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Parashah 39 Chukat

Numbers 19:1 – 22:1

By Dr. K. Blad  ©

Second edition 2013-14

Lucrative copying not permitted.  

Torah Readings:

  1. 19:1-17

  2. 19:18 – 20:6

  3. 20:7-13

  4. 20:14-21

  5. 20:22 – 21:9

  6. 21:10-20

  7. 21:21 – 22:1

  8. Maftir: 21:34 – 22:1

Haftarah: Judges 11:1-33


Means “the statute of”


The First Aliyah, 19:1-17

19:2 “This is the statute of the law which HaShem has commanded, saying, Speak to the children of Yisra'el, that they bring you a red heifer without spot, in which is no blemish, and on which never came yoke.”(HNV revised) – This verse teaches that the commandment about the red heifer is the most important chuk, or chukah, in the Torah. As we have mentioned earlier, the commandments that are called chuk, or chukah, are those without any logical or clear explanation in the Torah.

The chuk-commandments are connected to the Messiah in a special way. Because this is the most important chuk-commandment, this ritual is very intimately connected with the Messiah.

This heifer had to be born with another color than all the other cows. It could not have two hairs on it that were not red. When the need arose for such an animal to be born, HaShem would cause it to be born. The heifer had to be at least three years old and it could not have worked under any yoke. The three years speak of the Messiah being about thirty years old when he was offered up to cleanse the people. During the second temple period, the heifer was purchased with the money that was collected in the annual collection of the half shekel that every Jew gave.

 From the ashes of this heifer the purification water was made and kept in the homes of the priests throughout the whole land of Israel. That way, those who had come in contact with a dead body would be able to purify themselves for seven days according to the commandment. Only a very small amount of ashes was required for a great amount of water. Thus the ashes from the sacrifice of one heifer lasted for many years. According to Mishnah[1] and the Midrash,[2] altogether nine heifers have been sacrificed in the history of Israel. The ashes from the first heifer lasted until the days of Ezra. In his days, another heifer was sacrificed. During the time of Shimon HaTzadik, another two were sacrificed and yet another two were sacrificed under the High Priest Yochanan. After him, another three heifers were sacrificed up until the destruction of the temple. It is possible that the tenth will be sacrificed in connection with the coming of the Messiah.

Puerta%20dorada19:3 “You shall give her to El`azar the priest, and he shall bring her forth outside of the camp, and one shall kill her before his face”(HNV revised) – During the second temple period, there was an altar outside the walls of Yerushalayim on the Mount of Olives just facing the entrance to the temple called the “Golden Gate”. From that altar there was a bridge spanning the Kidron Valley where the Israelites who waited for the Messiah and the resurrection of the dead were buried. The bridge went directly to the eastern entrance of the temple and was used specifically by the priests and Levites when they were going to serve in the temple. If they had walked on the graves in that place, they would have become unclean and would have had to wait for seven days before they could enter and serve. The bridge kept them from direct contact with death. Thus the priests and Levites were able to go directly from the altar where the red heifer was sacrificed to the temple. The altar was placed in a straight line starting from the ark in the most consecrated place and going out past the golden altar in the consecrated place, the copper altar in the outer court, and the golden gate in the wall. Eating from that altar was not allowed, in other words, the remains of the animals that were sacrificed there could not be eaten, as it is written in Hebrews 13:10-13,

“We have an altar from which those who serve the consecrated tabernacle have no right to eat. For the bodies of those animals, whose blood is brought into the consecrated place by the High Priest as an offering for sin, are burned outside of the camp. Therefore Yeshua also, that he might sanctify the people through his own blood, suffered outside of the gate. Let us therefore go forth to him outside of the camp, bearing his reproach.”(HNV revised)

Here it says “us”, which is a reference to the Jews. The Jews have an altar that no one who served in the temple was allowed to eat of. This is a clear reference to the altar that still existed on the Mount of Olives when this letter was written to the Hebrews. On the very line, which stretched from the most consecrated place past the three altars and up to the Mount of Olives, the Messiah Yeshua was sacrificed as an atonement offering for the sins of Israel and the nations. He must have died somewhere on the Mount of Olives in order to fulfill the picture that projected the shadow found in the temple service.

19:4 “and El`azar the Priest shall take of her blood with his finger, and sprinkle her blood toward the front of the tent of meeting seven times.”(HNV) – The priest who sacrifices the red heifer takes some of the blood in his left hand, dips his right index finger in it, and sprinkles it in the direction of the entrance to the temple that can be seen from the mountain. This teaches us that the place where the red heifer was sacrificed had to be directly in line with, and facing, the entrance to the temple. It is written that the sacrificial animals always had to be slaughtered “before HaShem”, i.e. east of the consecrated place. It is as though the Eternal was facing eastward from inside the most consecrated place and that he was looking in the direction of the veil and beyond. Therefore the Messiah had to be sacrificed in front of the entrance to the temple in Yerushalayim, on the Mount of Olives, and not behind the temple as both existing Christian traditions claim. The object that casts the shadow cannot be behind the Eternal, behind the temple, since all offerings must be presented before the Eternal in order to be pleasing, as it is written in Leviticus 1:3,

“If his offering is a burnt offering from the herd, he shall offer a male without blemish. He shall offer it at the door of the Tent of Meeting, that he may be accepted before HaShem’s face.”(HNV revised)

In Leviticus 3:7, it is written,

“If he offers a lamb for his offering, then he shall offer it before HaShem’s face”(HNV revised)

In Leviticus 6:25, it is written,

“Speak to Aharon and to his sons, saying, ‘This is the law of the sin offering: in the place where the burnt offering is killed, the sin offering shall be killed before HaShem’s face. It is most sacred.’”(HNV revised)

19:5 “One shall burn the heifer in his sight; her skin, and her flesh, and her blood, with her dung, shall he burn”(HNV) – The entire cow had to be consumed. This speaks of the Messiah Yeshua’s complete dedication.

