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Commentary - Year 3 Sabbath 10

Numbers 17:1 - 18:24*   -   Ezekiel 44:15   -   Psalm 108   -   Hebrews 5:1 - 6:3
*Numbers 17:16 - 18:24 in Hebrew Bibles                                                                                      

 

Sivan 7, 5763 /  June  7, 2003

Sivan 7, 5766 /  June  3, 2006 

Sivan 7, 5769/  May 30, 2009

Sivan 5, 5772 / May 26, 2012

Sivan 5, 5775 / May 23, 2015   The 49th day of the Omer

 

V'qach Meitam Mattah / Take from Them a Staff    SCRIPTURES should be read first

Background

Now, behold, I have taken the Levites from among the sons of Israel instead of every first-born, the first issue of the womb among the sons of Israel. So the Levites shall be Mine. For all the first-born are Mine; on the day that I struck down all the first-born in the land of Egypt, I sanctified to Myself all the first-born in Israel, from man to beast. They shall be Mine; I am Yahweh” – Numbers 3:12-13.

Setting

More than two-hundred-fifty firstborn had just died before the assembly, for usurping the role of Levites (Numbers 16).

Numbers 17-18

Leaders of the twelve tribes were instructed to each bring a representative rod, to be placed in the Tabernacle before the Ark.

Aarons rod sprouted, blossomed, and produced almonds – all in one day! Thus Yahweh verified His Word concerning whom He had chosen to fulfill the specific office.

(V.5) God gives signs to verify His intentions, to lessen our evil speech.Thus I shall lessen from upon Myself the grumblings of the sons of Israel, who are grumbling against you (Moses).” He did so at Sinai, He did so in the case of Aaron’s rod that budded, and He did so at the Jerusalem Pentecost following Yeshua’s ascension. In our maturing, we are to, “by practice, have (our) senses trained to discern good and evil” – Hebrews 5:14.

(V.12-13) “Then the sons of Israel spoke to Moses, saying, ‘Behold, we perish, we are dying, we are all dying!’ ” (1) “We perish” – part of Korah’s company had been swallowed up by the earth; (2) “We are dying” – the rest were consumed by fire; (3) “We are all dying” – 14,700 died in the plague before it could be stopped. “Everyone who comes near, who comes near to the tabernacle of Yahweh, must die. Are we to perish completely?” It seemed as if those who got closest to the Tabernacle kept being killed, in cycles: so they questioned: where would this end? It would end when the people got the picture – don’t put your own aspirations above God’s instruction 

(V.18:1-6) God then reiterated His pattern for safety about the Tabernacle: Aaron and the Levites had the responsibility of guarding the Tabernacle against trespass by the people. The priests were responsible for guarding the Holy Things against trespass by the Levites: it would be sin for priests to allow Levites to participate in sacrificial services. Trespassing meant death.

(V.7-21) The priests’ service was called a ‘gift’ to the priests. They also received ‘gifts’ for their service.

A priests’ due came from sacrificial offerings, that which was left after a portion was burned on the Altar. Since it came from the fire, it was considered God’s portion, and so it was as if they were eating at God’s table, and it had to be eaten within the Tabernacle Courtyard. Also, parts of peace offerings, thanksgiving offerings, and nazirite offerings were gifts to the priests (Leviticus 7:33-34). The first and best portions (terumah) of crops were gifts to the priests. The firstborn of kosher animals were likewise gifts, with all other firstborn requiring redemption. 

(V.22-24) There are three tithes: the first tithe is for the Levites, the second is for the Feasts (Deuteronomy 14:22-27), and the third tithe is for the poor (Deuteronomy 26:12). Tithes are mentioned twice in this passage, explaining that the first tithes, given after the labor is performed on them, is in return for their labor in sacred service, and the crops themselves are to make up for the lack of apportioned land.

(V.25-32) Interestingly, the Day of Firstfruits is followed by the paragraph on how the Levites were to deal with the tithe.

Ezekiel 44

As for the Levites who led the people into idolatry, God said that they could not come near His holy things, but they would be guards at the Tabernacle, and slay the personal offerings of the people.

Today, it is common for all kinds of men to claim a presumed “right” to lead worship in the way that seems good to them. The worship that Yahweh established is often considered outmoded, and its pattern is not even generally recognized. We have “Jews” who falsely claim to be perpetuating God’s order, and various so-called “Christians” who claim to have received authority to replace it. But, thousands of people died, in God’s purpose to get the picture across to us! Must we be so stubborn, that we would die rather than accept God’s good instruction?

