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Parashah 37 Shelach Lecha

Numbers 13:1 – 15:41

By Dr. K. Blad  ©

Second edition 2013-14 (5774)

Lucrative copying not permitted. 

Torah Readings:

1.      13:1-20

2.      13:21 – 14:7

3.      14:8-25

4.      14:26 – 15:7

5.      15:8-16

6.      15:17-26

7.      15:27-41

8.      Maftir 15:38-41

Haftarah: Joshua 2:1-24

Shelach Lecha

means “send you”

The First Aliyah, 13:1-20

13:2 “Send you men, that they may spy out the land of Kana`an, which I give to the children of Yisra'el: of every tribe of their fathers shall you send a man, everyone a prince among them.”(HNV) – The first Hebrew words in this sentence, shelach lecha, literally mean “send for you” or “send you”. The idea of sending spies did not come from HaShem or Moshe but from the people, as it is written in Deuteronomy 1:22-23,

“You came near to me everyone of you, and said, Let us send men before us, that they may search the land for us, and bring us word again of the way by which we must go up, and the cities to which we shall come. The thing pleased me well; and I took twelve men of you, one man for every tribe”(HNV)

Moshe thought it was a good idea and HaShem agreed to it. However, since HaShem was not the one who had initiated the sending of these spies, he tells Moshe, “send you”. In other words, “you are the one who is interested in doing this, so you go ahead and do it. I did not initiate this plan and I do not like it, but if you want to do it, then you go ahead.”

Sending spies is a sign of lack of trust in HaShem. The natural mind normally wants to be sure of the circumstances before making a decision. The security that comes from natural circumstances is deceptive, but the security that comes from the promises of HaShem is firm and does not fail. Even though Moshe liked the suggestion, we can see how deeply spiritual he was since he did not send the spies without first asking HaShem. HaShem agreed to the suggestion and commanded, as it is written in verse 3a,

“Moshe sent them from the wilderness of Paran according to the command (literally: mouth) of HaShem”(HNV revised)

13:4 “These were their names: Of the tribe of Re'uven, Shammua the son of Zakkur.”(HNV) – In this list, Reuven once again appears as the firstborn.

13:6 “Of the tribe of Yehudah, Kalev the son of Yefunneh.”(HNV) – Kalev was the son of Chezron, who was the son of Peretz the son of Yehudah, compare with 1 Chronicles 2:3-5, 18. Kalev was the representative of the tribe of Yehudah. Why is he called a kenizite in Numbers 32:12 and Joshua 14:6, 14?

“Kalev the son of Yefunneh the Kenizite”(HNV)

In Genesis 36:11, a man named Kenaz is listed as a son of Elifaz, the firstborn of Esav, and the question is wether or not Kalev was somehow related to him. Rashi quotes a Midrash,[1] which says that Kalev was the adopted son of Kenaz and that Kalev’s mother had Otniel with Kenaz. According to Radak,[2] after the death of Yefunneh, his widow married Kenaz and she had Otniel with him. Otniel and Kalev were, therefore, half brothers on their mother’s side. According to Aryeh Coffman,[3] Kalev grew up in Kenaz’ home and was therefore called a kenizi, a nickname derived from the name Kenaz.

In Joshua 15:17, it is written,

“Otni'el the son of Kenaz, the brother of Kalev, took it: and he gave him `Akhsah his daughter as wife.”(HNV)

This teaches us that the Torah is talking about two different people with the same name, Kenaz, one Edomite and one Israelite. The tribal identity and the inheritance in the land of Israel comes through the father. If Kalev had been a direct descendant of Kenaz, the grandson of Esav, he would not have had any tribal identity and would therefore not have been able to represent the tribe of Yehudah.

Kalev had a very humble spirit. His name means “as the heart”. Whatever he did, he did with a heart dedicated to the Eternal. Along with Yehoshua, he was the only one among all those who were counted as they left Egypt who was allowed to enter the Promised Land. This teaches us how dedicated this man’s heart was.

Kalev was forty years old when he was sent out as a spy, according to Joshua 14:10-11, where it is written,

“Now, behold, HaShem has kept me alive, as he spoke, these forty-five years, from the time that HaShem spoke this word to Moshe, while Yisra'el walked in the wilderness: and now, behold, I am this day eighty-five years old. As yet I am as strong this day as I was in the day that Moshe sent me: as my strength was then, even so is my strength now, for war, and to go out and to come in.”(HNV revised)

Kalev is the example of a man who served HaShem with his heart and spoke from a devoted heart when everyone else was unfaithful. Let us be like him!

13:8 “Of the tribe of Efrayim, Hoshea the son of Nun.”(HNV) – The tribe of Efrayim had Hoshea as their spy. His name was changed to Yehoshua. Hoshea[4] means “savior”, “rescuer”, “deliverer”, and Yehoshua[5] means “HaShem saved”. Moshe added the letter yod to the beginning of the name Hoshea so that the first three letters of the name would correspond with the first three letters of the name of the Eternal, yod, he, vav. Heaven revealed this new name to Moshe, and it has a connection to the Messiah that was to come later on. In the masoretic text, the name “Yehoshua” is written (yod, he, vav, shin, ayin), which has been translated into English as “Joshua”. A short version of that name is Yeshua. This version is found both in the Hebrew and Aramaic texts of the Tanach (OT).

