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Parashah 42 Mattot - 43 Massei

Numbers 30:2 – 36:13

By Dr. K. Blad  ©

Second edition 2013-14

Lucrative copying not permitted.   

Torah Readings (when Mattot and Massei are read together):

1.      30:2  – 31:12

2.      31:13-54

3.      32:1 – 32:19

4.      32:20 – 33:49

5.      33:50 – 34:15

6.      34:16 – 35:8

7.      35:9 – 36:13

8.      Maftir: 36:10-13

Haftarah  (when Mattot and Massei are read together): Jeremiah 2:4 – 2:28; 3:4

Mattot

Mattot means “tribes”.

Massei

Massei is the plural possessive of massah, which means “exodus”, “journey”, “march”, “point of reference”, “station”, “camp”. The term refers both to the places where the children of Israel camped and to the journeys between those places.

The First Aliyah, 30:2  – 31:12

30:1 “Moshe spoke to the heads of the tribes of the children of Yisra'el, saying, This is the thing which HaShem has commanded.”(HNV revised) – This is a long passage about the importance of fulfilling promises. Here the Torah mentions the heads of the tribes in the context of fulfilling promises. This teaches us that the leaders had a much greater responsibility to fulfill promises than the rest of the people, since he represents HaShem before the people. If a leader does not fulfill his promises, the people will get the wrong impression of the Eternal who has appointed him as His representative. It also means that society must be founded on truthfulness and that this is especially significant among the leaders.

A political leader who makes promises during his election campaign and then, once he is elected, does not fulfill his promises, is dishonoring HaShem’s name. Not fulfilling a promise is a serious thing. It has to do with HaShem’s honor.

This principle applies to parents also. When parents promise their children something it is very important that they fulfill that promise so that the children will come to know HaShem’s faithfulness through their parents example. The impression that parents present to their children will be projected on the Eternal. Children believe that HaShem is like their parents. Therefore it is very important that parents fulfill their promises to their children and that they do not go back on their word. If, at any time, it becomes necessary to go back on a word that was given to one’s children, one must ask for forgiveness so the children understand that such behavior is not right. Then they will not believe that HaShem breaks his promises.

This text also means that one has a responsibility to fulfill one’s word before authorities, and that authorities, at certain occasions, have the right to annul the promises that the Israelites have made.

30:2 “When a man vows a vow to HaShem, or swears an oath to bind his soul with a bond, he shall not break his word; he shall do according to all that proceeds out of his mouth.”(HNV revised) – Here we have two types of promises, a “vow” and an “oath”. The Hebrew word that is translated “vow” is neder,[1] which means “promise”, “something that one has promised”. It has to do with binding oneself in relation to an object, for instance an object or animal for sacrifice, or not to drink wine. The Hebrew word that is translated “oath” is shevuah.[2] It has to do with binding oneself to not doing a permitted activity, for instance not sleeping at night. Since this text follows the text about the sacrificial laws, it is interpreted to mean that one who makes a promise to sacrifice must fulfill his promise at the following feast when he visits the temple, compare with 29:39. For instance, one who promises to offer a specific animal by saying, “I will offer this animal to HaShem”, that person gives a neder. However, one who promises to give a certain type of offering with any animal by saying something like, “I will give an ascension offering”, is giving a shevuah.

Rabbi Bechai mentions three occasions when it is recommendable to make promises:

  1. When someone has a sinful habit pattern and wishes to break from it and thus makes a promise. For example, a glutton can make a promise not to eat meat for a certain amount of time, a drunkard can promise not to drink alcoholic beverages, and a greedy person can refuse to receive presents.

  2. If an opportunity is presented to fulfill a mitzvah (commandment) one can swear an oath to fulfill it at a later time in order not to miss the opportunity.

  3. Since our father Ya’akov made a promise when he was in distress, one who has great troubles can make promises, compare with Genesis 28:22; 31:13.

In Deuteronomy 23:21-23, it is written,

“When you shall vow a vow to HaShem your God, you shall not be slack to pay it: for HaShem your God will surely require it of you; and it would be sin in you. But if you shall forbear to vow, it shall be no sin in you. That which is gone out of your lips you shall observe and do; according as you have vowed to HaShem your God, a freewill-offering, which you have promised with your mouth.”(HNV revised)

In 1 Samuel 1:11, it is written,

“She vowed a vow, and said, HaShem of hosts, if you will indeed look on the affliction of your handmaid, and remember me, and not forget your handmaid, but will give to your handmaid a man-child, then I will give him to HaShem all the days of his life, and there shall no razor come on his head.”(HNV revised

In Psalm 22:25, it is written,

“Of you comes my praise in the great assembly. I will pay my vows before those who fear him.”(HNV)

In Psalm 116:17-18, it is written,

“will offer to you the sacrifice of thanksgiving, and will call on the name of HaShem. I will pay my vows to HaShem, Yes, in the presence of all his people,”(HNV revised)

In Jonah 2:9, it is written,

“But I will sacrifice to you with the voice of thanksgiving. I will pay that which I have vowed. Salvation belongs to HaShem.”(HNV revised)

“he shall not break his word; he shall do according to all that proceeds out of his mouth” – The Hebrew word that is translated “break” is yachel which comes from the word chalal,[3] which means “perforate”, “wound”, “undo”, “profane”.

The Torah emphasizes the importance of fulfilling promises. It is interesting to see the connection between perforating, or wounding, and not fulfilling a promise. One who does not fulfill a promise causes a wound, a perforation, in HaShem’s image. If we do not keep our word, we harm our function of reflecting HaShem’s character since the Eternal cannot break his word and man was created in his image.

In Ecclesiastes 5:1-6, it is written,

“Guard your steps when you go to God’s house; for to draw near to listen is better than to give the sacrifice of fools, for they don’t know that they do evil. Don’t be rash with your mouth, and don’t let your heart be hasty to utter anything before God; for God is in heaven, and you on earth. Therefore let your words be few. For as a dream comes with a multitude of cares, so a fool’s speech with a multitude of words. When you vow a vow to God, don’t defer to pay it; for he has no pleasure in fools. Pay that which you vow. It is better that you should not vow, than that you should vow and not pay. Don’t allow your mouth to lead you into sin. Don’t protest before the messenger that this was a mistake. Why should God be angry at your voice, and destroy the work of your hands? For in the multitude of dreams there are vanities, as well as in many words: but you must fear God.”(HNV revised)

HaShem takes our words more seriously that we think, “It is better that you should not vow, than that you should vow and not pay.” We must honor the words that come out of our mouths just as the Eternal honors His Word, as it is written in Psalm 138:2,

“I will bow down toward your sacred temple, and give thanks to your Name for your loving kindness and for your truth; for you have exalted your Name and your Word above all.”(HNV revised)

HaShem has bound himself to the Word that came out of his mouth. In the same way, we bind ourselves to our own words. If we do not fulfill them, we sin.

This scripture teaches us the principle of authority and submission:

  • A man is under the authority of the leaders, 30:1-2.

  • A young woman is under her father’s authority, 30:3-5.

  • An adult unmarried woman is under her father’s authority concerning the annulling of promises, 30:3-5.

  • A betrothed woman is under her husband’s authority, 30:6-8.

  • A widowed or divorced woman does not have any direct authority over her that can annul her promises. However, she is under the authority of the leaders, just as the men are, 30:9, compare with verses 1-2.

  • A married woman is under her husband’s authority, 30:10-15.

30:3 “Also when a woman vows a vow to HaShem, and binds herself by a bond, being in her father’s house, in her youth”(HNV revised) – The Hebrew word that is translated “in her youth” is neurim,[4] which means “youth”. A woman’s life is divided into three time eras: minor (in Hebrew ketanah), youth (in Hebrew nearah), and adult (in Hebrew bogeret). From a Jewish judicial standpoint the following applies: a woman who does not show any signs of puberty or is not yet twelve years old is a minor. If she has entered puberty, she becomes a youth at the age of twelve. At the age of twelve and a half, she becomes an adult.

According to Rashi, this commandment does not apply to a woman who is a minor, who cannot give a judicially binding promise. Neither does it apply to an adult, for she is not under her father’s authority, but only for a youth. When a daughter becomes twelve and a half years old, a father can therefore no longer annul her promises.

30:5b, 8b, 12b, “and HaShem will forgive her” – Since she cannot fulfill the promise that she made, there is guilt that needs to be forgiven.

