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Parashah 34 BeMidbar

Numbers 1:1 – 4:20

By Dr. K. Blad  ©

Second edition 2013-14

Lucrative copying not permitted. 

 

Torah Readings:

  1. 1:1-19

  2. 1:20-54

  3. 2:1-34

  4. 3:1-13

  5. 3:14-39

  6. 3:40-51

  7. 4:1-20

  8. Maftir: 4:17-20

 

Haftarah: Hosea 1:10 – 2:20 (2:1-22 Hebrew version)

BeMidbar

means “in the steppe of” or “in the desert of”

Comments

The First Aliyah, 1:1-19

1:1    “HaShem spoke to Moshe in the wilderness of Sinai, in the Tent of Meeting, on the first day of the second month, in the second year after they had come out of the land of Egypt, saying”(HNV revised) – The Hebrew word that is translated “wilderness” is midbar,[1] which means “steppe”, “desert”, “wilderness”, “conversation”, and it comes from the root davar,[2] which means “speak”, “talk”, “converse”.

 The word midbar does not mean “desert” in the English sense of the word. The word desert is used to describe a very dry area, normally full of sand and with little or no vegetation. The word midbar, however, is more like a plain, a widespread area without trees, but with some vegetation that can adapt to dry areas. A midbar is an uninhabited land area, with few trees and with grazing for small cattle. This explains how Israel could have so many animals with them when they left Egypt, animals that managed to survive in the “desert”. The Torah does not say that the animals ate manna in the desert. There must have been something for them to graze during the forty years in the desert, compare with Numbers 32:1.

Caves found in a midbar are suitable protection for the herds at night. Normally a shepherd would sleep outside with the herds during the night. If he had access to a cave, he would let the sheep go into it, and he would place himself at the entrance of the cave in order to protect them from the dangers of the night. This way the shepherd would become the “door” in to the sheep. This is where the expression “I am the door” comes from, as it is written in John 10:1-18,

“‘Most assuredly, I tell you, one who doesn’t enter by the door into the sheep fold, but climbs up some other way, the same is a thief and a robber. But one who enters in by the door is the shepherd of the sheep. The gatekeeper opens the gate for him, and the sheep listen to his voice. He calls his own sheep by name, and leads them out. Whenever he brings out his own sheep, he goes before them, and the sheep follow him, for they know his voice. They will by no means follow a stranger, but will flee from him; for they don’t know the voice of strangers.’ Yeshua spoke this parable to them, but they didn’t understand what he was telling them. Yeshua therefore said to them again, ‘Most assuredly, I tell you, I am the sheep’s door. All who came before me are thieves and robbers, but the sheep didn’t listen to them. I am the door. If anyone enters in by me, he will be saved, and will go in and go out, and will find pasture. The thief only comes to steal, kill, and destroy. I came that they may have life, and may have it abundantly. I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep. He who is a hired hand, and not a shepherd, who doesn’t own the sheep, sees the wolf coming, leaves the sheep, and flees. The wolf snatches the sheep, and scatters them. The hired hand flees because he is a hired hand, and doesn’t care for the sheep. I am the good shepherd. I know my own, and I’m known by my own; even as the Father knows me, and I know the Father. I lay down my life for the sheep. I have other sheep, which are not of this fold. I must bring them also, and they will hear my voice. They will become one flock with one shepherd. Therefore the Father loves me, because I lay down my life, that I may take it again. No one takes it away from me, but I lay it down by myself. I have power to lay it down, and I have power to take it again. I received this commandment from my Father.”(HNV revised)

A shepherd is the door to his sheep. If anyone wants to take sheep out to graze that are not under his care, then he must first go through the door, the shepherd, the pastor. If anyone wants to help the shepherd in his work with the sheep, he has to have the shepherd’s approval; otherwise he does not have any right to the sheep. This teaches us that anyone who wants to lead sheep that are under someone else’s care must be permitted to by the shepherd of those sheep. Shepherds are responsible for the way that the sheep under their care develop. Thieves are the only ones who do not come through the door. They try to make their own profit from others’ sheep, without the permission of the shepherds.

Yeshua will be the shepherd of the sheep of Israel, as it is written in Ezekiel 34:23,

“I will set up one shepherd over them, and he shall feed them, even my servant David; he shall feed them, and he shall be their shepherd.”(HNV)

In Ezekiel 37:24, it is written,

“My servant David shall be king over them; and they all shall have one shepherd: they shall also walk in my ordinances, and observe my statutes, and do them.”(HNV)

Yeshua is the door to his sheep. Those who do not go through Yeshua HaMashiach, do not have the right to lead the sheep whom the Father has given him. This teaches us that we cannot allow teachers who do not belong to Yeshua to lead our congregations.

