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Commentary - Year 3 Sabbath 1

Numbers 6:22-7:89   -   [No prophet]   -   Psalm 100   -   Romans 12:1-21
 

Nisan 3, 5763 /    April   5, 2003

Nisan 3, 5766 /    April   1, 2006        [ April 1 is National Atheists Day - Psalm 14:1 ]

Nisan 3, 5769 / March 28, 2009

Nisan 1, 5772 / March 24, 2012

Nisan 1, 5775 / March 21, 2015

 

Ko haBarchu / Thus Shall You Bless    SCRIPTURES should be read first

 

Today’s reading is called “Thus shall you bless” taken from verse 23. In the fourth Book of Moses, Numbers, known Hebraically as B’mid’bar, meaning “in the wilderness,” the leaders of the congregation of the people Israel, Moshe (Moses) and Aharon (Aaron), are commanded by God to give various instructions to the people after their exodus out of Egypt.

In chapters one to four the people are numbered (thus the more common name for the book) and the tribes are placed in God’s camping order with duties given to various ones. The instructions concerning the tabernacle are also given. Chapter five and six deal with regulations of one’s ceremonial cleanness and consecration. At the very end of chapter six, beginning with verse 22, we come upon a most beautiful “bracha” (blessing), called “the bracha kohanum” (the priestly blessing).

Although many people use and say this blessing today in different ways, it was not intended for just anyone to deliver it. Rabbincally speaking, from the statement “…This is the way you shall bless…” (v 23), it was ruled a stranger cannot say it. For one must be sane, serious, sober, know Hebrew, and understand what or who is blessed, not being partial to any.

Yahweh Himself commanded Moses to instruct his older brother (Ex. 7:7), the first high priest and spokesperson of Israel, Aaron and his sons, Nadab, Abihu, Eleazar, and Ithamar (Lev. 10:1-6), who were also Levitical priests, to be the ones who would bless the children of Israel. This is why it is known as the priestly blessing.

Since the Reformation some call it the “Aaronic Benediction”, because of the way it is commonly used at the end of religious services. However, we must ask, what is the blessing, what does it say, and what does it mean? The blessing itself is among the oldest of items ever found inscribed in Paleal Hebrew. A small silver ornament was uncovered in Israel a few years ago, which was once probably worn around someone’s neck. The blessing is of divine origin having been given directly to Moses from God Himself. I wonder how it sounded when God said it?

In the Hebrew there are three petitions which consist of 3 words, 5 words, and then 7 words, reading as though it builds up in melody with God’s overflowing love. People have told me that they get goose bumps upon hearing it in its serious and solemn rhyme. It certainly would have been an inspiring and thought provoking thing to see and hear the high priests rendition of it in the great temple at Jerusalem twice daily from the “duchan” (a raised platform). Can you picture an earlier time of the tabernacle, standing there and watching Aaron in his special garments, hands raised with his fingers forming the Hebrew letter “shin” as he chants this to the huge crowd of worshippers? What a sight! Of course, we don’t know exactly how he did it.

The first line begins, “Yahweh bless you and keep you.” “The Lord bless you”, singular, referred to all Israel viewed as one people. What a contrast upon the ears of a people who had come out from Egyptian slave labor! Who would not want the blessing of God upon their life and know that they were protected after that?! Anyone who genuinely understands these sacred words would want the blessing of God upon their life.

He is our shield and protection in that great protection Psalm of Ascents, Psalm 121. He told Israel that He watches over them day and night; stands guard never dozing off or sleeping (v. 4); He would preserve their going out and coming in; and their very soul. He delivers us from the evil one, keeps us from temptation, and keeps us from sin. The same God Who saves us has all power to keep us saved and to keep us from falling.

In Deuteronomy chapter 28 from verses 1 to 14, He spells out for them very specifically what some of the main blessings would be if they would “Sh’ma” (listen and obey). These included God’s blessing wherever they may be. Blessings of children, blessings on their ground, crops, cattle, and blessing of divine protection from enemies. God would give them rain and water as needed and bless all the work of their hand. He further would cause other nations to take notice and fear, and make them the head of the nations; not the tail, as they are viewed by many today. Yes, God’s blessing and keeping is a wonderful thing to have come upon you. The opposite is to be cursed and become buzzard bait as verse 25 literally states, “Your carcasses shall be food for all the birds of the air...” We know that during the millennial reign of king Yeshua HaMashiach, Israel will have the preeminence above the nations (Deut. 26:19). It’s capital will truly be, in a coming day, beautiful for situation and habitation, the joy of the whole earth , and all the nations who want to push her into the Mediterranean will be judged.