We see that during the days of King David, there were two versions of the way that they wrote the name Jonathan in the Hebrew text, one longer version and one shorter. In 1 Samuel 13:2 and 3, his name is written in the Hebrew text as Yonatan (yod, vav, nun, tav, nun) and in 1 Samuel 14:6 and 8 the longer version is found, Yehonatan (yod, he, vav, nun, tav, nun). This teaches us that the same name can be written in different ways, even in the same context, and even in the same verse, as we can see in 1 Samuel 19:1,

“Sha'ul spoke to Yonatan his son, and to all his servants, that they should kill David. But Yehonatan, Sha'ul’s son, delighted much in David.”(HNV revised)

In the Hebrew text in Nehemiah 8:17, the name “Yeshua, the son of Nun” replaces the older version, “Yehoshua, the son of Nun”, which is used in the Chumash (the five books of Moses) and in the book of Joshua.

In the Hebrew text of Ezra 3:2, the High Priest “Yeshua, the son (Heb. “ben”) of Yotzadak” is mentioned. In Ezra 5:2 (where the original text is Aramaic) the same person is mentioned by the name “Yeshua, the son (Aram. “bar”) of Yotzadak”. The name Yeshua is therefore used in both the Hebrew and Aramaic original texts. (Certain passages of the Tanach were originally written in Aramaic.)

However, if we compare this with the text in Haggai 1:1, we can see that the same High Priest is mentioned by the name of “Yehoshua ben Yehotzadak”.

What name was it that then the angel commanded Yosef and Miryam to give their son who was to be born, as it is written in Matthew 1:21,

“She shall bring forth a son. You shall call his name…, for it is he who shall save his people from their sins.”?(HNV)

In Luke 1:31, it is written,

“Behold, you will conceive in your womb, and bring forth a son, and will call his name…’”(HNV)

Ezra and Nechemyah lived after the Babylonian captivity. The short version “Yeshua” occurs twenty-six times in their books. The longer version “Yehoshua” is not found in these two books at all. The prophets Zecharyah (Zechariah) and Chaggai (Haggai) lived after the Babylonian captivity as well. The longer version “Yehoshua” occurs eleven times in their books. The short version “Yeshua” is not found in their books. Zecharyah and Chaggai used the longer version of the name while Ezra and Nechemyah used the shorter version. This teaches us that both versions of the name were used during the second temple period, and wherever there was a stronger Aramaic influence, the general tendency was to use the shorter version. The conclusion is then that our savior’s name is both Yehoshua and Yeshua. Yeshua-believing Jews who live in Israel today and speak Hebrew call him “Yeshua”.

For more information about the Greek version Iesous we will quote Dr. Luis Morales:

“We find that in Greek our Messiah’s name is mentioned as “Iesous”. Iesous, however, does not mean anything in Greek, if we exclude the Yonic dialect, where “Iesous” is the possessive form of Ies, which is the god Bacchus, the god of the Bacchanalia.”

Further on in the same article, he writes:

“We see then that the Greek “Iesous” is nothing more than an attempt to transliterate the Hebrew word “Yeshua”. The Greek does not have an “sh” sound. Therefore a regular “s” is used. The “a” at the end of the word “Yeshua” expresses feminine gender, and therefore they replaced it with an “s”.”

“It was a good attempt at transliteration, i.e. to try to pronounce the name the way it was pronounced in its original language. Names are not translated; they are transliterated. For instance, we all know that the name of the famous Italian musician Gueseppe Verdi means “Josef Green”. However, we do not translate his name; we transliterate it. Our Messiah’s original Hebrew name is Yeshua. If, at this time, we are able to pronounce his name in its original form, let us then respect the general rule, which says that names are not translated but transliterated.”

The Septuagint, the Greek translation of the Hebrew original, written almost two hundred years before Yeshua was born, uses the Greek form Iesous as a translation, or transliteration, of the Hebrew name Yehoshua, see for example Numbers 13:16.

In conclusion, we can say that the Hebrew name Yehoshua is the ancient version of the name Yeshua. The name Yeshua is a short version of the name Yehoshua both in the Hebrew and Aramaic original texts. We can therefore say that both versions are two different ways of talking about the same name. By this we can conclude that it is correct to say either “Yeshua” or “Yehoshua”.

However, if we use the long version of the name, Yehoshua, while referring to the Messiah, we run the risk of confusing him with Yehoshua, the son of Nun. Today in Israel, when the name Yehoshua is mentioned, it is normally a reference to the son of Nun. The name Iesous, which is found in the Greek text of The Messianic Writings (NT), is nothing more than an attempt to transliterate the Hebrew name Yeshua.

13:16b “But Moshe gave Hoshea, the son of Nun, the name Yehoshua” – Moshe received a revelation about the Messiah Yeshua, as it is written in John 5:46,

“For if you believed Moshe, you would believe me; for he wrote about me.”(HNV)

HaShem revealed to Moshe the name of the Messiah that was to come, in its older, longer form. Thus the spy, Yehoshua ben Nun, becomes a prophetic picture of the Messiah.

  • His name is the same name as the Messiah’s.

  • He was a man who was always faithful to Moshe, just as the Messiah Yeshua was.

  • He took Moshe’s place. The Messiah was going to become like Moshe.

