At the end of the previous parashah, we read how Pinchus killed the Israelite man and the Midianite woman who were making a spectacle of Moses. Now, starting in this reading, God makes a covenant with Pinchus that his descendants shall all be high priests, because of the zealousness of Pinchus, which stayed God from destroying the sinful Israelites.
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Next, God orders a new census, and the results show very little difference in the overall number of the 12 tribes from 40 years earlier when they first came out of Egypt, although some tribes were significantly less, specifically Reuben, Simeon, Gad, Ephraim, and Naphtali. Note that when encamped and marching, Gad, Simeon, and Reuben were always next to each other; when I read this I remembered how Yeshua said a just little hametz in the dough spreads throughout it.
The new census confirms that all those who rebelled against God by refusing to enter the land when they first came to it were now dead.
There is one member of the tribe of Manasseh named Zelophehad, who never had a son but had 5 daughters, and they ask Moses for a ruling regarding their inheritance. God tells Moses that when a man has no sons, his daughters will be allowed to inherit the land, but they must marry within their tribe so that the land does not revert to a different tribe.
God has Moses climb a mountain to observe all the land and will soon be gathered to his people. Moses’s first response is not a plea for himself, but for the people to have a leader. Even when he is told he will die, his first thought is of protecting and caring for the people. God tells Moses to give some of his authority to Joshua by laying his hands on him in front of the entire assembly, and also before Eliezer the Cohen HaGadol.
The parashah ends with God reviewing the rulings regarding the daily and festival sacrifices.
When Moses laid hands on Joshua, symbolizing Moses giving his authority to Joshua, the Hebrew word used in that verse (Numbers 27:18) is:
which is pronounced “v-sam-chat”; from this word is derived the Hebrew noun Samicha (pronounced sah-me-cha), which in the Talmudic age meant to be given the rights and duties of a Rabbi. It is, in a way, a form of ordination.
We hear this word used in the Gospels. Not the Hebrew word, of course, because nearly every New Covenant Bible is based on Christian interpretation, but that word is what the one they used when the Pharisees asked Yeshua who had given him the authority to teach.
This occurs in Luke 20:2:
And spake unto him, saying, Tell us, by what authority doest thou these things? or who is he that gave thee this authority?
And in Mark 11:27-28:
After their return to Jerusalem, Yeshua was walking in the temple courts, and the chief priests, scribes, and elders came up to him. “By what authority are you doing these things?” they asked. “And who gave you the authority to do them?”
The word that the Pharisees, Scribes, etc. would have used would have been “samicha”, which is what they were given when they were appointed to their position of authority. They were basically asking, “Who died and left you in charge?”
Yeshua’s answer was the typical Jewish response, which is to answer a question with a question. He never admitted to his authority coming from God, which should bring up the question, “Why didn’t he?”
I am not sure, but my guess is that it wasn’t yet time for his true mission on earth to be revealed. He told his mother when she asked him to help with the wedding that ran out of wine (John 2) that it wasn’t yet his time, and he also told his Talmudim (Disciples) not to tell people that he is the Messiah when that revelation was made by Kefa (Peter) in Matthew 6:13. Just the same way that when he healed people, many times he told them not to tell anyone that he did it.
Do we, as “Born Again Believers” also have a samicha? Do we have the authority to interpret the Bible, to preach, to advise or to explain to others about the kingdom of God?
I would say, “Yes, we do!”, because we have the Ruach HaKodesh (Holy Spirit) indwelling in us and as such, we get a direct message from God. Well, we should- not everyone who professes to be “saved” acts the way they should. Myself, included. Yet, still and all, we are human and will never be as righteous as Yeshua was, so what we can do is take the samicha we have through the Ruach and use it as best we can, recognizing the tremendous responsibility we have to teach accurately and correctly.
And therein lies the biggest problem of all- how do we know we are teaching correct interpretation and leading people towards God, and not away from God? Even with the best intentions, we can deprive people of their salvation by leading them not to heaven but to Sheol with improper interpretation and wrongful teachings. As the old saying goes, “The road to hell is paved with good intentions.”
My answer to that question is …I don’t have an answer. I can only say that the best way to be secure in your own knowledge is to read the Bible, listen to people who demonstrate through their actions they are God-fearing (words mean nothing- people don’t mean what they say, they mean what they do) and ultimately ask God to show you what he wants you to learn from his Word. The same passage can have different meanings to different people, and each person could be correct in their own interpretation.
What I would also recommend, as I finish this message, is that when you hear someone tell you what something from the Bible means, and whether it sits well with your spirit or doesn’t sit well with your spirit, go to the Bible and verify for yourself what is written, and ask God to show you what he wants you to know from it.
I chose to listen to read the Bible daily, pray for understanding, listen to others, verify it in God’s Word, and decide for myself rather than just accept what I hear from someone simply because they have a samicha. My ministry is all about making sure that you know what you are doing and saying because we will all be held accountable for our actions, and for my money, I want to make sure that whether I am right or wrong, it isn’t because I was too lazy to check it out when I had the chance.
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Shabbat shalom and until next time…L’hitraot and Baruch HaShem!