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Parashah 36 BeHaalotcha

Numbers 8:1 – 12:16

By Dr. K. Blad  ©

Second edition 2013-14 (5774)

Lucrative copying not permitted. 

Torah Readings:

1.      8:1-14

2.      8:15-26

3.      9:1-14

4.      9:15–10:10

5.      10:11-34

6.      10:35–11:29

7.      11:30 – 12:16

8.      Maftir 12:14-16

Haftarah: Zechariah 2:10 (14 Heb.) – 4:7


means “when you lift up”


The First Aliyah, 8:1-14

8:2    “Speak to Aharon, and tell him, ‘When you light the lamps, the seven lamps shall give light in front of the menorah.’”(HNV) – Why does this text about the menorah come directly after the story about the offerings that the tribal leaders brought? What do these two things have in common? The tribe of Levi had not participated in the giving of offerings with the tribal leaders. So the Torah mentions Aharon’s ministry here in order to include him with the other tribal leaders. The Midrash[1] emphasizes the fact that through Aharon’s descendants, the Chashmonites (or Hasmonites), the miracle of Chanukah would happen. Because of this miracle, the light would be lit year after year in memory of the dedication of the altar during the time of the Maccabees. This way Aharon also had a part in the dedication of the altar and not only the leaders of the other tribes.

BeHaalotcha literally means “when you lift up”, and it is referring to the flames of the lamp stand that the Levites had to “cause to lift up”, i.e. make sure that they were burning. This text has also been interpreted to mean that Aharon was to go up on a platform with steps in order to light the lamps.

8:7    “Thus shall you do to them, to cleanse them: sprinkle the water of cleansing on them, let them shave their whole bodies with a razor, and let them wash their clothes, and cleanse themselves.”(HNV) – The razor represents the Torah, which cuts through all flesh, yetzer ha-rah, and prepares us to effectively serve the Eternal. Have you let the knife go through all of your flesh?

In Hebrews 4:12a, it is written,

“For the word of God is living, and active, and sharper than any two-edged sword”(HNV revised)

In 2 Timothy 3:16-17, it is written,

“Every writing inspired by God is profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for instruction which is in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work.”(HNV revised)

8:9-10 “You shall present the Levites before the Tent of Meeting. You shall assemble the whole congregation of the children of Yisra'el. You shall present the Levites before HaShem. The children of Yisra'el shall lay their hands on the Levites”(HNV revised) – The whole congregation of Israel was present when the Levites were dedicated by the laying on of hands, but not all these 600,000 men could lay their hands on the Levites. That would have meant approximately 80 men on each Levite. Still the Torah presents it as if all of them did. It is possible that it was the elders or the firstborn who represented the rest of the people by physically laying their hands on the Levites.

In this context, the laying on of hands means three things:

  1. Unity – through the laying on of hands, the unity between those who performed the laying on of hands and those who received the laying on of hands became tangible. In this case there was a unity between the people and the Levites.

  2. Representation – the laying on of hands is done to delegate authority for representation. This text says that all the children of Israel were to lay their hands on the Levites. Thus the Levites represented all the children of Israel, not only the firstborn. Since the firstborn already represented all the people, their representation was transferred to the Levites when they replaced them. In Psalm 136:10, it is written, “He who struck down Egypt in their firstborn”. This teaches us that all the Egyptians were struck down symbolically through their firstborn. Instead of striking all the people, HaShem struck down the firstborn. This teaches us that the firstborn represent all the people. Therefore the Levites, who replaced the firstborn, also represent all the people of Israel.

  3. Sacrifice – In the same way that they laid their hands on a sacrificial animal before it was slaughtered, they laid their hands on the Levites to dedicate them to HaShem. Verses 16 and 19 say that the Levites were given as a gift, first and foremost, to HaShem and secondly to Aharon and his sons.

The children of Israel laid their hands on the Levites so that they could be offered as an offering to the Eternal. In the ministry of Malki-Tzedek, everyone can offer their bodies as living sacrifices, as it is written in Romans 12:1,

“Therefore I urge you, brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies a living sacrifice, consecrated, acceptable to God, which is your spiritual service.”(HNV revised)

In Romans 15:16, it is written,

“that I should be a servant of Messiah Yeshua to the gentiles, ministering as a priest the Good News of God, that the offering up of the gentile might be made acceptable, sanctified by the Ruach HaKodesh.”(HNV revised)

In Philippians 2:17, it is written,

“Yes, and if I am poured out on the sacrifice and service of your faith, I rejoice, and rejoice with you all.”(HNV)

In 2 Timothy 4:6, it is written,

“For I am already being offered, and the time of my departure has come.”(HNV)

8:11, 13, 15, 21 “and Aharon shall offer the Levites before HaShem for a wave offering, on the behalf of the children of Yisra'el, that it may be theirs to do the service of HaShem… You shall set the Levites before Aharon, and before his sons, and offer them as a wave offering to HaShem… After that, the Levites shall go in to do the service of the Tent of Meeting: and you shall cleanse them, and offer them as a wave offering… The Levites purified themselves from sin, and they washed their clothes; and Aharon offered them for a wave offering before HaShem; and Aharon made atonement for them to cleanse them.”(HNV revised) – The text literally says that Aharon himself was to wave the Levites. One Midrash[2] therefore says that Aharon lifted each one of the 22,000 Levites in one day and waved them up and down, back and forth.