It also means that none of our leaders have the right to claim the sheep and say that they belong to him or that they are his disciples. All sheep belong to the Great Shepherd and they are his disciples. You cannot find two or three texts in the Messianic Writings saying that one who is a disciple of the Messiah can make disciples of his own. Therefore we do not call our leaders rabbis. Only Yeshua has the right to be a rabbi and to have disciples, compare with Matthew 23:8. We do not have the right to have disciples of our own. We do not make all people into our disciples, but into disciples of our Rabbi Yeshua HaMashiach, who has received all power from the Father to rule over all living creatures in heaven and on the earth, compare with Matthew 28:18-20. The sign of false teachers is that they draw Yeshua’s disciples to themselves and not to Him, as it is written in Acts 20:29-30,

“For I know that after my departure, vicious wolves will enter in among you, not sparing the flock. Men will arise from among your own selves, speaking perverse things, to draw away the disciples after them.”(HNV)

Since a midbar is outside of the city, it is a fitting place for a private conversation. There is no risk that you might be overheard. That is why this place, where people could talk privately, was called midbar, which literally means “conversation”. A midbar is therefore a place where you can have intimate conversations without being disturbed by others, as it is written in Hosea 2:14,

“Therefore, behold, I will allure her, and bring her into the wilderness, and speak tenderly to her.”(HNV)

Why did HaShem bring Israel out to a midbar? It was in order to have a personal conversation with his bride, to enter into a marriage covenant with her, and to give her the ketuvah, the Scriptures.

When you go through a desert in your life, do not look at it as something negative. Look at it as a possibility to come near HaShem and receive words and instructions from your Father who loves you and takes care of you in all the desert places where you learn to be dependent on him and to not lean on your own abilities.

“on the first day of the second month, in the second year” – The tabernacle was raised on the first day of the first month, the second year, compare with Exodus 40:2. One month later, HaShem spoke the words of this text to Moshe. According to Gur Ariyeh,[3] a person is considered to be an established inhabitant when he has lived in a place for thirty days. At this point, the heavenly presence had been dwelling in the mishkan for one month. Therefore, it was time, once again, to count the children of Israel and to establish a clear genealogy of every Israelite family so that the shechinah could be established to dwell among them.

1:2    “Take a census of all the congregation of the children of Yisra'el, by their families, by their fathers’ houses, according to the number of the names, every male, one by one”(HNV) – This is the fourth time that the children of Israel were counted. The first time was when the children of Israel traveled down to Egypt, compare with Exodus 1:5. The second time was when they left Egypt, compare with Exodus 12:37. The third time was on the plain before the building of the tabernacle, compare with Exodus 30:11-16; 38:25-26. Here HaShem commands that they be counted once again. According to Rashi, He finds so much joy in the people of Israel that it pleases him to count them over and over again.

On Rosh Chodesh, the first day of the month, the new moon, HaShem gave the command to make this census. According to Numbers 10:11, they broke camp from that place on the twentieth day of the same month. This means that they had less than twenty days to count all the men between the ages of twenty and sixty. In less than three weeks, the census was completed. Besides this, Numbers 9:11 also mentions that that those who could not sacrifice the Pesach during the first month were to do it on the fourteenth day of the second month. This second Passover is called Pesach Sheni, “the Second Pesach”. Therefore it is possible that the census was finished even before the fourteenth day of the month. This shows us the immediate obedience and the incredible efficiency that the leaders in Israel had when they organized the people. There was no room for slackness in the desert, only for discipline and order.

The chief of each tribe had to make a great effort in order to count all the members of his tribe. If we suppose that they had to complete the census in ten days, then Nachshon, the chief of the tribe of Yehudah, had to count nearly 7,500 people a day in order to reach the 74,600 men that were in his tribe. There is no place in Israel for laziness. Laziness is fertile soil for sin.

“one by one” – The word here in Hebrew is legulgelotam,[4] which comes from the same root as the word Golgotha does, the place where Yeshua died. This teaches us that all those who were counted were connected to the Messiah’s death.

