Today we finish the book of Numbers or B’Midbar by reading two portions of scripture. In these readings we will see many things that still speak to us today. In Masa’ei we read about the setting of boundaries for each tribe. G-d laid out exactly where each tribe would settle and told them they were responsible to cleanse to the land of its former inhabitants. They were told to destroy the idols and high places of the former inhabitants.
Torah Portion: Ki Tisa (When You Take) Exodus(Sh’mot) 30:11-34:35
Haftorah Reading: I Kings 18:1-39
Tonight, we study the sin of the golden calf. This is a pivotal Torah portion from which I pray we can grasp what G-d is saying to us in our own life. However, before we get to the verses about the golden calf there are a couple of other points I also see as important to us and should help us in our understanding of verses we will look at in the Messianic scriptures.
We start our portion with the taking of a census of G-d’s people. In Exodus/Sh’mot 30:11-15 we read the instructions on how this census was to be taken. We also read of the consequences that would follow if it was not done according to the guidelines set out here. Later in II Samuel 24:1-17 we read where King David took a census of the people without following G-d’s guidelines set out in our portion. As a result of that action by David 70,000 people died of a plague that is mentioned in our portion as one of the results of not following G-d’s guidelines. So, it would seem there is an important lesson for us in this directive to take a census.
Torah Portion: Re’eh (See) D’varim (Deut) 11-16
Haftorah Reading: Isaiah 54:11-55:5
This week our Torah portion is Re’eh or See. If you remember last week we read Ekev which contained part of the Shema or “Hear.” Today I want us to look at these two words and discern what G-d is saying to us through them.
However, first there are some other points I would like us to explore as well. I would like to start with the introduction of a specific place of worship that G-d would choose once the people crossed over the Jordan River. We see this thought spoken about in Deut. 12:5. As we know from our readings of the Ten Commandments all forms of idol worship were looked at as a grave sin. This choice of a central place of worship was to help the people guard against idol worship. Only service of the one true G-d would be permitted. In Re’eh we also read where three holidays are talked about in chapter 16. Why did Moshe pick out only these three, Pesach, Shavuot and Succot? I think again to stress the centrality of Jerusalem to the people. These three holidays are the three that involved an annual pilgrimage to Jerusalem.
Torah Portion: Re’eh (See) D’Varim (Deuteronomy) 11-16
HafTorah: Isaiah 54:11-55:5
The opening word of this Torah portion is Re’eh or See or Behold. The first word Moshe utters in his speech to the people is See, signifying that was is to follow is important. Pay attention! It is imperative that they not only see or listen but grasp the importance of what he is about to say. The inhabitants of the land are about to be displaced, defeated by Israel. Why? Because they are sinful, idol worshippers and they must be removed from the Land. It is like G-d is saying see what is about to happen to these nations because they have been living under the curse. They are an example for the people of Israel and for us of how not to live.
Torah Portion: Ki Tisa (When You Take) Exodus 30-34
HafTorah: I Kings 18:1-39
Tonight we read about a number of different subjects, from taking a census to the incident with the golden calf. It is on this last topic that I want us to spend our evening looking at and discussing.
Beginning in chapter 32 we can follow the process that results in the terrible sin of the calf. Think about what is going on here like a split screen TV. On one side we see Moshe on the top of the mountain with G-d. Moshe had come into that place where heaven and earth intersected. He was with the Father. Now think about the other half of the screen where we see the children of Israel at the same time. They had grown impatient when Moshe did not return when they were expecting him to. When he didn’t appear they went to Aaron and asked him to make gods for them to lead them because they did not know what had become of Moshe.
Torah Portion: Pinchas (Bamidbar) Numbers 25:10-30:1
HafTorah: I Kings 18:46-19:21
NT Matt 26:1-30, John 2:13-22, Acts 2:1-21
In this Torah portion we see another census being taken of the men 20 years old and up, who can go to war. In fact this census takes up Numbers 26:1-65, an entire chapter. For your information if we look at the census in Numbers 1 and compare it to this one at the end of their journey we notice the total number stays almost the same. Chapter I total was 603,550 and here in chapter 26 it is 601,730. Not much change in the total. However, when we look closer we see that seven of the 12 tribes went up in population and five went down. But the tribe of Shimon went from 59,300 to 22, 200. This is a drop of over 60%. What could have caused such a drop? Sages believe it may be connected with the sin of Zimri. The story of Zimri precedes this census. He belonged to the tribe of Shimon. Whatever the reason it began the fulfillment of Jacob’s prophecy in Genesis 49:7. The tribe of Shimon was eventually be absorbed by the other tribes of Israel.
Torah Portion: Ekev (Because) Devarim (Deut.) 7:12-11:25
HafTorah: Isaiah 49:14-51:3
NT Matt. 4:1-11; Luke 4:1-13; James 5:7-11
Ekev: sometimes translated as “because.” Does anyone know where we have seen at least the root of this Hebrew word before? A hint: it is the root of the name of one of the Patriarchs. It is the name of Jacob. Why was he named Jacob? It is because he held his brother’s heel when they were born. So you could translate it as “on the heels of” or following. This opening verse this week really ties what follows from the last verse of last weeks section, Deut. 7:11, linking heart felt obedience to G-d’s blessing. Moses then goes on to point a beautiful picture of what will be the result of their obedience.
Torah Portion: Pinchas Numbers (B’Midbar) 25:10-30:1
HafTorah: I Kings 18:46-19:21
This week we read the Torah section named Pinchas. In it we read the end of the story from last week where Pinchas stopped the plague of G-d by killing Zimri and Cozbi who were blatantly sinning before G-d. In this weeks section we read where G-d says that Pinchas was zealous with the zeal of G-d. Numbers 25:11. In I Kings 19:10 we see Elijah saying that he was zealous for the L-rd. Because of this use of the word zealous, the Rabbis picked this reading in I Kings 18:46-19:21 to be read along with the Torah portion named Pinchas. What motivated Pinchas to this zeal that he displayed in B’Midbar? I would like to suggest that possibly it could have been his love of G-d and his brothers and sisters who were dying around him because of G-d’s plague.
Torah Portion: Korach Numbers (B’Midbar) 16:1-18:32
HafTorah: I Samuel 11:14-12:22
New Testament: Jude; II Tim 2:8-21
This week the Torah section covers the rebellion of Korach, Datan and Aviram as well as the 250 leaders of Israel and finally the congregation of Israel. This progression shows us how rebellion spreads. First it was only three, then 250 and then 14,700 that perished. This paints a great picture for us and should be a word for us about rebellion against G-d.