30:8 “But if her husband disallow her in the day that he hears it, then he shall make void her vow which is on her, and the rash utterance of her lips, with which she has bound her soul: and HaShem will forgive her.”(HNV revised) – There are two reasons why the Eternal gave this authority to the man.

  1. A promise that was made by the betrothed woman before the betrothal, or by a wife after the wedding, verses 10-12, can affect the future marriage relationship. Therefore the husband has, for the good of the family, the authority to annul such a promise.

  2. The man has the responsibility to care for his wife and watch over her wellbeing. If he sees that a promise that she made in her youth, or after she was married, is harmful to her, he can annul it.

30:15 “But if he shall make them null and void after that he has heard them, then he shall bear her iniquity.”(HNV) – This means that the husband is responsible for any consequences that would come from not fulfilling a promise. Having authority means having responsibility. There is no authority without responsibility.

31:2 “Avenge the children of Yisra'el of the Midyanim: afterward you shall be gathered to your people.”(HNV) – The revenge came over Midyan, not Moav. Why? Rashi says that it was because the Moavites reacted out of fear since they found themselves near the children of Israel, while the Midyanites interfered where they did not belong.

Revenge came because of what Midyan did to the Israelite families. The daughters of Midyan had tried to destroy Israel’s family morals so that children would be born to pagan mothers, which would have caused idolatry.

Through this the coming generation would become perverted, as in the days of Ezra, when the Jewish men had married and borne children with women from other nations. These children were bi-lingual because of the influence of a foreign culture. The next generation of Jews would then be at risk of abandoning all faithfulness to the covenant. Therefore, they had to divorce these women and children, compare with Ezra 9-10; Nehemiah 13:23ff. It was different with Moshe’s Midyanite wife, Tzipporah, who had converted. These women from Midyan and Moav had no interest in adopting the faith of Israel, like Tzipporah had, but rather tried to destroy it through a pagan idolatrous cult. That is why vengeance came.

31:3 “Moshe spoke to the people, saying, Arm you men from among you for the war, that they may go against Midyan, to execute HaShem’s vengeance on Midyan.”(HNV revised) – Whom does the vengeance belong to? In Deuteronomy 32:35a it says that, “Vengeance is mine, and recompense”. Man does therefore not have the right to take revenge. If vengeance belongs to HaShem, how can Israel take revenge on Midyan? HaShem delegates the authority to Israel to carry out HIS vengeance. The people of Israel did not have the right in themselves to do this, it was only because of a heavenly order, as it is written, “Take vengeance…”

In Romans 12:17-21, it is written,

“Repay no one evil for evil. Respect what is honorable in the sight of all men. If it is possible, as much as it is up to you, be at shalom with all men. Don’t seek revenge yourselves, beloved, but give place to God’s wrath. For it is written, ‘Vengeance belongs to me; I will repay, says the Lord.’ Therefore ‘If your enemy is hungry, feed him. If he is thirsty, give him a drink. For in doing so, you will heap coals of fire on his head.’ Don’t be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.”(HNV revised)

Man does not have the right in himself to take revenge. You have a right to defend yourself, but not to take revenge. Only authorities, who are appointed by the Eternal, have the right to execute His vengeance. If you have been treated unrighteously, leave room for HaShem to judge, either directly or through the authorities that he has appointed.

In Leviticus 19:18a, commandment number 241 is found, which forbids man to take revenge, as it is written,

“You shall not take vengeance”(HNV)

In Romans 13:1-6, it is written,

“Let every soul be in subjection to the higher authorities, for there is no authority except from God, and those who exist are ordained by God. Therefore he who resists the authority, withstands the ordinance of God; and those who withstand will receive to themselves judgment. For rulers are not a terror to the good work, but to the evil. Do you desire to have no fear of the authority? Do that which is good, and you will have praise from the same, for he is a servant of God to you for good. But if you do that which is evil, be afraid, for he doesn’t bear the sword in vain; for he is a minister of God, an avenger for wrath to him who does evil. Therefore you need to be in subjection, not only because of the wrath, but also for conscience’ sake. For this reason you also pay taxes, for they are ministers of God’s service, attending continually on this very thing.”(HNV revised)

HaShem has appointed authorities as “an avenger for wrath to him who does evil”. However, if an authority does not do this, it is not fulfilling its function.

This applies to parents and children as well. Children do not have the right to take revenge on one another, but parents are obligated to avenge their child who has been wronged by his brother or sister, if they have not asked for forgiveness and made things right. If parents allow their children to harm one another without executing justice, their children will not learn the principle that HaShem is the one who avenges.

In many modern movies, the audience learns to cheer on the one who has been wronged and is seeking revenge from the one who has wronged him. This is not healthy. These movies teach people to not follow commandment number 241, which says that we are not to take vengeance. This commandment applies to all men, not just to Jews.

In Proverbs 20:22, it is written,

“Don’t say, ‘I will pay back evil.’ Wait for HaShem, and he will save you.”(HNV revised)

In Proverbs 24:29, it is written,

“Don’t say, ‘I will do to him as he has done to me; I will render to the man according to his work.’”(HNV)

In Psalm 94:1-3, it is written,

“HaShem, you God to whom vengeance belongs, you God to whom vengeance belongs, shine forth. Rise up, you judge of the earth. Pay back the proud what they deserve. HaShem, how long will the wicked, how long will the wicked triumph?”(HNV revised)

This Psalm teaches us to ask HaShem to rise up and execute vengeance on the earth, as it is also it is written in Revelation 6:9-10,

“When he opened the fifth seal, I saw underneath the altar the souls of those who had been killed for the Word of God, and for the testimony of the Lamb which they had. They cried with a loud voice, saying, ‘How long, Master, the sacred and true, until you judge and avenge our blood on those who dwell on the earth?’”(HNV revised)

In 1 Thessalonians 4:6, it is written concerning adultery,

“that no one should take advantage of and wrong a brother or sister in this matter; because the Lord is an avenger in all these things, as also we forewarned you and testified.”(HNV)

In Hebrews 10:30-31, it is written,

“For we know him who said, ‘Vengeance belongs to me,’ says the Lord, ‘I will repay.’ Again, ‘The Lord will judge his people.’ It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God.”(HNV revised)

Israel had HaShem’s delegated authority to execute his vengeance on Midyan and to kill everyone.

Yeshua HaMashiach has received all authority from God over all men on the earth, as it is written in Matthew 28:18,

“Yeshua came to them and spoke to them, saying, ‘All authority has been given to me in heaven and on earth.’”(HNV revised)

Therefore he not only has the right, but also the responsibility, to execute his Father’s vengeance on all who do not obey him, as it is written in Revelation 19:11-16,

“I saw the heaven opened, and behold, a white horse, and he who sat on it is called Faithful and True. In righteousness he judges and makes war. His eyes are a flame of fire, and on his head are many crowns. He has names written and a name written which no one knows but he himself. He is clothed in a garment sprinkled with blood. His name is called ‘The Word of God.’ The armies which are in heaven followed him on white horses, clothed in white, pure, fine linen. Out of his mouth proceeds a sharp, double-edged sword, that with it he should strike the nations. He will rule them with a rod of iron. He treads the winepress of the fierceness of the wrath of God, the Almighty. He has on his garment and on his thigh a name written, ‘KING OF KINGS, AND LORD OF LORDS.’”(HNV revised)

In 2 Thessalonians 1:6-10, it is written,

“Since it is a righteous thing with God to repay affliction to those who afflict you, and to give relief to you that are afflicted with us, when the Lord Yeshua is revealed from heaven with his mighty angels in flaming fire, giving vengeance to those who don’t know God, and to those who don’t obey the Good News of our Lord Yeshua, who will pay the penalty: eternal destruction from the face of the Lord and from the glory of his might, when he comes to be glorified in his consecrated ones, and to be admired among all those who have believed (because our testimony to you was believed) in that day.”(HNV revised)

31:5 “So there were delivered, out of the thousands of Yisra'el, a thousand of every tribe, twelve thousand armed for war.”(HNV) – In the Scriptures, the number twelve has to do with rule. So, whenever the number twelve thousand occurs in connection to war, it has to do with power and authority, compare with Joshua 8:25; Judges 21:10; 2 Samuel 17:1; 1 Kings 4:26; Psalm 60. The twelve thousand from every tribe, who are mentioned in Revelation 7 are those who will conquer the world for the coming kingdom. The new Yerushalayim measures twelve thousand stadia in three directions, compare with Revelation 21:16. This means that the city will have complete authority over the whole created world.