1:3    “from twenty years old and upward, all who are able to go out to war in Yisra'el. You and Aharon shall number them by their divisions.”(HNV) – The Hebrew word that is translated as “able to go our to war” is tzavah,[5] which means “army”. This word does not only describe those who were able to fight, but it also means that they were organized as a warring host. The same word is used to describe the stars, which are called “the host of heaven”, compare with Genesis 2:1; Deuteronomy 4:19. The Levites were also organized as a tzavah, compare with 4:23, even though they did not participate in the wars. This teaches us that tzavah has more to do with order and discipline than with war. There was military discipline among the children of Israel in the desert, as it is written in Exodus 12:41 and 51,

“It happened at the end of four hundred thirty years, even the same day it happened, that all the hosts of HaShem went out from the land of Egypt… It happened the same day, that HaShem brought the children of Yisra'el out of the land of Egypt by their hosts.”(HNV revised)

Order and discipline are foundational in order for the people of Israel to be able to function properly and to advance. The book of Bamidbar, Numbers, teaches us the importance of having thorough control of the members and finances of our congregations so that they can function properly. Disorder and anarchy come from sin. HaShem is an God of order, as it is written in 1 Corinthians 14:33, 40,

“for God is not an God of confusion, but of shalom… Let all things be done decently and in order.”(HNV revised)

Only those who are disciplined are counted in Israel. Those who are not willing to submit to HaShem’s discipline, his Torah, and his leadership, are not fit to be counted. HaShem does not count the undisciplined.

By this we also learn, that only those who are willing to go to war are counted within Israel, whose name means “he who battles together with God”. Only those who are prepared to fight to win are counted in Israel, as it is written in Revelation 2:7b, 11b, 17b, 26-28; 3:5, 12, 21,

“To him who overcomes I will give to eat of the tree of life, which is in the Paradise of my God… He who overcomes won’t be harmed by the second death… To him who overcomes, to him I will give of the hidden manna, and I will give him a white stone, and on the stone a new name written, which no one knows but he who receives it… He who overcomes, and he who keeps my works to the end, to him I will give authority over the nations. He will rule them with a rod of iron, shattering them like clay pots; as I also have received of my Father: and I will give him the morning star… He who overcomes will be arrayed in white garments, and I will in no way blot his name out of the book of life, and I will confess his name before my Father, and before his angels… He who overcomes, I will make him a pillar in the temple of my God, and he will go out from there no more. I will write on him the name of my God, and the name of the city of my God, the new Yerushalayim, which comes down out of heaven from my God, and my own new name… He who overcomes, I will give to him to sit down with me on my throne, as I also overcame, and sat down with my Father on his throne.”(HNV revised)

Here we see how important it is for an Israelite to fight. Only those who fight can overcome. Battle is a part of Israel. HaShem only counts those who are willing to discipline themselves and fight against all the enemies that rise against Him.

1:4    “With you there shall be a man of every tribe; everyone head of his fathers’ house.”(HNV) – The Hebrew word that is translated as “head” is rosh.[6] The head is over the rest of the body. It has the task of giving orders and taking control over the whole body. Leaders are put into place over the people to lead them, as it is written in Matthew 24:45-47,

“Who then is the faithful and wise servant, whom his lord has set over his household, to give them their food in due season? Blessed is that servant whom his lord finds doing so when he comes. Most assuredly I tell you that he will set him over all that he has.”(HNV)

The idea that everyone is equal is flawed and it opposes the Creator and creation. There is a big difference between value and position. It is very important that we understand this difference. All men are very valuable. The value of a human life does not depend on the ability of the person, but on the fact that he is created in the image of God, no matter how much that image has been distorted.

In spite of this, one who is in a high position of leadership ought to be given more respect than others, simply because of the position that he is in. He ought to receive double honor. He ought to be honored both as a person, which all men ought to be, and for the position that he has since that position reflects the power of HaShem.

1:5    “These are the names of the men who shall stand with you: of Re'uven: Elitzur the son of Shede'ur.”(HNV) – Here we can see how the heads of the tribes were identified by name so that all the people would know who had been chosen to lead. There was only one head leader for each tribe. There cannot be two bosses within a functioning administration. A body with two heads is sick. Everyone had to know who his leader was. Are you aware of who your spiritual leader is?

When we appoint someone, or lay hands on someone who has been chosen for leadership, we always do so publicly. Then the people can see who is in charge of a certain area of responsibility according to their position.

1:10 “Of the children of Yosef: of Efrayim: Elishama the son of `Ammihud. Of Menashsheh: Gamli'el the son of Pedatzur.”(HNV) – Elishama was Yehoshua’s (Joshua’s) grandfather, according to 1 Chronicles 7:26.