So when someone says to you, “The Lord bless you,” they may not know what it means, but remember, Biblically what it truly means and say “Halleluyah” (Praise Yahweh)!

Verse 25 says, “Yahweh make His face shine upon you and be gracious to you.” When the Torah talks about God’s face shining on you and lifting up His countenance upon you (v 26), it is as though you are His best friend and He loves you and wants to give you His best.

In Psalm 31:16, after David prays for deliverance from his enemies, he says, “Make Your face shine upon Your servant; save me for Your mercies sake.” When God’s face shines on you and His countenance is lifted upon you, God is looking at you and blessing you with physical and spiritual salvation. In Psalm 67, David opens with “God be merciful to us and bless us, and cause His face to shine upon us, Selah” (reflecting on that). You see, God’s face shining on us causes us to shine thereby glorifying God and making His ways known on the earth. When God hides His face from men they are in big trouble as the scripture says. This has also been interpreted to mean that God gives us spiritual enlightenment from the Torah. He shines on us His truth. He, God, is the beneficent One, showing His graciousness or kindness to us. He provides all our needs, hears our prayers, and blesses us in every way. Truly He is gracious to His undeserving people.

And last but not least, v 26, “…and give you peace.” The Hebrew means “set you” or establish for you peace. It doesn’t just come and go. God gives His people a deep inner peace that passes all human comprehension. (Phil 4:7) A once common bumper sticker said, “No God, No Peace; Know God, Know Peace.”

The world constantly talks of peace among peoples, and we, the children of our Heavenly Father are to be peacemakers. Yet the scripture plainly reveals that true peace will come only when the Prince of Peace comes back to this earth, takes up His throne, and establishes His peaceful kingdom, where nations will not learn war anymore. Even so peace is far more than absence of war.

The Hebrew word, “shalom”, is a comprehensive word also meaning more than “Hello” or “Goodbye”, as it is used at times today. To wish one shalom is to wish them the very best of health, happiness, and welfare; to have both the favor of God and man upon them; to wish them security, prosperity, and great, spiritual blessing and insight. Like most Hebrew words it is rich in meaning. For the creator of the universe to establish for us all that peace means is a fantastic thing. Biblical peace brings contentment. People who are never content do not know God’s peace.

Verse 27 concludes the chapter with the words “…so shall they put My name on the children of Israel, and I will bless them.” It was ever the priests’ job to direct the hearts of the people to serve God. God’s holy name, “Yahweh” (I Am), His memorial name forever (Ex 3:14,15) is a declaration of Who He is. It represents His character, which includes all His attributes. He is the self-existent, ever existing One. For the children of Israel to have His name placed on them is to be a set apart people representative of Him in all that He stands for, in purity and holiness. What a privilege!

Rev 22:4 tells of a coming day when His servants will see His face and His name will be on their foreheads. One day the righteous will all shine forth with a genuine and complete desire to serve, worship, and represent Him. There will be a messianic kingdom of peace on earth. May each of us labor and long and pray for that glad day. Let us exclaim with the ancients, “May He Who makes peace in His high heavens grant peace unto us and to all Israel!”

The corresponding Psalm or Song we all love to sing is Psalm 100 - Known the world over as the “Old Hundredth.” It’s a beautiful Psalm and I wish to give you only a few basic reasons why or how it correlates to the Torah portion in Numbers 6. We have just been expounding on how God blesses us with His name. Now it is our turn as His people to praise and bless His name. As recipients of God’s blessings to us, we need to respond and return thanks. This is the only psalm in the Psalter titled “A Psalm of Praise.” We are told to joyfully shout to Him and serve Him with gladness and singing. The fifth stanza says because of His goodness, loving kindness, and faithfulness.

I call your attention to three things. Just as the priestly blessing is upon God’s people as to claim them for His peculiar or special possession, this psalm demonstrates His right to His own. Verse 3 says, “It is He who has made us and not we ourselves” meaning in essence, He both has physically created us and also made us His own spiritually. We didn’t save ourselves. He has not only a right to us by creation, but also by sacrifice. We are made His spiritual people. We are not our own. For we have been bought with a price, His precious blood.

Thirdly, it says we are “…the sheep of his pasture…,” once again, God knows and keeps His own sheep as John 10 tell us. So we are His people by preservation. You see, God has a rightful claim to our life; therefore, we are to bless His name.

In the corresponding Apostolic Writing, John 20, the portion deals with Mary Magdalene, Peter, and John who discover Yeshua’s empty tomb. In the last three verses (19 – 21), we find the disciple’s in fear behind closed doors. Yeshua appears before them and says to them, “Peace be with you.” They rejoice at seeing Him and again after showing them His hands and side says, “Peace be unto You.” Yes, the Lord lift up His countenance upon you, turn His face toward you, and give you peace.

