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Parashah 38 Korach

Numbers 16:1 – 18:32

By Dr. K. Blad  ©

Second edition 2013-14 (5774)

Lucrative copying not permitted. 

Torah Readings:

1.      16:1-13

2.      16:14-19

3.      16:20-43 (16:20 – 17:8 Hebrew version)

4.      16:44-50 (17:9-15 Heb.)

5.      17:1-9 (17:16-24 Heb.)

6.      17:10 – 18:20 (17:25 – 18:20 Heb.)

7.      18:21-32

8.      Maftir: 18:30-32


Haftarah: 1 Samuel 11:14 – 12:22


means “shaved”

The First Aliyah, 16:1-13

16:1 “Now Korach, the son of Yitzhar, the son of Kehat, the son of Levi, with Datan and Aviram, the sons of Eli'av, and On, the son of Pelet, sons of Re'uven, took men”(HNV) – Korach was not the appointed leader of the Kehatites, but Elitzafan, his younger cousin was, see the commentary on Numbers 3:30.

Kehat was Korach’s grandfather, compare with Exodus 6:18-22. Korach’s father was Yitzhar, the brother of Uziel. Uziel was the father of Eltzafan (or Elitzafan). Korach’s father was older than Elitzafan’s father. Uziel was the youngest of the brothers. His son was chosen to be the "nassi", the leader, of the Kehatites.

Familytree Korach

How do the older brothers, sisters, and cousins feel when the youngest is chosen to be their leader? Could it have been this family situation that caused Korach to become envious and later rebellious?

How did Yishmael react when his younger brother was chosen as the carrier of the promise? How did Esav react when his younger brother was given the birthright and the blessing in his place? They became jealous and bitter. This bitter jealousy was then carried over to their children and grandchildren, generation after generation, and has become the main reason for the antagonism between Arabs and Jews, Islam and Judaism, Romans and Jews, Christianity and Judaism.

The descendants of Yishmael embraced a religion that breeds Jew-hatred. The same thing has happened with Christianity, which was founded on an unwillingness to be like the Jews. The descendants of Esav founded the Roman Empire and that is why this Jew-hatred can be found throughout the entire Roman system. The root of this hatred can be traced to a tense family situation.

The breeding ground for Korach’s rebellion was the situation in his family in which his younger cousin was appointed leader over him while he was not given any position beyond the normal Levite ministry. How important it is to make sure that jealousy is rooted out of our hearts!

Some might feel that HaShem ought to have given Korach an important position so that he would not have become so angry and rebellious, but the Eternal does not act that way. HaShem is not the problem. Jealousy and a lack of humility in the flesh is the problem. Giving the power-hungry person a position of responsibility is not the solution, but rather that he humbles himself and learns to submit to the leaders that HaShem has placed over him. This was the medicine that HaShem gave Korach, but he did not want to take it and deal with the sin in his soul. Instead he let the rebellion develop to such an extent.

There are several examples in the Torah in which the older brothers did not become jealous of their younger brothers when they received more important positions than themselves, such as for instance Moshe and Aharon, Efrayim and Menashe.

What greatness there was in Yosef, who managed to instill the Torah in his two oldest sons so that they did not live according to the same jealousy and discord that he had experienced among his own brothers! Yosef was able to break this generational habit and to battle and do away with all forms of jealousy in his own family.

In the same way, Korach’s descendants managed to break the generational curse so that they could become authors of several of the Psalms in the Scriptures. They were Levites and were given important positions. The prophet Shmuel was a descendant of Korach, compare with 1 Chronicles 6:33-38. One who is content and faithful in the position and calling that the Eternal has given him will receive a great reward. If we humble ourselves under the mighty hand of HaShem, He will raise us up in His time, as it is written in 1 Peter 5:5-6,

“Likewise, you younger ones, be subject to the elder. Yes, all of you gird yourselves with humility, to subject yourselves to one another; for ‘God resists the proud, but gives grace to the humble.’ Humble yourselves therefore under the mighty hand of God, that he may exalt you in due time”(HNV revised)

Korach rebelled and lost everything. He was swallowed up by the earth along with all who followed him in his rebellious spirit. A few of his descendants, however, were able to save their lives through "teshuvah", repentance.

In Numbers 26:8-9, it is written,

“The sons of Pallu: Eli'av. The sons of Eli'av: Nemu'el, and Datan, and Aviram. These are that Datan and Aviram, who were called of the congregation, who strove against Moshe and against Aharon in the company of Korach, when they strove against HaShem”(HNV revised)

Datan’s father was Eliav, the son of Pallu from the tribe of Reuven. Reuven was replaced as firstborn when it came to the birthright and the Messianic promise. Here we see the same pattern that was in Korach. Could it be that Reuven had not managed to deal with all jealousy and bitterness that he felt when he was replaced by another and thus it carried over to his descendants?

