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Daily manna from the Torah by Dr Ketriel Blad

Mattot 42-7


Numbers 32:20-42

Then Moses said to them, "If you will do this—if you will arm yourselves before the LORD for battle, and if all of you will go armed over the Jordan before the LORD until he has driven his enemies out before him- then when the land is subdued before the LORD, you may return and be free from your obligation to the LORD and to Israel. And this land will be your possession before the LORD.

Num. 32:20-22 NIV

Why is the phrase "before the Eternal" repeated so many times?

In these two verses Moshe is pointing out the fact that war has to be done before the Eternal and that the land has to be subdued before Him to be the possession of the sons of Israel before the Eternal.

The Hebrew word translated as "before" is lifneiלפני – which comes from panimפנים, faces, countenance, interior. Lifnei literally means "before the faces of" or "before the countenance of".

This shows us that Moshe rabbenu wanted to teach the sons of Reuven and Gad a very important lesson. They had to learn to do everything, not before men, but before the Eternal Who sees everything.

He's watching us all the time and His eyes are set upon the land that was given to the sons of Israel in a special way, as it's written in Deuteronomy 11:12: “It is a land the LORD your God cares for; the eyes of the LORD your God are continually on it from the beginning of the year to its end.” (NIV)

If Reuven and Gad's sons had learned this lesson well, they wouldn't have had so many troubles with violence and corruption later on and they wouldn't have been the first ones to be taken in captivity.

The one who knows how to do things before the Eternal and knows that the land of Israel belongs to the Eternal in a special way, and the earth in a general way, will be careful of how he lives and treats nature. One who lives before the Eternal makes an effort to take care of the environment.

Let's live before the Eternal in everything and let's take care of His land, because " The earth is the LORD's, and everything in it” (Ps. 24:1b NIV)

Shabbat shalom,


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