Readings:

"Blessed are You, Yahweh our God, King of the Universe,

Who chose us from among all peoples by giving us Your Torah.

Blessed are You, Yahweh, giver of the Torah."

 

Reader 1 Amen. 22 Then Yahweh spoke to Moses, saying, 23 "Speak to Aaron and to his sons, saying, 'Thus you shall bless the sons of Israel. You shall say to them:

24 Yahweh bless you, and keep you;

25 Yahweh make His face shine on you, and be gracious to you;

26 Yahweh lift up His countenance on you, and give you peace.'

27 So they shall invoke My Name on the sons of Israel, and I then will bless them."

 

7:1 Now on the day that Moses had finished setting up the tabernacle, he anointed it and consecrated it with all its furnishings and the altar and all its utensils; he anointed them and consecrated them also. 2 Then the leaders of Israel, the heads of their fathers' households, made an offering (they were the leaders of the tribes; they were the ones who were over the numbered men). 3 When they brought their offering before Yahweh, six covered carts and twelve oxen, a cart for every two of the leaders and an ox for each one, then they presented them before the tabernacle. 4 Then Yahweh spoke to Moses, saying, 5 "Accept these things from them, that they may be used in the service of the tent of meeting, and you shall give them to the Levites, to each man according to his service." 6 So Moses took the carts and the oxen and gave them to the Levites. 7 Two carts and four oxen he gave to the sons of Gershon, according to their service, 8 and four carts and eight oxen he gave to the sons of Merari, according to their service, under the direction of Ithamar the son of Aaron the priest. 9 But he did not give any to the sons of Kohath because theirs was the service of the holy objects, which they carried on the shoulder.

Reader 2 Amen. 10 The leaders offered the dedication offering for the altar when it was anointed, so the leaders offered their offering before the altar. 11 Then Yahweh said to Moses, "Let them present their offering, one leader each day, for the dedication of the altar." 12 Now the one who presented his offering on the first day was Nahshon the son of Amminadab, of the tribe of Judah; 13 and his offering was one silver dish whose weight was one hundred and thirty shekels, one silver bowl of seventy shekels, according to the shekel of the sanctuary, both of them full of fine flour mixed with oil for a grain offering; 14 one gold pan of ten shekels, full of incense; 15 one bull, one ram, one male lamb one year old, for an elevation offering; 16 one male goat for a sin offering; 17 and for the sacrifice of peace offerings, two oxen, five rams, five male goats, five male lambs one year old. This was the offering of Nahshon the son of Amminadab. 18 On the second day Nethanel the son of Zuar, leader of Issachar, presented an offering; 19 he presented as his offering one silver dish whose weight was one hundred and thirty shekels, one silver bowl of seventy shekels, according to the shekel of the sanctuary, both of them full of fine flour mixed with oil for a grain offering; 20 one gold pan of ten shekels, full of incense; 21 one bull, one ram, one male lamb one year old, for an elevation offering; 22 one male goat for a sin offering; 23 and for the sacrifice of peace offerings, two oxen, five rams, five male goats, five male lambs one year old. This was the offering of Nethanel the son of Zuar.

Reader 3 Amen. 24 On the third day it was Eliab the son of Helon, leader of the sons of Zebulun; 25 his offering was one silver dish whose weight was one hundred and thirty shekels, one silver bowl of seventy shekels, according to the shekel of the sanctuary, both of them full of fine flour mixed with oil for a grain offering; 26 one gold pan of ten shekels, full of incense; 27 one young bull, one ram, one male lamb one year old, for an elevation offering; 28 one male goat for a sin offering; 29 and for the sacrifice of peace offerings, two oxen, five rams, five male goats, five male lambs one year old. This was the offering of Eliab the son of Helon. 30 On the fourth day it was Elizur the son of Shedeur, leader of the sons of Reuben; 31 his offering was one silver dish whose weight was one hundred and thirty shekels, one silver bowl of seventy shekels, according to the shekel of the sanctuary, both of them full of fine flour mixed with oil for a grain offering; 32 one gold pan of ten shekels, full of incense; 33 one bull, one ram, one male lamb one year old, for an elevation offering; 34 one male goat for a sin offering; 35 and for the sacrifice of peace offerings, two oxen, five rams, five male goats, five male lambs one year old. This was the offering of Elizur the son of Shedeur.