Certain parts of the animal sacrifices that were presented when the priests were dedicated, were waved before HaShem, compare with Exodus 29:24. In the same way, the Levites themselves were to be waved before HaShem and thus they also became offerings unto the Eternal.

This text teaches us that in order to become a leader, one must have gone through the experience of being shaken. Through this experience, everything in one’s life is shaken. One who has not gone through this shaking is not capable of becoming a leader before HaShem. It is necessary to go through this shaking process, in order to learn to only trust the solid Word of the Rock of Israel. A leader must be delivered from any trust in visible things. All things visible will be shaken, as it is written in Hebrews 12:26-27,

“whose voice shook the earth, then, but now he has promised, saying, ‘Yet once more I will shake not only the earth, but also the heavens.’ This phrase, ‘Yet once more,’ signifies the removing of those things that are shaken, as of things that have been made, that those things which are not shaken may remain.”(HNV revised)

HaShem’s purpose for allowing everything in the life of the potential leader to be shaken, is so that only that which is immovable within him will remain and he will have a firm foundation to stand on.

In 1 Corinthians 3:12-15, it is written,

“But if anyone builds on the foundation with gold, silver, costly stones, wood, hay, or stubble, each man’s work will be revealed. For the Day will declare it, because it is revealed in fire; and the fire itself will test what sort of work each man’s work is. If any man’s work remains which he built on it, he will receive a reward. If any man’s work is burned, he will suffer loss, but he himself will be saved, but as through fire.”(HNV)

In 1 Corinthians 13:13, it is written,

“But now faith, hope, and love remain—these three. The greatest of these is love.”(HNV)

In Matthew 7:24-29, it is written,

“’Everyone therefore who hears these words of mine, and does them, I will liken him to a wise man, who built his house on a rock. The rain came down, the floods came, and the winds blew, and beat on that house; and it didn’t fall, for it was founded on the rock. Everyone who hears these words of mine, and doesn’t do them will be like a foolish man, who built his house on the sand. The rain came down, the floods came, and the winds blew, and beat on that house; and it fell—and great was its fall.’ It happened, when Yeshua had finished saying these things, that the multitudes were astonished at his teaching, for he taught them with authority, and not like the Scribes.”(HNV revised)

In the Scriptures, sand represents people. Principles produced by HaShem’s Torah are eternal and can handle any test. One who builds his life upon the opinions of man will one day lose everything. One who has built his life on the Messiah Yeshua’s Torah teaching will be able to stand through all the tests of life. One who has not gone through a shaking process is not capable of being a leader.

Do not be afraid of shakings. They are good. Through them you learn that there is only one solid Rock, HaShem and his Word. When we go through violent shakings, many unnecessary things will fall away from us, loads that we carry, desires that do not produce anything lasting, and other fleshly desires etc. These shakings help us to put things in their proper places, so that we learn what is important and what is of less importance, from an eternal perspective.

In the presence of the Eternal there are fires and flashes of lightning, sparks and colors, songs, voices, thunder and an incredible energy. When we come near the Eternal, we partake of this heavenly energy and our bodies react by vibrating, shaking, becoming warm, falling down, or moving uncontrollably. This was the overwhelming power that was released over the Levites on the day they were dedicated and waved before HaShem. The whole earth and its inhabitants shake before HaShem, as it is written in Psalm 33:8,

“Let all the earth fear HaShem. Let all the inhabitants of the world tremble before him.”(HNV revised)

In Psalm 99:1, it is written,

“HaShem reigns! Let the peoples tremble. He sits enthroned among the Keruvim. Let the earth be moved.”(HNV revised)

This text repeats four times that the Levites were to be waved before the Eternal, in verses 11, 13, 15, and 21. This teaches us that a leader must go through many seasons when everything in his life will be shaken in order to be complete and have the ability to serve HaShem only.

8:12 “The Levites shall lay their hands on the heads of the bulls, and you shall offer the one for a sin offering, and the other for an ascension offering to HaShem, to make atonement for the Levites.”(HNV revised) – In this verse we find the foundation of true ministry before HaShem.

  • Sin offering – A replacement paid for my sins so that I would be able to minister before the Sacred One and be free from sin. This offering prophetically symbolizes the offering of Yeshua HaMashiach. This offering is the only foundation that man has for being able to draw near to HaShem, compare with John 14:6.

  • Ascension offering – The whole animal being consumed. My life no longer means anything to me. I have dedicated myself completely to serving the purposes of the Kingdom.

8:14, 16 “Thus you shall separate the Levites from among the children of Yisra'el, and the Levites shall be mine… For they are wholly given to me from among the children of Yisra'el; instead of all who open the womb, even the firstborn of all the children of Yisra'el, I have taken them to me.”(HNV) – This teaches us that one who is dedicated to HaShem no longer belongs to himself. He no longer has any right to be in control of his own life. He was presented to HaShem as an offering to serve only Him, not his own human desires, as it is written in 1 Corinthians 6:20,

“for you were bought with a price. Therefore glorify God in your body and in your spirit, which are God’s.”(HNV revised)

The Second Aliyah, 8:15-26

8:15 “After that, the Levites shall go in to do the service of the Tent of Meeting: and you shall cleanse them, and offer them as a wave offering.”(HNV) – The Levites had to dip their bodies in a mikveh, a ritual bath, in order to enter their ministry. As we said earlier, the mikveh symbolizes dying to one’s old life in order to rise again, cleansed, unto a new life. From this point forward the priests could not live the way they had been living. They were dead and from that time on their lives were only about service to HaShem.

