Torah Portion: Chukat (Statute) B’midbar (Numbers) 19:1-22:1; Balak (Numbers) 22:2-25:9
Haftorah Readings: Judges 11:1-33, Micah 5:6-6:8
Last week we read and studied the Torah portion Korach. Tonight, we look at Chukat and Balak. What is easily overlooked is the time passing between Korach and Chukat. Korach occurred about two years after the crossing of the Reed Sea. Now, here in Chukat, we see the people standing at the doorway to the Promised Land. So our Torah portion takes place 38 years after we last read of the incident of Korach. These people are the children, who are now adults, of the people we last read about. However, as we read this portion we see they had not changed much. Here in our portion we read of the death of Aaron and again of the lack of water. We see a people who rebelled and rose up against Moshe and were punished by the venomous snakes that G-d brought among them. We also see G-d’s provision for them when He instructed Moshe to make a bronze snake. He held the bronze snake up before the people and whomever was bitten could look upon it and be saved. We also see the snake mentioned in John 3:14-15, “As Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness even so must the Son of man be lifted up so that whoever believes in Him has eternal life.” Just as the serpent in the desert brought physical salvation from death, whomever looks upon the Messiah and believes in Him receives eternal salvation.
Torah Portion: Becha’alotcha (When You Set Up) B’midbar (Numbers) 8:1-12:16
Haftorah Readings: Zechariah 2:14-4:7
Tonight, we read the Torah portion that speaks of the Israelites celebrating their first Passover after leaving Egypt. They are about to begin the second part of their journey. No longer are they escaping from Egypt, they are going toward the Promised Land.
Torah Portion: B’shallach (And It Came to Pass) Exodus (Sh’mot) 13:17-17:16
Haftorah Reading: Judges 4:4-5:31
This Torah portion begins with the actual Exodus from Egypt that will not end until we get through the last book of Torah. It begins with verse 13:17 where we read that G-d took them the long way around rather than the more direct route by way of the Philistines. The question arises why did He choose the long way rather than a direct path? What do you think? Keep in mind also that before this portion ends we read of the people fighting and winning a battle with the Amalekites. So, there must be a deeper reason other than the fear of war.
One reason may be hinted at in the Hebrew word for Egypt. This word is Mitzryim. In Hebrew it means limits or restrictions. Remember these people lived for 400 years in a place that had strict limits on their lives. You can take a slave out of Egypt but it takes time to take slavery out of the slave. I think this time in the wilderness was to give them time to learn new boundaries for their lives, more G-dly boundaries. For the first time they had to make choices on their own and deal with the results of those choices.