Wow! This parashah is really full of such wonderful stuff: the formula for the incense, God giving the Torah to Moshe (twice, in fact), the sin of the Golden Calf, the sacrificial attitude of Moses, refusing to allow God to make a nation from himself so that the people survive (even asking God to blot him out with the people), Moses also begging God to travel with the people or leave them where they were, and finally we are told of the Divine attributes of God (in Judaism called the Imitation of God), which God, Himself, calls out as He passes by Moses.
With all of that, what shall I talk about today? None of it. I want to talk about something that is in-between the lines, something mentioned in the Chumash commentary but not mentioned directly in the Tanach.
What I am referring to is that when Moses left to go up the mountain to meet with the Lord, he left two people in charge (Exodus 24:14): Aaron and Hur. Aaron from the tribe of Levi and Hur from the tribe of Judah, yet when the story of the Golden Calf begins we only hear about Aaron. The Chumash explains the traditional belief is that Hur resisted the people’s wishes for an idol and was put to death by them. Seeing this, Aaron decided he better build the idol.
The Chumash states that Aaron’s deeds were not correct, but the “spin” they give is that he was stalling, hoping for Moses to come back in time to stop this. Another explanation is that Aaron was a man of peace, so seeing resistance as futile and fearing division within the tribes, he acquiesced to the demands of the people.
Really? So because Aaron was a man of peace, he ignored (in truth failed to perform) his duty as the Cohen HaGadol (High Priest) and rejected the commandments God gave the people so that they wouldn’t fight among themselves? Sounds more to me like Aaron was interested in saving his own skin. Clearly, the idea of being a martyr did not appeal to him, whereas Hur became the first martyr in the bible.
Sidebar: it is usually taught that Stephan was the the first martyr mentioned in the bible , but when you consider the (Merriam-Webster) definition of the word:
A person who voluntarily suffers death as the penalty of witnessing to and refusing to renounce a religion.
when we talk about the first martyr mentioned in the bible, it seems Hur should hold that distinction.
Here is what I see- Moses, representing God’s ideal government of both religious (prophet) and civil (king) authority in one position (which is what we will have under the rule of Messiah), goes to commune with the King of kings, and leaves two people in charge. One whose authority is religious (Aaron, from the tribe of the priesthood) and one whose authority is civil (Hur, from the tribe of Judah: remember that Judah will hold the scepter until Messiah/Shiloh comes, which was the blessing that Israel gave on his deathbed in Genesis 49:10.) This is a precursor of the times at the end of the Prophets, when a king was requested who would rule separately from the Prophets (1 Samuel 10), setting the standard of separation of church and state that still exists today.
The authority of the prophets comes directly from God, and the authority of the king comes from the people. Oh, yes, we read how God told the prophets who they should anoint, but we see later that the kings set themselves up more often than a prophet did. And today the political power of nearly every single nation is from human choice, not Divine announcement.
I believe that the bible shows us (starting in this parashah) that civil authority is what the people prefer, and yet the best authority is the one God grants. Whenever we listen to humans instead of God, we reject God and fall into sin, and when the religious authority succumbs to the civil (as Aaron did), all hell breaks loose. We see this happen throughout the bible, and yet we never seem to learn. Even today we still have rejected God- He has been taken out of our courts, out of our schools, and replaced with political correctness under a one world court called the United Nations.
The ideal government God designed is the one that the enemy of God, the Son of Perdition, will establish. That is why, I believe, it will be so powerful and will only fall to the Divine intervention of God. The prophet-king government, a Theocracy, is what God wants on earth. We had it under Moses, and the first time we tried to break it up (in this parashah) we see that the government failed to function.
For you and I what this means is that we need to decide who we will follow- God or Man? Yeshua (Jesus) tells us to give unto Caesar what is his, so we pay our taxes (correctly!) and obey the laws of the country and municipality. But what we see from our religious leaders today is coming more and more under a civil dictate than what God says: in both Jewish and Gentile places of worship we see not just allowing some members to remain members even after professing they are homosexual, but support of that lifestyle as acceptable. We see churches and synagogues presenting their position for or against candidates for office. I agree we should support those politicians that are god-fearing, but we are supposed to accept that God is in charge and He will put in authority whomever He chooses- our political choices should be secret. After all, isn’t the right to a secret ballot one of the most important rights we have fought for? If we have shed blood so that we can vote for someone in secret, why then do we go around violating that secrecy by announcing who we will vote for and (even worse!) demanding to know from others who they will vote for?
We are just so wrong in everything we do, yet we continue to do wrong even in the face of history and seeing, over and over and over….and over…how when we reject God’s path we walk into a pile of manure.
Until we have that perfect, Divine government under Messiah, we will have to work within the political system we have. Historically, every attempt at returning to the Mosaic government has failed: the leaders of these attempts are called Dictators and Despots. That’s not the government God wants. So what we have to do is remember that we are to respect the government authority, and follow our leaders as long as they are following God’s design.
One day you may have to face that ultimate challenge, which is (essentially) to take the mark of the devil or refuse it; when that day comes, we all need to be ready to give our mortal life so that we can retain our immortal soul.