31:6 “Moshe sent them, one thousand of every tribe, to the war, them and Pinechas the son of El`azar the priest, to the war, with the vessels of the sanctuary and the trumpets for the alarm in his hand.”(HNV) – They had to bring the consecrated things with them to war. According to Rashi, this is talking about the ark and the high priest’s golden plate together with the trumpets. This teaches us that it was a spiritual war. Further on we see that none of the children of Israel died in the war, compare with verse 49. They were protected supernaturally.

31:8b “Bil`am also the son of Be'or they killed with the sword.”(HNV) – Bil’am partook of HaShem’s vengeance because he gave counsel that caused the children of Israel to sin. One who causes another to sin will be punished.

The Second Aliyah, 31:13-54

31:16 “Behold, these caused the children of Yisra'el, through the counsel of Bil`am, to commit trespass against HaSHem in the matter of Pe`or, and so the plague was among the congregation of HaShem.”(HNV revised) – Why does Moshe say that the Midyanite women caused immorality in Israel when only the Moavite women are mentioned in 25:1? The answer is that it was both the Moavite and Midyanite women who did this.

31:19 “Encamp you outside of the camp seven days: whoever has killed any person, and whoever has touched any slain, purify yourselves on the third day and on the seventh day, you and your captives.”(HNV) – According to Rashi, this means that they could not enter the court of the tabernacle for seven days. Both the children of Israel and their captives had to go through a cleansing process with the water for sprinkling, compare with chapter 19.

31:20 “As to every garment, and all that is made of skin, and all work of goats, and all things made of wood, you shall purify yourselves.”(HNV revised) – When the children of Israel had been to war, they had to purify themselves by being sprinkled with the purification water, they and their clothes as well as other objects that had become unclean by contact with death. A corpse is the main source of ritual uncleanness. That is why it was so important to cleanse men and objects from all contact with death, because of the presence of the Eternal in the tabernacle.

According to Rashi, the phrase “all work of goats” is referring to objects made of goats horns, hoofs, and bones.

31:22-23 “however the gold, and the silver, the brass, the iron, the tin, and the lead, everything that may abide the fire, you shall make to go through the fire, and it shall be clean; nevertheless it shall be purified with the water for impurity: and all that doesn’t withstand the fire you shall make to go through the water.”(HNV) – Even the kitchen utensils that were taken from the Midyanites needed to be purified from all contact with death and food that was not kasher.

There are two elements used for cleansing: water and fire. The earth was cleansed by water the first time, at the flood. The second time it will be cleansed by fire, as it is written in 2 Peter 3:6-7,

“by which means the world that then was, being overflowed with water, perished. But the heavens that now are, and the earth, by the same word have been stored up for fire, being reserved against the day of judgment and destruction of ungodly men.”(HNV)

Therefore there are two ways of purifying the vessels, by fire and by water. Here it is only speaking of kitchen utensils made of metal. The Torah does not demand that one purifies utensils of other materials, such as wood, glass, clay, or plastic. The rabbis, however, have established that even kitchen utensils made of glass should be purified before they are used. Utensils that are used for heating up food need to be heated up in order to be kasherized. However, metal utensils that have not been used to heat up food do not need to be heated in order to be kasherized, but can be cleansed through water only.

“water for impurity” – This is speaking mainly of the sprinkling water used to cleanse from uncleanness caused by contact with a corpse. In Hebrew it is called mei niddah, “water of uncleanness”, or “water of separation”. The word niddah has to do both with water for sprinkling and with a woman’s uncleanness. Therefore, when it speaks of niddah water, it is also interpreted as meaning that these objects need to be dipped in the type of water that a woman dips herself in after her monthly purification, i.e. a mikveh that holds at least forty seah measurements. According to Rabbi Aryeh Coffman,[5] forty seah measurements represent approximately 332 liters. (See also the commentary on Leviticus 12 and 15 in Parashah number 27 (Tazria) and 28 (Metzorah)).

In Mark 7:4 it says,

And coming from the market, they do not eat without immersing, and there are many other things which they have received to hold, the dippings of cups and pots, and of copper vessels, and of tables.” (MKJV)

This teaches us that during the second temple period, the practice existed of cleansing both kitchen utensils of metal and those of other materials before use.

It is written in Shulchan Aruch,[6]

TEVILAH FOR KITCHEN UTENSILS

All kitchen utensils, of metal or glass (or Pyrex), that are meant for food and have been purchased by a non-Jew or have been made by non-Jews, need tevilah before use. Tevilah means that one dips them in a mikveh (ritual bath) in order to cleanse them for consecrated use, which is characteristic of Jews.

This mikveh that is meant for the tevilah of kitchen utensils ought to meet the same demands as the mikveh in which a woman cleanses herself after her time of uncleanness.

Before dipping the kitchen utensil, this beracha is spoken, Baruch Ata HaShem Eloheinu Melech Haolam Asher Kidshanu Bemitzvotav Vetzivanu Al Tevilat Kelim. (“Blessed are you… who set us apart by your commandments and commanded us to let our kitchen utensils undergo tevilah.”)

Ceramic and porcelain kitchen utensils also need to undergo tevilah, only without the beracha.

Wooden objects do not need to go through tevilah. 

Before the tevilah, the utensil must be cleaned thoroughly and the stickers of any company must be removed.

If the utensils have been purchased used from a non-Jew, the tevilah will need to be preceded by hag’alah or libbun, depending on which type of utensil it is.

KASHERIZING KITCHEN UTENSILS

Metal kitchen utensils that have been used to make food that is not kasher can be used if they are “kasherized”. “Kasherizing” means to do hag’alah or libbun, depending on which type of utensil it is, in order to release the residue of forbidden food that was absorbed.

KITCHEN UTENSILS FOR PESACH – KASHERIZING

During Pesach it is forbidden to use the kitchen utensils that were used during the rest of the year for frying, deep-frying, baking, eating, or drinking warm or cold. Therefore it is common to have a set of pots, a set of china, and special silverware for Pesach. If this is impossible, one may, for Pesach, use certain kitchen utensils that were used the rest of the year after “kasherizing” them. There are two methods of “kasherization” that cleanses them from the chametz they have absorbed.

  1. Hag’alah – which means dipping the utensil in boiling water.

  2. Libbun – which means heating it in fire until it glows and shoots sparks.

These methods can be explained by the principle: “in the same way that the utensil absorbed the food, it expels it”.

  1. The kitchen utensil that has absorbed chametz (or another type of forbidden food) through boiling, i.e. through the influence of a boiling liquid, will expel it through boiling water, through hag’alah. This is the case with pots.

  2. A kitchen utensil that has been in direct contact with chametz through fire can only expel it through fire, through libbun. This is the case with the rack in the oven.

How hag’alah is performed:

First the utensil is cleaned thoroughly. Then it is dipped completely, with handles (and lid as well) in a kettle with boiling water that is over heat.

  1. The hag’alah must be preceded by a thorough cleansing.

  2. A kitchen utensil can only go through hag’alah if twenty-four hours have passed since it was used.

  3. The hag’alah is done in the following way: water is boiled in a large pot. Then a glowing iron spit is put into the water so that it spills over. After this, the utensil that needs cleansing is dipped.

  4. Once the hag’alah or libbun is finished, the utensil is rinsed in cold water.

Different types of kitchen utensils and machines

  1. Kitchen utensils that are used throughout the year and will not be used during Pesach can be cleaned and then stored in a place that is out of reach so that they will not be used by mistake.

  2. Kitchen utensils of metal can be “kasherized”.

  3. It is impossible to “kasherize” kitchen utensils made of ceramic, porcelain, or plastic.

  4. Kitchen utensils of metal, porcelain, or wood, that are usually used cold, and sometimes warm, can be used during Pesach, if they have first been cleaned thoroughly.

  5. Kitchen utensils of glass (or Pyrex) can be used during Pesach, even though they have been used warm, since they do not absorb food residue. It is enough to first rinse them.

  6. Pressure cookers, since they have rubber on them, cannot be “kasherized” properly and therefore one must be used that is only for Pesach.

  7. Knives are normally not “kasherized” by hag’alah. One ought to use knives that are reserved for use during Pesach.

  8. Refrigerators are cleaned thoroughly so that all food residue is gone.

  9. Tables that one may normally eat from without a tablecloth: one must pour boiling water over them and keep them covered with a tablecloth during Pesach.

