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Daily manna from the Torah by Dr Ketriel Blad

BeMidbar 34-5

In the desert of

Numbers 3:14-39

Moreover those who were to camp before the tabernacle on the east, before the tabernacle of meeting, were Moses, Aaron, and his sons, keeping charge of the sanctuary, to meet the needs of the children of Israel; but the outsider who came near was to be put to death.

Num. 3:38 NKJV

Is it fair to condemn to death someone who crosses the boundaries?

The Torah expresses the Almighty's justice, therefore, it's totally just and fair, as it is written: "The ordinances of the LORD are sure and altogether righteous... I will praise you with an upright heart as I learn your righteous laws... At midnight I rise to give you thanks for your righteous laws... I know, O LORD, that your laws are righteous, and in faithfulness you have afflicted me… I have sworn and confirmed That I will keep Your righteous judgments… Your statutes are forever right... All your words are true; all your righteous laws are eternal... Seven times a day I praise you for your righteous laws." (Ps. 19:9b; 119:7, 62, 75, 106, 144a, 160, 164)

Today's text and others as well, say that if one is not of the tribe of Levi and approaches the tabernacle to do the service that only corresponds to the Levites, he will die. However, in any transgression related to the sanctuary and the offerings, the Torah doesn't dictate that death penalty should be executed by a human court but by the heavenly court, as in the case of the sons of Aharon who died before the Eternal.

Modern society teaches citizens to neglect the limits between what is allowed and forbidden. That's why reading this kind of commandments is shocking for a mind which hasn't been trained by the Torah. A mind that is not taught in spiritual matters says: "It can't be so grave to trespass one single prohibition. It's nothing." And when severe consequences of his transgressions come upon him, he complains considering that he has been treated unjustly and that the penalty was too severe. It's because he doesn't understand that limits marked by the Torah are not to be overstepped.

King Uzziah entered the temple to burn incense in the sacred place. When the priests entered after him to confront and scold him he became furious. But in that moment, the Eternal hit him with tsaraat on the face and he was immediately hurried out of the sanctuary. He died later on still with the plague. (2 Chron. 26:16-21)

There is no playing around with forbidden issues. There are grave consequences for overstepping the mark and the Eternal is fair when He allows death penalty to befall upon the one who disobeys.

May the Eternal restore in our minds and hearts the respect of the boundaries between the permitted and the forbidden.


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