The Second Aliyah, 1:20-54

1:20 “The children of Re'uven, Yisra'el’s firstborn, their generations, by their families, by their fathers’ houses, according to the number of the names, one by one, every male from twenty years old and upward, all who were able to go out to war”(HNV) – Reuven is mentioned first on the list, as the firstborn, even though the birthright of the firstborn was taken from him, according to 1 Chronicles 5:1. His repentance gave him back the right to be named first in the genealogies.

Becoming of age with the civil standing of an adult happens at the age of twenty. Boys are of age morally at the age of thirteen, and girls at the age of twelve.

1:23 “those who were numbered of them, of the tribe of Shim`on, were fifty-nine thousand three hundred.”(HNV) – If we compare this number with the census that was done thirty-eight years later, we see that Shimon’s tribe lost 63% of its population, compare with Numbers 26. The main reason for this loss was their sin with the Midianite women when they followed the bad example of a leader, compare with Numbers 25:6-14. This teaches us what a great impression the example of a leader makes on others. Because of the sin of a leader, a deadly plague came over the whole tribe since they all followed his bad example. The power of an example is very great, especially the example of a leader.

1:51 “When the tabernacle is to move, the Levites shall take it down; and when the tabernacle is to be set up, the Levites shall set it up. The stranger who comes near shall be put to death.”(HNV) – The Hebrew word that is translated as “stranger” is zar,[7] which means “stranger”, “foreigner”, “profane”, “illegitimate”. This teaches us that after the spiritual adultery that the children of Israel committed with the golden calf, they were considered as illegitimate children, all except the Levites, since they did not join in the sin and become unclean.

1:52 “The children of Yisra'el shall pitch their tents, every man by his own camp, and every man by his own banner, according to their divisions.”(HNV revised) – The tribal banners represent identity. The people identified with their flags, and everyone was actually forced to relate to them, since they were to pitch their tents around their flags. The flags were in the middle of the camp of each tribe. According to Jonathan’s Targum, the flags were made of silk and had different colors representing the twelve stones on the breastplate of judgment worn by the Kohen HaGadol, the High Priest.

Within the overall identity of a people, which everyone has, it is also good to have a tribal identity. A tribe consists of a limited group of people within a nation, but it is bigger than a family. We could compare the tribes with the different congregations or organizations that we make up. This text also teaches us how important it is that each member of the people identifies with his own organization or congregation. Everyone ought be part of a congregation that he can identify with, where he can feel at home, where he can be among people that he can call “his own”, as it is written in Acts 4:23,

“Being let go, they came to their own company, and reported all that the chief priests and the elders had said to them.”(HNV revised)

Do you have a group of people or a congregation that you feel one with, where your own company is? If you do not, then you ought to pray and ask the Father to help you be integrated with and become a part of a spiritual group, a group that can be your tribal identity within the general identity that you have as a part of the people. In order to be able to function properly, it is important to be part of a congregation, as it is written in Hebrews 10:25,

“not forsaking our own assembling together, as the custom of some is, but exhorting one another; and so much the more, as you see the Day approaching.”(HNV)

According to a Midrash,[8] the colors and illustrations of the tribal flags looked something like this:

Yehudah – sky blue background,techelet,with a lion

Re’uven – red background with a mandrake flower that resembles a personYisachar – black background with the sun and moon
Shimon – green background with a city (Shechem)Zevulun – white background with a shipGad – black and white stripes with a troop of soldiers
Efrayim – black background with a young bull (Yehoshua)Dan – opal colored background with a snake (Shimshon)Menasheh – black background with an ox (Gid´on)
Asher – pearl colored background with an olive treeBinyamín – colors from all the other tribes with a wolfNaftali – the color of diluted wine and a deer

LeviLevi’s flag was made up of three colors: white, black, and red, and it had the High Priest’s breast plate of judgment embroidered on it.

How are we to find the balance between individualism and collectivism?

A spiritually immature person thinks only of himself. He can’t see past the end of his own nose. He has no love, because love does not seek its own. A spiritually immature person seeks only his own success. The only reason that he has fellowship with others is in order to meet his own desires. He seeks contact with others, and may even become a member of a congregation, but this is only in order to have his own needs met. These needs could be spiritual, soulish, physical, or financial. One who only seeks to have his own needs met in a congregation is a spiritual child. One who is spiritually mature will seek to meet the needs of the people around him, because he loves his neighbor as himself. He is willing to sacrifice his own rights in order to meet the needs of others.