  10. The stove, gas or electric, is cleaned thoroughly. It is recommended to exchange the stands on the stove that the pots have stood on, and if they are not exchanged, they need to be cleaned thoroughly and undergo hag’alah (according to another stricter interpretation, they need to undergo libbun).

  11. Dentures are cleaned thoroughly from all food residues and undergo hag’alah before the point when all chametz is removed on Pesach afternoon.

31:35 “and thirty-two thousand persons in all, of the women who had not known man by lying with him.”(HNV) – A large amount of women were spared; thirty-two thousand who had not been with any man. This teaches us that they must have killed a very large number of adult men and women.

31:50 “We have brought HaShem’s offering, what every man has gotten, of jewels of gold, ankle-chains, and bracelets, signet-rings, ear-rings, and armlets, to make atonement for our souls before HaShem.”(HNV revised) – According to a Midrash,[7] these soldiers, who were tzadikim, righteous, gave these things in order to obtain atonement since they were not able to avoid looking at the Midyanite women which created sinful thoughts in them, compare with Matthew 5:28.

Another interpretation says that this was the way they asked for forgiveness for not obeying the whole commandment that HaShem gave through Moshe when they allowed the women to live, compare with 31:14.

31:52 “All the gold of the heave-offering that they offered up to HaShem, of the captains of thousands, and of the captains of hundreds, was sixteen thousand seven hundred fifty shekels.”(HNV revised) – The commanders were very grateful that none of the children of Israel had died and they came with an offering of gold and all kinds of precious objects. The gold alone weighed approximately two hundred kilograms.

The reason that the modern Israeli army is losing soldiers in war is because there is so much lawlessness among them as well as among the rest of the people of Israel. The high standard of moral and ritual pureness of the soldiers of Israel in the time of Moshe and Yehoshua gave them a special protection in time of war so that they didn’t lose even a single man in the wars that they fought according to the Eternal’s purposes.

The Third Aliyah, 32:1 – 32:19

32:4 “the land which HaShem struck before the congregation of Yisra'el, is a land for cattle; and your servants have cattle.”(HNV revised) – The children of Reuven said that they had a lot of cattle, but they did not mention their children. In verse 16, we see that the cattle were mentioned before the children. It seems as though the descendants of Reuven did not appreciate their children so much. They were more interested in their business than they were in their families. This is an age-old problem for man; to worry more about his professional life than about his own children. Moshe rebuked this attitude in verse 24, where it is written, “Build you cities for your little ones and folds for your sheep…” He put the children before the cattle.

In Genesis 42:37, it is written,

“Re'uven spoke to his father, saying, ‘Kill my two sons, if I don’t bring him to you. Deliver him into my hand, and I will bring him to you again.’”(HNV)

Reuven’s attitude toward his children is sad. He does not value their lives. The life of a human is of much more value than business. A society where career and position are prioritized above raising children is an unhealthy society, doomed to destruction. A society where the woman is forced out into the working world, forced to leave her children in the care of others is a society that breeds criminality. A society where women choose abortion in order not to lose their employment is a society that does not understand the principles that lead to success. A society where a human is murdered in order that other may steal a little money is a society close to annihilation.

In Hosea 6:8, it is written,

“Gil`ad is a city of those who work iniquity; it is stained with blood.”(HNV)

The area east of the Yarden, where the two and a half tribes settled, was an area full of conflict, where the value of human life was reduced drastically. Therefore three cities of refuge were needed for two and a half tribes, as opposed to three cities of refuge for nine and a half tribes on the other side of the Yarden. This teaches us that violence and a low value for human life dominated the area of the two and a half tribes.

This area was the most exposed to attacks by the enemies of Israel. Those who lived there were the first to be taken away into exile by the Assyrians and other nations.

It is interesting to note that Reuven, who lost his birthright, did not receive an inheritance within the land of Kana’an, but east of the Yarden.

32:5 “They said, If we have found favor in your sight, let this land be given to your servants for a possession; don’t bring us over the Yarden.”(HNV) – First they said that they did not want to go over the Yarden, but then, after having been rebuked by Moshe, they changed and sought other arguments.

Only we, who are men of war, will go before the army and then we will return to our families, compare with verses 16-19. They fulfilled their promise and fought for fourteen years together with Yehoshua until the whole land was taken. Only after fourteen years did they return to their families. This was not a good choice. When a husband and wife have been apart for a couple of years, they lose their feelings for one another. Those who leave their families and travel to other countries to earn money are not acting rightly. How did these wives feel having to be without their husbands for fourteen years? How did the children feel, who were without their fathers for fourteen long years? The family really did not have a high position on these tribes’ list of priorities. That was why they were not able to stand against their enemies later on and they were the first to be destroyed in Israel.

The Fourth Aliyah, 32:20 – 33:49

32:25-26 “The children of Gad and the children of Re'uven spoke to Moshe, saying, Your servants will do as my lord commands. Our little ones, our wives, our flocks, and all our cattle, shall be there in the cities of Gil`ad”(HNV) – Here the descendants of Gad and Reuven correct their manner of speech, and they mention their children and wives before the cattle. This was a better priority than before, (see verse 16). Here the family is put before the career, but this was still not the best since the children are mentioned before the wives. A good husband puts his wife before his children.

32:33 “Moshe gave to them, even to the children of Gad, and to the children of Re'uven, and to the half-tribe of Menasheh the son of Yosef, the kingdom of Sichon king of the Amori, and the kingdom of `Og king of Bashan, the land, according to the cities of it with their borders, even the cities of the land round about.”(HNV) – The half tribe of Menasheh did not ask for this area, but it was appointed to them by Moshe. Which tribe received the largest area? It was the tribe of Menasheh, the tribe that had grown the most between the two last censuses. He had a great potential for growth because of the word that Ya’akov spoke and which is written in Genesis 48:19,

“His father refused, and said, ‘I know, my son, I know. He also will become a people, and he also will be great. However, his younger brother (Ephrayim) will be greater than he, and his seed will become a multitude of nations.’”(HNV)

Why did HaShem divide one tribe? Was it in order to create division in a tribe in Israel or was it to retain unity? I believe that this division of Menasheh’s tribe was a strategic move by HaShem in order to keep the unity of the people. The descendants of Menasheh would go from one side of the river to the other to visit their relatives and keep in touch. History shows that Israel did not experience any division between east and west, but only between north and south. The division of the kingdom was not caused by this division of the tribes, but by other things.

33:2 “Moshe wrote their goings out according to their journeys by the command of HaShem: and these are their journeys according to their goings out.”(HNV revised) – Moshe wrote down the 42 (7x6) wanderings that the children of Israel did in the plain. There are several reasons as to why these places were written down:

  1. They were written down to show the future generations that the exodus of millions of people out of Egypt is not a myth. Specific facts about places and events prove that they really were there. The majority of the deserts that are in this list were completely uninhabitable since they had neither water nor vegetation. In the natural, it was impossible for such a large amount of men, women, and children to survive there. Only heavenly intervention would be able to provide for them in these uninhabitable places.

  2. They were written down to show the Eternal’s goodness in the midst of a punishment that meant walking around in the wilderness for forty years. Over the course of 40 years, they only moved 42 times. This means that they were not constantly going from one place to the next, but that in many places they stayed for a longer period of time. Rashi mentions that over the course of 38 years, there were only 20 journeys, since 14 journeys took place in the first year and eight took place after Aharon had died, in the 40th year. They were also in Kadesh for 19 years. The rest of the time, 19 years, they camped in 19 places, averaging at one journey per year.

  3. They were written down so that the children of Israel would know that their pilgrim journeys were dictated according to a definite spiritual plan.[1]

  4. They were written down so that we would remember our desert journey. When we are successful, we must remember the hard times because they were the road that HaShem used to lead us to success. That way we remain humble and grateful. If it had not been for the Eternal sustaining us by his grace, we would never have gotten to the place that we are in now.

  5. They were written down to reveal that the end of journey number 33 contains a Messianic secret.

33:3 “They traveled from Ra`meses in the first month, on the fifteenth day of the first month; on the next day after the Pesach the children of Yisra'el went out with a high hand in the sight of all the Egyptians”(HNV) – They began the journey on the 15th of Aviv/Nissan. It is written that it was on the day after Pesach. This teaches us that the exodus from Egypt took place early in the morning on the 15th day of the first month, compare with Deuteronomy 16:1.