The spirit of rebellion is contagious and rebellious people come together in their madness. If we compare Numbers 2:10 with 3:29, we can see that the camp of the Reuvenites was south of the Mishkan, the tabernacle, as was the camp of the Kehatites. HaShem had put them together.

Instead of battling their jealousy, they developed a rebellious attitude. The rebellious ones united and finally rose up against Moshe, the one who represented HaShem. They accused him of having placed himself and his brother Aharon as leaders over the people by his own initiative.

16:2 “and they rose up before Moshe, with certain of the children of Yisra'el, two hundred fifty princes of the congregation, called to the assembly, men of renown”(HNV) – Those who rebelled held high positions among the people.

16:3 “and they assembled themselves together against Moshe and against Aharon, and said to them, You take too much on you, seeing all the congregation are consecrated, everyone of them, and HaShem is among them: why then lift yourselves up above the assembly of HaShem?”(HNV revised) – They said to Moshe and Aharon, “It is too much for you!” in Hebrew, “rav lachem”. “You have taken positions that are much too high.” “You are setting yourselves up over the congregation.” “You are going against the principles of democracy.” They thought that Moshe had given special privileges to his family members and those closest to him. They doubted that heaven was the source behind what Moshe was doing.

In Matthew 24:45, it is written,

“Who then is the faithful and wise servant, whom his lord has set over his household, to give them their food in due season?”(HNV)

This text teaches us that HaShem is the one who places leaders OVER others. Raising yourself up to a high position is not the same thing as being raised up by HaShem. Moshe had not chosen the position that he had over the people. HaShem had placed him in it. It was the same with Aharon. So, when they were criticizing their positions, they were not criticizing man, but HaShem who had placed them there.

16:4 “When Moshe heard it, he fell on his face”(HNV) – How did Moshe react to this? Instead of defending himself against the people’s accusations, he fell on his face before HaShem who had put him in that position. One who humbles himself will be exalted. Moshe and Aharon bowed down under HaShem’s mighty hand and were thus able to deal with the rebellion. They left everything in the Eternal’s hand.

In 2 Timothy 2:19, it is written,

“However God’s firm foundation stands, having this seal, ‘The Lord knows those who are his,’ and, ‘Let every one who names the name of the Lord depart from unrighteousness.’”(HNV revised)

At crucial times, when everything is coming down to the wire, there is one thing that remains firm and will never be shaken, and that is God’s foundation. The seal that is on this foundation has two messages:

·         HaShem knows those who are his.

·         Everyone who names the Name of the Lord ought to keep away from unrighteousness.

16:5 “and he spoke to Korach and to all his company, saying, In the morning HaShem will show who are his, and who is consecrated, and will cause him to come near to him: even him whom he shall choose will he cause to come near to him.”(HNV revised) – This text has to do with the first message on God’s foundation, “HaShem knows those who are his”. The second message is in verse 21, see comments below.

16:7 “and put fire in them, and put incense on them before HaShem tomorrow: and it shall be that the man whom HaShem does choose, he shall be consecrated: you take too much on you, you sons of Levi.”(HNV revised) – The Levites already held high positions, but now they sought even higher positions without understanding who appoints authority. Moshe told them that this is not the way things are done in the Kingdom. We cannot seek our own position of authority without humbling ourselves before the Eternal. Positions cannot be had through human efforts, blackmail, or contacts. HaShem is the one who appoints leaders. He is the One who exalts and raises some to high positions. Beware of power struggles! If we do not know who is the source of all power, we are on the wrong track.

At this point, those who were rebellious sought to claim the power of the people in order to strengthen their own position of leadership. It is as if they were saying, “All the people are consecrated and have a high position before the Eternal. You are taking an entirely too high position since we are all equal. No one person is better than another. We can present our opinions too. We can also have high positions.”

Some Bible interpreters say that it was the firstborn of Reuven’s tribe who stood up together with Korach. The firstborn had been replaced by the Levites. They could not, at this point, demand a position that HaShem had taken from them. They did not understand power. Power does not come from the people, but from God, the Highest Judge, who is the highest Power.

In 1 Timothy 3:1-7, it is written,

“This is a faithful saying: if a man seeks the office of an overseer, he desires a good work. The overseer therefore must be without reproach, the husband of one wife, temperate, sensible, modest, hospitable, good at teaching; not a drinker, not violent, not greedy for money, but gentle, not quarrelsome, not covetous; one who rules his own house well, having children in subjection with all reverence; (but if a man doesn’t know how to rule his own house, how will he take care of the assembly of God?) not a new convert, lest being puffed up he fall into the same condemnation as the devil. Moreover he must have good testimony from those who are outside, to avoid falling into reproach and the snare of the devil.”(HNV revised)

It is not wrong to desire a leadership position if one’s motives are pure. The calling to leadership is most often expressed as a longing. What is required of a leader is that he submits to HaShem by obeying his commandments and developing a proven character.

