WR May 23-29 Num 4-7

Numbers 4-7

Completing the head-count of the Children of Israel taken in the Sinai Desert, a total of 8,580 Levite men between the ages of 30 and 50 are counted in a tally of those who will be doing the actual work of transporting the Tabernacle.

God communicates to Moses the law of the wayward wife suspected of unfaithfulness to her husband. Also given is the law of the Nazarite who forswears wine, lets his or her hair grow long, and is forbidden to become contaminated through contact with a dead body. Aaron and his descendents the priets are instructed on how to bless the people of Israel.

The leaders of the twelve tribes of Israel each bring their offerings for the inauguration of the altar. Although their gifts are identical, each is brought on a different day and is individually described by the Scripture.

WR May 16-22 Num 1-3

Numbers 1-3

In the Sinai Desert, God says to conduct a census of the twelve tribes of Israel. Moses counts 603,550 men of draftable age (20 to 60 years); the tribe of Levi, numbering 22,300 males age one month and older, is counted separately. The Levites are to serve in the Sanctuary, replacing the firstborn, whose number they approximated, who were disqualified when they participated in the worshipping of the Golden Calf. The 273 firstborn who lacked a Levite to replace them had to pay a five-shekel “ransom” to redeem themselves.

When the people broke camp, the three Levite clans dismantled and transported the Sanctuary, and reassembled it at the center of the next encampment. They then erected their own tents around it: the Kehatites, who carried the Sanctuary’s vessels (the ark, menorah, etc.) in their specially designed coverings on their shoulders, camped to its south; the Gershonites, in charge of its tapestries and roof coverings, to its west; and the families of Merrari, who transported its wall panels and pillars, to its north. Before the Sanctuary’s entrance way to its east were the tents of Moses, Aaron and Aaron’s sons.

Beyond the Levite circle, the twelve tribes camped in four groups of three tribes each. To the east were Judah (pop. 74,600), Issachar (54,400) and Zebulun (57,400); to the south, Reuben (46,500), Simeon (59,300) and Gad (45,650); to the west, Ephraim (40,500), Menasseh (32,200) and Benjamin (35,400); and to the north, Dan (62,700), Asher (41,500) and Naphtali (53,400). This formation was kept also while traveling. Each tribe had its own prince or leader, and its own flag with its tribal color and emblem.

WR May 9-15 Leviticus 25-27

Leviticus 25-27

On the mountain of Sinai, God communicates to Moses the laws of the sabbatical year. Every seventh year, all work on the land should cease, and its produce becomes free for the taking for all, man and beast.

Seven sabbatical cycles are followed by a fiftieth year — the jubilee year, on which work on the land ceases, all indentured servants are set free, and all ancestral estates in the Holy Land that have been sold revert to their original owners.

This passage also contains additional laws governing the sale of lands, and the prohibitions against fraud and usury.

“Be Ye Holy!” by Dwight A. Pryor

“Be Ye Holy!”

Author: Dwight A. Pryor

THE GIVING OF THE TORAH at Mt. Sinai forged the ransomed Israelites into a holy nation of priests. The giving of the Spirit at Mt. Zion fashioned the redeemed disciples of Yeshua into a covenant community called the church. These interconnected historic events occurred in the context of the biblical feast of Weeks (seven Sabbaths after Passover), which in the New Testament is called by the Greek name of Pentecost (referencing fifty days after Passover).

Both the Torah and the Spirit are holy and they call forth holiness in the people of God. The Torah was written by the “finger of God” (Ex 31:18), a Hebrew idiom for the “Spirit of God” (cf. Lk 11:20 and parallel Mt 12:28). The Spirit “proceeds from” the Father (Jn 15:26) and enables believers “who walk according to the Spirit” to fulfill the righteous requirements of the Torah (Rom 8:4), which is “holy, righteous and good” (7:12).

This connection between the Torah, the Spirit and holiness seems entirely natural to the Hebraic mind but alien and obscure to the classic Christian mindset that prejudicially views the Law and the Spirit in opposition.

This is why, in my experience, Christians almost never guess correctly when asked, “Which book of the Torah would children, like Jesus of Nazareth, study first in their Jewish education?” Not Genesis, but Leviticus! Children are holy, said the Sages, so let them begin with a study of holiness (Leviticus Rabbah 7:3).

HOLINESS IS A PERVASIVE THEME of Leviticus and indeed all the Torah. Chapter 19 is one of the most pivotal and pregnant chapters of the entire Bible, a virtual treasury of sometimes strange but invariably potent spiritual directions from the Lord to His covenant people.

For example, the Rabbi Jesus cites Leviticus 19:18 as a summary principle of the Torah and the Prophets (Mt 22:39). The Apostle Paul concurs when he declares that “the whole Law is fulfilled in one word, ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself'” (Gal 5:14). Three times the Hebrew command, v’ahavta… (“and you shall love…”) occurs in the Five Books of Moses, and two of them are found in chapter 19 (18, 34).