  • He was the one who brought the people into the Promised Land, just as the Messiah is the one who will bring the faithful ones into the coming kingdom.

  • He walked unharmed through the Yarden (Jordan), which symbolizes death and resurrection, etc.

Yehoshua came from the tribe of Efrayim, the son of Yosef. This is a sign that the Messiah would be Yosef’s son in a prophetic sense and would fulfill the role of a suffering Messiah in order to then be exalted in the same way as Yosef was in Egypt.

Here we can also see an interesting connection between the Messiah and the tribe of Efrayim, which represents the scattered and lost tribes of Israel. It is the Messiah’s assignment to represent and restore these lost tribes.

Furthermore, we also see that the long version of the name, Yehoshua, means that Yah is the one who saves, as it is written in Isaiah 43:11,

“I, even I, am HaShem; and besides me there is no savior.”(HNV revised)

In Isaiah 45:21, it is written,

“Declare you, and bring it forth; yes, let them take counsel together: who has shown this from ancient time? who has declared it of old? Haven’t I, HaShem? and there is no God else besides me, a just God and a Savior; there is no one besides me.”(HNV revised)

In Hosea 13:4, it is written,

“Yet I am HaShem your God since the land of Egypt; and you will know no god but me, and besides me there is no savior.”(HNV revised)

In 1 Timothy 1:1, it is written,

“Sha'ul, an apostle of Messiah Yeshua according to the command of God our Savior, and Messiah Yeshua our hope”(HNV revised)

In 1 Timothy 2:3, it is written,

“For this is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Savior”(HNV revised)

If Yah, the Eternal Father, is the only Savior, how is it that a man can be given the title of savior, as it is written in Luke 2:11,

“For there is born to you, this day, in the city of David, a Savior, who is Messiah the Lord.”(HNV)

In John 4:42, it is written,

“They said to the woman, ‘Now we believe, not because of your speaking; for we have heard for ourselves, and know that this is indeed the Messiah, the Savior of the world.’”(HNV)

The answer is that HaShem is the one who saves, through his representatives. Noach was a savior of the world in his time. Moshe was a savior in his time. Queen Esther was a savior in her time, compare with Obadiah 21. However, none of them could deliver man from sin and death. That is why Yeshua HaMashiach is the foremost savior of Israel and the world, who was sent by the Father specifically to save us from our sin and all its devastating consequences.

In Acts 5:31, it is written,

“God exalted him with his right hand to be a Prince and a Savior, to give repentance to Yisra'el, and remission of sins.”(HNV revised)

In Acts 13:23, it is written,

“From this man’s seed, God has brought salvation to Yisra'el according to his promise”(HNV revised)

In 1 John 4:14, it is written,

“We have seen and testify that the Father has sent the Son as the Savior of the world.”(HNV)

Yehoshua entered the land of Israel twice during his lifetime. The first time was only for a short visit of forty days during which he came to spy out the land. The second time he came with power to conquer the land and put it under the rule of the Kingdom of Heaven. It was the same way for the Messiah. When he was on the earth the first time, his visit only lasted for a few years, and he did not use any means of force to establish the Kingdom. When he comes the second time, however, he will come as the leader of all the armies of heaven in order to establish God’s kingdom in the land of Israel and on the whole earth forever.

The Second Aliyah, 13:21 – 14:7

13:25 “They returned from spying out the land at the end of forty days.”(HNV) – According to a Midrash,[6] they came back on the night of the ninth day of the fifth month, the month called Av. According to the tradition, this was the same day that the children of Israel worshipped the golden calf. That night HaShem swore by an oath that the children of Israel would be scattered among the nations, as it is written in Psalm 106:24-27,

“Yes, they despised the pleasant land. They didn’t believe his word, but murmured in their tents, and didn’t listen to HaShem’s voice. Therefore he swore to them that he would overthrow them in the wilderness, that he would overthrow their seed among the nations, and scatter them in the lands.(HNV revised)

That day was therefore turned into a day during which many sad things have happened in Jewish history. Both temples were destroyed on that day. On that day, the final attempt of the Jews to break away from Roman rule was crushed, year 135. On that day, the Jews were driven out of Spain, year 1492. On that day, many other tragic events happened in the Jewish history. The ninth of Av, in Hebrew tishah be-Av, is a national day of fasting and mourning for the Jewish people. The prophet, however, promises that it will be turned into a day of joy, as it is written in Zechariah 8:19,

“Thus says HaShem of Hosts: ‘The fasts of the fourth, fifth, seventh, and tenth months shall be for the house of Yehudah joy and gladness, and cheerful feasts. Therefore love truth and shalom.’”(HNV revised)

13:30 “Kalev stilled the people before Moshe, and said, Let us go up at once, and possess it; for we are well able to overcome it.”(HNV) – Kalev was a man of faith who used his mouth to speak faith. The mouth speaks what the heart is full of. Just as his name means “as the heart”, he gave his report from his heart. He went against the grain and trusted in the promises of HaShem. That which he believed in, he later received.