8:19 “I have given the Levites as a gift to Aharon and to his sons from among the children of Yisra'el, to do the service of the children of Yisra'el in the Tent of Meeting, and to make atonement for the children of Yisra'el; that there be no plague among the children of Yisra'el, when the children of Yisra'el come near to the sanctuary.”(HNV) – The leaders that HaShem has instituted are gifts to the people. In this case the Levites were gifts to their superiors, the priests. The leaders that the Messiah Yeshua places in his assembly are gifts, as it is written in Ephesians 4:7-12,

“But to each one of us was the grace given according to the measure of the gift of Messiah. Therefore he says, ‘When he ascended on high, he led captivity captive, and gave gifts to men.’ Now this, ‘He ascended,’ what is it but that he also first descended into the lower parts of the earth? He who descended is the one who also ascended far above all the heavens, that he might fill all things. He gave some to be messengers; and some, prophets; and some, preachers of good news; and some, shepherds and teachers; for the perfecting of the sanctified ones, to the work of serving, to the building up of the body of Messiah.”(HNV revised)

This text speaks about the five ministry gifts that the Messiah has given man. Each one of them makes up one part of the complete ministry of the Messiah, verse 7. None of the leaders have the entire ministry of the Messiah, but only a part. Together, however, they form the Mashiach as ministry gifts. Each ministry is a gift that has been given to the people and each and every one of them has a part of the Messiah’s ministry according to the grace that they have been given. Yeshua has everything, but none of us have been as equipped as he. We only have a part of him.

The ministry gifts are given to make the consecrated ones complete so that they can perform their ministry and build up the body of the Messiah. Notice that it is the consecrated ones who do the work, guided and completed by the five ministry gifts.

“that there be no plague among the children of Yisra'el, when the children of Yisra'el come near to the sanctuary” – If the Levites did not perform their ministry, then the other Israelites of the firstborn would have to do it, but because of the sin with the golden calf it was impossible for them. A plague would come over them. As the Levites served in their place, no plague came over them.

The expression “children of Israel” is mentioned five times in this verse. Through this HaShem shows his love for his people.

8:24 “This is that which belongs to the Levites: from twenty-five years old and upward they shall go in to wait on the service in the work of the Tent of Meeting”(HNV) – In Numbers 4:3 it says that they were thirty years old. Rashi says that they spent five years in preparation before fully entering into their ministry. It was a five-year yeshivah.

The Third Aliyah, 9:1-14

9:1    “HaShem spoke to Moshe in the wilderness of Sinai, in the first month of the second year after they had come out of the land of Egypt, saying”(HNV revised) – The first verse in Numbers says that HaShem spoke to Moshe the first day of the second month in the second year after the exodus out of Egypt. Here it says that HaShem spoke in the first month of the second year. This teaches us that the Torah is not always written in chronological order. If it was, then chapter one would come after chapter nine.

9:2    “Moreover let the children of Yisra'el keep the Pesach in its appointed season.”(HNV) – According to Rashi, this means that the Pesach offering takes precedence even over the Shabbat. Even if the fourteenth of Nissan was a Shabbat, the Pesach offering was still offered that day.

9:5    “They kept the Pesach in the first month, on the fourteenth day of the month, at evening, in the wilderness of Sinai. According to all that HaShem commanded Moshe, so the children of Yisra'el did.”(HNV revised) – This was the only time that the Pesach was celebrated in the desert. Rashi says that it was considered a shame that the people of Israel did not celebrate the Pesach more than once during the forty years. However, the children of Israel could not circumcise their children in the desert and could therefore not celebrate the Pesach more than once. The father of an uncircumcised son does not have the right to eat of the Pesach offering, compare with Exodus 12:48.

In Joshua 5:2-10, it is written,

“At that time HaShem said to Yehoshua, Make you flint knives, and circumcise again the children of Yisra'el the second time. Yehoshua made himself flint knives, and circumcised the children of Yisra'el at the hill of `Aralot. This is the cause why Yehoshua did circumcise: all the people who came forth out of Egypt, who were males, even all the men of war, died in the wilderness by the way, after they came forth out of Egypt. For all the people who came out were circumcised; but all the people who were born in the wilderness by the way as they came forth out of Egypt, they had not circumcised. For the children of Yisra'el walked forty years in the wilderness, until all the nation, even the men of war who came forth out of Egypt, were consumed, because they didn’t listen to the voice of HaShem: to whom HaShem swore that he wouldn’t let them see the land which HaShem swore to their fathers that he would give us, a land flowing with milk and honey. Their children, whom he raised up in their place, them did Yehoshua circumcise: for they were uncircumcised, because they had not circumcised them by the way. It happened, when they had done circumcising all the nation, that they abode in their places in the camp, until they were whole. HaShem said to Yehoshua, This day have I rolled away the reproach of Egypt from off you. Therefore the name of that place was called Gilgal, to this day. The children of Yisra'el encamped in Gilgal; and they kept the Pesach on the fourteenth day of the month at even in the plains of Yericho.”(HNV revised)