19:6 “and the priest shall take cedar-wood, and hyssop, and scarlet, and cast it into the midst of the burning of the heifer.”(HNV revised) – Three elements, cedar-wood, hyssop, and scarlet wool yarn had to be added in order to produce the ashes, which would later be mixed with the water that would serve for purification. This hints to us that the horizontal beam that our Master was hung on was made of cedar-wood.

It is very probable that Yeshua was hung on a tree, possibly a fig tree, which grew on the Mount of Olives. As we know, Adam and Chavah took leaves from a fig tree in the place where sin entered the world, near the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, which probably stood on the Mount of Olives, compare with Genesis 3:7. Yeshua cursed a fig tree when he passed that way in order to enter the city not long before he died, compare with Mark 11:21. This hints to us that he was hung on a fig tree, together with two robbers, one on his right and one on his left, compare with Luke 23:33. That would explain why the Roman soldier who crushed the bones of those who were hanging would go first to one of the robbers and then directly to the other robber. Only afterward did he go to Yeshua and see that he was dead, compare with John 19:32-33. If they had been in a line with Yeshua in the middle, it would have been strange for the soldier to skip the Master and go from one robber to the next. It is probable that they hung around the same tree. According to this text, it seems as though the horizontal beam was made of cedar-wood.

The hyssop was used for cleansing, to sprinkle blood and water. It was used at the exodus from Egypt to apply blood to the doorposts. It was used for the cleansing of “lepers”, and here it was once again used to cleanse from contact with death.

In Hebrews 9:19-22, it is written,

“For when every commandment had been spoken by Moshe to all the people according to the law, he took the blood of the calves and the goats, with water and scarlet wool and hyssop, and sprinkled both the book itself and all the people, saying, ‘This is the blood of the covenant which God has commanded you.’ Moreover he sprinkled the tabernacle and all the vessels of the ministry in like manner with the blood. According to the law, nearly everything is cleansed with blood, and apart from shedding of blood there is no remission.”(HNV revised)

In Psalm 51:7, it is written,

“Purify me with hyssop, and I will be clean. Wash me, and I will be whiter than snow.”(HNV)

In John 19:29, it is written

“Now a vessel full of vinegar was set there; so they put a sponge full of the vinegar on hyssop, and held it at his mouth.”(HNV)

The hyssop was used in connection with the Messiah’s death, which connects him with the deliverance from Egypt, cleansing from tzaraat (“leprosy”), which symbolizes sin, cleansing from ritual uncleanness caused by contact with death, as well as when the children of Israel entered the covenant.

The scarlet red wool yarn speaks of blood and is a reminder of the Messiah’s death. In the commentary on Leviticus 14:4 in Parashah 28, Metzorah, there are several details about the significance of the three elements used in this cleansing.

19:9 “A man who is clean shall gather up the ashes of the heifer, and lay them up outside of the camp in a clean place; and it shall be kept for the congregation of the children of Yisra'el for a water for impurity: it is a sin-offering.”(HNV) – The ashes from the red heifer were divided up into three parts. One part was placed on the Mount of Olives, another was placed in the area called chel, which surrounded the court of the temple, and one part was divided up between the twenty-four groups of priests that served at the temple. According to Mishnah,[3] the part that was on the Mount of Olives was used to consecrate the High Priest who was to prepare the next red heifer. The ashes that were kept in the chel were meant for future generations, which is what this verse speaks about. The part of the ashes that was out in the land among the priests served to cleanse the children of Israel living in the other cities.

In John 2:1-12, it is written,

“The third day, there was a marriage in Kanah of the Galil. Yeshua’s mother was there. Yeshua also was invited, with his talmidim, to the marriage. When the wine ran out, Yeshua’s mother said to him, ‘They have no wine.’ Yeshua said to her, ‘Woman, what does that have to do with you and me? My hour has not yet come.’ His mother said to the servants, ‘Whatever he says to you, do it.’ Now there were six water pots of stone set there after the Jewish manner of purifying, containing two or three metretes apiece. Yeshua said to them, ‘Fill the water pots with water.’ They filled them up to the brim. He said to them, ‘Now draw some out, and take it to the ruler of the feast.’ So they took it. When the ruler of the feast tasted the water now become wine, and didn’t know where it came from (but the servants who had drawn the water knew), the ruler of the feast called the bridegroom, and said to him, ‘Everyone serves the good wine first, and when the guests have drunk freely, then that which is worse. You have kept the good wine until now!’ This beginning of his signs Yeshua did in Kanah of the Galil, and revealed his glory; and his talmidim believed in him. After this, he went down to Kafar-Nachum, he, and his mother, his brothers, and his talmidim; and they stayed there a few days.”(HNV)

TinajaThe six stone pots that were used by the Master to turn water into wine were the pots that were normally used to cleanse Jews who had come in contact with a corpse. The ashes of the red heifer were mixed with a lot of water and each of the pots held approximately one hundred liters of water. The six stone pots were then filled with approximately six hundred liters (150 gal.) of water, which turned to wine. Apparently the wedding was held in the home of a priest.