Individualism is manifested by a desire to satisfy one’s ego. However, it does not isolate itself from others. It has a certain relationship with the corporate, but it is always with egotistic motives looking only to satisfy self.

Communism took advantage of one part of a principle in the Torah in order to bring about its own twisted vision. The principle is that the corporate takes precedence over the individual. The collective good is more important than the individual, and the individual ought to stop seeking his own in order to support the collective good. With this spirit, communism became strong and the movement had a lot of power during a period of time. However, this success was not because the communist vision was right, but because they activated their vision by being based partially on a heavenly principle.

If I learn to consider the collective cause as more important than myself, then I, together with others who are likeminded, can become a part of a powerful movement. Teamwork is a very important principle for us to learn so that the Kingdom can prosper. This principle is portrayed very clearly in the book of Acts.

In this week’s Parashah, we find the perfect balance between the individual and the corporate congregation, between individualism and collectivism. Each individual was counted, which shows us that each individual is important and worthy of being counted. However, the individual is a part of a larger collection of people, which is more important than the individual himself. The individual ought to seek the good of the corporate congregation, and the corporate congregation ought to seek the good of the individual. In order for Israel to be able to continue as a people, the individuals within Israel must learn to contribute to the community everything that is needed for it to remain unified and prosperous. The community, however, ought to be interested in the individuals that it consists of, as it is written in Acts 2:44-45,

“All who believed were together, and had all things in common. They sold their possessions and goods, and distributed them to all, according as anyone had need.”(HNV)

In Acts 4:32-35, it is written,

“The multitude of those who believed were of one heart and soul. Not one of them claimed that anything of the things which he possessed was his own, but they had all things in common. With great power, the messengers gave their testimony of the resurrection of the Lord Yeshua. Great grace was on them all. For neither was there among them any who lacked, for as many as were owners of lands or houses sold them, and brought the proceeds of the things that were sold, and laid them at the messengers’ feet, and distribution was made to each, according as anyone had need.”(HNV revised)

In 1 Corinthians 14:12, it is written,

“So also you, since you are zealous for spiritual gifts, seek that you may abound to the building up of the assembly.”(HNV)

Here we see that spiritual manifestations are not for the purpose of elevating any one man, but for the benefit of the community, the congregation of the Eternal. Woe unto those who seek the gifts of the Spirit in order to elevate themselves or to become wealthy!

We ought to promote our collective thinking without losing sight of the individual. I deny myself for the good of the Kingdom, so that through my contribution the Kingdom will prosper. Through this, I will prosper as well, not because I sought my own good, but because I sought the good of the Kingdom. In the Kingdom of Heaven, no one becomes rich at the cost of anyone else. Everyone becomes rich because they all partake of the collective riches and the collective congregation has learned to support the individuals according to the needs of each one.

A leader must seek the welfare of all those who are under him. If he only supports a limited group of his people, then he is not a good leader.

The Third Aliyah, 2:1-34

2:3    “Those who encamp on the east side toward the sunrise shall be of the standard of the camp of Yehudah, according to their divisions: and the prince of the children of Yehudah shall be Nachshon the son of `Amminadav.”(HNV) – Yehudah’s camp was east of the Tabernacle, together with Yissachar and Zevulun. The sun rises in the east, facing the entrance of the mishkan. Out of the three tribes, Yehudah was the leading tribe. Here we see that there is a group of three tribes and one of them is the leader of the other two. Heavenly order means that each group has a leader. There were three leaders over three tribes, but one of them was appointed to be over the other two. We find the same delegation within the other groups as well.

In this chapter, the Torah brings out the importance of leaders, see verses 3, 5, 7, 10, 12, 14, 18, 20, 22, 25, 27, 29. If there are no leaders, the people will perish.

2:10 “On the south side shall be the standard of the camp of Re'uven according to their divisions. The prince of the children of Re'uven shall be Elitzur the son of Shede'ur.”(HNV) – Reuven was encamped on the south side, together with Shimon and Gad.

2:18 “On the west side shall be the standard of the camp of Efrayim according to their divisions: and the prince of the children of Efrayim shall be Elishama the son of `Ammihud.”(HNV) – Efrayim was encamped on the west side, together with Menasheh and Binyamin.