13:31 “But the men who went up with him said, We aren’t able to go up against the people; for they are stronger than we.”(HNV) – The ten spies spoke negative words that contradicted HaShem’s promises. They were right in a human sense, but the people of the Eternal have not been called to live naturally but supernaturally. This means that the only way to possess the land was with the Eternal’s help. However, these men did not want to trust HaShem. They evaluated the situation in a natural way. They did not have faith and therefore they were not able to receive that which HaShem had promised, as it is written in Hebrews 4:1-2,

“Let us fear therefore, lest perhaps a promise being left of entering into his rest, anyone of you should seem to have come short of it. For indeed we have had good news preached to us, even as they also did, but the word they heard didn’t profit them, because it wasn’t mixed with faith by those who heard.”(HNV)

HaShem’s promises must be received with faith by the listener in order for them to be fulfilled. Trust in HaShem’s promises is the condition that must be met in order to partake of the promises. If you have problems that seem like giants and you stand before a task that is humanly impossible to perform, the only way to walk through victoriously is by trusting in the Eternal’s promises. So, learn the promises by heart. Think about them day and night, write them on paper and put them up on the walls of your house, sing them, repeat them to your children, put them on your heart and speak about them with your tongue and you will notice that your heart is strengthened to receive the promises from the Word of the Almighty and Faithful One.

13:32 “They brought up an evil report of the land which they had spied out to the children of Yisra'el, saying, The land, through which we have gone to spy it out, is a land that eats up the inhabitants of it; and all the people who we saw in it are men of great stature.”(HNV) – They spoke ill of the land, the gift that HaShem had given them. One Midrash[7] says that HaShem sent an epidemic before them, so that they saw dead bodies everywhere. Instead of seeing HaShem’s mighty hand, they concluded that the land was harmful to its inhabitants. The land of Israel is something very special to HaShem. His eyes are always watching over that land, all year long, as it is written in Deuteronomy 11:12,

“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)

It is therefore a very serious thing to speak ill of the land of Israel. On account of their negative attitude toward the land of Israel, these spies suffered death.

14:1 “All the congregation lifted up their voice, and cried; and the people wept that night.”(HNV) – According to Rashi, the word used for congregation here, in Hebrew edah,[8] does not mean all the people, but only the Sanhedrin, the seventy main leaders. They listened to the negative report. The flesh likes bad news more than good news. Bad news sell better than good news. Instead of listening to the Words of the Eternal, who had given them so many promises, signs, and wonders, they listened to words full of unbelief. Therefore they were not able to hope for a positive future. It is very important that we guard our hearts, not allowing doubt of HaShem’s word to enter. What kinds of messages do you listen to? The messages that come from heaven or the messages that come from man?

For each one of them, it went according to what they said. Kalev and Yehoshua entered the land, according to their own words. What do you want your future to look like? The future depends on your words. Use them rightly!

14:4 “They said one to another, Let us make a captain, and let us return into Egypt.”(HNV) – Democracy is not the best way to lead a people. If the people of Israel had been submitted to the democratic rules of our modern society, they would have gone back to Egypt. The majority would have chosen a new government without Moshe, but HaShem had another plan, and He does not submit to the majority. The final authority does not come from people but from Heaven.

The Third Aliyah, 14:8-25

14:11 “HaShem said to Moshe, How long will this people despise me? and how long will they not believe in me, for all the signs which I have worked among them?”(HNV revised) – The entire conflict that arose here had only one source and it was unbelief. Unbelief entails a lack of trust and faith. The people chose not to believe the Eternal. They chose to listen to words of defeat instead of words of victory. That is why defeat came upon them. Faith is based on what the Eternal has said, as it is written in Romans 4:18 and 10:17,

“Who in hope believed against hope, to the end that he might become a father of many nations, according to that which had been spoken, ‘So will your seed be’… So faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of the Messiah.”(HNV revised)

They had enough words from heaven to believe in, but they decided not to. That is why the Eternal was tired of them.

14:12 “I will strike them with the pestilence, and disinherit them, and will make of you a nation greater and mightier than they.”(HNV) – Here Moshe was given the opportunity to become the father of a great nation. He rejected this opportunity out of his love for the people. In the same way, Yeshua is not going to reject Israel to seek a new Israel. Instead he will restore the twelve tribes of Israel and will graft the gentiles into the spiritual part of the consecrated people. He did not create a new people outside of Israel, the so-called “church”.

14:13 “Moshe said to HaShem, Then the Egyptians will hear it; for you brought up this people in your might from among them”(HNV revised) – What arguments did Moshe use in his prayer?

  1. The Egyptians (Egyptians) will hear that you were not able to fulfill your promise. HaShem’s honor is at stake and it is about whether his promise will be fulfilled or not. The testimony before the nations is very important.

  2. The people in the land of Kana’an will say, “HaShem was not able…”. HaShem’s honor is at stake and Moshe is more concerned with this than with the survival of the people. The people deserved death. They failed all ten tests. Moshe’s argument is therefore not that the people must be saved, but that HaShem’s honor must be saved.

  3. Basing his prayer on the revelation of the thirteen characteristics of compassion, Moshe asks the Eternal to act out of who He is, the compassionate one who forgives…. “show them who you are, according to what you said.” We can see, that in this case as well, HaShem’s Name was the reason for Moshe’s petition. Moshe’s wish was that the Eternal would be made known in the world and therefore he refused to agree to the people being executed and a new plan being put into motion, even though he would be the main character of that plan.

What a heart Moshe had! He was given the opportunity to be the father of a new Israel. However, he was not interested in popularity or in exalting his own name. He was more interested in HaShem’s name than in his own name. What an example for us!