Here the word Pesach, is referring to the lamb that was sacrificed in the afternoon of the previous day, in other words, on the 14th of Nissan, at approximately three o’clock in the afternoon.

Today in Israel the 15th of Nissan is called the first day of Pesach, but the Torah puts Pesach on the 14th of Nissan, which means that the lamb was offered that day.

33:6 “They traveled from Sukkot, and encamped in Etam, which is in the edge of the wilderness.”(HNV) – Sukkot is the first camping place after the exodus from Ra’meses. This teaches us that the Feast of Sukkot will be celebrated shortly after the second coming of the Messiah when all the children of Israel and righteous among the nations, who belong to Yeshua, will be caught away and transported in the air to the land of Israel. Sukkot will be the wedding celebration of the Lamb, shortly after the second exodus, which is the final redemption.

Salida Mitsrayim33:7 “They traveled from Etam, and turned back to Pi-Hachirot, which is before Ba`al-Tzefon: and they encamped before Migdol.”(HNV) – It seems like Baal-Tzefon was located on the other side of the Reed Sea (Red Sea). When it says that they turned back, it means that they did not continue in the previous direction toward the east, but that they turned south and came to Pi-Hachirot, which was by the Gulf of Aqabah.

33:13 “They traveled from Dofka, and encamped in Alush.”(HNV) – In Alush they received manna the first time.

33:14 “They traveled from Alush, and encamped in Refidim, where was no water for the people to drink.”(HNV) – In Refidim they were attacked by Amalek.

33:15 “They traveled from Refidim, and encamped in the wilderness of Sinai.”(HNV) – In Sinai they entered the covenant with HaShem and received the Torah.

33:16 “They traveled from the wilderness of Sinai, and encamped in Kivrot-Hatta'avah.”(HNV) – Kivrot-Hatta’avah means “the graves of lust”, for there those who were driven by lust were buried, compare with Numbers 11:34.

33:18 “They traveled from Chatzerot, and encamped in Ritmah.”(HNV) – The twelve spies were sent out from Ritmah.

33:22 “They traveled from Rissah, and encamped in Kehelatah.”(HNV) – Korach’s group rebelled in Kehelatah.

33:23 “They traveled from Kehelatah, and encamped in Mount Shefer.”(HNV) – According to Jonathan’s Targum, Shefer was a mountain with beautiful fruit.

33:36 “They traveled from `Etzyon-Gever, and encamped in the wilderness of Tzin (the same is Kadesh).”(HNV) – They stayed in the wilderness of Tzin, which is Kadesh, for 19 years. Miryam died there. Kadesh means “consecrated”. According to Jonathan’s Targum, the Name of the Eternal was consecrated in that place when Moshe and Aharon received the command that they would not be allowed to enter the land.

33:37-39 “They traveled from Kadesh, and encamped in Mount Hor, in the edge of the land of Edom. Aharon the priest went up into Mount Hor at the command of HaShem, and died there, in the fortieth year after the children of Yisra'el were come out of the land of Egypt, in the fifth month, on the first day of the month. Aharon was one hundred twenty-three years old when he died in Mount Hor.”(HNV revised) – Mount Hor is on the east side of the Aravah valley. It is the highest sandstone mountain in Edom and it is close to the ancient city Petra. Hor means “mountain”. There is a place that is traditionally considered to be Aharon’s grave, on a mountain in southern Jordan close to Petra.

33:42 “They traveled from Tzalmonah, and encamped in Punon.”(HNV) – In Punon the children of Israel complained about the manna and therefore the snakes came.

33:49 “They encamped by the Yarden, from Bet-Yeshimoth even to Avel-HaShittim in the plains of Mo'av.”(HNV) – In that place, 2400 Israelites died because of Baal-Pe’or. Here it says that the camp stretched all the way from Bet-Yeshimoth to Avel HaShittim, which gives us a hint of the size of the camp. Talmud[2] tells how Rabbah bar Chanah said that he had seen the place (from Bet Yeshimot to Avel Shittim) and that it measures 3x3 parsaot. One parsah (the singular of parsaot) measures four mill. Rashi says that the camp of the children of Israel measured twelve mill. One mill is the same as 1 080 meters. That means that this is talking about a length of approximately thirteen kilometers and a width of thirteen kilometers, which is 168 square kilometers (41 500 acres).

The Fifth Aliyah, 33:50 – 34:15

33:52 “then you shall drive out all the inhabitants of the land from before you, and destroy all their figured stones, and destroy all their molten images, and demolish all their high places”(HNV) – According to Rashi, the Hebrew word that is translated “figured stones”, maskiotam,[3] is referring to pagan temples, which normally had their floors inlaid with marble where they would worship by laying prostrate, stretching out arms and legs. Targum translates this word as “their temples”.

This text teaches us that the Eternal wants there to be only one religion in the land of Israel. Any pagan influence is forbidden. This means today that the Torah does not permit any Catholic churches in the land of Israel. HaShem forbids any mosques to be in His land. The Bahai temple in Haifa is forbidden according to the Torah. All Buddha statues, icons, idols, and all cultic objects from religions other than Judaism, are forbidden in the land of Israel, according to the Torah. HaShem commands all that these things be destroyed. Today however, the land of Israel is full of idolatry. Furthermore, many Jews and Arabs make a lot of money from the tourists who come to visit churches, mosques, and museums that are full of cultic objects. It is not only forbidden to have the temples and cultic objects of other religions in the land, but it is also forbidden to make financial gain through these. According to the Torah, all cultic places and objects that are not dedicated to the only true God, Israel’s God, must be exterminated. All molten images will be destroyed. If the Jews do not do it first, the land will be cleansed of all pagan religion when the Messiah comes back. Then neither Christianity nor Islam will exist in the land of Israel or in the rest of the world. There will only be Biblical Judaism.

33:55 “But if you will not drive out the inhabitants of the land from before you, then shall those who you let remain of them be as pricks in your eyes, and as thorns in your sides, and they shall vex you in the land in which you dwell.”(HNV) – The previous inhabitants that were not driven out would become pricks in the eyes and thorns in the sides of the children of Israel, as it also is written in Joshua 23:12-13,

“Else if you do at all go back, and cleave to the remnant of these nations, even these who remain among you, and make marriages with them, and go in to them, and they to you; know for a certainty that HaShem your God will no more drive these nations from out of your sight; but they shall be a snare and a trap to you, and a scourge in your sides, and thorns in your eyes, until you perish from off this good land which HaShem your God has given you.”(HNV revised)

In Ezekiel 28:24-26, it is written,

“There shall be no more a pricking brier to the house of Yisra'el, nor a hurting thorn of any that are round about them, that did despite to them; and they shall know that I am the Lord HaShem. Thus says the Lord HaShem: When I shall have gathered the house of Yisra'el from the peoples among whom they are scattered, and shall be sanctified in them in the sight of the nations, then shall they dwell in their own land which I gave to my servant Ya`akov. They shall dwell securely therein; yes, they shall build houses, and plant vineyards, and shall dwell securely, when I have executed judgments on all those who do them despite round about them; and they shall know that I am HaShem their God.”(HNV revised)

When Rabbi Shaul spoke of having a thorn in his flesh that hindered him from becoming too great, he is most likely talking about the persecution from unbelievers that he had to suffer, as it is written in 2 Corinthians 12:7-10,

“By reason of the exceeding greatness of the revelations, that I should not be exalted excessively, there was given to me a thorn in the flesh, a messenger of the adversary to buffet me, that I should not be exalted excessively. Concerning this thing, I begged the Lord three times that it might depart from me. He has said to me, ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.’ Most gladly therefore I will rather glory in my weaknesses, that the power of Messiah may rest on me. Therefore I take pleasure in weaknesses, in injuries, in necessities, in persecutions, in distresses, for Messiah’s sake. For when I am weak, then am I strong.”(HNV)

Rabbi Shaul is not talking about a physical disease, but rather about those people who were riled up by a demon that constantly followed him wherever he went. There is also a Midrash that is very similar to this text, and which says that Aharon was struck by a messenger of satan every time he was going to minister in the tabernacle that reminded him of the sin with the golden calf. All the persecution and resistance that Rabbi Shaul had to suffer reminded him of the fact that he had caused the death of Jews who believed in Yeshua.