19:16 “Whoever in the open field touches one who is slain with a sword, or a dead body, or a bone of a man, or a grave, shall be unclean seven days.”(HNV) – It is not only physical contact with a corpse that will cause the highest level of uncleanness, but also contact with the dead bones of a human, even though they are old, as well as the act of walking over a grave. It was for this reason that they whitewashed the tombs. This way the people knew where they were and would not become unclean unnecessarily, compare with Matthew 23:27. This type of ritual uncleanness does not disappear unless one goes through a one week cleansing process during which one is sprinkled with the purification water on the third and seventh day. On the seventh day one must also dip in the water of a mikveh, and only then can one be clean at sunset, compare with verse 19.

19:17 “For the unclean they shall take of the ashes of the burning of the sin-offering; and running water shall be put thereto in a vessel”(HNV) – In order for water to be running (living) it must come from a natural source, rain, or an underground well. If it comes in contact with material that can be unclean, such as metal, wood, or clay, it is no longer living. That is why stone pots are used to hold this purification water, and not clay pots.

There are many similarities between the red heifer and the golden calf. Just as the powder from the golden calf that had gone through fire was mixed with water and given to the people of Israel, the ashes of the red heifer are mixed with water that later is used to sprinkle the children of Israel. Just as the golden calf was made out of the gold that the children of Israel had contributed, the red heifer is bought for the half shekel that the children of Israel gave to the temple every year.

The Second Aliyah, 19:18 – 20:6

19:19 “and the clean person shall sprinkle on the unclean on the third day, and on the seventh day: and on the seventh day he shall purify him; and he shall wash his clothes, and bathe himself in water, and shall be clean at evening.”(HNV revised) – Only one who is ritually clean can sprinkle others so that they become clean.

In Ezekiel 36:24-30, it is written,

“For I will take you from among the nations, and gather you out of all the countries, and will bring you into your own land. I will sprinkle clean water on you, and you shall be clean: from all your filthiness, and from all your idols, will I cleanse you. A new heart also will I give you, and a new spirit will I put within you; and I will take away the stony heart out of your flesh, and I will give you a heart of flesh. I will put my Spirit within you, and cause you to walk in my statutes, and you shall keep my ordinances, and do them. You shall dwell in the land that I gave to your fathers; and you shall be my people, and I will be your God. I will save you from all your uncleanness: and I will call for the grain, and will multiply it, and lay no famine on you. I will multiply the fruit of the tree, and the increase of the field, that you may receive no more the reproach of famine among the nations.”

One week is needed in order for anyone to be cleansed from the effects of death. On the eighth day one is clean. In the same way the world will go through seven thousand years of cleansing. Thereafter there will be righteousness without death. The third day represents the third millennium after Adam, when the children of Israel left Egypt and received the Torah that cleanses. The Messiah will come to the seventh millennium to cleanse, not only those who have been in contact with death, but also the dead who will be resurrected. This speaks of two very significant points in the history of the world, the first and the second redemption, which occur in the third and the seventh millennium.

19:20 “But the man who shall be unclean, and shall not purify himself, that soul shall be cut off from the midst of the assembly, because he has defiled the sanctuary of HaShem: the water for impurity has not been sprinkled on him; he is unclean.”(HNV revised) – The punishment of karet only applies to those who enter the sanctuary while they are unclean.

19:21 “It shall be a perpetual statute to them: and he who sprinkles the water for impurity shall wash his clothes, and he who touches the water for impurity shall be unclean until evening.”(HNV revised) – All those who were part of the process of producing the purification ashes became unclean through it, compare with verses 7-8. However, in verse 19 it speaks of the clean one who had to sprinkle water on the unclean on the third and seventh day. From this the sages claim in Talmud[4] that one who sprinkles the purification water does not become unclean. This way verse 21 is not understood to be referring to the one who sprinkles the water, but to the one who carries or touches the water. The one who carries the water is on a higher level of uncleanness than the one who only touches the water. Therefore even his clothes are unclean and must be dipped in a mikveh. One who only touches the water must not dip his clothes in a mikveh. Interestingly enough, one who touches the water becomes unclean. This seems like a contradiction with no apparent explanation. However, this speaks of Yeshua who took our sin and death and became unclean for our sake so that we could be cleansed through him, as it is written in 1 Peter 1:2,

“according to the foreknowledge of God the Father, in sanctification of the Spirit, that you may obey Yeshua the Messiah and be sprinkled in his blood: Grace to you and shalom be multiplied.”(HNV revised)

In 2 Corinthians 5:21, it is written,

“For him who knew no sin he made to be sin on our behalf; so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.”(HNV revised)

After the resurrection, Yeshua the Messiah had to go through the seven heavens in order to be cleansed from the uncleanness that he took on through death, so that he could enter the most consecrated place of the heavenly tabernacle, compare with Hebrews 4:14; Ephesians 4:10. The seven heavens represent the seven days of cleansing. Thus the Father cleansed Yeshua when he was exalted, compare with Zechariah 3:3-4.