The promise that Moshe’s descendants would multiply was fulfilled, as it is written in 1 Chronicles 23:17b,

“but the sons of Rechavyah were very many.”

14:20 “HaShem said, I have pardoned according to your word”(HNV revised) – Moshe’s words were in line with the Eternals’ word and his honor, and that is why his prayer was successful. Pray HaShem’s word, and your prayers will succeed! One ought never to pray or speak words that do not line up with the Torah, as it is written in 1 Peter 4:11a,

“If any man speaks, let it be as it were oracles of God.”(HNV revised)

14:21 “but in very deed, as I live, and as all the earth shall be filled with the glory of HaShem”(HNV revised) – This will be fulfilled during the Messianic Reign.

14:22 “because all those men who have seen my glory, and my signs, which I worked in Egypt and in the wilderness, yet have tempted me these ten times, and have not listened to my voice”(HNV) – The children of Israel were tested ten times, just as our father Avraham was, but they did not pass a single one of the tests. When we are tested, it is not what we do that is of importance, but how we react with out attitude. The people complained every time they were tested, and therefore they did not deserve to enter the Promised Land.

Talmud[9] lists the ten times that the people tested HaShem: Twice by the Reed Sea, compare with Exodus 14:11; Psalm 106:7; twice on account of water, compare with Exodus 15:23-24; 17:1-3; twice on account of the manna, compare with Exodus 16:19-20, 27; twice concerning food, compare with Exodus 16:3; Numbers 11:4; once with the golden calf, compare with Exodus 32:4; and once with the sin of the spies, compare with Numbers 14:1.

The Fourth Aliyah, 14:26 – 15:7

14:27 “How long shall I bear with this evil congregation, that murmur against me? I have heard the murmurings of the children of Yisra'el, which they murmur against me.”(HNV) – This verse mentions two groups of people, the “congregation” and the children of Israel. According to Rashi, “this congregation”, in Herbew edah, is referring to the ten spies who caused the children of Israel to complain and rebel against HaShem. This teaches us that a lawful congregation must consist of at least ten men, in Hebrew minyan.

According to Mizrachi,[10] the word edah literally means “congregation”. It hails from the root yud, ayin, dalet, which means gathering for a specific purpose. Therefore the Torah uses this word to describe a unified group consisting of individuals who share the same purpose.

14:28 “Tell them, As I live, says HaShem, surely as you have spoken in my ears, so will I do to you”(HNV revised) – Since man is created in the image of HaShem, there is much power in his tongue. Do you want good things to happen in your life? Then speak good things and obey the commandments, as it is written in Psalm 34:12-15,

“Come, you children, listen to me. I will teach you the fear of HaShem. Who is someone who desires life, and loves many days, that he may see good? Keep your tongue from evil, and your lips from speaking lies. Depart from evil, and do good. Seek shalom, and pursue it.”(HNV revised)

14:29 “your dead bodies shall fall in this wilderness; and all who were numbered of you, according to your whole number, from twenty years old and upward, who have murmured against me”(HNV) – According to Midrash literature,[11] this promise did not apply to women, men over the age of sixty, or the tribe of Levi. It was only those who had been counted who did not have the right to enter the land.

“twenty years old and upward” – This teaches us that punishments from heaven do not come over a person until he is twenty years old. Each person is responsible for walking before HaShem from the age of thirteen. However, one who chooses not to walk properly during his first years as an adult will not be judged before he reaches the age of twenty.

14:34 “After the number of the days in which you spied out the land, even forty days, for every day a year, shall you bear your iniquities, even forty years, and you shall know my alienation.”(HNV) – This teaches us that prophetically we can compare days with years and vice versa. A year can represent a day and a day can represent a year, also compare with 2 Peter 3:8.

14:35 “I, HaShem, have spoken, surely this will I do to all this evil congregation, who are gathered together against me: in this wilderness they shall be consumed, and there they shall die.”(HNV revised) – This text says that they would be consumed in the desert and die there. According to Talmud,[12] this sentence speaks of two occasions of death, one in this world and one in the coming world.

14:36-37 “The men, whom Moshe sent to spy out the land, who returned, and made all the congregation to murmur against him, by bringing up an evil report against the land, even those men who did bring up an evil report of the land, died by the plague before HaShem.”(HNV revised) – In this text, the Torah does not note the rebellion or unbelief of the spies, but only that they spoke ill of the land. How important the land of Israel is in the heavenly plan! They were condemned to death because they spoke ill of the land and led the people astray. How do we speak of the land that we live in? The land is a gift from heaven to man. Let us speak well of it!

14:44 “But they presumed to go up to the top of the mountain: nevertheless the ark of the covenant of HaShem, and Moshe, didn’t depart out of the camp.”(HNV revised) – HaShem’s mercy has a limit. At this point they no longer had an opportunity to repent. HaShem passed the final judgment after they had challenged him ten times, and therefore they could no longer make teshuvah. We cannot play games with the Eternal!