34:3 “then your south quarter shall be from the wilderness of Tzin along by the side of Edom, and your south border shall be from the end of the Salt Sea eastward”(HNV) – The borders of Israel were carefully staked out according to a heavenly order. That way no one can say that Israel has stolen land from the nations. HaShem owns heaven and earth and he has the right to give the land to whomever he wishes. Seen from a judicial standpoint, the land of Kana’an was righteously given to the children of Israel. HaShem cannot steal or commit any unrighteous act, as it is written in Psalm 145:17,

“HaShem is righteous in all his ways, and gracious in all his works.”(HNV revised)

So, the land was not stolen from any nation, for the land belongs to the Eternal and he had sworn by an oath to give it to Avraham, Yitzchak, Yaakov, and their descendants forever. When the sins of the children of Kana’an had reached their full measure, they lost the right to live, as it is written in Genesis 15:16,

“In the fourth generation they will come here again, for the iniquity of the Amori is not yet full.”(HNV)

If the sins of the children of Kana’an had reached their full measure, how could they then have the right to live in HaShem’s land, where only the righteous have the right to live? The destruction of Sedom and Amorah stands as an example to the whole world of the fact that sinners do not have the right to live in HaShem’s land, as it is also written in Matthew 5:5,

“Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the land.”(HNV revised)

According to Philippians 2:8, to be meek means to do the will of the Father, as it is written,

“he humbled himself, becoming obedient to death, yes, the death on the tree.”(HNV revised)

Meekness, therefore, means obedience. Obedience to what? Obedience to the Eternal’s instruction book, the Torah. So, according to the Messiah’s teaching, it is only the meek, those who obey the Torah, who have the right to live in the land of Israel, and only those who obey the Torah will have the right to live in the land of Israel during the Messianic reign. The children of Israel were driven out of the land at several occasions throughout the course of history because they did not obey the Torah. The only ones who have heavenly permission to settle in the land of Israel are those who fulfill HaShem’s Torah. The Jews who live in idolatry do not have the right in the eyes of heaven to remain in the land of Israel. The land is for the righteous, not for sinners.

In Exodus 23:31-33, it is written,

“I will set your border from the Sea of Suf even to the sea of the Pelishtim, and from the wilderness to the River (Euphrates); for I will deliver the inhabitants of the land into your hand, and you shall drive them out before you. You shall make no covenant with them, nor with their gods. They shall not dwell in your land, lest they make you sin against me, for if you serve their gods, it will surely be a snare to you.””(HNV)

In Psalm 25:12-13, it is written,

“What man is he who fears HaShem? He shall instruct him in the way that he shall choose. His soul shall dwell at ease. His seed shall inherit the land.”(HNV revised)

In Psalm 37:22, 29, it is written,

“For such as are blessed by him shall inherit the land. Those who are cursed by him shall be cut off…The righteous shall inherit the land, and live in it forever.”(HNV)

Those who do not obey the commandments that HaShem has established will be cursed by him and will lose the right to the land, compare with Leviticus 26 and Deuteronomy 28.

In Psalm 69:35-36, it is written,

“For God will save Tziyon, and build the cities of Yehudah. They shall settle there, and own it. The children also of his servants shall inherit it. Those who love his name shall dwell therein.”(HNV revised)

The children of Israel acted in obedience to a heavenly command when they took the land and wiped out the nations that were in it. All these nations had the same opportunity as the prostitute Rachav in Yericho, to convert from their idols and dedicate themselves to the God of Israel, but they feverishly held on to their sinful lifestyles and resisted the Most High. Therefore they lost the right to HaShem’s land, the land that was chosen by the Eternal in a very special way. He calls it his own land, as it is written in Jeremiah 2:7,

“I brought you into a plentiful land, to eat the fruit of it and the goodness of it; but when you entered, you defiled my land, and made my heritage an abomination.”(HNV)

In Deuteronomy 11:12, it is written,

“a land which HaShem your God cares for: the eyes of HaShem your God are always on it, from the beginning of the year even to the end of the year.”(HNV revised)

In Jeremiah 16:18, it is written,

“First I will recompense their iniquity and their sin double, because they have polluted my land with the carcasses of their detestable things, and have filled my inheritance with their abominations.”(HNV)

In Ezekiel 36:5, it is written,

“therefore thus says the Lord HaShem: Surely in the fire of my jealousy have I spoken against the residue of the nations, and against all Edom, that have appointed my land to themselves for a possession with the joy of all their heart, with despite of soul, to cast it out for a prey.”(HNV revised)

In Joel 2:18, it is written,

“Then HaShem was jealous for his land, and had pity on his people.”(HNV revised)

In Joel 3:1-2, it is written,

“For, behold, in those days, and in that time, when I restore the fortunes of Yehudah and Yerushalayim, I will gather all nations, and will bring them down into the valley of Yehoshafat; and I will execute judgment on them there for my people, and for my heritage, Yisra'el, whom they have scattered among the nations. They have divided my land…”(HNV)

This text teaches us that in the last days, HaShem’s judgment will come over all those nations who have divided his land.

34:12 “This shall be your land according to the borders of it round about.”(HNV) – Another reason that the Torah so clearly defines the borders of the land, is so that we can know where the commandments apply that can only be fulfilled in the land of Israel.

Ever since the beginning of creation, HaShem has been putting down borders that define the difference between one thing and another. There were borders between different lands already in the Garden of Eden. HaShem also but a border between what we are permitted to eat and what we are not permitted to eat. These borders existed before sin came into the world. This teaches us that it is not sin that has caused the Torah to define the lines between one thing and another. Borders are a part of creation itself. There are separate rooms and levels, even in the heavenly tabernacle. All creation needs borders within which to exist and function, as it is written in Acts 17:26,

“He made from one blood every nation of men to dwell on all the surface of the earth, having determined appointed seasons, and the boundaries of their dwellings”(HNV revised)

The essence of sin is to go beyond or to change borders, compare with 1 John 3:4.

The Messiah, therefore, did not come to remove the borders, or to change them, but to help man to respect and function within the borders that have been established by HaShem in the Torah. Anyone who preaches a Messiah that came to change or to remove the borders that were set in place by the Eternal is talking about a false messiah. The very essence of the spirit of the anti messiah is to change the borders that HaShem has established in the Torah, as it is written in Daniel 7:25-26,

“He shall speak words against the Most High, and shall wear out the consecrated ones of the Most High; and he shall think to change the times and the law; and they shall be given into his hand until a time and times and half a time. But the judgment shall be set, and they shall take away his dominion, to consume and to destroy it to the end.”(HNV revised)

In 2 Thessalonians 2:3-4, 7-8, it is written,

“Let no one deceive you in any way. For it will not be, unless the departure comes first, and the man of lawlessness is revealed, the son of destruction, he who opposes and exalts himself against all that is called god or that is worshiped; so that he sits as God in the temple of God, setting himself up as God… For the mystery of lawlessness already works. Only there is one who restrains now, until he is taken out of the way. Then the lawless one will be revealed, whom the Lord will kill with the breath of his mouth, and bring to nothing by the brightness of his coming”(HNV revised)

Here it is talking about the lawless man and the mystery of lawlessness. This is the spirit of the anti-messiah, who stands against the Eternal’s law and tries to change and do away with it and its borders. The man of lawlessness is a man who is completely ruled by the flesh, as it is written in Romans 8:7-8,

“because the mind of the flesh is hostile towards God; for it is not subject to God’s law, neither indeed can it be. Those who are in the flesh can’t please God.”(HNV revised)

The thing that will distinguish the last generation before the Messiah is that it does not know where the borders are. It will not know the difference between man and woman, between youth and elder, between good and evil, between right and wrong, between light and darkness, between truth and a lie, or between what is permitted and what is forbidden. In the Torah, HaShem has established the borders, but a perverted person distorts everything. A perverted person is one who teaches that “Christ” came to do away with the law and to change the borders that have been set up through the law of Moshe. The end of a perverted person is death.

This weeks Parashah teaches us that HaShem establishes very distinct borders for Israel and the nations. Blessed is the man who respects these borders.

34:5 “and the border shall turn about from `Atzmon to the brook of Egypt, and the goings out of it shall be at the sea.”(HNV) – The brook of Egypt is not the Nile, but it is a brook in the Sinai Peninsula. Today it is called Wadi el-Arish. At this time the people of Israel were not given the entire area that the Eternal had promised the forefathers. They will not have the whole Promised Land until the Messiah Yeshua comes back.