Reader 4 Amen. 36 On the fifth day it was Shelumiel the son of Zurishaddai, leader of the children of Simeon; 37 his offering was one silver dish whose weight was one hundred and thirty shekels, one silver bowl of seventy shekels, according to the shekel of the sanctuary, both of them full of fine flour mixed with oil for a grain offering; 38 one gold pan of ten shekels, full of incense; 39 one bull, one ram, one male lamb one year old, for an elevation offering; 40 one male goat for a sin offering; 41 and for the sacrifice of peace offerings, two oxen, five rams, five male goats, five male lambs one year old. This was the offering of Shelumiel the son of Zurishaddai. 42 On the sixth day it was Eliasaph the son of Deuel, leader of the sons of Gad; 43 his offering was one silver dish whose weight was one hundred and thirty shekels, one silver bowl of seventy shekels, according to the shekel of the sanctuary, both of them full of fine flour mixed with oil for a grain offering; 44 one gold pan of ten shekels, full of incense; 45 one bull, one ram, one male lamb one year old, for an elevation offering; 46 one male goat for a sin offering; 47 and for the sacrifice of peace offerings, two oxen, five rams, five male goats, five male lambs one year old. This was the offering of Eliasaph the son of Deuel.

Reader 5 Amen. 48 On the seventh day it was Elishama the son of Ammihud, leader of the sons of Ephraim; 49 his offering was one silver dish whose weight was one hundred and thirty shekels, one silver bowl of seventy shekels, according to the shekel of the sanctuary, both of them full of fine flour mixed with oil for a grain offering; 50 one gold pan of ten shekels, full of incense; 51 one bull, one ram, one male lamb one year old, for an elevation offering; 52 one male goat for a sin offering; 53 and for the sacrifice of peace offerings, two oxen, five rams, five male goats, five male lambs one year old. This was the offering of Elishama the son of Ammihud. 54 On the eighth day it was Gamaliel the son of Pedahzur, leader of the sons of Manasseh; 55 his offering was one silver dish whose weight was one hundred and thirty shekels, one silver bowl of seventy shekels, according to the shekel of the sanctuary, both of them full of fine flour mixed with oil for a grain offering; 56 one gold pan of ten shekels, full of incense; 57 one bull, one ram, one male lamb one year old, for an elevation offering; 58 one male goat for a sin offering; 59 and for the sacrifice of peace offerings, two oxen, five rams, five male goats, five male lambs one year old. This was the offering of Gamaliel the son of Pedahzur.

Reader 6 Amen. 60 On the ninth day it was Abidan the son of Gideoni, leader of the sons of Benjamin; 61 his offering was one silver dish whose weight was one hundred and thirty shekels, one silver bowl of seventy shekels, according to the shekel of the sanctuary, both of them full of fine flour mixed with oil for a grain offering; 62 one gold pan of ten shekels, full of incense; 63 one bull, one ram, one male lamb one year old, for an elevation offering; 64 one male goat for a sin offering; 65 and for the sacrifice of peace offerings, two oxen, five rams, five male goats, five male lambs one year old. This was the offering of Abidan the son of Gideoni. 66 On the tenth day it was Ahiezer the son of Ammishaddai, leader of the sons of Dan; 67 his offering was one silver dish whose weight was one hundred and thirty shekels, one silver bowl of seventy shekels, according to the shekel of the sanctuary, both of them full of fine flour mixed with oil for a grain offering; 68 one gold pan of ten shekels, full of incense; 69 one bull, one ram, one male lamb one year old, for an elevation offering; 70 one male goat for a sin offering; 71 and for the sacrifice of peace offerings, two oxen, five rams, five male goats, five male lambs one year old. This was the offering of Ahiezer the son of Ammishaddai. 72 On the eleventh day it was Pagiel the son of Ochran, leader of the sons of Asher; 73 his offering was one silver dish whose weight was one hundred and thirty shekels, one silver bowl of seventy shekels, according to the shekel of the sanctuary, both of them full of fine flour mixed with oil for a grain offering; 74 one gold pan of ten shekels, full of incense; 75 one bull, one ram, one male lamb one year old, for an elevation offering; 76 one male goat for a sin offering; 77 and for the sacrifice of peace offerings, two oxen, five rams, five male goats, five male lambs one year old. This was the offering of Pagiel the son of Ochran. 78 On the twelfth day it was Ahira the son of Enan, leader of the sons of Naphtali; 79 his offering was one silver dish whose weight was one hundred and thirty shekels, one silver bowl of seventy shekels, according to the shekel of the sanctuary, both of them full of fine flour mixed with oil for a grain offering; 80 one gold pan of ten shekels, full of incense; 81 one bull, one ram, one male lamb one year old, for an elevation offering; 82 one male goat for a sin offering; 83 and for the sacrifice of peace offerings, two oxen, five rams, five male goats, five male lambs one year old. This was the offering of Ahira the son of Enan.