2:25 “On the north side shall be the standard of the camp of Dan according to their divisions: and the prince of the children of Dan shall be Achi`ezer the son of `Ammishaddai.”(HNV) – Dan was to camp on the north side together with Asher and Naftali. It was not only the number of each tribe and the sum total of all the people that were counted, but also the number of those in the four groups of three tribes each. This teaches us how important it is to organize, record, and keep track of things.

The Camp of Israel

Yehudah, Reuven, Efrayim, and Dan correspond with the four faces of the angelic creatures before the throne of the Glory, as it is written in Ezekiel 1:10,

“As for the likeness of their faces, they had the face of a man; and they four had the face of a lion on the right side; and they four had the face of an ox on the left side; they four had also the face of an eagle.”(HNV)

Man – Reuven, compare with Genesis 29:32

Lion (the right side) – Yehudah, compare with Genesis 49:9

Ox (left) – Efrayim, compare with Deuteronomy 33:16-17

Eagle – Dan, “a snake with wings”, compare with Genesis 49:17

There is a similarity between that which is in heaven and the people of Israel on the earth. Israel reflects the things of heaven.

The Fourth Aliyah, 3:1-13

3:9    “You shall give the Levites to Aharon and to his sons. They are wholly given to him on the behalf of the children of Yisra'el.”(HNV) – The Levites, on the one hand, were given to Aharon and his sons. They had to serve the priests, compare with 3:6. On the other hand however, they were given to the Eternal, compare with 3:12. One who dedicates himself to the Eternal, simultaneously dedicates himself to those in leadership. Anyone that thinks he is dedicated to the Eternal without being submitted to the leadership that He has instituted, is mistaken.

3:12 “Behold, I have taken the Levites from among the children of Yisra'el instead of all the firstborn who open the womb among the children of Yisra'el; and the Levites shall be mine”(HNV) – The Levites represent the firstborn and were taken in their place. To begin with, it was the firstborn who were chosen to be priests. However, on account of the sin with the golden calf, they lost their right to serve in the sanctuary. Since the Levites did not partake of that sin, they could take the place of the firstborn as servants in the mishkan.

3:13 “for all the firstborn are mine. On the day that I struck down all the firstborn in the land of Egypt I consecrated to me all the firstborn in Yisra'el, both man and animal. They shall be mine. I am HaShem.”(HNV revised) – The firstborn belong to HaShem in a special way, even though they cannot serve as priests in the temple.

The Fifth Aliyah, 3:14-39

3:17 “These were the sons of Levi by their names: Gershon, and Kehat, and Merari.”(HNV) – From these three sons of Levi, three large families were born. Each family was counted separately and given a special assignment in the mishkan, the tabernacle. Kehat’s family was on the highest level spiritually and was, therefore, supposed to carry the most consecrated objects. Mosheh and Aharon were descendants of Kehat.

Family Name

Text

Number

Gershon

Numbers 3:22

7,500

Kehat

Numbers 3:28

8,600

Merari

Numbers 3:34

6,200

TOTAL

 

22,300

3:30 “The prince of the fathers’ house of the families of the Kehati shall be Elitzafan the son of `Uzzi'el.”(HNV) – This man, Elitzafan, who is also called Eltzafan, was the leader of the Kehatites. In Exodus 6:18, the four sons of Kehat are listed in this order: Amram, Yitzhar, Chevron, and Uzziel. It is very possible that this was the order of their birth. In Exodus 6:21, it is written that Yitzhar, who was the second born son of Kehat, became the father of Korach. This Korach was the man who later led the rebellion against Moshe and Aharon. In Exodus 6:22, it says that Uzziel, who was Kehat’s fourth son, became the father of Mishael, Eltzafan, and Sitri. Yitzhar was the older brother of Uzziel. The firstborn son of Yitzhar was Korach. Uzziel was the youngest brother in the family. His son, Eltzafan, became the leader of the sons of Kehat. Therefore, the youngest son was given the highest position in the family. Normally it is the older that lead the younger, and not the other way around, but in this case HaShem replaced the natural order with a prophetic order. That is why the cousin, Korach, became jealous. He was most likely older than Eltzafan, since his father was older than Eltzafan’s father. He might have thought, “Why should my cousin be our leader? He is younger than I am, and he is the son of the youngest brother in the family.”

The Torah teach us that jealousy and rivalry that was not corrected in time caused the rebellion that later brought about catastrophic results. The earth opened its mouth and swallowed Korach and his followers, compare with Numbers 16:32.