The Fourth Aliyah, 9:15 – 10:10

9:17-20 “Whenever the cloud was taken up from over the Tent, then after that the children of Yisra'el traveled; and in the place where the cloud remained, there the children of Yisra'el encamped. At the command of HaShem, the children of Yisra'el traveled, and at the command of HaShem they encamped. As long as the cloud remained on the tabernacle they remained encamped. When the cloud stayed on the tabernacle many days, then the children of Yisra'el kept the charge of HaShem, and didn’t travel. Sometimes the cloud was a few days on the tabernacle; then according to the command of HaShem they remained encamped, and according to the command of HaShem they traveled.”(HNV revised) – HaShem used the cloud to lead the people. By looking at the cloud, the people knew when they were to break camp and when and where they were to set up camp. Thus a complete dependence on the cloud was created since they did not know when they were supposed to continue walking and when they were to camp. It is the same way with one who lives by the Spirit of the Eternal. We do not know where he comes from or where he is going, as it is written in John 3:8,

“The wind blows where it wants to, and you hear its sound, but don’t know where it comes from and where it is going. So is everyone who is born of the Spirit.”(HNV)

One who is born of the Spirit is like the wind that is led by the Eternal’s command.

9:21-22 “Sometimes the cloud was from evening until morning; and when the cloud was taken up in the morning, they traveled: or by day and by night, when the cloud was taken up, they traveled. Whether it was two days, or a month, or a year that the cloud stayed on the tabernacle, remaining on it, the children of Yisra'el remained encamped, and didn’t travel; but when it was taken up, they traveled.”(HNV) – The children of Israel did not know how long they were to remain in each place where they camped. It could be one night or ten years. They always had to be prepared to keep going. This teaches us how important it is to be dependent on HaShem. The impressions he gives us are meant to be followed. One who is sensitive to these impressions will always be under heavenly protection, just as the children of Israel were under the protective cloud in the desert. One who does not heed the impressions of the Eternal will lose the protection that is available to those who walk with Him. This dependence on HaShem is something very precious to Him, as it is written in Jeremiah 2:2-3,

“Go, and cry in the ears of Yerushalayim, saying, Thus says HaShem, I remember for you the kindness of your youth, the love of your weddings; how you went after me in the wilderness, in a land that was not sown.”(HNV revised)

Are you willing to live this way, together with you heavenly Father? Are you willing to have a life that is not well planned out ahead of time? Are you willing to be constantly led by the presence of the Eternal? Are you willing to move from one place to another according to the command of the Shechinah? One who walks with HaShem has a mobile lifestyle that is uncomfortable. As long as we wait for the Messianic Reign, we cannot stop; we must always be ready to adapt to any change in order to continue in the presence of HaShem.

9:23 “At the command of HaShem they encamped, and at the command of HaShem they traveled. They kept the charge of HaShem, at the command of HaShem by Moshe.”(HNV revised) – This text teaches us that HaShem led his people with a command that was manifested by the cloud and by the prophet. HaShem gave the command by moving the cloud and through Moshe who gave the order. This teaches us that we ought to follow HaShem’s word that is given through His Spirit and through his prophets so that we do not fall behind and miss the move of HaShem in this time. One who believes that he can serve HaShem in the same way that people served Him in the past is mistaken. We must be willing to leave one place and go on with Him instead of staying within the established human structures, even though they may have been very useful in times past. If we belong to an organization or congregation that does not follow HaShem in what He is doing today, it is better to leave that situation than to be left behind by HaShem. I would rather be under the protective cloud of HaShem than under an organization that no longer wants to be obedient and sensitive to the movement of the Spirit in this hour. One of the main dangers that we are exposed to is getting stuck in a place or in a thought pattern. If we lose our willingness to change we will not be able to go with the Eternal and we will be left behind. One who is left behind will even run the risk of losing his soul, as it is written in Hebrews 10:38-39,

“’But the righteous will live by faith. If he shrinks back, my soul has no pleasure in him.’ But we are not of those who shrink back to destruction, but of those who have faith to the saving of the soul.”(HNV)

Those who have faith, i.e. those who are faithful and trusting, are those who go forward since HaShem always keeps his people moving and is leading them to the olam habah, the coming age. However, one who prefers to remain faithful to people who no longer walk with HaShem will suffer great loss.

Follow only those leaders who walk with HaShem. You are not obligated to follow leaders who do not follow HaShem, as it is written in Joshua 1:16-17,

“They answered Yehoshua, saying, All that you have commanded us we will do, and wherever you send us we will go. According as we listened to Moshe in all things, so will we listen to you: only HaShem your God be with you, as he was with Moshe.”(HNV revised)

Follow your leader as long as HaShem is with him!

10:2 “Make you two trumpets of silver; of beaten work shall you make them: and you shall use them for the calling of the congregation, and for the journeying of the camps.”(HNV) – There are two kinds of trumpets in Israel:

  1. The shofar – a ram’s horn that the Eternal has made and man has worked on to a certain extent. A horn from a goat, antelope, or another clean animal can also be used.