20:1-2 “The children of Yisra'el, even the whole congregation, came into the wilderness of Tzin in the first month: and the people abode in Kadesh; and Miryam died there, and was buried there. There was no water for the congregation: and they assembled themselves together against Moshe and against Aharon.”(HNV) – According to Talmud,[5] Miriam died on the tenth of Aviv at the age of one hundred twenty-five. After Miriam’s death, the spring of water ceased flowing. According to Talmud[6] and a Midrash,[7] the water spring that followed the children of Israel was given because of Miriam. When she died, the water flow stopped and the people had no more water.

In 1 Corinthians 10:4, it is written,

“and all drank the same spiritual drink. For they drank of a spiritual rock that followed them, and the rock was Messiah.”(HNV)

The Third Aliyah, 20:7-13

20:8 “Take the rod, and assemble the congregation, you, and Aharon your brother, and speak you to the rock before their eyes, that it give forth its water; and you shall bring forth to them water out of the rock; so you shall give the congregation and their cattle drink.”(HNV) – This time Moshe was supposed to speak to the rock, not strike it like he did the first time, compare with Exodus 17:6.

20:10-11 “Moshe and Aharon gathered the assembly together before the rock, and he said to them, Hear now, you rebels; shall we bring you forth water out of this rock? Moshe lifted up his hand, and struck the rock with his rod twice: and water came forth abundantly, and the congregation drank, and their cattle.”(HNV) – In that place of hard hearts, Moshe made a serious mistake that consisted of several things:

·         He allowed himself to be led by anger.

·         He spoke harsh words to the children of Israel, “you rebels”.

·         He doubted HaShem.

·         He was disobedient to the command that he had received about speaking to the rock.

·         He did not sanctify the Eternal with his actions.

Because of this he could not enter the land that he had longed for so many years.

A leader is always seen by the people. Since the leader takes all the people with him, his mistakes are much more serious than mistakes made by those who are not in leadership. The power of being an example is great. The sin that Moshe committed did not seem great, but in the eyes of the Eternal, his disobedience, outburst of anger, and harsh words were enough to keep him from entering into his inheritance.

Let us be careful to fulfill the commandments as leaders so that we do not miss out on our inheritance!

20:13 “These are the waters of Merivah; because the children of Yisra'el strove with HaShem, and he was sanctified in them.”(HNV revised) - Merivah[8] means “quarrel”, “provocation”, “struggle”. Merivah was the place where the people complained to HaShem because of the water. It was the place where they hardened their hearts. Instead of choosing to believe the Eternal, they complained directly to him and to Moshe. Earlier they had complained to Moshe, but now they directed their complaint directly at HaShem, which is the result of a hard heart. Lack of gratefulness always comes from a hard heart. A grateful heart is a soft heart.

HaShem’s consecration was revealed to Moshe and Aharon through the judgment they received when they did not obey him at the rock. The waters were the reason that HaShem revealed his consecration to Moshe and Aharon.

In Psalm 95:7b-11, it is written,

“Today, oh that you would hear his voice! Don’t harden your heart, as at Merivah, as in the day of Massah in the wilderness, when your fathers tempted me, tested me, and saw my work. Forty long years I was grieved with that generation, and said, ‘It is a people that errs in their heart. They have not known my ways.’ Therefore I swore in my wrath, ‘They won’t enter into my rest.’”(HNV)

In Psalm 106:32-33, it is written,

“They angered him also at the waters of Merivah, so that Moshe was troubled for their sakes; because they were rebellious against his spirit, he spoke rashly with his lips.”(HNV)

The Fourth Aliyah, 20:14-21

20:16 “and when we cried to HaShem, he heard our voice, and sent an angel, and brought us forth out of Egypt: and, behold, we are in Kadesh, a city in the uttermost of your border.”(HNV revised) – Rashi says that the angel that this is speaking about is Moshe and that the prophets are also called malachim, “angels”, “messengers”, as it is written in 2 Chronicles 36:16,

“but they mocked the messengers (malachim) of God, and despised his words, and scoffed at his prophets, until the wrath of HaShem arose against his people, until there was no remedy.”(HNV revised)

20:21 “Thus Edom refused to give Yisra'el passage through his border: why Yisra'el turned away from him.”(HNV) – Edom’s enmity toward Israel has never ended, as it is written in Amos 1:11,

“Thus says HaShem: ‘For three transgressions of Edom, yes, for four, I will not turn away its punishment; because he pursued his brother with the sword, and cast off all pity, and his anger raged continually, and he kept his wrath forever’”(HNV revised)

That which Esav sowed and passed on to his descendants against Ya’akov is still there today. Esav was given the mountains of Seir from HaShem. Therefore Israel had no right to fight him or take any part of his territory, as it is written in Deuteronomy 2:5-7,

“don’t contend with them; for I will not give you of their land, no, not so much as for the sole of the foot to tread on; because I have given Mount Se`ir to Esav for a possession. You shall purchase food of them for money, that you may eat; and you shall also buy water of them for money, that you may drink. For HaShem your God has blessed you in all the work of your hand; he has known your walking through this great wilderness: these forty years HaShem your God has been with you; you have lacked nothing.”(HNV revised)

Israel received orders to bless his brother Esav by buying food and drink from him. Even so, he still would not let them pass through his land. Because of his hatred, he could not be blessed by Israel. The same thing happens today with those Arabs who hate our people.

Esav symbolizes the flesh, the yetzer ha-rah. Israel symbolizes the spirit, the yetzer ha-tov. When the spirit wants to go the way that HaShem has commanded, the flesh will resist. The struggle between Israel and Esav represents the inner struggle of every believer.