16:9-10 “seems it but a small thing to you, that the God of Yisra'el has separated you from the congregation of Yisra'el, to bring you near to himself, to do the service of the tent of HaShem, and to stand before the congregation to minister to them; and that he has brought you near, and all your brothers the sons of Levi with you? and seek you the priesthood also?”(HNV revised) – Moshe reminded them of their privileged positions as Levites and leaders. It was not enough for them to serve HaShem in that manner. In their evil desires, which were based on jealousy and rivalry, they sought to claim something higher, as it is written in James 3:14-16,

“But if you have bitter jealousy and selfish ambition in your heart, don’t boast and don’t lie against the truth. This wisdom is not that which comes down from above, but is earthly, sensual, and demonic. For where jealousy and selfish ambition are, there is confusion and every evil deed.”(HNV)

16:11 “Therefore you and all your company are gathered together against HaShem: and Aharon, what is he who you murmur against him?”(HNV revised) – One who resists authorities rebels against HaShem who has instituted authorities. There is no authority that has not been put there by Him, according to Romans 13:1-6, where it is written,

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

16:13 “is it a small thing that you have brought us up out of a land flowing with milk and honey, to kill us in the wilderness, but you must needs make yourself also a prince over us?”(HNV) – Here we see that there was an open rebellion against delegated authority. Moshe had the right to rule over them, not because he wanted to, but because he was fulfilling a calling from HaShem.

The Second Aliyah, 16:14-19

16:15 “Moshe was very angry, and said to HaShem, ‘Don’t respect their offering: I have not taken one donkey from them, neither have I hurt one of them.’” – Moshe became very angry probably because they doubted his motives as a leader. They thought that it was fleshly desire that was behind Moshe’s leadership, since their motives were this way. They longed to be lords and they could not understand the pure motives of a man of God. They thought that he was ruling out of the same motives that they had in their desire for power. They were completely mistaken. Anyone with that attitude will never be qualified for a leadership position in the Kingdom.

When Moshe was sent from the home of his father-in-law in order to bring the children of Israel out of Egypt he had the right to be reimbursed for his travel. The children of Israel ought to have paid for the donkey that he traveled with, compare with Exodus 4:20. However, since Moshe was a good leader, he did not demand this of the people, even though he had a right to. Instead he offered up his own possessions in order to serve the people, as it is written in 1 Corinthians 9:11-12,

“If we sowed to you spiritual things, is it a great thing if we reap your fleshly things? If others partake of this right over you, don’t we yet more? Nevertheless we did not use this right, but we bear all things, that we may cause no hindrance to the Good News of Messiah.”(HNV)

“neither have I hurt one of them” – These words can only be uttered by a true leader. A leader who does not make personal gain or hurt the people is a perfect leader. First, Moshe said that he had not made any financial gain from the people and then he said that he had not hurt anyone. He knew, prophetically, what needed to be done at each occasion in order not to hurt one of the people. What an example of a leader!

A leader must go through many critical moments. At those moments, it is very common that he has to choose between two or more negative alternatives. If he chooses one of them, there will be loss in one area, and if he chooses another, there will be loss in another area. Depending upon on how he acts in such a moment, one can see if he is a good leader or not. One who makes a decision that brings personal loss in order to protect the people from loss, is a good leader. One who makes a decision that brings loss to the people to his own advantage, is a terrible leader. Moshe did not take advantage of his leadership position and he did not hurt anyone. May the Eternal help us to be like him!

In John 10:11b, it is written,

“The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep.”(HNV)

In 2 Corinthians 7:2, it is written,

“Open your hearts to us. We wronged no one. We corrupted no one. We took advantage of no one.”(HNV)

That is the testimony of a good leader.

The Third Aliyah, 16:20-43 (16:20 – 17:8 Hebrew version)

16:21, 26 “Separate yourselves from among this congregation, that I may consume them in a moment… He spoke to the congregation, saying, Depart, I pray you, from the tents of these wicked men, and touch nothing of theirs, lest you be consumed in all their sins.”(HNV) – Here is the second message that is written on the seal of God’s foundation, “Separate yourselves from this congregation… Depart from the tents of these wicked men, and touch nothing of theirs…”

Those who call on the Name of HaShem must keep away from evil. Without consecration, no one will see HaShem, compare with Hebrews 12:14. These two things are foundational:

  • HaShem knows those who are his – A personal relationship with HaShem and his Son Yeshua HaMashiach, compare with John 17:3.

  • Everyone who names the Name of the Lord ought to keep away from unrighteousness – A life of consecration and obedience to the commandments of the Torah.

One who does not build on this foundation will fall in during life’s crisis.

