Torah Portion: Naso (Take) Numbers/B’midbar 4:21-7:89

1.In Numbers 5:7 we read where a person who has sinned must confess his sins before G-d. However, it does not mention repentance. Why is that? Also they had to confess their sin out loud. Is that important?  

What motivates us to repent? Do we have a choice? Do we repent to escape punishment for our sins? Do we repent because we are told to or because G-d’s word tells us to? These questions take us to a place of confronting why we repent. Repentance is always our choice. G-d does not force us to repent. If we repent because of some external pressure from someone or for a reward is that true repentance? I believe that true repentance comes from only one place. We repent because of who we are as G-d’s children. We are saying, “Father I can’t live without you! I repent because I cannot live without a relationship with You.”  We do it, not because we are commanded to, but because we cannot bear being separated from Him, not out of fear of punishment or hope of a reward. We do it not because we are told to but because we must. Repentance on this level will change our lives. We don’t return to our old ways, our old sins because of our deep love of the Father.  Our relationship with G-d is expressed in how we live our lives. True love of the Father means our lives are devoted to pleasing Him. That is all the motivation we need.

Also they confessed their sin out loud. We are to speak out loud our confession to G-d. Why do we have to verbalize our words of remorse and confession of guilt before G-d? He knows our every thought and action. So why are we to speak it out loud? Maybe the point of speaking our confession out loud is for our own benefit. When we speak the words out loud they become more real to us, more intense. The sin is no long just in our memory but the words have been spoken. I believe when we speak the words out it cannot be easily swept under the rug. We can’t pretend it didn’t happen. The sin becomes more real to us. It causes us to consider just how we could have done such a thing. Our actions are out in the light. We can look at our actions more clearly.

2.The census of the men being counted in this Torah portion to serve in the Tabernacle were from the age 30-50. Do you see any significance of the men entering their service at the age thirty in scripture? Do we see that anywhere else in scripture? 

Our Torah portion uses the ages of 30-50 for men to be counted to serve in the Tabernacle.  Numbers 8:23-24 says priests began their service at 25 years old. It is understood that they probably were trained for 5 years before beginning their serve at age 30.

In Luke 3:23 it says, “When Yeshua began His ministry, He was thirty years of age, being the son (as supposed) of Yosef, the son of Eli.”

Also, John the Baptist was from the Levi family and his father was a priest. (Luke 1:5-9) There was in the days of Herod, the king of Judea, a certain priest named Zacharias, of the division of Abijah. His wife was of the daughters of Aaron, and her name was Elizbeth. And they were both righteous before G-d, walking in all the commandments and ordinances of the L-rd blameless. But they had no child, because Elizabeth was barren, and they were both well advanced in years. So it was, that while he was serving as priest before G-d in the order of his division, according to the custom of the priesthood, his lot fell to burn incense when he went into the temple of the L-rd.”

John’s father certainly would have started serving his time as a priest at the age of 30. Because of his lineage John would have had the right to the priest’s office as a descendant of Aaron.  Although the Bible is silent on the details of what happened with John, it may have been similar to what was done with Aaron and his sons (and later other priests) who were washed, anointed with blood and oil, and consecrated priests (see Exodus 29) and began serving at the age of 30

Gen. 41:46 says Joseph was 30 years old when he became second in command to Pharaoh. 

II Sam. 5:4 says David became King when he was 30 years old.

Ezekiel 1:1 says Ezekiel was called by G-d as a prophet at age 30.

3.In Number 7:11 Each tribe brought the same dedication offering – one tribe each day for 12 days.  These were expensive gifts? What do you think was G-d’s point in having them bring the same offering and why such expensive gifts after all they were still wandering in the desert not yet in the land making their own living. 

Each tribe leader brought

One silver platter – weight 130 shekels

One silver bowl – weight 70 shekels

Both full of fine flour mixed with oil as a grain offering

One gold pan weight 10 shekels full of incense

One young bull, one ram, one male lamb – burnt offering

One kid of the goats as a sin offering

Two oxen, five rams, five male goats, and five male lambs for the peace offering

It is obvious these were generous offerings each family brought. I think G-d was teaching them they were no longer slaves. They did not have to live as a slave any longer. 

What do you think is a slave mentality? Have you ever known people who hold on tightly to what they have, they never have enough, and worry about the future? The slave by nature is a taker because he is unsure that G-d will provide.  They don’t trust G-d to be their provider.  

Being a giver is the best measure that a person has moved from a slave mentality to a “Promise Land” mentality. The people G-d was taking into the Promised Land needed to be generous because they trusted in their G-d who has promised to meet all their needs.

Each tribal leader brought exactly the same offering over a span of twelve days.

By requiring the same gift from every tribe, G-d made sure that no tribe or tribal leader glorified himself through his giving. We must resist the tendency to give with the motive of being seen by others. 

People suited to G-d’s “Promised Land” care about G-d’s glory, not their own.

One tribe each day giving their offering. 

Each offering was recorded in scripture in the same way. G-d’s purpose was to draw attention to each tribe’s offering, though they were all the same. G-d saw each tribe equally.  G-d notices every gift given in honor and obedience to Him even if it is small. Mark 12:42-44

4.In Numbers 6:23-26 we read the instructions G-d had for the priests to bless the children of Israel. It is in 3 parts. 

First: The L-rd bless you and keep you. 

Second: The L-rd make His face shine on you and be gracious to you. 

Third: The L-rd lift up His countenance upon you, And give you peace.

What does each of these parts mean to you? Do you see a progression of relationship here? If so what? Lastly, what is the definition of peace?

In all three verses it refers to an activity on the part of G-d.

The L-rd bless you and keep you refers to G-d blessing you with what you need in your life – physically and in all areas.

The L-rd make His face shine on you and be gracious to you.                                                   I know I have told you this story before but it bears repeating. A crowd of people gathered on a hill by the sea to watch a great ship pass by. A young child is waving vigorously. One of the men in the crowd asks him why. He says, “I am waving so the captain of the ship can see me and wave back.” “But,” said the man, “the ship is far away, and there is a crowd of us here. What makes you think that the captain can see you?” “Because,” said the boy, “the captain of the ship is my father. He will be looking for me among the crowd.”

That is roughly what we mean when we say, “May the L-rd turn His face toward you”. There are billions of people on planet earth. When we are aware that G-d’s face is shining on us, that He truly sees us and gives us undeserving grace in our lives we can in turn learn to be gracious to others. We can live without strife and envy toward others.

The L-rd lift up His countenance upon you, And give you peace. I think this third blessing is the most intimate of all. When we recognize this verse is for us personally, that G-d cares about me and I am His child it is a profound source of peace. We do not need to prove ourselves in order to receive G-d’s blessing. 

Peace or Shalom does not mean merely the absence of war or strife. Peace is the thread of grace issuing from G-d Almighty. When we pray for the Peace of Jerusalem we should not be praying just for the absence of war but for the time when Jerusalem will be everything G-d created it to be.

So the blessings go deeper with each verse to where we have peace of mind that comes from knowing G-d sees us, hears us and holds us in His everlasting arms.