 On the other hand, we have two good examples of humility in the Torah, in Aharon and Menasheh. They were not jealous of their younger brothers who received higher positions than they did.

3:39 “All who were numbered of the Levites, whom Moshe and Aharon numbered at the commandment of HaShem, by their families, all the males from a month old and upward, were twenty-two thousand.”(HNV revised) – There is a difference of three hundred people from this number and the sum of the numbers of each family (see table). These three hundred Levites are the firstborn. Since they were firstborn, they were to serve in the Tabernacle as firstborn and could therefore not represent the other firstborn. So, the number of remaining Levites was 22,000, and they were the ones who could replace the rest of the firstborn in Israel, as it is written in 3:41, 45,

“You shall take the Levites for me -I am HaShem- instead of all the firstborn among the children of Yisra'el; and the cattle of the Levites instead of all the firstborn among the cattle of the children of Yisra'el… Take the Levites instead of all the firstborn among the children of Yisra'el, and the cattle of the Levites instead of their cattle; and the Levites shall be mine. I am HaShem.”(HNV revised)

The Sixth Aliyah, 3:4-51

3:43 “All the firstborn males according to the number of names, from a month old and upward, of those who were numbered of them, were twenty-two thousand two hundred seventy-three.”(HNV) – Since the Levites represented the firstborn, there had to be an equal amount of Levites and firstborn. If we exclude the firstborn of the Levites, the first born in Israel were 22,273. Since there were 22,000 Levites who were not firstborn, there were 273 firstborn in Israel who did not have Levites to replace them. So instead, those 273 Israelites paid a ransom amount of five shekels each to Aharon and his sons, compare with verse 48. This teaches us that there are cases when money can be given instead of a ministry that cannot be carried out for a valid reason. The 273 firstborn could not serve in the tabernacle, but they could replace their ministry with money.

The Seventh Aliyah, 4:1-20

4:4    “This is the service of the sons of Kehat in the Tent of Meeting, the most consecrated things.”(HNV revised) – The Kehatites were chosen to carry the most consecrated objects on their shoulders.

4:6    “and shall put a covering of tachash-skin on it, and shall spread over it a cloth all of blue, and shall put in its poles.”(HNV revised) – It is not certain what animal the tachash is referring to. According to Talmud,[9] it was an animal with one horn that only existed during Moshe’s time.

“a cloth all of blue” – The ark was the only object in the color blue when it was being transported. This way it was noticeable and it could lead the children of Israel, as it is written in Joshua 3:3-4,

“and they commanded the people, saying, When you see the ark of the covenant of HaShem your God, and the priests the Levites bearing it, then you shall remove from your place, and go after it. Yet there shall be a space between you and it, about two thousand cubits by measure: don’t come near to it, that you may know the way by which you must go; for you have not passed this way heretofore.”(HNV revised)

The ark symbolizes the Mashiach. He always goes before the people. The ark went before the children of Israel through the Yarden, Jordan River, which represents death and resurrection. This teaches us that the people of Israel can go through death and come out alive through the Mashiach Yeshua who went before and opened the way.

4:13 “They shall take away the ashes from the altar, and spread a purple cloth on it.”(HNV) – According to a Midrash,[10] the fire on the altar was covered with a copper kettle during transport so that it would neither go out nor spread.

4:15 “When Aharon and his sons have finished covering the sanctuary, and all the furniture of the sanctuary, as the camp moves forward; after that, the sons of Kehat shall come to carry it: but they shall not touch the sanctuary, lest they die. These things are the burden of the sons of Kehat in the Tent of Meeting.”(HNV) – If Uzzah had read the Torah carefully, he would not have touched the ark, and it could have saved his life, as it is written in 2 Samuel 6:6-7,

“When they came to the threshing floor of Nakhon, Uzzah put forth his hand to the ark of God, and took hold of it; for the oxen stumbled. The anger of HaShem was kindled against Uzzah; and God struck him there for his error; and there he died by the ark of God.”(HNV revised)

In the census of the Levites in Numbers 26:62, we can see that the tribe had only increased by seven hundred men over a period of 38 years. During the same time period, the tribe of Menasheh increased by 64%. Should not the Levites have been able to do the same? Could it be that so many Levites died during their ministry?