16:30 “But if HaShem make a new thing, and the ground open its mouth, and swallow them up, with all that appertain to them, and they go down alive into She'ol; then you shall understand that these men have despised HaShem.”(HNV revised) – The Hebrew words that are translated “make a new thing” is briah[1] and barah[2], which means “creation” and “create”. The word barah is the same word that is used in Genesis 1, where it speaks about God creating the world. This teaches us that this was a matter of something completely new that had never occurred before in the history of the world. By this, several things were made plain:

1.      Moshe had not spoken or acted in his own power.

2.      Rebellion against a leader expresses contempt for HaShem.

3.      The consequences of rebellion are devastating.

16:32 “and the earth opened its mouth, and swallowed them up, and their households, and all the men who appertained to Korach, and all their goods.”(HNV revised) – Korach’s sons were not swallowed up, compare with Numbers 26:11. When they saw the consequences of their father’s sin, they repented and were saved. There were eleven Psalms written by the sons of Korach, compare with Psalm 42, 44, 45, 46, 47, 48, 49, 84, 85, 87, and 88.

16:41 (17:6 Heb.) “But on the next day all the congregation of the children of Yisra'el murmured against Moshe and against Aharon, saying, You have killed the people of HaShem.”(HNV revised) – When the whole congregation complained, the Destroyer was released, as it is written in 1 Corinthians 10:10,

“Neither grumble, as some of them also grumbled, and perished by the Destroyer.”(HNV)

This teaches us that lashon ha-rah, the evil tongue, releases destructive forces. An angel of destruction is given legal right to act when we complain. Let us keep from complaining, so that the Destroyer will not harm us!

The rebellion spread through the entire congregation. In spite of the fact that they had seen the results of Korach’s rebellion when the earth opened up its mouth, they were not afraid to rebel. This was because within them they already carried a death sentence that made them feel that their cause was lost. HaShem had told them that they were going to die in the desert, so therefore they felt that they had nothing to lose.

One who does not feel lost is afraid to lose his life, but one who already feels marked as rejected and lost does not mind using methods or means of self-destruction. One who feels rejected or lost, having lost his value as a person, is dangerous to other people. It does not matter to him if he harms others. It means nothing to him. The best way to heal a criminal is by giving him back his value as a person, so that he feels valuable.

There are two kinds of rebellion:

·         Hidden rebellion.

·         Open rebellion.

In Matthew 21:28-31a, it is written,

“‘But what do you think? A man had two sons, and he came to the first, and said, “Son, go work today in my vineyard.” He answered, “I will not,” but afterward he changed his mind, and went. He came to the second, and said the same thing. He answered, “I go, sir,” but he didn’t go. Which of the two did the will of his father?’ They said to him, ‘The first.’”(HNV)

In this parable that our Rebbe Yeshua told, we find the two kinds of rebellion. The one who promises without keeping his word is rebellious. He has hidden rebellion and will not do the Father’s will. The other one has open rebellion and shows it by his words and actions. In this case, however, we see that the son with open rebellion repented. The other did not. Laziness is a deceptive form of hidden rebellion.

The open rebellion in the people released a plague so great that Moshe’s intercession was not able to stop it as it had on other occasions. The only thing that could keep the people from being destroyed was that a representative of the people die in their place.

The Fourth Aliyah, 16:44-50 (17:9-15 Hebrew)

16:46 (17:11) “Moshe said to Aharon, Take your censer, and put fire therein from off the altar, and lay incense thereon, and carry it quickly to the congregation, and make atonement for them: for there is wrath gone out from HaShem; the plague is begun.”(HNV revised) – This teaches us that the only way to stop the plague was if the highest representative of the people was willing to give his life for the people. The High Priest Aharon, who represents Yeshua HaMashiach, took fire from the altar, which symbolizes complete dedication, and incense, which represents intercession, and ran to the people where the plague was striking them down and risked his life. It seems as though the plague began at the outer edges of the camp, among those who were the farthest away from the Eternal. When Aharon stood face to face with death, the plague stopped.

16:48 (17:13) “He stood between the dead and the living; and the plague was stayed.”(HNV) – If the plague had not stopped, Aharon would have died. This teaches us that he was willing to give his life in order to save the people. The angel of destruction could not continue to kill because Aharon stood there and stopped him. In a similar way, Yeshua gave his life as an offering on the altar and as an offering of incense so that the plague that was over Israel and the nations would be stopped. By his offering, we are all alive here today.

16:49 (17:14) “Now those who died by the plague were fourteen thousand and seven hundred, besides those who died about the matter of Korach.”(HNV) – One single angel killed 14,700 people in a very short time. This teaches us what kind of power an angel has. If we calculate the average, we can come to the conclusion that the angel was able to kill between twenty-five and forty people per second. How powerful the angels are!

The Fifth Aliyah, 17:1-9 (17:16-24 Heb.)