Reader 7Amen. 84 This was the dedication offering for the altar from the leaders of Israel when it was anointed: twelve silver dishes, twelve silver bowls, twelve gold pans, 85 each silver dish weighing one hundred and thirty shekels and each bowl seventy; all the silver of the utensils was 2,400 shekels, according to the shekel of the sanctuary; 86 the twelve gold pans, full of incense, weighing ten shekels apiece, according to the shekel of the sanctuary, all the gold of the pans 120 shekels; 87 all the oxen for the elevation offering twelve bulls, all the rams twelve, the male lambs one year old with their grain offering twelve, and the male goats for a sin offering twelve; 88 and all the oxen for the sacrifice of peace offerings 24 bulls, all the rams 60, the male goats 60, the male lambs one year old 60. This was the dedication offering for the altar after it was anointed. 89 Now when Moses went into the tent of meeting to speak with Him, he heard the voice speaking to him from above the mercy seat that was on the ark of the testimony, from between the two cherubim, so He spoke to him.

 

"Blessed are You, Yahweh our God, King of the Universe,

Who in giving us Yeshua, the Living Torah, has planted everlasting life in our midst.

Blessed are You, Yahweh, giver of the Torah."

------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

"Blessed are You, Yahweh our God, King of the Universe,

Who selected good prophets, delighting in their words which were spoken truthfully.

Blessed are You, Yahweh, Who chose the Torah, Your servant Moses, Your people Israel,

and the prophets of truth and righteousness."

 

Psalm 100    (To be sung.)    A Psalm of Thanksgiving.

1 Shout joyfully to Yahweh, all the earth. 2 Serve Yahweh with gladness; come before Him with joyful singing. 3 Know that Yahweh Himself is God; it is He who has made us, and not we ourselves; we are His people and the sheep of His pasture. 4 Enter His gates with thanksgiving and His courts with praise. Give thanks to Him, bless His name. 5 For Yahweh is good; His lovingkindness is everlasting and His faithfulness to all generations.

 

Romans 12   

1 Therefore I urge you, brethren, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies a living and holy sacrifice, acceptable to God, which is your spiritual service of worship. 2 And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you may prove what the will of God is, that which is good and acceptable and perfect. 3 For through the grace given to me I say to everyone among you not to think more highly of himself than he ought to think; but to think so as to have sound judgment, as God has allotted to each a measure of faith. 4 For just as we have many members in one body and all the members do not have the same function, 5 so we, who are many, are one body in Christ, and individually members one of another. 6 Since we have gifts that differ according to the grace given to us, each of us is to exercise them accordingly: [if prophecy, according to the proportion of his faith; 7 if service, in his serving; or he who teaches, in his teaching; 8 or he who exhorts, in his exhortation; he who gives, with liberality; he who leads, with diligence; he who shows mercy, with cheerfulness.] 9 Let love be without hypocrisy. Abhor what is evil; cling to what is good. 10 Be devoted to one another in brotherly love; give preference to one another in honor; 11 not lagging behind in diligence, fervent in spirit, serving the Lord; 12 rejoicing in hope, persevering in tribulation, devoted to prayer, 13 contributing to the needs of the saints, practicing hospitality. 14 Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse. 15 Rejoice with those who rejoice, and weep with those who weep. 16 Be of the same mind toward one another; do not be haughty in mind, but associate with the lowly. Do not be wise in your own estimation. 17 Never pay back evil for evil to anyone. Respect what is right in the sight of all men. 18 If possible, so far as it depends on you, be at peace with all men. 19 Never take your own revenge, beloved, but leave room for the wrath of God, for it is written, "Vengeance is Mine, I will repay," says the Lord. 20 "But if your enemy is hungry, feed him, and if he is thirsty, give him a drink; for in so doing you will heap burning coals on his head." 21 Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.

 

"Blessed are You, Yahweh our God, King of the Universe,

Rock of Ages, righteous throughout all generations.

You are the faithful God, promising and then performing, speaking and then fulfilling,

for all Your words are true and righteous.

Faithful are You, Yahweh our God, and faithful are Your words,

for no word of Yours shall remain unfulfilled;

You are a faithful and merciful God and King.

Blessed are You, Yahweh our God, Who are faithful in fulfilling all Your words."


 

© 2003  Beikvot HaMashiach
(Followers of the Messiah)

 

 

 

 

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