  2. The silver trumpet – made by men.

The blasts for both trumpets are the same. The two main trumpet blasts are:


  • Tekiah – A long sound with two notes following each other played with the same breath. This sound proclaims the Creator’s power over creation.



  • Teruah – The sound of an alarm with several short trumpet blasts repeated after each other in the same note. According to tradition it must be at least nine short blasts. This is a sound of warning that among other things serves to wake people up and call them to attention.

The purposes for making the silver trumpets were to:

  1. Gather the congregation or the leaders, with a tekiah sound, verses 3-4, 7.

  2. Break camp, with the blasts of tekiahteruahtekiah, verses 5-6.

  3. Remind HaShem of the people during times of war, verse 9.

  4. Remind HaShem of the people during the feasts and new moons at the times of the corporate offerings, verse 10.

Sacrificio%20temploThe priests in the temple in Yerushalayim blew the silver trumpets every day when corporate offerings were made. They blew them at least twenty-one times a day. When the gates were opened in the morning, they blew them three times. During the daily morning offering, they blew them nine times. During the daily afternoon offering they blew them nine times and if there was an extra offering, a so-called musaf, they blew an additional nine times. On the erev Shabbat, the Shabbat eve, they blew them three times in the afternoon to remind the people to stop working. Just when the Shabbat was to begin, they blew them again three times to mark the beginning of the Shabbat.


The Fifth Aliyah, 10:11-34

10:11 “It happened in the second year, in the second month, on the twentieth day of the month, that the cloud was taken up from over the tent of the testimony.”(HNV) – As we said earlier, this teaches us how quickly they completed the census.

         The Torah has different ways of presenting dates:

·         Year/month/day, Genesis 7:11; Numbers 10:11; 33:38; Deuteronomy 1:3.

·         Year/day/month, Genesis 8:13.

·         Month/year/day, Exodus 40:17.

·         Day/month/year, Numbers 1:1.

10:12-13 “The children of Yisra'el set forward according to their journeys out of the wilderness of Sinai; and the cloud abode in the wilderness of Paran. They first took their journey according to the command of HaShem by Moshe.”(HNV revised) – This teaches us that we should not leave a place until we have received an order to do so from the Eternal through an impression from the Spirit within us. Sometimes the Spirit’s impression is confirmed by a prophetic word, but not the other way around. Do not move until HaShem reveals it to you by his cloud. Learn to be led by the Spirit, even in the small details.

 “journey according to the command of HaShem by Moshe” – It literally says, “by HaShem’s mouth through Moshe’s hand”, in Hebrew, al pi HaShem be yad Mosheh. Rashi says that the cloud did not move until Moshe spoke the words that are written in Numbers 10:35b,

“Rise up, HaShem, and let your enemies be scattered; and let those who hate you flee before you.”(HNV revised)

It was the same when they were supposed to stop and set up camp. The cloud was directly above the camp of Yehudah until Moshe spoke the words that are written in Numbers 10:36,

“When it rested, he said, Return, HaShem, to the ten thousands of the thousands of Yisra'el.”(HNV revised)

Here we can see the cooperation between HaShem and the prophet Moshe. That is why the text says that they broke camp at HaShem’s mouth through Moshe’s hand.

10:28 “Thus were the travels of the children of Yisra'el according to their hosts; and they set forward.”(HNV) – Strict order ruled among the children of Israel as they walked through the desert. Where there is order there is peace, but where there is disorder there is confusion.

10:29 “Moshe said to Chovav, the son of Re`u'el the Midyanite, Moshe’s father-in-law, We are journeying to the place of which HaShem said, I will give it you: come you with us, and we will do you good; for HaShem has spoken good concerning Yisra'el.”(HNV revised) – According to Ramban, Yitro was given the name Chovav after he converted to Judaism. According to Rashi, Reuel, who was the grandfather, was called “father” in Exodus 2:18.

“for HaShem has spoken good concerning Yisra'el” – This is an eternal promise.

10:32 “It shall be, if you go with us, yes, it shall be, that whatever good HaShem shall do to us, the same will we do to you.”(HNV revised) – Here we once again find the purpose of the people of Israel, “In you all the nations of the earth shall be blessed”. All who unite themselves with Israel will receive blessings from heaven.

Some commentators connect this text with Exodus 18:27 and say that Yitro left Israel at this occasion. Ramban, however, says that the text in Exodus 18 shows us that Yitro left the people before the Torah was given, in order to rejoin them at another occasion not mentioned in the Torah. At this time he stayed with the people and entered the land together with them. According to this text, Moshe had the last word, which hints to us that his father in law listened to him. According to tradition, Yitro’s descendants were given the most fertile area of Yericho, as it is written in Judges 1:16,

“And the children of the Kenite, Moses' brother-in-law, went up out of the city of palm-trees with the children of Judah into the wilderness of Judah, which is in the south of Arad; and they went and dwelt with the people.” (ASV 1901)

According to Rashi, the descendants of Yitro lived in Yericho, “the city of palm trees”, for four hundred years until the temple was built.