34:8 “from Mount Hor you shall mark out to the entrance of Chamat; and the goings out of the border shall be at Tzedad”(HNV) – According to Rashi, the city Chamat is the city that would later become the Syrian city Antioch. The book of Acts refers to two cities called Antioch. One of them was in the Roman province of Syria, by the coast. It is mentioned in 11:19-27 and 13:1. The other one was in Asia Minor, in Pisidia, and it is mentioned in 13:14.

34:15 “the two tribes and the half-tribe have received their inheritance on the other side of the Yarden at Yericho eastward, toward the sunrise.”(HNV revised) – The expression “on the other side of the Yarden” is found many times in the Scriptures, compare with Numbers 22:1; 35:14; Deuteronomy 1:1, 5; 3:8, 20; 4:41, 47, 49; Joshua 1:14, 15 among others. It is nearly always referring to the east side where the two and a half tribes were given an area. It is interesting to note that even though Moshe was not on the west side of the river, inside the land of Kana’an strictly speaking, the Torah still uses this expression. It is as if the Torah came from the west of the river. When HaShem dictated this text to Moshe, the children of Israel had not yet crossed the river Yarden. They were still in the land “on the other side of the Yarden”. Moshe was there together with the people. This teaches us that the Torah comes out from the land of Israel, more specifically from Tziyon, as it is written in Isaiah 2:3b,

“For out of Tziyon the law shall go forth, and the word of HaShem from Yerushalayim.”(HNV revised)

In Amos 1:2, it is written,

“He said: ‘HaShem will roar from Tziyon, and utter his voice from Yerushalayim; and the pastures of the shepherds will mourn, and the top of Karmel will wither.’”(HNV revised)

In Ezekiel 5:5 and 38:12, it says in the Hebrew that Yerushalayim is the navel of the earth, i.e. the center of the earth.

The Sixth Aliyah, 34:16 – 35:8

35:7 “All the cities which you shall give to the Levites shall be forty-eight cities; them shall you give with their suburbs.”(HNV) – The Levites were given 48 cities throughout the whole land of Israel. Six of them were cities of refuge. Around each of these cities, there was an area of one thousand cubits in each direction. Verse 4 mentions one thousand cubits and verse 5 speaks of two thousand. The Talmud[4] solves what seems to be a contradiction by saying that the first thousand cubits were left as an open area and the remaining thousand cubits were used as fields and vineyards.

The Seventh Aliyah, 35:9 – 36:13

35:11 “then you shall appoint you cities to be cities of refuge for you, that the manslayer who kills any person unwittingly may flee there.”(HNV) – If anyone killed another unintentionally, it was possible for him to flee to one of the six cities of refuge, in Hebrew arei miklat. In the case of a murder, one of the closest relatives had the right to be the “avenger of blood” for the blood of the victim. In Hebrew this is called the goel[5] hadam, “blood redeemer”. By this he carried out HaShem’s vengeance and shed the blood of the person who had killed his relative, in order to fulfill Genesis 9:6, where it is written,

“Whoever sheds man’s blood, by man will his blood be shed, for in the image of God made he man.”(HNV revised)

35:25 “and the congregation shall deliver the manslayer out of the hand of the avenger of blood, and the congregation shall restore him to his city of refuge, where he was fled: and he shall dwell therein until the death of the high priest, who was anointed with the consecrated oil.”(HNV revised) – Here the word “congregation” is referring to the court, Beit Din. Talmud[6] teaches that if the victim did not have a relative who could be the goel hadam, the Beit Din would make sure that someone else would take that responsibility. This goel had the authority to kill the murderer wherever he found him. However, if the Beit Din determined that the murderer had acted unintentionally, it was forbidden for the goel to take revenge within the area of a city of refuge. One who had fled to a city of refuge was then condemned to live away from his home for as long as the high priest lived who was in office at the time of the accident. So, even those who accidentally cause the death of another must have a type of prison sentence. This teaches us how highly HaShem values a human life. On the other hand, this type of prison was a spiritual place, where the Levites lived, who spent most of their time studying the Torah. When the high priest died, the murderer would be free to return to his own home and his own land. Then the avenger of blood no longer had the right to execute him.

36:6 “This is the thing which HaShem does command concerning the daughters of Tzelophchad, saying, Let them be married to whom they think best; only into the family of the tribe of their father shall they be married.”(HNV revised) – Primarily it was the sons who inherited land in Israel. When a daughter married, she would have land and a house through her husband’s tribe. This, however, is a case where daughters inherit their father’s land, since they did not have any brothers. Therefore they could not marry anyone from another tribe, so that the land from their father’s tribe would not go to another tribe.

“Let them be married to whom they think best” – This teaches us that HaShem has not predetermined only one person that one could marry. HaShem gives the freedom to marry the one that seems best, on the condition that it is within the tribe. The same thought is found in 1 Corinthians 7:39,

“A wife is bound by law for as long as her husband lives; but if the husband is dead, she is free to be married to whoever she desires, only in the Lord.”(HNV)

This text says that a widow has the right to marry anyone she wishes, as long as it is in the Lord, i.e. one who has faith in Yeshua. Naturally, she does not have the right to desire one who is already in a covenant of marriage with someone else; she cannot desire her neighbor’s husband. A divorced woman has the same status as a widow, since she no longer has a husband. Through divorce, she is free from the man who was previously her husband. So, this text cannot be used in order to stop divorced people from remarrying. If, however, the husband is a believer, she does not have the right to remarry, according to 1 Corinthians 7:10-11, but she ought to seek reconciliation with him. If, in spite of everything, the believing former husband enters a new marriage covenant with another, then the divorced woman is free to marry whomever she wishes, just like a widow.

One who is an believer does not have the right to marry one who does not believe in Yeshua, as it is written in 2 Corinthians 6:14-18,

“Don’t be unequally yoked with unbelievers (those who do not believe in Yeshua), for what fellowship have righteousness and iniquity? Or what communion has light with darkness? What agreement has Messiah with Beliya`al? Or what portion has a believer with an unbeliever? What agreement has a temple of God with idols? For you are a temple of the living God. Even as God said, ‘I will dwell in them, and walk in them; and I will be their God, and they will be my people.’ Therefore, ‘Come out from among them, And be separate,’ says the Lord, ‘Touch no unclean thing. I will receive you. I will be to you a Father. You will be to me sons and daughters, says the Lord Almighty.’”(HNV revised)

The Mashiach in this Parashah

33:37-39 “They traveled from Kadesh, and encamped in Mount Hor, in the edge of the land of Edom. Aharon the Priest went up into Mount Hor at the command of HaShem, and died there, in the fortieth year after the children of Yisra'el were come out of the land of Egypt, in the fifth month, on the first day of the month. Aharon was one hundred twenty-three years old when he died in Mount Hor.”(HNV revised) – The High Priest Aharon died at the 33rd camp from the exodus out of Egypt, on a mountain called Hor, which means “mountain”. He was a mashiach, an anointed one, the first one in the Scriptures to be called mashiach, compare with Leviticus 4:3, 5, 16. This event is a prophetic picture of Yeshua HaMashiach, who also died on a mountain at age 33, which lines up with Israel’s 33rd camp starting from the Exodus.

“Aharon… died there, in the fortieth year after the children of Yisra'el were come out of the land of Egypt” – This is a reference to the Mashiach’s death and resurrection 4,000 years after the creation of Adam. In Genesis 13:10, Egypt is compared to the Garden of Eden. There is also a connection between Adam and Chavah being driven out of paradise and the children of Israel leaving Egypt. In the same way that Aharon, the anointed, died forty years after the exodus from Egypt, Yeshua the Messiah died 4,000 (100x40) years after the exodus of the first man and woman from the Garden of Eden.

Furthermore, Aharon died the first day of the fifth month, exactly three and a half months after the date of the exodus, which was the 15th day of the first month. The three and a half months refer to the Messiah’s ministry, which lasted for three and a half years. Similarly to the way that Aharon died three and a half months after the date of the exodus, Yeshua died three and a half years after beginning his public ministry.

Aharon lived to be three years older than his brother, Moshe, who was 120 years old when he died. These three years also speak of the Messiah, his three plus years of ministry, his 30 plus years of life until death, and the three days that he was in the innermost part of the earth before he was resurrected. The mountain Hor, is mentioned three times in this text.