The prophets show that Esav will continue to war against us until he is finally destroyed, compare with Obadiah. There is no prophecy that speaks of restoration and a prosperous future for Esav, which is Edom. When the Mashiach comes, Esav will finally be completely destroyed, as it is written in Isaiah 63:1-6,

“Who is this who comes from Edom, with dyed garments from Botzrah? this who is glorious in his clothing, marching in the greatness of his strength? I who speak in righteousness, mighty to save. Why are you red in your clothing, and your garments like him who treads in the wine vat? I have trodden the winepress alone; and of the peoples there was no man with me: yes, I trod them in my anger, and trampled them in my wrath; and their lifeblood is sprinkled on my garments, and I have stained all my clothing. For the day of vengeance was in my heart, and the year of my redeemed is come. I looked, and there was none to help; and I wondered that there was none to uphold: therefore my own arm brought salvation to me; and my wrath, it upheld me. I trod down the peoples in my anger, and made them drunk in my wrath, and I poured out their lifeblood on the earth.”(HNV revised)

Both the political and religious Roman system is included in this judgment over Edom.

The Fifth Aliyah, 20:22 – 21:9

20:24 “Aharon shall be gathered to his people; for he shall not enter into the land which I have given to the children of Yisra'el, because you rebelled against my word at the waters of Merivah.”(HNV) – Here it says that Aharon had to die because he was rebellious at Merivah. Was it not only Moshe that was disobedient there? Why did Aharon have to die because of what Moshe did? Aharon was a man of peace. He sought peace with everyone. In his desire for peace he went so far as to build a golden calf as well as to support Moshe in his disobedience. But, he had to pay dearly for standing by Moshe in his disobedience. This teaches us that we are not obligated to obey authorities when they try to make us disobey HaShem.

20:29 “When all the congregation saw that Aharon was dead, they wept for Aharon thirty days, even all the house of Yisra'el.”(HNV) – Here it says that the people “saw” that Aharon had died. Because of this there is a Midrash,[9] which says that the people had a vision of Aharon on his deathbed and then they were able to believe Moshe who told them that he was dead. However, we could ask ourselves if there was not a higher level of honor in Israel who had received the Torah on Sinai. How could they doubt that Moshe was speaking the truth?

According to Talmud,[10] the word can also be understood as “let themselves be seen”, meaning that they were exposed. By this the Talmud concludes that the cloud of glory withdrew from Israel at Aharon’s death. By the merits of this man, the cloud of glory had remained with Israel throughout the desert wanderings. Now they were exposed.

21:1 “The Kana`ani, the king of `Arad, who lived in the South, heard tell that Yisra'el came by the way of Atarim; and he fought against Yisra'el, and took one captive.”(HNV revised) – According to Rashi, the king of Arad was an Amalekite who spoke the Kana’anite language in order to deceive the children of Israel to pray against the wrong people. That is why he was called a Kana’anite. However, they only prayed against the people that attacked them, compare with verse 2. According to Numbers 13:29, the Amalekites lived in the south. The Kena’anites were descendants of Cham (Ham) and the Amalekites where descendants of Esav.

The attackers took a slave woman as prisoner of war. The Hebrew text does not speak of several prisoners, but of one person who, according to Exodus 12:29, was not a man but a woman. According to Gur Aryeh, it was a female slave whom the people of Israel had taken captive earlier.

21:4 “They traveled from Mount Hor by the way to the Sea of Suf, to compass the land of Edom: and the soul of the people was much discouraged because of the way.”(HNV) – They had to go back the same way they had come, to the south, toward the Reed Sea, which is also called the “Red Sea”. The first time that they had to turn south they received the message that they would have to remain in the desert for thirty-eight years and this time around they lost their hope of ever entering the Promised Land. This created an atmosphere of impatience.

21:5 “The people spoke against God, and against Moshe, Why have you brought us up out of Egypt to die in the wilderness? for there is no bread, and there is no water; and our soul loathes this light bread.”(HNV revised) – The people became impatient and spoke against God and against Moshe. They were not just complaining about the way they were going, but here they began to speak ill of the food that the Eternal gave them day after day.

21:6 “HaShem sent fiery serpents among the people, and they bit the people; and much people of Yisra'el died.”(HNV revised) – The result of the complaints about the food was fatal. The protection that they had earlier, because of the cloud, was gone and the snakes could come into the camp at the Eternal’s command. Many died because of these snakes.

21:7 “The people came to Moshe, and said, We have sinned, because we have spoken against HaShem, and against you; pray to HaShem, that he take away the serpents from us. Moshe prayed for the people.”(HNV revised) – Once again, Moshe became the mediator between the people and HaShem. The people did not pray to the Eternal, but they asked Moshe to pray for them. This shows us that the Jewish people need a mediator between them and HaShem. Moshe is a picture of Yeshua HaMashiach, who is the only way to the Father for both Jews and non-Jews.

21:8 “HaShem said to Moshe, Make you a fiery serpent, and set it on a standard: and it shall happen, that everyone who is bitten, when he sees it, shall live.”(HNV revised) – The antidote for the poison of the snakebite was to look in faith at a copper, or brass, snake that hung on a tree. Everyone that had been bitten was thus delivered from death and the deadly poison that was in their blood.

