This reading starts with a census of the Levitical clans so that the number of those who are able to do service in the Tent of Meeting can be counted. The age range for service is from 30 to 50 years old.
It also outlines the regulations about restitution for sin against each other, the Water of Jealousy and the Nazarite vows. It finishes with the tabernacle being completed, and the gifts bestowed by the 12 tribes, which were exactly the same gifts from each tribe. The Chumash says the gifts were exactly the same so that no one tribe would outrival the other.
Verses 6:23-28 is the only place in the entire bible where God specifically tells us how we are to be blessed. No where else are we told exactly what to pray (the Lord’s Prayer in Matthew is really more of a template describing the manner in which we are to pray than an actual prayer, although on it’s own it is a really good prayer) or how to bless someone. These three sentences, which God told Moses to have Aaron use when blessing the people, are God’s own words that we are to use when placing His name on the people.
The Talmud goes into detail about the underlying meaning of each of these three blessings. If I may shorten the commentary a bit, the first line is in the singular to represent that the entire nation of Israel is one in the eyes of God, and we are to feel that we are a single entity. God’s face shining upon us is a symbol of not just happiness and purity (light) but friendship, as well. Yeshua also uses light this way, in telling us that those full of light have compassion and charity. When God’s face is turned towards us He is showing and pouring out to us His love and salvation. The bible talks much, especially in the books of the Prophets, about how when God turns His face away from us we are left on our own and unprotected by Him. So, to turn His face , to shine it upon us, is a symbol of His protection, love and divine intervention for our good. And to be gracious unto us is to provide in abundance both our physical and spiritual needs. Finally, to give us peace means more than relaxation: it is peace for us and peace from us to others, it is individual, familial and national. It means to be healthy, financially secure, without fear and tranquil.
God said this is how the Kohanim are to place His name upon the people; the Talmud is clear that even though it is the Kohen who pronounces the blessing, it is God who does the blessing. The Priests are only the channel through which God’s word and blessings are conveyed to the people.
The majority of religions I have studied and experienced, including Judaism, have forgotten this fact, i.e. that God is the one who we worship and God is the one who forgives and God is the one who is the origin and source of our blessings. How many religions have made God secondary to the Priests (or Saints) when it comes to asking for forgiveness, blessings or help? The Rabbi’s are the ones who decree what the bible means in the Orthodox and Chasidic religions, with the Talmud often taking precedence over the Tanakh; in Catholicism the Priests forgive sins and the Pope is the one who determines what God’s will is for the church. In the other Christian religions Yeshua/Jesus has been lifted up (just like He said He would be) like the serpent in the desert to where He is prayed to, and He is asked for forgiveness from sin instead of God. Yeshua never said to pray to Him, but to pray to God in His name- meaning to invoke His righteousness as our intercessor, not as the source and origin of our salvation. Yeshua is to be a Kohen like Melchizedek- not in place of God but as intercessor to God on our behalf.
Christianity and Judaism have placed their Priests and Rabbis in a position of status higher than God- the people go to the priest for forgiveness and they pray to Jesus, and the Rabbis quote Talmud instead of Torah. We are to pray to God, and not to anyone else. We pray to God, we ask for God’s favor and for God’s forgiveness, and we invoke the name of the Messiah as our mediator and as our intercessor. We should NOT pray to Jesus instead of God; we should pray to God in Jesus’s name , which means to have Jesus bring our requests to God; praying this way it will be Yeshua’s righteousness God sees when our request is before Him, and not our own sinfulness.
Don’t pray ‘retail’: get factory-direct blessings and forgiveness. No one can do for you what God can do for you, so why ask anyone else?