The Sixth Aliyah, 10:35 – 11:29

10:35-36 “It happened, when the ark set forward, that Moshe said, Rise up, HaShem, and let your enemies be scattered; and let those who hate you flee before you. When it rested, he said, Return, HaShem, to the ten thousands of the thousands of Yisra'el.”(HNV revised) – The Hebrew sentence Kuma HaShem (Rise up, HaShem) can also be translated as, “reveal yourself, HaShem”. When he reveals himself, there is no enemy that can stand against him.

In the Hebrew manuscripts, there is a mark that looks like a backwards “nun” (Hebrew letter) before and after these two verses. The rabbis have understood it as a parenthesis. According to chronological order, this verse is not in the “right” place. It should have been in chapter 2. Talmud[3] quotes Yehudah haNasi’s opinion, which is that these two verses are a book each. Thus there are actually seven books of Moses, which would line up with what is written in Proverbs 9:1,

“Wisdom has built her house. She has carved out her seven pillars.”(HNV)

11:1 “The people were as murmurers, speaking evil in the ears of HaShem: and when HaShem heard it, his anger was kindled; and the fire of HaShem burnt among them, and devoured in the uttermost part of the camp.”(HNV revised) – According to Rashi, they were looking for excuses to pull away from the all-encompassing Presence. They already had meat that they could eat in the desert, compare with Exodus 12:38 and Numbers 32:1.

“the fire of HaShem… devoured… uttermost part of the camp” – The word “uttermost” can be interpreted as a reference both to those who were far away from HaShem as well as to those who were prideful.

Through the tongues of the children of Israel a devouring fire was kindled, as it is written in James 3:5-6,

“So the tongue is also a little member, and boasts great things. See how a small fire can spread to a large forest! And the tongue is a fire. The world of iniquity among our members is the tongue, which defiles the whole body, and sets on fire the course of nature, and is set on fire by Gehinnom.”(HNV)

11:5 “We remember the fish, which we ate in Egypt for nothing; the cucumbers, and the melons, and the leeks, and the onions, and the garlic”(HNV) – It is common for negative experiences and feelings to be forgotten and only positive emotions stay in our memory. The children of Israel did not remember what slavery was like. If they worked hard as slaves, how can they now say that they ate for nothing? Rashi interprets this to mean that they could eat freely in Egypt without having to fulfill any commandments in connection with food.

11:6  “but now our soul is dried away; there is nothing at all save this manna to look on.”(HNV) – Man needs variety in order not to get tired of what he eats. At this time, the children of Israel were in a state of transition, where heaven was supplying them with emergency rations so that they could survive as they wandered over the wilderness, which should not have taken so long. In spite of the fact that the Midrash[4] says that the manna changed flavor according to the taste of each person, the Torah tells us what it tasted like, as it is written in Exodus 16:31b,

“and its taste was like wafers with honey.”(HNV)

In Numbers 11:8, it is written,

“and the taste of it was as the taste of a cake baked with oil.”(JPS)

One who does not show gratefulness for the food he has received releases a curse over his own life. By blessing HaShem before and after we eat, we serve him through with material things and are simultaneously delivered from gluttony.

In 1 Corinthians 10:1-6, it is written,

“Now I would not have you ignorant, brothers, that our fathers were all under the cloud, and all passed through the sea; and were all immersed into Moshe in the cloud and in the sea; and all ate the same spiritual food; and all drank the same spiritual drink. For they drank of a spiritual rock that followed them, and the rock was Messiah. However with most of them, God was not well pleased, for they were overthrown in the wilderness. Now these things were our examples, to the intent we should not lust after evil things, as they also lusted.”(HNV revised)

This text talks about “spiritual food”, “spiritual drink”, and “a spiritual rock”. The manna and the water that was given in the wilderness were, therefore, spiritual food and drink. How can the Scriptures call these material, physical things “spiritual”? According to Greek philosophy, that which is spiritual cannot be physical. The manna, however, was physical. The water and the rock were physical. The expression “spiritual”, ought therefore not to be interpreted from a philosophical perspective, but must be understood from a perspective of Hebrew thinking. According to the Hebrew way of seeing things, something spiritual is something that has come from the spirit world, has been approved of by Heaven, or has some type of connection to the spirit world.

Spiritual food is food that has been approved of, blessed, and consecrated by the Eternal. Among other things, Judaism lifts up natural elements to a spiritual level so that they can serve to honor the Eternal. The food became something spiritual when it was received with a blessing that was based on HaShem’s Word, as it is written in 1 Timothy 4:4-5,

“For every creature of God is good, and nothing is to be rejected, if it is received with thanksgiving. For it is sanctified through the word of God and prayer.”(HNV revised)

11:9 “When the dew fell on the camp in the night, the manna fell on it.”(HNV) – This verse seems to contradict the text in Exodus 16:14, where it is written

“When the dew that lay had gone, behold, on the surface of the wilderness was a small round thing, small as the hoar-frost on the ground.”(HNV)

These two verses show us that there was something like a white cloth both under and over the manna. The manna was protected from the dirt on the ground and was also covered, so that it would be preserved until it was picked. This is where the custom comes from of placing a white tablecloth on the Shabbat table and then to cover the Shabbat bread with another white cloth. These two cloths serve as reminders of the miracle of the manna.

11:14 “I am not able to bear all this people alone, because it is too heavy for me.”(HNV) – Moshe felt that he could no longer carry the burden of the people. All leaders who hold positions of great responsibility have had this experience. HaShem’s answer to these two problems, the people’s complaint and Moshe’s weariness, was to first meet the needs of the leader and then to deal with the needs of the people.