21:9 “Moshe made a serpent of brass, and set it on the standard: and it happened, that if a serpent had bitten any man, when he looked to the serpent of brass, he lived.”(HNV) – According to Rashi, the Hebrew text uses a word that means that one must look intently and with focus.

In John 3:14-16, it is written,

“As Moshe lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even so must the Son of Man be lifted up, that whoever believes in him should not perish, but have eternal life. For God so loved the world, that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish, but have eternal life.”(HNV revised)

Man has been poisoned by sin and is on his way to death and destruction. The only hope for survival is to put one’s attention on a miracle and one’s faith in HaShem who works through the miracle. The Hebrew word that is translated “pole” is nes,[11] which means both “pole” and “wonder” or “sign”. Yeshua’s death is a wonder and a sign. The Son of Man had to be lifted up just like the copper serpent. HaShem, Moshe, and Yeshua all made known that the Messiah had to die in order to save the people of Israel and the whole world from sin and eternal death.

Yeshua identifies with the copper serpent. The serpent speaks of the character of the evil one. The yetzer ha-rah, the tendency to do evil, the sin, which is in all men and which we have inherited from the Garden of Eden when we were “bitten” by the old serpent, was placed on Yeshua so that it could be judged by the highest Judge and man could be delivered from the wrath and the eternal punishment that came as result of this evil tendencies, as it is written in Romans 8:3,

“For what the law couldn’t do, in that it was weak through the flesh, God did, sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh and for sin, he condemned sin in the flesh”(HNV revised)

In Isaiah 53:6, 11-12, it is written,

“All we like sheep have gone astray; everyone has turned to his own way; and HaShem has laid on him the iniquity of us all… He shall see of the travail of his soul, and shall be satisfied: by the knowledge of himself shall my righteous servant justify many; and he shall bear their iniquities. Therefore will I divide him a portion with the great, and he shall divide the spoil with the strong; because he poured out his soul to death, and was numbered with the transgressors: yet he bore the sin of many, and made intercession for the transgressors.”(HNV)

When the Scriptures speak of SIN, in singular, it is speaking of what is called the yetzer ha-rah, the tendency to do evil, which is the same thing as the flesh and it is the character of the evil one. When they speak of SINS, plural, it is referring to the result of this evil urge; thoughts, words, and deeds that come from the evil nature.

Yeshua took both sin and the sins in order to set all those free who by faith fasten their eyes and their attention on what he did when he died on the tree.

In 1 Peter 2:24, it is written,

“who his own self bore our sins in his body on the tree, that we, having died to sins, might live to righteousness; by whose stripes you were healed.”(HNV)

In Hebrews 9:28, it is written,

“so Messiah also, having been once offered to bear the sins of many, will appear a second time, without sin, to those who are eagerly waiting for him for salvation.”(HNV)

Yeshua is the only final solution for man, Jew as well as non-Jew. Without him, no one will escape eternal death.

HaShem did not say that Moshe should make a copper or brass serpent, but that he should make something “burning”. The Hebrew word for snake, nachash,[12] and copper (or brass), nechoshet,[13] are similar. This teaches us that Moshe used a word play in order to fulfill the heavenly command.

In 2 Kings 18:4, it is written,

“He removed the high places, and broke the pillars, and cut down the Asherah: and he broke in pieces the brazen serpent that Moshe had made; for to those days the children of Yisra'el did burn incense to it; and he called it Nechushtan (the copper thing).”(HNV)

The children of Israel had kept the brass serpent for approximately seven hundred years when King Chizkiyahu finally destroyed it because the people were misusing it. This text teaches us that something positive that was given by the Eternal in order to bless the people, can become an idolatrous cult and a curse. In the same way the death of the Messiah, and even the cross, has become a cultic object that is worshipped through songs, incense, lighting of candles, and so on. The crucifix cult and the cross cult are detestable to the Eternal. When the Messiah Yeshua comes back to the earth, all these objects will be destroyed.

The Sixth Aliyah, 21:10-20

21:13 “From there they traveled, and encamped on the other side of the Arnon, which is in the wilderness, that comes out of the border of the Amori: for the Arnon is the border of Mo'av, between Mo'av and the Amori.”(HNV) – KenaanBeforeHere the children of Israel entered new territory. Arnon is the river that makes up the northern border of Moav. The Israelites did not enter Moav’s territory because they did not have permission to, compare with Deuteronomy 2:29 and Judges 11:17. The same thing happened with Moav as with Edom.

21:14 “Therefore it is said in the book of the Wars of HaShem, Vahev in Sufah (the Reed Sea), the valleys of the Arnon,”(HNV revised) – Here the “book of the Wars of HaShem” is mentioned. According to Rashi, this means that the children of Israel would use this song when they told of what happened at this historic occasion.

What is this book of the Wars of HaShem? Here is a quote from the United Bible Fellowship,

“The book of the Wars of the Lord is without a doubt a collection of war songs that does not exist today (see also Joshua 10:13; 2 Samuel 1:18 in the reference to the Book of Jasher). The Wars of the Lord are the battles that Israel fought under the direction of the Lord their God (see 1 Samuel 18:17; 25:28).”[14]

There are seventeen references to the chronicles of the kings of Israel in 1 and 2 Kings, compare with 1 Kings 15:31. Besides this, there are references to the chronicles of the kings of the Medes and Persians, compare with Ezra 10:2. The chronicles of King David are mentioned in 1 Chronicles 27:24 and in 1 Chronicles 29:29 it is written,

“Now the acts of David the king, first and last, behold, they are written in the history of Shemu'el the seer, and in the history of Natan the prophet, and in the history of Gad the seer”(HNV)

This is possibly a reference to the books of Samuel, which were only one book to begin with and which are included in the Tanach.