The centrality of holiness to covenant living is captured in the chapter’s memorable opening words: “K’doshim tih’yu … Be ye holy, for I the LORD your God am holy!” (19:2) The New Testament echoes this sentiment: “Pursue…holiness, without which no one will see the Lord” (Heb 12:2).

The God who is altogether Holy—“Kadosh, Kadosh, Kadosh, Adonai Tz’vaot!” (Isa 6:1)—requires commensurate holiness in his covenant partners. To draw near and become like the Holy One of Israel we too must become holy.

Holiness is the ultimate doxological predicate and the foundational principle of all biblical ethics. Nothing greater can be attributed to God in worship. The unprecedented angelic three-fold intensification, “Holy, Holy, Holy!” points beyond mere Divine attribute to the ultimately mysterious and impenetrable essence of Deity.

Adonai alone therefore is intrinsically holy; anything or anyone else shares in His holiness derivatively when they are set apart in an exclusive relationship with the true and living God and consecrated for His service. For example, though the whole earth is the Lord’s, a narrow strip of land on the eastern end of the Mediterranean basin became the holy land when the almighty sovereignly conveyed it to Abraham and his offspring for covenantal purposes (Gen 35:10-11). The assembly of Israelites became a holy nation when redeemed by the God of Abraham and set apart from all other nations as priests under His kingship (Ex 19:5-6).

Normally we think of holiness as a state of spiritual perfection or goodness. But the root meaning in Hebrew of kadosh derives from a verb meaning to demarcate, separate, or set apart. An ancient midrash on Leviticus therefore interprets “You shall be holy” to mean “You shall be distinct!”

God’s grace, His redemptive initiative, saves us and demarcates us from all others; but we in turn are enjoined to a reciprocal covenant responsibility of walking in that distinction, in holiness. His Spirit sets us apart as a holy people and keeping His commandments sanctifies us—i.e., we are commanded to become that which we are in Him. “Be ye holy!” says the LORD God.

WR May 2-8 Lev 21-24

SPEAK

Lev 21-24

This Scripture section begins with the special laws pertaining to the priests, the High Priest, and the Temple service: A priest may not become ritually impure through contact with a dead body, save on the occasion of the death of a close relative. A priest may not marry a divorcee or a woman with a promiscuous past; a High Priest can marry only a virgin. A priest with a physical deformity cannot serve in the Holy Temple, nor can a deformed animal be brought as an offering.

A newborn calf, lamb, or kid must be left with its mother for seven days before being eligible for an offering; one may not slaughter an animal and its offspring on the same day.

The second part of of this passage lists the annual Callings of Holiness — the festivals of the calendar: the weekly Sabbath; the bringing of the Passover offering; the seven-day Passover festival; the bringing of the Omer offering from the first barley harvest, and the commencement, on that day, of the 49-day Counting of the Omer, culminating in the festival of Shavuot on the 50th day; a “remembrance of shofar blowing”; a solemn fast day; the Sukkot festival — during which we are to dwell in huts for seven days.

Next the Scripture discusses the lighting of the Menorah in the Temple, and the showbread placed weekly on the table there.

The passage concludes with the incident of a man executed for blasphemy, and the penalties for murder (death) and for injuring one’s fellow or destroying his property (monetary compensation).

WR Apr 26-May 1

AFTER THE DEATH

LEV 16-20

Following the deaths of Nadav and Avihu, God warns against unauthorized entry “into the holy.” Only one person, the high priest, may, but once a year, on Yom Kippur, enter the innermost chamber in the Sanctuary to offer the sacred offering to God.

Another feature of the Day of Atonement service is the casting of lots over two goats to determine which should be offered to God and which should be dispatched to carry off the sins of Israel to the wilderness.

This passage also warns against bringing animal or meal offerings anywhere but in the Holy Temple, forbids the consumption of blood, and details the laws prohibiting incest and other deviant sexual relations.

Also read:

PHILEMON

WR Apr 18-24

SHE BEARS SEEDS

LEV 12-15

This passage continues the discussion of the laws of ritual impurity and purity.

A woman giving birth should undergo a process of purification, which includes immersing in a naturally gathered pool of water and bringing offerings to the Holy Temple. All male infants are to be circumcised on the eighth day of life.

Leprosy is a supra-natural plague, which also can afflict garments. If white or pink patches appear on a person’s skin (dark red or green in garments), a priest is summoned. Judging by various signs, such as an increase in size of the afflicted area after a seven-day quarantine, the priest pronounces it impure or pure.

A person afflicted with leprosy must dwell alone outside of the camp (or city) until he is healed. The afflicted area in a garment is removed; if the leprosy spreads or recurs, the entire garment must be burned.

Also read:

TITUS