There are a few really important events in this parashah. One is that the Levites are separated from the rest of the children of Israel and dedicated to God, to serve Him only. God reminds us that the first born children of Egypt were sacrificed in order that all of the children of Israel may be set free; therefore, all the first born children of Israel belong to God. The Levites serve as substitute for the first born of all the other tribes, which is why a census of the Levites was compared to the first born of the other tribes, and for the difference there was a payment of 5 shekels per child redeemed ( Exodus 13:1, Numbers 3:1 – 4:29.)
An important commandment that originated in this reading is for those who are unclean on Passover. This parashah takes place on the first Passover in the desert, the first month of the second year (on the first Passover they were still in Egypt); some men who were unclean by reason of having been near a dead body could not partake in the Passover, and when asked what to do God told Moses that when this happens they are to have their Passover on the 14th day of the second month.
It is also important to note God commanded that all people who worship Him are to be treated the same way; consequently, all people who worship Him are to worship Him the same way (this was first stated in Leviticus 24:22):
Numbers 9:14 – And if a stranger shall sojourn among you, and will keep the Passover unto the Lord: according to the statute of the Passover, and according to the ordinance thereof, so shall he do; ye shall have one statute, both for the stranger, and for him that is born in the land.
God has Moses make the silver trumpets, which are used to call the people to important events, war and for the issuing in of the Jubilee Year (Yovel.)
Chapter 10 tells us who led each of the tribes as they traveled in the desert, and how when the cloud was lifted up the people traveled, and when it came to rest on the Tabernacle the people remained. Numbers 10:35-36 gives us the prayers that Moses said as the Ark of the Covenant was taken and returned; these prayers are also found in Psalm 68, and are still used today as the Torah is removed and returned to the Ark:
And it came to pass, when the ark set forward, that Moses said:”Rise up, O Lord, and let Thine enemies be scattered; and let them that hate Thee flee before Thee.” And when it rested, he said, “Return, O Lord, unto the ten thousands of the families of Israel.”
Chapter 11 relates how, when the people complained about not having meat to eat (effectively rejecting the miraculous gift of manna God provided to them every day), God sent quails to satisfy them. However, because they did not ask respectfully and rejected God’s provisions, He also sent a plague (perhaps some form of Avian Flu?) that killed many. During this time Moses was overwhelmed by the pressure placed upon him, and to help Moses God had Moses gather 70 Elders for Him to give some of the Spirit (Ruach) that Moses had, so they could help him.
In Exodus 18 we are told that Jethro, Moses’ Father-in-law, recommended that Moses appoint people to help him adjudicate: I believe this is a different event than God giving His Ruach to the 70 Elders. These Elders were to spiritually edify and comfort the people, not to be judges. When they prophesied as the Ruach came upon them, this was a Divine sign of their appointment in this role. Moses also showed his humility and love for the people when he was told that others now had his spirit, and he replied (Numbers 11:29) that he wished all of God’s people were prophets (given God’s Ruach HaKodesh); as stated in Joel and Jeremiah, when we accept Yeshua, this does happen.
The last chapter is the rebellion, so to speak, of Miriam and Aaron against their own brother, God’s appointed leader. They speak out against him for marrying a Cushite woman. Scholars disagree about who the Cushite woman is: it could be Zipporah, a Midianite, since Midian is a synonym for Cushan, where the Kusi people live. It could also be an Ethiopian woman, a second wife. No one knows for sure. Either way, it seems Miriam is the instigator of this speaking up against Moses, and although Moses does nothing to defend himself, God doesn’t like the fact that Miriam and Aaron attack Moses. God decided to defend Moses Himself, and struck Miriam with leprosy. Aaron seemed to get a “bye” on the punishment, most likely because he was just tagging along with Miriam and, as High Priest (Cohen HaGadol) he really couldn’t be unclean because of the position he held. Miriam was struck with leprosy, Moses prayed for God to forgive her (which He did) and Miriam ended up shut outside the camp for 7 days until she could be declared clean by Aaron (in accordance with the Torah.)
BTW…this portion of the Torah was the reading for my Bar Mitzvah, some 50 years ago this month.
As always, there is just so much to talk about. I usually like to talk of Moses’ prayer for Miriam, because it is short and heartfelt, the way I believe we should always pray. In my book on Prayer I refer to it often.
Today I feel led to discuss, as I (again) often do, about the need for people to realize that the Torah was not done away with by the teachings and life of Yeshua (Jesus); in fact, His life and teachings confirmed the importance and validity of Torah. As shown above, Numbers 9:14 (and other places in the Torah) is very clear that once someone commits to worshiping the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, although they are still considered strangers (Ger, in the Hebrew), or non-Hebrews, they are afforded the same rights and privileges as a native born Hebrew. As I say, over and over…and over….God has no religion. He has His rules for how we worship Him and treat each other, and if anyone accepts God as their God, which includes those that accept His son, Yeshua, as their Messiah, they are bound up with Israel; and just as Israel, they are bound under the Torah. If you are someone who worships God and accepts Yeshua as your Messiah, you are sojourning with Israel, and also come under the commandment of Numbers 9:14.
Most of Christianity has not learned these two simple lessons: you can’t obey the Son without obeying the Father, and you shouldn’t worship the son instead of the Father.
Once Christian churches begin to teach the Old Covenant as being the basis and root of the New Covenant, instead of teaching that the New Covenant has replaced the Old Covenant, then the full blessing of God will come upon them. Yes, accepting Yeshua as Messiah results in salvation, Grace and blessings, but God never runs out of blessings. He tells us, in Deuteronomy 28, that the more we obey, the more blessings we receive.
I can understand, having studied the history of the schism between Christianity and Judaism, why Christianity might have overlooked that. What I don’t understand is why they still haven’t caught on that they’ve missed it!
If you are a Christian, and you don’t believe that you need to be obedient to the Torah because it is only for Jews, then you, my friend, are missing out on many, many wonderful blessings. And, worse than that, you may even find yourself losing out on the very salvation you feel secure in as you continue to ignore God’s commandments, which He said you must follow! Grace from sin is not license to sin, and disobeying God is a sin.
I am not “Judiazing” anyone, and I am not saying that eating ham will guarantee you go to hell, no matter what else you do: Yeshua’s sacrifice allows us to be forgiven any sin SO LONG AS WE MEAN IT WHEN WE ASK FOR FORGIVENESS! Without true T’shuvah there is no repentance, and subsequently your request for forgiveness will be ignored. God can see your heart and know if you mean it or not, but the rest of the world can’t do that, which is why Yacov (James) tells us faith without works is dead. To be a light unto the world, you must show your faith through your actions and words, and those actions are detailed in the Torah.
No one can live Torah perfectly, but we are to try to live it as best as we can. Ignoring Torah is rejecting God…you might want to consider that if you have been taught Torah is not for Christians.