17:2 (17:17 Heb.) “Speak to the children of Yisra'el, and take of them rods, one for each fathers’ house, of all their princes according to their fathers’ houses, twelve rods: write you every man’s name on his rod.”(HNV) – HaShem decided to show by a miracle who was chosen to stand before His face. That way the children of Israel would complain less about their leadership. Through this miracle, HaShem showed them that Aharon had not been appointed as High Priest by Moshe, but by an order from Him. The authority of the leadership was confirmed when a dead rod, which had been used as a staff, received new life. What finally determines whether or not a leader has been appointed and is backed up by HaShem is if resurrection power is at work in his ministry. In the same way, resurrection became the proof that Yeshua HaMashiach has been given his position as the heavenly High Priest and judge over the living and the dead by the Eternal, as it is written in Acts 2:36,

“Let all the house of Yisra'el therefore know assuredly that God has made him both Lord and Messiah, this Yeshua whom you crucified.”(HNV revised)

In Acts 17:31, it is written,

“because he has appointed a day in which he will judge the world in righteousness by the man whom he has ordained; whereof he has given assurance to all men, in that he has raised him from the dead.”(HNV)

When this resurrection is revealed to all the people of Israel, the complaining against Yeshua will cease.

The Sixth Aliyah, 17:10 – 18:20 (17:25 – 18:20 Heb.)

18:1 “HaShem said to Aharon, You and your sons and your fathers’ house with you shall bear the iniquity of the sanctuary; and you and your sons with you shall bear the iniquity of your priesthood.”(HNV revised) – The priesthood is confirmed in chapter 18 in response to the people’s fear when they said, “we will all die when we approach the tabernacle”, compare with 17:12-13. Only the priests and the Levites can minister in the sanctuary. The people were allowed to enter the outer court, but they could not come near the altar or enter the consecrated area. The priests had to bear the guilt of the children of Israel in regards to the sanctuary. The priest is responsible for the sins of the people both in the way that he must teach them so that they do not sin and that he must atone for them when they do sin. According to Rashi, this verse means that the priests were responsible to warn all laymen who might touch the consecrated objects.

18:12 “All the best of the oil, and all the best of the vintage, and of the grain, the first fruits of them which they give to HaShem, to you have I given them.”(HNV revised) – The best is given to the priest, who represents HaShem. A proper offering is always given from the best of what one has. In order for an offering to be pleasing, it must cost something. The Hebrew word that is translated as “the first” is resheet.[3] The same word is found in Genesis 1:1 as the first word of the Torah. The Messiah is the Resheet, the first fruit of all of creation, compare with John 1:1-3; 1 John 1:1; Colossians 1:15-16; Revelation 3:14.

18:13 “The first-ripe fruits of all that is in their land, which they bring to HaShem, shall be your; everyone who is clean in your house shall eat of it.”(HNV revised) – The Hebrew word that is translated as “the first-ripe fruits” is bikurim,[4] which means “firstfruits”.

In 1 Corinthians 15:20, it is written,

“But now Messiah has been raised from the dead. He became the first fruits of those who are asleep.”(HNV)

Here the resurrection of Yeshua is spoken of as “the first fruits”, which is a reference to the bikurim, the first produce of the land of Israel. This teaches us that through the resurrection, Yeshua gave himself as an offering to the Father and to mankind.

18:14 “Everything devoted in Yisra'el shall be your.”(HNV) – The Talmud[5] mentions twenty-four offerings that the Israelites set apart for the priests. Ten of them were eaten by the priests in the courts of the temple, four in Yerushalayim, and ten in any city within the land of Israel.

Offerings that were consumed in the temple area:

  1. Parts of cattle that were offered as a sin offering.

  2. Parts of a bird that were offered as a sin offering.

  3. Guilt offerings.

  4. Pending guilt offerings.

  5. Parts of the congregational peace offerings during Shavuot, compare with Leviticus 23:19.

  6. The remains of the oil that were used to cleanse a leper, compare with Leviticus 14:10ff.

  7. The two bread loaves that were offered during Shavuot, compare with Leviticus 23:17.

  8. The show bread, compare with Exodus 25:30; Leviticus 24:5-9.

  9. The remains of the meal offerings.

  10. The remains of the omer-offering, compare with Leviticus 23:10.

Offerings consumed in Yerushalayim:

  1. The remains of the firstborn of male cattle that are kasher and have been offered on the altar.

  2. The first fruit (bikurim).

  3. Parts of the offering of thanksgiving and the goat of the Nazarite, Leviticus 7:11-14; Numbers 6:19.

  4.  The skin from the offerings, compare with Leviticus 7:8.

Offerings consumed in any city within Eretz Israel:

  1. The consecrated part of the harvest (terumah).

  2. The tithe of the Levites (which was given to the priests from the tithes that they received).

  3. The cake that was taken out of the dough (challah).

  4. The first wool from the shearing of the sheep.

  5. The breast, jaw, and stomach of every animal that had been worked (even though it was not an offering animal).

  6. The ransom money of a firstborn son (pidyon ha-ben), compare with Numbers 18:15-16.

  7. The ransom money of a firstborn donkey, compare with Exodus 13:13.

  8. A field that was dedicated to HaShem and had not been redeemed within the appointed time, Leviticus 27:16-21.

  9. A field of priestly possession that had been dedicated as cherem, compare with Numbers 18:14.

  10. Resources that were stolen from a convert and had been returned by the thief after the convert had died without an heir, compare with Numbers 5:7-8.