Rabbinic Judaism is not following Moses: it has rejected the one whom Moses prefigured, and thus rejected the Torah. Its teaching is based upon personal worthiness, and “seeks his own glory”. “But when it was now the midst of the Feast (of Tabernacles) Yeshua went up into the Temple, and began to teach. The Jews therefore were marveling, saying, ‘How has this man become learned, having never been educated?’ Yeshua therefore answered them, and said, ‘My teaching is not Mine, but His who sent Me. If any man is willing to do His will, he shall know of the teaching, whether it is of God, or whether I speak from Myself. He who speaks from himself seeks his own glory; but He who is seeking the glory of the One who sent Him, He is true, and there is no unrighteousness in Him. Did not Moses give you the Torah, and yet none of you carries out the Torah? Why do you seek to kill Me?’ ” – John 7:14-19.

Traditional Christianity is not following Torah. It proclaims a redefined “New Covenant” that supposedly replaces the Torah.

Hebrews 5

We seem to be at a disadvantage, being in a time when there are no (Biblical) judges and everyone does what is right in his own eyes (see Deuteronomy 11:8). That which naturally seems right to us, as “decent humans”, is not the same as what God calls holiness to Him. That which intuitively seems true or proper to us as believers, is not necessarily “of the Holy Spirit”. We are required to grow – to mature – by learning and practicing obedience to Torah principles, thus “training our senses to discern good and evil” – Hebrews 5:14.

While, for today, we lack the prescribed system of leadership, we know the ultimate High Priest, Yeshua. He makes intercession for our sins, which we cannot do for ourselves; however, we are required to “confess” and seek forgiveness – 1 John 1:9. The plague of death will not be stopped by our saying “I believe”, while we go through life proving otherwise by ignoring God’s Word.

Aaron did not seek the honor of High Priest for himself (Hebrews 5:4). So likewise, Yeshua did not seek His own honor, but God said, “Thou art a priest forever according to the order of Melchizedek” (v.6), and that is the order of the firstborn, from before the Levites were taken as a substitute (Yeshua is not a Levite).

Yeshua understands our fears and weaknesses. He is a High Priest who has sympathy with us. If we really trust Him as our sin-bearer, we will learn to respect His Word – from “In the beginning” to “the Unveiling (Revelation) of Yeshua the Messiah”.

Psalm 108

(V.4) “For Thy lovingkindness is great above the heavens; and Thy truth reaches to the skies.

(V.12-13) While the plain application of the Psalm concerns deliverance from earthly enemies, the spiritual application concerns sin. For sin, “deliverance by man is in vain. Through God we shall do valiantly”.

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Ezekiel 44:20 - Incidental

(V.20) Concerning the Levites, “Also they shall not shave their heads, yet they shall not let their locks grow long; they shall only trim the hair of their heads”. This may relate to Paul’s statement, “Does not even custom itself teach you that if a man has long hair, it is a dishonor to him?” – 1 Corinthians 11:14.

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. 1 Then Yahweh spoke to Moses, saying, 2 "Speak to the sons of Israel, and get from them a rod for each father's household: twelve rods, from all their leaders according to their fathers' households. You shall write each name on his rod, 3 and write Aaron's name on the rod of Levi; for there is one rod for the head of each of their fathers' households. 4 "You shall then deposit them in the tent of meeting in front of the testimony, where I meet with you. 5 "It will come about that the rod of the man whom I choose will sprout. Thus I will lessen from upon Myself the grumblings of the sons of Israel, who are grumbling against you."

Reader 2*  Amen. 6 Moses therefore spoke to the sons of Israel, and all their leaders gave him a rod apiece, for each leader according to their fathers' households, twelve rods, with the rod of Aaron among their rods. 7 So Moses deposited the rods before Yahweh in the tent of the testimony. 8 Now on the next day Moses went into the tent of the testimony; and behold, the rod of Aaron for the house of Levi had sprouted and put forth buds and produced blossoms, and it bore ripe almonds. 9 Moses then brought out all the rods from the presence of Yahweh to all the sons of Israel; and they looked, and each man took his rod. 10 But Yahweh said to Moses, "Put back the rod of Aaron before the testimony to be kept as a sign against the rebels, that you may put an end to their grumblings against Me, so that they will not die." 11 Thus Moses did; just as Yahweh had commanded him, so he did.

Reader 3*  Amen. 12 Then the sons of Israel spoke to Moses, saying, "Behold, we perish, we are dying, we are all dying! 13 "Everyone who comes near, who comes near to the tabernacle of Yahweh, must die. Are we to perish completely?"

18:1 So Yahweh said to Aaron, "You and your sons and your father's household with you shall bear the guilt in connection with the sanctuary, and you and your sons with you shall bear the guilt in connection with your priesthood. 2 "But bring with you also your brothers, the tribe of Levi, the tribe of your father, that they may be joined with you and serve you, while you and your sons with you are before the tent of the testimony. 3 "And they shall thus attend to your obligation and the obligation of all the tent, but they shall not come near to the furnishings of the sanctuary and the altar, or both they and you will die. 4 "They shall be joined with you and attend to the obligations of the tent of meeting, for all the service of the tent; but an outsider may not come near you. 5 "So you shall attend to the obligations of the sanctuary and the obligations of the altar, so that there will no longer be wrath on the sons of Israel.

