for G-d’s mercy.  G-d has our attention and now it is time for His people to come together and seek His Face. May He have mercy on us in these days.