4:16 “The charge of El`azar the son of Aharon the priest shall be the oil for the light, the sweet incense, the continual meal offering, and the anointing oil, the charge of all the tabernacle, and of all that is in it, the sanctuary, and its furnishings.”(HNV revised) – Elazar, Aharon’s son, had the responsibility of being the manager, the head administrator, for the most consecrated objects as well as the work that was carried out by the Kehatites. The responsibility to oversee the ministry of Gershon and Merari was Itamar’s, compare with 4:28, 33. According to Yerushalayim’s Talmud,[11] during the entire wanderings in the wilderness, Elazar carried the oil for the lamp stand in his right hand and the incense in his left hand, as well and the meal for the daily offering in a bucket that hung on his left arm and a small bottle of anointing oil in his belt. These objects were heavy.

4:19 “but thus do to them, that they may live, and not die, when they approach to the most consecrated things: Aharon and his sons shall go in, and appoint them everyone to his service and to his burden”(HNV revised) – The Levites were not allowed to see the most consecrated objects, but the priests were, since they were on a higher level of consecration.

The Mashiach in this Parashah

1:2    “one by one” (or “according to their heads”) – All those who are counted as part of Israel are connected to Golgotha, the place where Yeshua died.

2:3    Yehudah camped on the east side, where the sun rises, in front of the entrance to the tabernacle. The Messiah comes from the tribe of Yehudah. He is called “the sun of righteousness” in Malachi 4:2, (3:20 in the Hebrew text). He is going to enter the temple from the east when he comes the second time.

2:9    Yehudah goes first. The Messiah goes first.

3:12-13 “all the firstborn who open the womb” – Yeshua opened Miriyam’s womb, compare with Luke 2:22ff. Since he was firstborn, he belongs to HaShem in a special way.

3:47  There was a ransom amount for each head, in Hebrew la-gulgolet, which has the same root as “Golgotha”. There is a ransom for every person, a ransom that was paid on Golgotha through the Messiah’s death.

4:3    “thirty years or older” – Yeshua began his public ministry at thirty years of age, compare with Luke 3:23.

4:5    The veil, which symbolizes Yeshua’s body, compare with Hebrews 10:20, was the first thing tat was taken down when the camp would move from one place to another. Yeshua’s death has enabled Israel to go from a lower spiritual level to a higher one.

4:16  Elazar, who symbolizes the heavenly ministry of Malki-Tzedek, was responsible for the most consecrated objects of the tabernacle. In the same way, Yeshua is responsible for the most consecrated objects of the heavenly tabernacle.

None of the 613 commandments are contained in this Parashah.


[1]     Strong H4057 midbâr, mid-bawr', From H1696 in the sense of driving; a pasture (that is, open field, whither cattle are driven); by implication a desert; also speech (including its organs): - desert, south, speech, wilderness.

[2]     Strong H1696 dâbar, daw-bar', A primitive root; perhaps properly to arrange; but used figuratively (of words) to speak; rarely (in a destructive sense) to subdue: - answer, appoint, bid, command, commune, declare, destroy, give, name, promise, pronounce, rehearse, say, speak, be spokesman, subdue, talk, teach, tell, think, use [entreaties], utter, X well, X work.

[3]     R. Jehudah Loewe ben Betzalel (1525-1609), more commonly known as the Maharal of Prague.

[4]     Strong H1538 gûlgôleth, gul-go'-leth, By reduplication from H1556; a skull (as round); by implication a head (in enumeration of persons): - head, every man, poll, skull.

[5]     Strong H6635 tsâbâ' tsebâ'âh, tsaw-baw', tseb-aw-aw', From H6633; a mass of persons (or figurative things), especially regularly organized for war (an army); by implication a campaign, literally or figuratively (specifically hardship, worship): - appointed time, (+) army, (+) battle, company, host, service, soldiers, waiting upon, war (-fare).

[6]     Strong H7218 rô'sh, roshe, From an unused root apparently meaning to shake; the head (as most easily shaken), whether literally or figuratively (in many applications, of place, time, rank, etc.): - band, beginning, captain, chapiter, chief (-est place, man, things), company, end, X every [man], excellent, first, forefront, ([be-]) head, height, (on) high (-est part, [priest]), X lead, X poor, principal, ruler, sum, top.

[7]     Strong H2114 zûr, zoor, A primitive root; to turn aside (especially for lodging); hence to be a foreigner, strange, profane; specifically (active participle) to commit adultery: - (come from) another (man, place), fanner, go away, (e-) strange (-r, thing, woman).

[8]     Bamidbar Rabbah 2:6.

[9]     Shabbat 28b.

[10]    Bamidbar Rabbah 1:17.

[11]    Shabbat 10:3.