Parashah Pinchas 2019 (Pinchas) Numbers 25:10 – 30:1

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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I have been running a Gofundme campaign to raise money to buy bibles and Bible study materials for three rural Ugandan Messianic synagogues who have asked me for help, so if you haven’t donated I only have about a week left before I have to close this campaign, and I am way short of my goal, so please donate something. Here is the link:

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I always welcome comments and only ask that you be nice.

Shabbat shalom and until next time…L’hitraot and Baruch HaShem!

Parashah Mattot (chiefs) Numbers 30:2 – 32

The previous parashah ended with Moses reviewing for the people the commandments regarding sacrifices and the Holy Days. Now he continues with the laws regarding vows. These three things- sacrifice, Festivals and vows- form the basis of worship. The people are at the end of their journey and being prepared to enter the land God promised them they would possess. This is not the generation that refused God’s offer, for they all died in the desert. This is the new generation of Israel, a nation not born into slavery but born into freedom, raised in the harshest of climates and environments. This is the generation that has grown up knowing battle.

After the A-B-C’s of worship are reviewed, God tells Moses that the last thing he is to do as leader is to have Israel destroy the Midianites for the cruelty they imposed on the Israelites. After this, Moses is to meet his Maker.

The Israelites destroy the 5 kings of Midian, but there are still Midianites left in other parts of Canaan. Israel takes all the spoil, including women and children, which makes Moses mad. He reminds them of the sin caused by these women after Balaam suggested they seduce the men of Israel into worshiping their gods. Moses orders all the women who are not virgins to be slain, and all the male children (BTW…Balaam is also slain in the battle.) The spoils are split with those who did not go to war, with a lions share to the men who went to battle. There is tithing of the spoils, and the men that risked their lives gave a portion one tenth the size of those that received spoils but did not fight.

Miraculously, but not surprising considering God is behind this, of the 12,000 men from Israel who went to fight (1,000 from each tribe) it is reported that not one man is killed in battle.

This parashah ends with the tribes of Gad, Reuben and the half tribe of Manasseh asking if they can have the land east of the Jordan because it is good for their cattle.

Just for the record, Manasseh wasn’t really spit in half: there were 8 tribes of Manasseh (Numbers 26:29-32 lists the sons of Manasseh, 8 in all), of which 6 families stayed on the East of the Jordan, and the other 2 were on the West.

This request ticked Moses off, as he assumed they were refusing, as their fathers had, to enter the land, but it was soon resolved that they would go into the land to help the other tribes conquer it, and only after the other tribes had their inheritances would these three tribes return to their share east of the Jordan. These three tribes built up their cities and fortified them, then joined the rest of the camp to go into Canaan and take possession.

I have often heard that the bible is not fair to women. Of course, any complaint against social mores in historic times that is based on current beliefs is ridiculous. History is what it was, and can’t be judged by what is now. We can make comparisons, we can say that women were considered in a different light then, but when we look deeper we see that they were not treated unfairly then, considering that day’s ethical beliefs. In fact, the bible shows that women were given just as much right as men to make decisions, once they were of age or their social status was free of parental support.

That is really the difference- today a female person of majority (legal age) has rights and is accountable for what she does, with no consideration as to her marital status or where she lives.  Back then, the ages for majority were different, but what was the same then as it is now is …“as long as you live under my roof, you will abide by my rules.” A female who was a virgin and living with her father was under his authority. She was allowed to make vows, and if the father (or when married, the husband) let those vows stand by not voiding them, then she was totally accountable to God for keeping that vow. If the father (or husband), who technically owned all assets of the family, voided the vow the moment he heard about it, then the female was absolved of responsibility. However, if the male did not void it immediately upon learning about it, but tried to void it later, the female was not accountable because he was! She had the right to make a vow and the responsibility to keep it, unless the person that owned the property for the family voided it. Remember- a vow would affect the entire family, and may also affect their income; or, the person making the vow may be less available for doing chores. Whatever the vow was, it affected everyone in the family, and may have affected their assets. It is only right that the one who owns the assets is given a right of review. It may be that you say women should have as much right to the property as the man, but there were no communal property laws in 1500 BCE. Today that certainly isn’t fair, but that is how it was back then. When you consider the cultural ethics of the time, the laws about family leaders (the father or husband) having the final vote about a vow the female living with him makes, is very fair, and respectful to all involved.

Note , also, that if a woman was a widow or divorced (the assumption is that she is living alone), then her vows were binding. Again, here it shows that she has the same authority as a man to make a vow, but being under her own authority (marriage-wise) she is totally accountable. Having the right to promise to do something also carries the weight of responsibility for doing that which was promised. Man or woman, this was equally enforced.

One example that comes to mind is how Elkanah let stand Hannah’s vow to give her first born son to God (1 Samuel, 22-23.)

When we read the bible we have to incorporate proper interpretive rules, and one of those is to accept that the cultural norms of that day were acceptable then. We may not accept them now, but that doesn’t make the people back then “wrong” or “unfair’ because the rules, as well as the entire game, was very different.

By remembering to account for cultural and ethical differences, you will not misjudge the people, or (for that matter) the bible.