Here we learn that there is a difference between presumption and faith. It looked as though the people who were presumptuous were based on the Word of the Eternal. However, they ignored the judgment that had been passed. We cannot take a word from the Scriptures and apply it to our lives without the backing of the Eternal. We must cooperate with the Eternal so that his promises can be fulfilled, and we must not use his promises without obedience. Even though it is possible to misuse the words of the Torah and to take advantage of them in order to fulfill one’s own purposes or to gain power, the Scriptures were not written to be used that way. Those who use the Scriptures in such a way will be judged because they did not submit to the Eternal, but rather they dominated their own lives and the lives of others. The promises are given to those who walk with HaShem in obedience and in an intimate relationship.

In Matthew 4:6-7, it is written,

“and said to him, ‘If you are the Son of God, throw yourself down, for it is written, “He will give his angels charge concerning you.” and, “On their hands they will bear you up, so that you don’t dash your foot against a stone.”’ Yeshua said to him, ‘Again, it is written, ‘You shall not test HaShem, your God.”’”(HNV revised)

Hasatan, who is a real person and not just an evil force, tempted the Master to use one of the texts in the Scriptures to perform a miracle without permission from heaven, without obedience to the Spirit, and without walking with the shechinah. Our forefathers were tempted in the same way in the desert and they fell, but Yeshua HaMashiach made tikun, restoration for that sin. Let us learn from his example!

15:2 “Speak to the children of Yisra'el, and tell them, When you have come into the land of your habitations, which I give to you”(HNV) – Immediately following their failure to possess the Promised Land, the Eternal speaks about entering the land. Thus he lets them understand that they really will dwell in the land, but that it will only happen in the future.

HaShem’s will is not the same thing as HaShem’s timing. There are things that are in the Eternal’s will, but the time for them has not yet come. We are wise not to try to rush the Eternal’s will if the time has not yet come for its fulfillment. It is also important not to miss the time for the fulfillment of HaShem’s will and thus missing his plan, compare with Haggai 1:1-7.

15:4 “then shall he who offers his offering offer to HaShem a meal-offering of a tenth part of an efah of fine flour mixed with the fourth part of a hin of oil”(HNV revised) – An efah is approximately 25 liters (some authorities say that it is 50% more and other that it is 75% more). A hin is approximately 3.6 liters.

 The Fifth Aliyah, 15:8-16

15:8-10 “When you prepare a bull for an ascension offering, or for a sacrifice, to accomplish a vow, or for peace-offerings to HaShem; then shall he offer with the bull a meal-offering of three tenth parts of an efah of fine flour mixed with half a hin of oil: and you shall offer for the drink-offering half a hin of wine, for an offering made by fire, of a sweet savor to HaShem.”(HNV revised) – It seems like this was the offering that Chanah presented when she came to fulfill the promise she had made about her son Shmuel, as it is written in 1 Samuel 1:24,

“When she had weaned him, she took him up with her, with three bulls, and one efah of meal, and a bottle of wine, and brought him to the house of HaShem in Shiloh: and the child was young.”(HNV revised)

15:14-16 “If a stranger lives as a foreigner with you, or whoever may be among you throughout your generations, and will offer an offering made by fire, of a sweet savor to HaShem; as you do, so he shall do. For the assembly, there shall be one statute for you, and for the stranger who lives as a foreigner with you, a statute forever throughout your generations: as you are, so shall the foreigner be before HaShem. One law and one ordinance shall be for you, and for the stranger who lives as a foreigner with you.”(HNV revised) – If a foreigner converts to Judaism, he has the same obligations to fulfill the Torah as a native born Israelite does.

The Sixth Aliyah, 15:17-26

15:20 “Of the first of (resheet) your dough you shall offer up a cake (challah) for a heave-offering: as the heave-offering (terumah) of the threshing floor, so shall you heave it.”(HNV) – There are three terms in this text:

1.      Resheet – The firstfruit of, the first of.

2.      Challah – a part of the dough that has been set aside.

3.      Terumah – consecrated part.

The word “challah” is referring to the terumah, the consecrated part that has been set aside, to be given as an offering to the Eternal. These days, in order to fulfill part of this commandment, one part of the dough from the bread is set aside and is burned later. In verse 21, it says that this applies “throughout all your generations”. This commandment is not limited to time, as we might assume by looking at verse 18.

The commandment to set aside the challah only applies when in the land of Israel, when the Shechinah lives in the temple. In spite of this, the sages decided that the challah should be set aside from the dough even outside of Eretz Israel, during the time when there is no temple, so that these laws will not be forgotten. In the past, the challah was given to the priest, but these days it is burned. According to the halachah, the smallest amount of dough one can set aside is a kezayit (26 gram). If one forgets to remove the challah from the dough, one ought to take it from the bread.

15:22 “When you shall err, and not observe all these commandments, which HaShem has spoken to Moshe”(HNV revised) – According to Rashi, this “erring” is referring to committing idolatry, which is just as serious as breaking all the commandments.

The Seventh Aliyah, 15:27-41

15:30-31 “But the soul who does anything with a high hand, whether he is home-born or a foreigner, the same blasphemes HaShem; and that soul shall be cut off from among his people. Because he has despised the word of HaShem, and has broken his commandments, that soul shall utterly be cut off; his iniquity shall be on him.”(HNV revised) – According to Rashi, a person who intentionally, not accidentally, commits idolatry, is to be condemned to death if he does not repent. As long as there is no repentance, the sin remains.