Reader 4*  Amen. 6 "Behold, I Myself have taken your fellow Levites from among the sons of Israel; they are a gift to you, dedicated to Yahweh, to perform the service for the tent of meeting. 7 "But you and your sons with you shall attend to your priesthood for everything concerning the altar and inside the veil, and you are to perform service. I am giving you the priesthood as a bestowed service, but the outsider who comes near shall be put to death." 8 Then Yahweh spoke to Aaron, "Now behold, I Myself have given you charge of My offerings, even all the holy gifts of the sons of Israel I have given them to you as a portion and to your sons as a perpetual allotment. 9 "This shall be yours from the most holy gifts reserved from the fire; every offering of theirs, even every grain offering and every sin offering and every guilt offering, which they shall render to Me, shall be most holy for you and for your sons. 10 "As the most holy gifts you shall eat it; every male shall eat it. It shall be holy to you. 11 "This also is yours, the offering of their gift, even all the wave offerings of the sons of Israel; I have given them to you and to your sons and daughters with you as a perpetual allotment. Everyone of your household who is clean may eat it.

Reader 5*  Amen. 12 "All the best of the fresh oil and all the best of the fresh wine and of the grain, the first fruits of those which they give to Yahweh, I give them to you. 13 "The first ripe fruits of all that is in their land, which they bring to Yahweh, shall be yours; everyone of your household who is clean may eat it. 14 "Every devoted thing in Israel shall be yours. 15 "Every first issue of the womb of all flesh, whether man or animal, which they offer to Yahweh, shall be yours; nevertheless the firstborn of man you shall surely redeem, and the firstborn of unclean animals you shall redeem. 16 "As to their redemption price, from a month old you shall redeem them, by your valuation, five shekels in silver, according to the shekel of the sanctuary, which is twenty gerahs.

Reader 6*  Amen. 17 "But the firstborn of an ox or the firstborn of a sheep or the firstborn of a goat, you shall not redeem; they are holy. You shall sprinkle their blood on the altar and shall offer up their fat in smoke as an offering by fire, for a soothing aroma to Yahweh. 18 "Their meat shall be yours; it shall be yours like the breast of a wave offering and like the right thigh. 19 "All the offerings of the holy gifts, which the sons of Israel offer to Yahweh, I have given to you and your sons and your daughters with you, as a perpetual allotment. It is an everlasting covenant of salt before Yahweh to you and your descendants with you."

Reader 7*  Amen. 20 Then Yahweh said to Aaron, "You shall have no inheritance in their land nor own any portion among them; I am your portion and your inheritance among the sons of Israel. 21 "To the sons of Levi, behold, I have given all the tithe in Israel for an inheritance, in return for their service which they perform, the service of the tent of meeting. 22 "The sons of Israel shall not come near the tent of meeting again, or they will bear sin and die. 23 "Only the Levites shall perform the service of the tent of meeting, and they shall bear their iniquity; it shall be a perpetual statute throughout your generations, and among the sons of Israel they shall have no inheritance. 24 "For the tithe of the sons of Israel, which they offer as an offering to Yahweh, I have given to the Levites for an inheritance; therefore I have said concerning them, 'They shall have no inheritance among the sons of Israel.'"

 

"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."

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"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."

 

Ezekiel 44:10-20

Reader 8*  Amen. 10 "But the Levites who went far from Me when Israel went astray, who went astray from Me after their idols, shall bear the punishment for their iniquity. 11 "Yet they shall be ministers in My sanctuary, having oversight at the gates of the house and ministering in the house; they shall slaughter the elevation offering and the sacrifice for the people, and they shall stand before them to minister to them. 12 "Because they ministered to them before their idols and became a stumbling block of iniquity to the house of Israel, therefore I have sworn against them," declares Lord Yahweh, "that they shall bear the punishment for their iniquity. 13 "And they shall not come near to Me to serve as a priest to Me, nor come near to any of My holy things, to the things that are most holy; but they will bear their shame and their abominations which they have committed. 14 "Yet I will appoint them to keep charge of the house, of all its service and of all that shall be done in it.