11:17 “I will come down and talk with you there: and I will take of the Spirit which is on you, and will put it on them; and they shall bear the burden of the people with you, that you not bear it yourself alone.”(HNV) – The spirit that is over an anointed leader causes him to walk under a heavy burden for the people. It is a burden of care that is similar to a mother’s burden for her children. It is a burden of responsibility that many times becomes very heavy.

Rabbi Shaul said that the greatest suffering he had, was the concern for all the congregations, as it is written in 2 Corinthians 11:23-28,

“Are they servants of Messiah? (I speak as one beside himself) I am more so; in labors more abundantly, in prisons more abundantly, in stripes above measure, in deaths often. Five times from the Jews I received forty stripes minus one. Three times I was beaten with rods. Once I was stoned. Three times I suffered shipwreck. I have been a night and a day in the deep. I have been in travels often, perils of rivers, perils of robbers, perils from my countrymen, perils from the gentiles, perils in the city, perils in the wilderness, perils in the sea, perils among false brothers; in labor and travail, in watchings often, in hunger and thirst, in fastings often, and in cold and nakedness. Besides those things that are outside, there is that which presses on me daily, anxiety for all the assemblies.”(HNV revised)

The concern for all the congregations of the Messiah weighed heavier than all the other suffering that Rabbi Shaul had to go through. This teaches us that a good leader has great concern for those who are under his care. Moshe felt that this burden was too heavy, and therefore it was divided among an additional seventy elders. These seventy elders made up the first Sanhedrin.

11:23 “HaShem said to Moshe, Has HaShem’s hand grown short? now shall you see whether my word shall happen to you or not.”(HNV revised) – Moshe could not imagine how the Eternal was going to supply all the people with meat.

In Genesis 18:14, it is written,

“Is anything too hard for HaShem? At the set time I will return to you, when the season comes round, and Sarah will have a son.”(HNV revised)

In Jeremiah 32:27, it is written,

“Behold, I am HaShem, the God of all flesh: is there anything too hard for me?”(HNV revised)

In Zechariah 8:6, it is written,

“Thus says HaShem of Hosts: ‘If it is marvelous in the eyes of the remnant of this people in those days, should it also be marvelous in my eyes?’ says HaShem of Hosts.”(HNV revised)

In Matthew 19:26, it is written,

“Looking at them, Yeshua said, ‘With men this is impossible, but with God all things are possible.’”(HNV revised)

In Mark 10:27, it is written,

“Yeshua, looking at them, said, ‘With men it is impossible, but not with God, for all things are possible with God.’”(HNV revised)

In Luke 1:37, it is written,

“For everything spoken by God is possible.”(HNV revised)

In Luke 18:27, it is written,

“But he said, ‘The things which are impossible with men are possible with God.’”(HNV revised)

In Romans 4:21, it is written,

“and being fully assured that what he had promised, he was able also to perform.”(HNV)

11:25 “HaShem came down in the cloud, and spoke to him, and took of the Spirit that was on him, and put it on the seventy elders: and it happened that when the Spirit rested on them, they prophesied, but they did so no more.”(HNV revised) – The spirit that was on Moshe caused the chosen elders to prophesy. The spirit of prophecy produces a burden of responsibility and concern within a spiritual leader, since that spirit is able to place the HaShems burden for people on the hearts of his representatives. At this point the other elders shared this burden with Moshe and were able to help him in his difficult task. This text teaches us that true leadership is first and foremost something spiritual, something supernatural.

11:29 “Moshe said to him, Are you jealous for my sake? would that all HaShem’s people were prophets, that HaShem would put his Spirit on them!”(HNV revised) – Moshe wished that all of the people had the spirit of prophecy, which is similar to what is written in 1 Corinthians 14:1,

“Follow after love, and earnestly desire spiritual gifts, but especially that you may prophesy.”(HNV)

In 1 Corinthians 14:5a, it is written

“Now I desire to have you all speak with other languages, but rather that you would prophesy.”(HNV)

In 1 Corinthians 14:39, it is written,

“Therefore, brothers, desire earnestly to prophesy, and don’t forbid speaking with other languages.”(HNV)

After the Messiah’s coming, prophecy was not only given to a few among the people. The Eternal desires, as expressed through Moshe Rabbenu and Rabbi Shaul, that all prophesy under the inspiration of HaShem’s Spirit.

11:34 “The name of that place was called Kivrot-Hatta'avah, because there they buried the people who lusted.”(HNV) – Kivrot-Hatta’avah means “the graves of lust”. Here it says that those who lusted were buried, but not only that. Lust was also buried there. Lust is not the same thing as desire. Lust is something that cannot be satisfied, something animalistic and demonic, that is not based on natural needs. Lust is a twisted desire that demands without gratefulness, without humility, and without acknowledgment and it is worse than the desires of animals. Beware of lust! Bury it!