TZITZIT15:32 “While the children of Yisra'el were in the wilderness, they found a man gathering sticks on the day of Shabbat.”(HNV) – The Torah does not mention anything about this man having repented. According to Rashi, those who found him warned him and told him that what he was doing was forbidden and deserving of the death penalty. However, he did not listen to them. According to Jewish law, no one who has not been warned before he committed his crime by at least two or three witnesses can be executed. Since the man did not listen to the warnings of the witnesses, HaShem condemned him to death by stoning. Since he had already received the command to punish anyone with death who broke the Shabbat, Moshe was now asking HaShem what type of death penalty should be applied in this case, compare with Exodus 31:14-15. The Torah speaks of four different ways to execute a person, and Moshe did not know which of these to use in this case. This was the reason he asked for counsel. We could also imagine that Moshe was not sure if stacking wood was considered melachah and that is why he needed to ask HaShem for counsel. This text teaches us how important the Shabbat is to our heavenly Father.

15:37-41 “And HaShem spoke unto Moshe, saying: ‘Speak unto the children of Israel, and bid them that they make throughout their generations fringes in the corners of their garments, and that they put with the fringe of each corner a thread of blue. And it shall be unto you for a fringe, that ye may look upon it, and remember all the commandments of HaShem, and do them; and that ye go not about after your own heart and your own eyes, after which ye use to go astray; that ye may remember and do all My commandments, and be consecrated unto your God. I am HaShem your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, to be your God: I am HaShem your God.’”(JPS revised) – The main purpose for having a tassle, in Hebrew tzitzit,[13] in each of the four corners of the garment that a Jewish man covers himsef with is that he should see them and be reminded of his responsibility to fulfill all the commandments of the Torah. Therefore, one who wears the tzitztits without being faithful to those commandments, which apply to him, is bringing judgment over himself.

This commandment can only be fulfilled during the day, since the tzitzits are not visible during the night. The commandment, therefore, applies only to men. All positive commandments that are limited to a certain time in order to be fulfilled do not apply to women.

Furthermore, the tzitzits serve to help men not obey their eyes in immorality. The sex drive is activated visually with men. Therefore a woman does not need this type of help in order not to sin with her eyes. The present custom among most Torah observant Jews is that only the man has tzitzits on his clothes. Therefore clothing with tzitzits is considered to be men’s clothing and thus it is forbidden for a woman to wear tzitzits so that she will not break the commandment about not wearing men’s clothing, as it is written in Deuteronomy 22:5,

“A woman shall not wear men’s clothing, neither shall a man put on women’s clothing; for whoever does these things is an abomination to HaShem your God.”(HNV revised)

The tassles are made in a special way. There are different traditions and customs that have developed throughout the course of history. The most common custom practiced today has five knots and eight threads. The blue thread is wound around the other threads between the knots in order to make a numeric code. According to the Ashkenazi tradition, which is the most common today, the thread is twisted seven, eight, eleven, and thirteen times between the five knots. This corresponds with the numeric value of the Hebrew letters that spell the words HaShem Echad, compare with Deuteronomy 6:4. The Sephardic tradition winds ten, five, six, and five times between the knots, which corresponds with the numbers of each of the letters in the sacred Name. For more information about how to tie a tzitzit, visit Beged Ivri’s website at www.begedivri.com.

Since the letters of the word tzitzit, when it is spelled out in its complete form, add up to six hundred, and the tassles are made out of eight threads and five knots, we can add all these numbers and get 613, which reminds us of the 613 commandments that are in the Torah. The five knots speak of the five books of Moshe and of the five senses of man, which are fully occupied with obeying the commandments. The eight threads speak of the supernatural which affects the natural, since the Torah and the Messiah were given from heaven, as it is written in John 3:13,

“No one has ascended into heaven, but he who descended out of heaven, the Son of Man, who is in heaven.”(HNV)

A rectangular garment, with four tzitzits in the corners, is called a tallit. In ancient times, all Israelites wore a mantel that had four corners, but with time, clothing has evolved and no longer has four corners. We can therefore not fulfill the commandment with modern clothes that do not have four corners, as it is written in Deuteronomy 22:12,

“You shall make yourself tzitziyot on the four borders of your cloak, with which you cover yourself.”(HNV revised)

For this reason, the rabbis invented the tallit, which was mainly used at morning prayers. There is also a smaller tallit with a hole in the middle that you can put your head through. This tallit is called tallit katan, a small tallit.

During the Middle Ages in Spain, the Jews invented a tallit that could be worn under the clothes on account of the life threatening danger that they were exposed to if they wore their tzitzits visibly. Even though the commandment was compromised by this, they wanted to at least wear them under their clothes to fulfill part of the commandment. This is why there are many Jews who wear their tzitzits in a way that is not visible, under their clothes. Others wear the tallit katan inside their clothes and bring out the tassles so that they are visible. A tallit katan can also be referred to as a tzitzit.

Rashi teaches that the four tassles which hang in the four corners remind us that no matter in which direction we turn, we are obligated to fulfill the commandments. The tzitzits also represent two witnesses that are in front of us, and two witnesses behind us warning us against sin.

The Torah teaches us that when we are reminded of all the commandments, our hearts and our eyes are protected from sin. It also teaches us that if we fulfill the commandments we are consecrated. The commandments consecrate us; they cause us to keep our distance from sin and to be close to the Eternal. The tzitzits help us to come near our heavenly Father. What a wonderful gift we have been given!