21:16 “From there they traveled to Be'er: that is the well whereof HaShem said to Moshe, Gather the people together, and I will give them water.”(HNV revised) – The blessing of water is found in unity, compare with Psalm 133. HaShem could have given water without first gathering the people, but he wanted to teach them the important truth that water comes where there is unity.

21:17 “Then sang Yisra'el this song: Spring up, well; sing you to it:”(HNV) – Israel sang. Why does the Torah say that Israel sang? First of all, it is because of the message that was in the song. Water is one of the most important things that man needs. It is the same with the Torah, which is water for the soul. However, this was also written in order to teach us the importance of song in Israel. A true Israelite is one who sings, or at least tries to sing even though he does not have a beautiful voice. Song is originally something positive for man. It has many good influences, among other things it helps to unburden the soul when we are under pressure, both positively and negatively, it expresses joy and grief before the Eternal and before man, it exalts HaShem etc. The Psalms include all types of songs, first and foremost to the Eternal, that express worship and joy, but also much grief and sorrow. HaShem wants us to express ourselves to Him through song. So, get used to singing before your heavenly Father.

The Seventh Aliyah, 21:21 – 22:1

21:23 “Sichon would not allow Yisra'el to pass through his border: but Sichon gathered all his people together, and went out against Yisra'el into the wilderness, and came to Yahatz; and he fought against Yisra'el.”(HNV) – According to Rashi, Sichon taxed all the kings of Kana’an in exchange for protecting their borders. As the children of Israel wanted to walk through his territory in order to enter the land of Kana’an, he remained true to his assignment and did not permit them.

21:26 “For Cheshbon was the city of Sichon the king of the Amori, who had fought against the former king of Mo'av, and taken all his land out of his hand, even to the Arnon.”(HNV) – Previously Moav had a larger territory, which stretched all the way to the city of Cheshbon, but the Amorite king took the whole area all the way to the river Arnon, which became Moav’s northern border. The children of Israel took this territory from the Amorites. Did they have a right to? Hadn’t it belonged to Moav? How could they conquer a territory that had once belonged to Moav? It seems as though Moav had extended beyond the area that the Eternal had given him, and had taken an area that did not belong to him. Therefore the king of the Amorites had the power to take it from him. As HaShem gave that territory to the children of Israel, he revealed that it was not intended for Moav.

21:27 “Therefore those who speak in proverbs say, Come you to Cheshbon; Let the city of Sichon be built and established:”(HNV) – According to Rashi, those who speak in proverbs, in Hebrew “mashalim”, were Bileam and his father, Beor, who used parables, as it is written in Numbers 23:7a,

“He took up his parable (mashal), and said,”(HNV)

21:33 “They turned and went up by the way of Bashan: and `Og the king of Bashan went out against them, he and all his people, to battle at Edre`i.”(HNV) – According to one Midrash,[15] Og, the king of Bashan, was the brother of Sichon. Both were giants. Bashan was a place with a strong spiritual stronghold. The book of Enoch says that it was the place where the angels of heaven went down to be perverse with man. In Psalm 22 it speaks of the bulls of Bashan in connection with the death of the Messiah, which is a reference to the evil spirits that attacked Yeshua when he was about to die, compare with Psalm 22:13. It seems as though Bashan was a place where the demons had a lot of influence. Today this area is called Golan. It is a militarily strategic area because from its heights one can see and control the land of Israel.

Because of the spiritual and military stronghold in the area of Bashan, Moshe needed a word of encouragement in order to battle this giant who was king. That is why HaShem said to Moshe, “Do not be afraid of him, for I have given him into your hand”.

21:34 “HaShem said to Moshe, Don’t fear him: for I have delivered him into your hand, and all his people, and his land; and you shall do to him as you did to Sichon king of the Amori, who lived at Cheshbon.”(HNV revised) – According to a Midrash,[16] the giant Og was the “one who had escaped”, in the war against Chedorlaomer during Avraham’s time, to give information to the patriarch, compare with Genesis 14:5, 13; Deuteronomy 3:11. On the merit of what he did then, he could have been able to resist the children of Israel. This would then be the reason that the Eternal told Moshe not to be afraid of him. However, it is hardly possible that he had lived for so long, over five hundred years.

“I have delivered him” – Faith speaks of things that do not exists as though they did, compare with Romans 4:17. To HaShem, Og’s defeat was already a fact because He relates to the past, present, and future simultaneously. King Og in Bashan and his people had already been delivered into Moshe’s and Israel’s hands. This teaches us that visible things that take place happen because there is spiritual influence over them. Everything that happens in the physical world has already happened in the spiritual world. So, in order to change things in the physical world, we must first change them in the spiritual world. How do we change things in the spiritual world? Through prayer and good deeds. If someone is to be punished by the heavenly court, it is possible to change that judgment through repentance and obedience to HaShem’s commandments, compare with Jeremiah 18:7-10; Daniel 4:24-28; Acts 8:20-24.

“you shall do to him as you did to Sichon” – This teaches us that faith can be activated and grow by experience. Since he had already done it, it was not hard to do it again. His trust in HaShem’s help had increased through the experience that he had earlier.