Reader 9*  Amen. 15 "But the Levitical priests, the sons of Zadok, who kept charge of My sanctuary when the sons of Israel went astray from Me, shall come near to Me to minister to Me; and they shall stand before Me to offer Me the fat and the blood," declares Lord Yahweh. 16 "They shall enter My sanctuary; they shall come near to My table to minister to Me and keep My charge. 17 "It shall be that when they enter at the gates of the inner court, they shall be clothed with linen garments; and wool shall not be on them while they are ministering in the gates of the inner court and in the house. 18 "Linen turbans shall be on their heads and linen undergarments shall be on their loins; they shall not gird themselves with anything which makes them sweat. 19 "When they go out into the outer court, into the outer court to the people, they shall put off their garments in which they have been ministering and lay them in the holy chambers; then they shall put on other garments so that they will not transmit holiness to the people with their garments. 20 "Also they shall not shave their heads, yet they shall not let their locks grow long; they shall only trim the hair of their heads.

                                                                                                                                             

Psalm 108   (To be sung.)   A Song, a Psalm of David.

My heart is steadfast, O God; I will sing, I will sing praises, even with my soul. 2 Awake, harp and lyre; I will awaken the dawn! 3 I will give thanks to You, O Yahweh, among the peoples, and I will sing praises to You among the nations. 4 For Your lovingkindness is great above the heavens, and Your truth reaches to the skies. 5 Be exalted, O God, above the heavens, and Your glory above all the earth. 6 That Your beloved may be delivered, save with Your right hand, and answer me! 7 God has spoken in His holiness: "I will exult, I will portion out Shechem and measure out the valley of Succoth. 8 "Gilead is Mine, Manasseh is Mine; Ephraim also is the helmet of My head; Judah is My scepter. 9 "Moab is My washbowl; over Edom I shall throw My shoe; over Philistia I will shout aloud." 10 Who will bring me into the besieged city? Who will lead me to Edom? 11 Have not You Yourself, O God, rejected us? And will You not go forth with our armies, O God? 12 Oh give us help against the adversary, for deliverance by man is in vain. 13 Through God we will do valiantly, and it is He who shall tread down our adversaries.

 

Song version (108C):

 

1.  My heart is ready, O God!  I’m rejoicing!  I will sing, yes, sing Your praises!  My glad soul awaken!  Waken, O harp!  Let my sweet lyre awaken!  With my song I’ll rouse the dawning;  I will You praise, Yahweh.

 

2.  Praises to You will I chant through the nations, For Your grace skies cannot measure;  Your truth reaches heaven.  High over heavens, O God, be exalted!  Let Your glory cover all earth,  So rescue Your beloved.

 

3.  Save by Your right hand, O God;  give me an answer!  In His temple God has promised, “I’ll portion out Shechem;  Measure in triumph the valley of Succoth;  Mine is Gilead, Mine Manasseh,  My helmet Ephraim!

 

4.  “While over My land  My sceptre is Judah,  I use Moab as a washbowl,  My shoe toss on Edom;  Over Philistia I shout loud in triumph.”  Who will lead me to the fortress  And me to Edom bring?

 

5.  God, have You thrown us away?  Have You spurned us?  You go not forth with our armies;  Your help, O God, grant us!  Fighting the enemy man’s help is empty,  But with God we strive with valor;  He’ll trample down our foes.

 

Hebrews 5:1 – 6:3

Reader 10*  Amen. 1 For every high priest taken from among men is appointed on behalf of men in things pertaining to God, in order to offer both gifts and sacrifices for sins; 2 he can deal gently with the ignorant and misguided, since he himself also is beset with weakness; 3 and because of it he is obligated to offer sacrifices for sins, as for the people, so also for himself. 4 And no one takes the honor to himself, but receives it when he is called by God, even as Aaron was. 5 So also Messiah did not glorify Himself so as to become a high priest, but He who said to Him, "You are My Son, today I have begotten You"; 6 just as He says also in another passage, "You are a priest forever according to the order of Melchizedek." 7 In the days of His flesh, He offered up both prayers and supplications with loud crying and tears to the One able to save Him from death, and He was heard because of His piety. 8 Although He was a Son, He learned obedience from the things which He suffered. 9 And having been made perfect, He became to all those who obey Him the source of eternal salvation, 10 being designated by God as a high priest according to the order of Melchizedek. 11 Concerning him we have much to say, and it is hard to explain, since you have become dull of hearing. 12 For though by this time you ought to be teachers, you have need again for someone to teach you the elementary principles of the oracles of God, and you have come to need milk and not solid food. 13 For everyone who partakes only of milk is not accustomed to the word of righteousness, for he is an infant. 14 But solid food is for the mature, who because of practice have their senses trained to discern good and evil.

6:1 Therefore leaving the elementary teaching about the Messiah, let us press on to maturity, not laying again a foundation of repentance from dead works and of faith toward God, 2 of instruction about washings and laying on of hands, and the resurrection of the dead and eternal judgment. 3 And this we will do, if God permits.

 

"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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