In Zechariah 8:23, it is written,

“Thus says HaShem of Hosts: ‘In those days, ten men will take hold, out of all the languages of the nations, they will take hold of the hem of the mantle of him who is a Jew, saying, “We will go with you, for we have heard that God is with you.”’”(HNV revised)

On the hem of the mantle is a tzitzit. The ten men are descendants of the ten lost tribes who are now coming home and want to learn of the Jews how to fulfill those commandments of the Torah, which apply to them. We live in a time when this prophecy is being fulfilled.

In Matthew 9:20-22, it is written,

“Behold, a woman who had an issue of blood for twelve years came behind him, and touched the corner hem of his garment; for she said within herself, ‘If I just touch his garment, I will be made well.’ But Yeshua, turning around and seeing her, said, “Daughter, cheer up! Your faith has made you well.” And the woman was made well from that hour.”(HNV revised)

The Greek word that is translated as “corner hem” is kraspedon.[14] This is the same word that the Septuagint uses to translate the word tzitzit. The Hebrew word tzitzit is only found four times in the Scriptures. In Numbers 15 it occurs three times, and in Ezekiel 8:3 it occurs once, as it is written,

“He put forth the form of a hand, and took me by a lock (tzitzit) of my head; and the Spirit lifted me up between earth and the sky, and brought me in the visions of God to Yerushalayim, to the door of the gate of the inner court that looks toward the north; where was the seat of the image of jealousy, which provokes to jealousy.”(HNV revised)

In Matthew 14:34-36, it is written,

“When they had crossed over, they came to the land of Ginosar. When the men of that place recognized him, they sent into all that surrounding region, and brought to him all who were sick, and they begged him that they might just touch the tzitzit of his garment. As many as touched it were made whole.”(HNV)

All who touched the tassles in the corners of Yeshua’s garments were healed of their diseases. Those who held on to the commandments of the Torah that were declared through the Messiah received healing.

Taking hold of the tassles has nothing to do with magic. It is a symbolic act, which shows a deep longing to be faithful to HaShem. It also acknowledges the heavenly revelation that came through the Torah, and was given through Moshe to Israel. When one obeys the commandments, one is healed of all diseases, as it is written in Exodus 15:26,

“and he said, ‘If you will diligently listen to the voice of HaShem your God, and will do that which is right in his eyes, and will pay attention to his commandments, and keep all his statutes, I will put none of the diseases on you, which I have put on the Egyptians; for I am HaShem who heals you.’”(HNV revised)

The blue color of one of the threads of the tzitzit symbolizes heaven. The blue thread ought to be made of wool, which reminds us of the Lamb. When Yeshua came, the Lamb of God was among the people and when they held fast to Moshe and the Lamb, they were healed. Do you want to be healed completely? Then hold fast to both Moshe and the Lamb and join with the choir of those who sing the song of Moshe and the Lamb, as it is written in Revelation 15:3-4,

“They sang the song of Moshe, the servant of God, and the song of the Lamb, saying, ‘Great and marvelous are your works, HaShem God, Almighty; righteous and true are your ways, you King of the nations. Who wouldn’t fear you, Lord, and glorify your name? For you only are sacred. For all the nations will come and worship before you. For your righteous acts have been revealed.’”(HNV revised)

This Parashah contains commandments number 385 – 387 of the 613 commandments.

385. The command to separate a part of the dough (challah), Numbers 15:20.

386. The command to put tzitzit on garments with four corners, Numbers 15:38.

387. The prohibition to follow one’s heart and eyes, Numbers 15:39.

[1]     Sotah 11b.

[2]     Rabbí David Kimchí (1157-1236).

[3]     La Torá con Rashí - Bemidbar, Editorial Jerusalem, México, page 555 note 216, translated from Spanish by S.K.Blad.

[4]     Strong H1954 hôshêa‛, ho-shay'-ah, From H3467; deliverer; Hoshea, the name of five Israelites: - Hosea, Hoshea, Oshea.

[5]     Strong H3091 yehôshûa‛  yehôshûa‛, yeh-ho-shoo'-ah, yeh-ho-shoo'-ah, From H3068 and H3467; Jehovah-saved; Jehoshua (that is, Joshua), the Jewish leader: - Jehoshua, Jehoshuah, Joshua. Compare H1954, H3442.

[6]     Taanit 29.

[7]     Bereshit Rabbah 16:15.

[8]     Strong H5217 ‛êdâh, ay-daw', Feminine of H5707 in the original sense of fixture; a stated assemblage (specifically a concourse, or generally a family or crowd): - assembly, company, congregation, multitude, people, swarm. Compare H5713.

[9]     Arachin 15a.

[10]    R. Eliahu Mizrachí (1450-1525), the head rabbi of the Ottoman Empire. His commentaries on Rashi are the most popular.

[11]    Bamidbar Rabbah 21:11; Ilkut Shmoiní 1:744; Bamidbar Rabbah 3:5.

[12]    Sanhedrín 110b.

[13]    Strong H6734 tsîytsith, tsee-tseeth', Feminine of H6731; a floral or wing like projection, that is, a fore lock of hair, a tassel: - fringe, lock.

[14]    Strong G2899 κράσπεδον, kraspedon, kras'-ped-on, Of uncertain derivation; a margin, that is, (specifically) a fringe or tassel: -  border, hem.