18:15-16 “Everything that opens the womb, of all flesh which they offer to HaShem, both of man and animal shall be your: nevertheless the firstborn of man shall you surely redeem, and the firstborn of unclean animals shall you redeem. Those who are to be redeemed of them from a month old shall you redeem, according to your estimation, for the money of five shekels, after the shekel of the sanctuary (the same is twenty gerahs).”(HNV revised) – The firstborn of mankind must be redeemed with money, some time after he is thirty days old. In Luke 2:22, it says that Yeshua’s parents fulfilled this commandment after the child was forty days old.

18:19 “All the heave-offerings of the consecrated things (terumah), which the children of Yisra'el offer to HaShem, have I given you, and your sons and your daughters with you, as a portion forever: it is a covenant of salt forever before HaShem to you and to your seed with you.”(HNV revised) – Salt never loses its saltiness and that is why it is used a sign of the covenant.

In Matthew 5:13, it is written,

“You are the salt of the earth, but if the salt has lost its flavor, with what will it be salted? It is then good for nothing, but to be cast out and trodden under the feet of men.”(HNV revised)

Salt can never lose its saltiness, but it can be mixed with sand and thus lose its potency. Sand symbolizes the opinions of men. The salt symbolizes eternal peace, according to Mark 9:50, where it is written,

“Salt is good, but if the salt has lost its saltiness, with what will you season it? Have salt in yourselves, and be at shalom with one another.”(HNV)

The Seventh Aliyah, 18:21-32

18:21 “To the children of Levi, behold, I have given all the tithe in Yisra'el for an inheritance, in return for their service which they serve, even the service of the tent of meeting.”(HNV) – The tithe, in Hebrew maaser, is the part of the agricultural products of the land of Israel that were set aside once a year and given to different places. There are three different tithes: the first tithe, in Hebrew maaser rishon, the second tithe, in Hebrew maaser sheni, and the tithe to the poor, maaser ani.

  1. First of all, the terumah, “the consecrated part”, was set aside and it was given directly to the priest. It was a matter of 1.7 – 2.5 % (1/60 – 1/40) of the produce.

  2. Secondly the maaser rishon, with is 10% of what remains of the produce, is set aside and given to the Levite. The Levite in turn sets aside a tenth of what he received and gives it to the priest. This is called terumat maaser, compare with Numbers 18:26.

  3. Thirdly, maaser sheni, which is 10% of what remains of the produce, is set aside and taken to Yerushalayim to be eaten there. This is done during the first, second, fourth, and fifth years of the seven year agricultural cycle, compare with Deuteronomy 14:22-26. During the third and sixth year, one must give maaser ani instead of maaser sheni. It is given to the poor, Deuteronomy 14:28-29. During the seventh year, the tithe of the agricultural produce is not given.[6]

Laborers who earn money on things that have nothing to do with agriculture, for example fishermen or merchants, give tithe during the seventh year as well.

In Matthew 23:23, it is written,

“Woe to you, Scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you tithe mint, dill, and cumin, and have left undone the weightier matters of the law: justice, mercy, and faith. But you ought to have done these, and not to have left the other undone.”(HNV revised)

In this case, the Messiah was backing up the halachah of the Pharisees, which taught that one must give tithe on herbs and vegetables as well, not only on the seven fruits of the land that are mentioned in the Torah, compare with Deuteronomy 8:8.

At creation God instituted tithing, as well as the Shabbat, as a principle for man. Adam had to cultivate all the trees in the garden, but he was not allowed to eat from all of them. The tree of the knowledge of good and evil was to be cultivated, but not eaten from. The principle of tithing means that one must work for a certain amount of time without being able to benefit from it. One who works forty hours a week will work four of those hours for his tithe without being able to “eat” from those hours. In other words, the tithe corresponds with those four hours of work. The worker cannot make any personal gain from them. The same principle was established in the Garden of Eden. Adam had to work on the tree of the knowledge of good and evil without being able to make any personal gain from it. He only benefited from his work on the other trees. But even if the principle of tithing was established at the beginning of the creation it is not an obligatory commandment for Noach´s descendants. Nevertheless it is the best way of recognizing the sovereignty of the Creator over one´s economy and the benefits of tithing makes it almost obligatory for the righteous among the nations.

In the Scriptures, the number ten represents the whole. This means that one who gives tithe is acknowledging that he does not own his possessions, but that he is merely administrating the Eternal’s possessions. One who does not give tithe is not acknowledging the Owner of the universe in his private finances. It is the same with the Shabbat. One who does not remember the Shabbat, which was also given at creation, is not acknowledging the Creator over his time. The tithe is the Shabbat of finances. The principle of tithing is not dependent on temple ministry. The first man, Adam, gave tithe until the day he ate of it! One who eats of his tithe is committing the same mistake that Adam committed when he ate of the forbidden tree. Avraham gave tithe to Malki-Tzedek who, according to tradition, was his Torah teacher. Ya’akov gave tithe when he came back from Paddan-Aram. This teaches us that the temple is not the determining factor for whether or not we ought to tithe, only for where the tithe ought to be given.