35:19 “The avenger of blood (goel hadam) shall himself put the murderer to death: when he meets him, he shall put him to death.”(HNV) – This teaches us that there is one called “goel hadam”, “blood redeemer” or “avenger of blood”, who has the responsibility of finding and executing the murderer. Who was it that killed the first man and is therefore called “murderer” by our Rabbi in John 8:44 and 10:10? It is the adversary.

Who is the closest relative of Adam and Chavah? He is the Messiah ben Adam, the Son of Man, who was the prototype for Adam’s creation.

Who has the responsibility to find and execute the murderer of mankind? It is Yeshua HaMashiach, as it is written in John 12:31,

“Now is the judgment of this world. Now the prince of this world will be cast out.”(HNV)

In John 16:11, it is written,

“about judgment, because the prince of this world has been judged.”(HNV)

In 1 John 3:8b, it is written,

“To this end the Son of God was revealed, that he might destroy the works of the devil.”(HNV revised)

35:25, 28 “and the congregation shall deliver the manslayer out of the hand of the avenger of blood, and the congregation shall restore him to his city of refuge, where he was fled: and he shall dwell therein until the death of the high priest, who was anointed with the consecrated oil… because he should have remained in his city of refuge until the death of the high priest: but after the death of the high priest the manslayer shall return into the land of his possession.”(HNV revised) – The death of the high priest is mentioned three times here. Once again we see have the number three as a reference to the death of the Messiah in the context of the high priest’s death. The only thing that could deliver one who had killed a person by accident from his “prison” was the death of the high priest, he “who was anointed with the consecrated oil”. The Torah points out that the high priest was anointed in order to point to Yeshua the Anointed, in Hebrew HaMashiach. Through his death, we have been set free from the consequences of the sins we have committed by accident. Dear Reader, if you are suffering in a “prison” because of terrible mistakes that you have made, you need to know that Yeshua’s death has also paid for you to be set free from the consequences of your sins so that they are not brought up against you at the final judgment.

35:33 “So you shall not pollute the land in which you are: for blood, it pollutes the land; and no expiation can be made for the land for the blood that is shed therein, but by the blood of him who shed it.”(HNV) – Here we see how serious murder is. A murderer must be judged by the authorities of every nation in order for the righteousness of the Eternal to be established in the world. According to Jewish law, no one can be condemned to death if he was not warned by two or three witnesses before he committed murder. The Torah brings out the importance of not allowing a murderer to live once he has been condemned to death, so that the land of Israel would not be polluted. The shedding of innocent blood is one of the things that causes wrath to come over Israel and the nations. One way to stop the wrath is to execute the murderers. If the murderers are not sentenced properly, the whole people will partake of the judgment for the innocent blood that was shed in the land, compare with 2 Kings 24:4.

However, if the murderer repents, then the full weight of the law does not fall upon him, and he is released from his death sentence and is given a lesser punishment. On the other hand, if there is no repentance, the full strictness of the law must be applied so that the land will not be polluted and cursed.

How can the Eternal forgive a sinner who repents if, according to this text, the only way to atone for murder is when the guilty person pays with his own blood? How can the Eternal forgive and set free the guilty person and at the same time remain righteous?

In Proverbs 17:15, it is written,

“He who justifies the wicked, and he who condemns the righteous, both of them alike are an abomination to HaShem.”(HNV revised)

If a judge releases a criminal, he is committing an abominable act in the eyes of the Eternal. So, how can the righteous heavenly Judge remain righteous when he releases a repentant criminal? The only answer is: through a substitute.

The animals that were slaughtered in the temple could not fully represent man. They were not true substitutes. They were only a shadow of the only true sacrifice for all the sins of mankind throughout all of history, the sacrifice of God’s Lamb who takes away the sins of the world. Yeshua HaMashiach’s death is the only lawful foundation that the Eternal has upon which to forgive and release a sinner who repents of his sin, and still be righteous, as it is written in Romans 3:25-26,

“whom God set forth to be an atoning sacrifice, through faith in his blood, for a demonstration of his righteousness through the passing over of prior sins, in God’s forbearance; to demonstrate his righteousness at this present time; that he might himself be just, and the justifier of him who has faith in Yeshua.”(HNV revised)

The only way that the Eternal can show the world that he is completely righteous when he forgives repentant sinners, is through a public display of the bloody death of a man who died in mankind’s place, as it is written in 2 Corinthians 5:21,

“For him who knew no sin he made to be sin on our behalf; so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.”(HNV revised)

So, as you feel accused by your conscience that has been awakened by the message of the Torah and has been convicted by the Spirit of Sanctity who was sent to convicted the world of righteousness and judgment, you must know, dear reader, that there is a substitute who died in your place so that the fatal consequences of all your sins would not come over you. Through your repentance, HaShem transfers the most extreme consequences of your sin to the Substitute so that you do not have to die for your sins but can be forgiven and released. Being made righteous by faith in the blood of Yeshua will place you in a position of innocence before the Heavenly Court, and so you can have peace with God, as it is written in Romans 5:1-2,

“Being therefore justified by faith, we have shalom with God through our Lord Yeshua the Messiah; through whom we also have our access by faith into this grace in which we stand. We rejoice in hope of the glory of God.”(HNV revised)

Blessed be the Eternal for this wonderful Substitute!

This Parashah contains commandments number 406 to 413 of the 613 commandments:

  1. The command about annulling oaths or promises, Numbers 30:3.

  2. The prohibition of not fulfilling an oath or a promise, Numbers 30:3.

  3. The command to give the Levites cities to dwell in as well as cities of refuge, Numbers 35:2

  4. The prohibition of executing one who is guilty before he has been sentenced in court, Numbers 35:12.

  5. The command for the court to make sure that the murderer makes it to a city of refuge, and the command for the murderer to go there, Numbers 35:25.

  6. The prohibition for a witness in a murder trial to participate in the trial, in any other function than as witness, Numbers 35:30.

  7. The prohibition of taking ransom money for a murderer, Numbers 35:31.

  8. The prohibition of taking ransom money for one who has killed another unintentionally and thus allowing him to dwell outside of the city of refuge, Numbers 35:32.


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[1]       Strong H5087  neder  nêder, neh'-der, nay'-der, From H5087; a promise (to God); also (concretely) a thing promised: - vow ([-ed]).

[2]       Strong H7621  shebû‛âh, sheb-oo-aw', Feminine passive participle of H7650; properly something sworn, that is, an oath: - curse, oath, X sworn.

[3]       Strong H2490 châlal, khaw-lal', A primitive root (compare H2470); properly to bore, that is, (by implication) to wound, to dissolve; figuratively to profane (a person, place or thing), to break (one’s word), to begin (as if by an opening-wedge); denominatively (from H2485) to play (the flute): - begin (X men began), defile, X break, defile, X eat (as common things), X first, X gather the grape thereof, X take inheritance, pipe, player on instruments, pollute, (cast as) profane (self), prostitute, slay (slain), sorrow, stain, wound.

[4]       Strong H5271 nâ‛ûr  nâ‛ûr  ne‛ûrâh, naw-oor', naw-oor', neh-oo-raw', Properly passive participle from H5288 as denominative; (only in plural collectively or emphatically) youth, the state (juvenility) or the persons (young people): - childhood, youth.

[5]       La Torá con Rashí, Bemidbar, Editorial Jerusalén de México, page 546, note 182.

[6]       Originally by R. Yosef Caro. This quote comes from a collection of the practical laws and their commentaries up until the current wise men according to Sefardic tradition, by R. Abraham M. Hassan. Published by the organization “Hasdé Lea” 3rd edition © 1995, page 334-335, 179-182. Translated from Spanish by the author.

[7]       Rokeach.


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[1]       Bamidbar Rabbah 23:3.

[2]       Erubín 55b.

[3]       Strong H4906 masìkîyth, mas-keeth', From the same as H7906; a figure (carved on stone, the wall, or any object); figuratively imagination: -  conceit, image (-ry), picture, X wish.

[4]       Sotah 27b.

[5]       Strong H1350 gâ'al, gaw-al', A primitive root, to redeem (according to the Oriental law of kinship), that is, to be the next of kin (and as such to buy back a relative’s property, marry his widow, etc.): -  X in any wise, X at all, avenger, deliver, (do, perform the part of near, next) kinsfolk (-man), purchase, ransom, redeem (-er), revenger.

[6]       Sanhedrin 45b.