In James 4:1-3, it is written,

“Where do wars and fightings among you come from? Don’t they come from your pleasures that war in your members? You lust, and don’t have. You kill, covet, and can’t obtain. You fight and make war. You don’t have, because you don’t ask. You ask, and don’t receive, because you ask with wrong motives, so that you may spend it for your pleasures.”(HNV)

The Seventh Aliyah, 11:30 – 12:16

12:1 “Miryam and Aharon spoke against Moshe because of the Kushite woman whom he had married; for he had married a Kushite woman.”(HNV) – The Hebrew text says that it was mainly Miriyam who spoke. This teaches us that she was the one who initiated this speaking against Moshe. Therefore, she was the only one who was struck with tzara’at. Aharon was weak just as he was at the incident with the golden calf, and he followed the one who was the strongest at the moment. Aharon did not have a backbone of iron. In his longing for peace he allowed himself to be pulled along by certain evil trends. He lacked character and could not resist evil, but he was also quick to humble himself and ask for forgiveness.

Speaking against someone who has been greatly entrusted by the Eternal is a very serious thing. The consequences are catastrophic. Do not speak against those who are in leadership among HaShem’s people. HaShem will judge one who commits such a sin with his tongue. Here we can see that lashon ha-rah was punished with tzara’at.

12:6 “He said, Hear now my words: if there be a prophet among you, I HaShem will make myself known to him in a vision, I will speak with him in a dream.”(HNV revised) – Regular prophets receive messages through visions and dreams, but Moshe rabbenu was on a higher level of prophecy than the other prophets.

The Mashiach in this Parashah

8:7b “let them shave their whole bodies with a razor, and let them wash their clothes, and cleanse themselves.” – This speaks of the death and the resurrection.

8:21b “Aharon made atonement for them to cleanse them.” – The High Priest in heaven is the one who has made atonement for us to cleanse us.

9:12a “They shall leave none of it until the morning, nor break a bone of it.” – Not one of Yeshua’s bones were broken when he died, compare with John 19:36.

9:13 “But the man who is clean, and is not on a journey, and fails to keep the Pesach, that soul shall be cut off from his people. Because he didn’t offer the offering of HaShem in its appointed season, that man shall bear his sin.” – This teaches us that one who does not partake of the Lamb that God gave to remove the sins of Israel and the world, will be removed from the people in the end, compare with Acts 3:22-23; 4:12; Deuteronomy 18:19.

10:3 “When they shall blow them, all the congregation shall gather themselves to you at the door of the tent of meeting.” – The four occasions during which the trumpets are to be blown speak of four events that will take place in connection with the second coming of the Messiah. The whole congregation gathering at the sound of the trumpet, symbolizes the dead in Messiah who will be raised first, and the living who belong to the Messiah who will be caught up together with them in the clouds to be with him at his second coming.

10:5 “When you blow an alarm, the camps that lie on the east side shall take their journey.” – When teruah was played on the trumpet, the people had to break camp. This speaks of those who have been caught up and will be transported to the Promised Land, in order to be with the Messiah during his thousand-year reign on the earth.

10:9 “When you go to war in your land against the adversary who oppresses you, then you shall sound an alarm with the trumpets; and you shall be remembered before HaShem your God, and you shall be saved from your enemies.” – In order to be remembered during a time of war, the people played teruah. This speaks of the Messiah’s return to Yerushalayim, when he will war against the multi-national hosts, which will have gathered against Israel to take over the City of the Great King, compare with Zechariah 14. The anti-messiah will be killed with the sword that comes out of Yeshua’s mouth, compare with Isaiah 11:4; 2 Thessalonians 2:8.

10:10 “Also in the day of your gladness, and in your set feasts, and in the beginnings of your months, you shall blow the trumpets over your burnt offerings, and over the sacrifices of your peace-offerings; and they shall be to you for a memorial before your God: I am HaShem your God.” – After evil has been removed from the earth, Sukkot, the wedding of the Lamb, will be celebrated for a thousand years.

10:14 “In the first place the standard of the camp of the children of Yehudah set forward according to their hosts: and over his host was Nachshon the son of `Amminadav.” – Yehudah always goes first. The Messiah always goes first.

10:33 “They set forward from the Mount of HaShem three days’ journey; and the ark of the covenant of HaShem went before them three days’ journey, to seek out a resting-place for them.” – The ark, which symbolizes Mashiach, was a three-days journey ahead of the rest of the people. This speaks of his death and resurrection, which opened up the way for us to come to a resting place.

12:8a “with him will I speak mouth to mouth, even manifestly, and not in dark speeches; and the form of HaShem shall he see.” – Yeshua has seen the Father, as it is written in John 6:46,

“Not that anyone has seen the Father, except he who is from God. He has seen the Father.”(HNV revised)

This Parashah contains commandments number 380 – 384 of the 613 commandments.

  1. The command that the one who could not offer the Pesach offering on the fourteenth of Nissan must do so on the fourteenth of Iyar, Numbers 9:11.

  2. The command to eat the second Pesach offering with matzah and bitter herbs, Numbers 9:11.

  3. The prohibition of allowing any meat from the second Pesach offering to remain until the following day, Numbers 9:12.

  4. The prohibition of crushing any of the bones of the second Pesach offering, Numbers 9:12.

  5. The command to blow the trumpets in the sanctuary and during war, Numbers 10:9.

[1]     Tanchumah 5; Bereshit Rabbah 15:6.

[2]     Chezkuni.

[3]     Shabbat 115b.

[4]     Sifrí 89.