The Levites had the responsibility of teaching the people Torah. A torah teacher makes up a part of the Levite ministry and therefore he is deserving of financial compensation for his work, as it is written in 1 Timothy 5:17-18,

“Let the elders who rule well be counted worthy of double honor, especially those who labor in the word and in teaching. For the Scripture says, ‘You shall not muzzle the ox when it treads out the grain.’ And, ‘The laborer is worthy of his wages.’”(HNV revised)

In Matthew 10:10b, it is written,

“Take no bag for your journey, neither two coats, nor shoes, nor staff: for the laborer is worthy of his food.”(HNV)

In 2 Corinthians 11:8, it is written,

“I robbed other assemblies, taking wages from them that I might serve you.”(HNV)

Yeshua HaMashiach receives tithe as High Priest according to the order of Malki-Tzedek, as it is written in Hebrews 7:8,

“Here people who die receive tithes, but there one receives tithes of whom it is testified that he lives.”(HNV)

From the time of Yeshua’s resurrection, it is thus established that tithing can also be given to those who serve full time in the ministry of Malki-Tzedek.

In 1 Corinthians 9:1-14, it is written,

“Am I not free? Am I not a messenger? Haven’t I seen Yeshua the Messiah, our Lord? Aren’t you my work in the Lord? If to others I am not a messenger, yet at least I am to you; for you are the seal of my apostleship in the Lord. My defense to those who examine me is this. Have we no right to eat and to drink? Have we no right to take along a wife who is a believer, even as the rest of the apostles, and the brothers of the Lord, and Kefa? Or have only Bar-Nabba and I no right to not work? What soldier ever serves at his own expense? Who plants a vineyard, and doesn’t eat of its fruit? Or who feeds a flock, and doesn’t drink from the flock’s milk? Do I speak these things according to the ways of men? Or doesn’t the law also say the same thing? For it is written in the law of Moshe, ‘You shall not muzzle an ox while it treads out the grain.’ Is it for the oxen that God cares, or does he say it assuredly for our sake? Yes, it was written for our sake, because he who plows ought to plow in hope, and he who threshes in hope should partake of his hope. If we sowed to you spiritual things, is it a great thing if we reap your fleshly things? If others partake of this right over you, don’t we yet more? Nevertheless we did not use this right, but we bear all things, that we may cause no hindrance to the Good News of Messiah. Don’t you know that those who serve around sacred things eat from the things of the temple, and those who wait on the altar have their portion with the altar? Even so the Lord ordained that those who proclaim the Good News should live from the Good News.”(HNV revised)

Just as those who served in the temple ate of the tithes, offering-gifts, and offerings, those who serve fulltime by preaching and teaching in the Messiah’s assembly have the right to live by tithes and offerings. It is their right. However, those who wish to, can also abstain from that right, as the emissaries Shaul and Barnabas did.

In Galatians 6:6, it is written,

“But let him who is taught in the word share all good things with him who teaches.”(HNV)

In Philippians 4:17, it is written,

“Not that I seek for the gift, but I seek for the fruit that increases to your account.”(HNV)

Rabbi Shaul was more interested in the givers receiving rich fruit from the gift, than he was in the gift itself. He was so happy that they had given money to him, because he knew that when they fulfilled this mitzvah, they would be richly blessed, as it is written in verse 19,

“My God will supply every need of yours according to his riches in glory in Messiah Yeshua.”(HNV revised)

A leader must be more interested in the people’s gain than in his own.

In Numbers 18:21, 24, it is written,

“To the children of Levi, behold, I have given all the tithe in Yisra'el for an inheritance, in return for their service which they serve, even the service of the tent of meeting… For the tithe of the children of Yisra'el, which they offer as a heave-offering to HaShem, I have given to the Levites for an inheritance: therefore I have said to them, Among the children of Yisra'el they shall have no inheritance.”(HNV revised)

The tithe is given to the Eternal. After that, He gave it to the Levites. No one could therefore say tithe is given to man, even though in a sense, it is men who receive the tithe, compare with Hebrews 7:5. The tithe is given as a salary for the Levite ministry. One part of that ministry is to teach the Torah, as it is written in Deuteronomy 17:9-11,

“and you shall come to the priests the Levites, and to the judge who shall be in those days: and you shall inquire; and they shall show you the sentence of judgment. You shall do according to the tenor of the sentence which they shall show you from that place which HaShem shall choose; and you shall observe to do according to all that they shall teach you: according to the tenor of the law which they shall teach you, and according to the judgment which they shall tell you, you shall do; you shall not turn aside from the sentence which they shall show you, to the right hand, nor to the left.”(HNV revised)