 The people of Israel had to destroy these two people groups because of their sins. HaShem used Israel as a tool to carry out his judgments over the nations and he still does that to this day. It was not man who began these wars. They were ordered to do so by the Ruler of Heaven who is over all the nations of the earth and gives them to whom he wishes, as it is written in Daniel 4:17, 26, 32,

“The sentence is by the decree of the watchers, and the demand by the word of the sacred ones; to the intent that the living may know that the Most High rules in the kingdom of men, and gives it to whoever he will, and sets up over it the lowest of men.… Whereas they commanded to leave the stump of the roots of the tree; your kingdom shall be sure to you, after that you shall have known that the heavens do rule… and you shall be driven from men; and they dwelling shall be with the animals of the field; you shall be made to eat grass as oxen; and seven times shall pass over you; until you know that the Most High rules in the kingdom of men, and gives it to whoever he will.”(HNV revised)

Carrying out justice as a delegate representative of HaShem is not the same thing as taking justice into your own hands. Israel did not act with evil toward these people, but they were placed over these nations in order to carry out the judgments of HaShem over the evil lifestyle that they had, as it is written in Deuteronomy 9:3-6,

“Know therefore this day, that HaShem your God is he who goes over before you as a devouring fire; he will destroy them, and he will bring them down before you: so shall you drive them out, and make them to perish quickly, as HaShem has spoken to you. Don’t speak in your heart, after that HaShem your God has thrust them out from before you, saying, For my righteousness HaShem has brought me in to possess this land; whereas for the wickedness of these nations HaShem does drive them out from before you. Not for your righteousness, or for the uprightness of your heart, do you go in to possess their land; but for the wickedness of these nations HaShem your God does drive them out from before you, and that he may establish the word which HaShem swore to your fathers, to Avraham, to Yitzchak, and to Ya`akov. Know therefore, that HaShem your God doesn’t give you this good land to possess it for your righteousness; for you are a stiff-necked people.”(HNV revised)

The authorities that the Eternal has instituted have the right and obligation to carry out His judgment over those who do evil, as it is written in Psalm 149:6-9,

“May the high praises of God be in their mouths, and a two-edged sword in their hand; to execute vengeance on the nations, and punishments on the peoples; to bind their kings with chains, and their nobles with fetters of iron; to execute on them the written judgment. All his sanctified ones have this honor. Praise HaShem!”(HNV revised)

When a person in authority carries out the Eternal’s judgment over sin, it is not the same thing as when a private person takes justice into his own hands. Power has been given to the governments of the earth, not to private people, compare with Romans 13:1ff.

It was the same way when Israel destroyed these nations. They did it as representatives of HaShem and as avengers because of the evil lifestyle of those nations. They did not take justice into their own hands. Israel has been placed as “head of the nations”, compare with Jeremiah 31:7. What the Eternal did to these people through Israel was completely righteous, because “HaShem is righteous in all his ways”, compare with Psalm 145:17a.

22:1 “The children of Yisra'el traveled, and encamped in the plains of Mo'av beyond the Yarden at Yericho.”(HNV) – The area called “the plains of Moav” was an area that was outside of the land of Moav. It was probably called that because it belonged to Moav until the king of the Amorites, Sichon, took it from Moav, compare with Numbers 21:26.

This Parashah contains commandments number 397 – 399 of the 613 commandments.

  1. The command about the red heifer (parah adumah), Numbers 19:2.

  2. The command about impurity caused by a corpse, Numbers 19:14.

  3. The command about water that was mixed with the ashes of the red heifer, which causes the clean to become unclean, and cleanses the unclean, Numbers 19:19.

[1]     Mishnah Parah 3:5.

[2]     Bamidbar Rabbah 19:4.

[3]     Mishnah  Parah 3:1.

[4]     Jomah 14a.

[5]     Taanit 13.

[6]     Taanit 9a.

[7]     Jilkut Shmoini 1:763.

[8]     Strong H4809 merîybâh, mer-ee-baw', The same as H4808; Meribah, the name of two places in the Desert: - Meribah.

Strong H4808 merîybâh, mer-ee-baw', From H7378; quarrel: - provocation, strife.

[9]     Tanchumah 17.

[10]    Rosh HaShanah 3a; Taanit 9a; Gittín 90a.

[11]    Strong H5251 nês, nace, From H5264; a flag; also a sail; by implication a flagstaff; generally a signal; figuratively a token: - banner, pole, sail, (en-) sign, standard.

Strong H5264 nâsas, naw-sas', A primitive root; to gleam from afar, that is, to be conspicuous as a signal; or rather perhaps a denominative from H5251 (and identical with H5263, through the idea of a flag as fluttering in the wind); to raise a beacon: - lift up as an ensign, standard bearer.

[12]    Strong H5175 nâchâsh, naw-khawsh', From H5172; a snake (from its hiss): - serpent.

[13]    Strong H5178 nechôsheth, nekh-o'-sheth, For H5154; copper; hence, something made of that metal, that is, coin, a fetter; figuratively base (as compared with gold or silver): - brasen, brass, chain, copper, fetter (of brass), filthiness, steel.

[14]    Reina-Valera 1995—Edición de Estudio, (Estados Unidos de América: Sociedades Bíblicas Unidas) 1998. Translated from Spanish by the author.

[15]    Bereshit Rabbah 16:17.

[16]    Bamidbar Rabbah.