In Deuteronomy 33:8-10, it is written,

“Of Levi he said, Your Tummim and your Urim are with your godly one, whom you did prove at Massah, with whom you did strive at the waters of Merivah; who said of his father, and of his mother, I have not seen him; neither did he acknowledge his brothers, nor knew he his own children: for they have observed your word, keep your covenant. They shall teach Ya`akov your ordinances, Yisra'el your law: they shall put incense before you, whole burnt offering on your altar.”(HNV)

In Malachi 2:4-7, it is written,

“‘You will know that I have sent this mitzvah to you, that my covenant may be with Levi,’ says HaShem of Hosts. ‘My covenant was with him of life and shalom; and I gave them to him who he might be reverent toward me; and he was reverent toward me, and stood in awe of my name. The law of truth was in his mouth, and unrighteousness was not found in his lips. He walked with me in shalom and uprightness, and turned many away from iniquity. For the priest’s lips should keep knowledge, and they should seek the law at his mouth; for he is the messenger of HaShem of Hosts.’”(HNV revised)

Since one part of the ministry of the priests and Levites is to teach the Torah, it is completely in order to give tithe to those organizations who spread Torah teaching, so that they can give salary to those who are teachers of the Scriptures.

18:29 “Out of all your gifts you shall offer every heave-offering of HaShem, of all the best of it, even the consecrated part (terumah) of it out of it.”(HNV revised) – According to Rashi, this means that the Levites must first give the priests a consecrated part of what they had received from the people. In Hebrew this part is called terumah gedolah, and represents approximately one fiftieth of everything. Then he gives the priests the tithe, in Hebrew terumat maaser.

In Proverbs 3:9-10, it is written,

“Honor HaShem with your substance, with the first fruits of all your increase: So your barns will be filled with plenty, and your vats will overflow with new wine.”(HNV revised)

One who tithes is honoring HaShem. One who does not tithe is ignoring and dishonoring him.

In Malachi 3:8-12, it is written,

“Will a man rob God? Yet you rob me! But you say, “How have we robbed you?” In tithes and offerings. You are cursed with the curse; for you rob me, even this whole nation. Bring the whole tithe into the store-house, that there may be food in my house, and test me now in this,’ says HaShem of hosts, ‘if I will not open you the windows of heaven, and pour you out a blessing, that there shall not be room enough for. I will rebuke the devourer for your sakes, and he shall not destroy the fruits of your ground; neither shall your vine cast its fruit before its time in the field,’ says HaShem of Hosts. ‘All nations shall call you blessed, for you will be a delightful land,’ says HaShem of Hosts.”(HNV revised)

HaShem will richly bless those who tithe. Heaven will always be open over the finances of a tithe-giver. Then his offerings, which he gives beyond his tithe, can always bring a rich harvest. Tithing is not the same as offering. One who tithes, keeps the heavens over him open. One who gives offerings, after having given the tithe, will reap a great blessing when he has sown in good soil.

This Parashah contains commandments number 388 – 396 of the 613 commandments.

  1. The command to take care of the tent of meeting, Numbers 18:4.

  2. The prohibition for the priests to perform the ministry of the Levites and the prohibition for the Levites to perform the ministry of the priests, Numbers 18:3.

  3. The prohibition for one who is not a kohen to enter the Sanctuary, Numbers 18:4.

  4. The prohibition of mishandling the task at the Sanctuary and at the Altar, Numbers 18:5.

  5. The command to redeem a firstborn son, Numbers 18:15.

  6. The prohibition of redeeming clean cattle, Numbers 18:15.

  7. The command about the Levites ministry in the Sanctuary, Numbers 18:23.

  8. The command to give tithe to the Levites, Numbers 18:24.

  9. The command for the Levites to give a tithe of the received tithe, Numbers 18:26.

[1]     Strong H1278 berîy'âh, ber-ee-aw', Feminine from H1254; a creation, that is, a novelty: - new thing.

[2]     Strong H1254 bârâ', baw-raw', A primitive root; (absolutely) to create; (qualified) to cut down (a wood), select, feed (as formative processes): - choose, create (creator), cut down, dispatch, do, make (fat).

[3]     Strong H7225 rê'shîyth, ray-sheeth', From the same as H7218; the first, in place, time, order or rank (specifically a firstfruit): - beginning, chief (-est), first (-fruits, part, time), principal thing.

[4]     Strong H1061 bikkûr, bik-koor', From H1069; the first fruits of the crop: - first fruit (-ripe [figuratively), hasty fruit.

[5]     Chulín 133b.

[6]     La Torá con Rashí Bamidbar/Números. Edición Bilingüe, Editorial Jerusalem, Ejercito Nacional 700, México, D.F. 11560, Tel (52) 55-5203-0909, e-mail jerusalemmex@netservice.com.mx page 252, note 227.