Parashah Pinchas Numbers 25:10 – 30:1

We left the last Parashah with Pinchus killing a prince of Simeon and the daughter of a Midianite Chieftain. God tells Moses that because of Pinchus’ zeal for God that he stopped the plague He sent as punishment for the sin at Ba’al-Peor, and as reward Pinchus and his descendants were to be given the Priesthood, forever. God’s promise also was a means to protect Pinchus from avenging by anyone in the family of the slain man.

God commands a census to be taken, which is to establish the size of the army (God commands Moses to attack Midian as retaliation for their sin against Israel, which is where Balaam gets his), and also to see how many are left alive after the plague. It is interesting to note that the tribe of Simeon, from whom the man Pinchus killed came from, had the greatest loss of numbers: when they first did a census at the beginning of Numbers Simeon had 59,300 men, but now they have only 22,200.

The question of what happens if a man has no sons to inherit the land is presented by the the daughters of Zelophehad; it is determined that the daughters inherit the land, although they must marry within their tribe so the tribal inheritance is not diminished. God then gives Moses the full Order of Inheritance to be used.

Moses is told that his time to die has come, and instead of whining or asking for more time, his first thought is of the people and he asks God to appoint a successor. That person is, of course, Joshua. But Moses doesn’t die yet. The rest of this parashah is a restatement of the daily and special sacrifices that are to be performed. Each daily and festival sacrifice is described in detail; God is restating these requirements to the people as a refresher, so to speak, since they will soon be in the land.

This is the first time we hear God telling Moses he will die, even though the event, itself, doesn’t happen until the end of the Torah. The rest of the book of Numbers and all of Deuteronomy is a refresher course in all that happened and all that God requires of the Children of Israel. Moses gets to see the land, but he is not allowed to enter it. Why? Isn’t God forgiving? Why, after all the times Moses asks to be allowed in, won’t God relent, forgive and allow Moses to enter the Land?

I don’t know. But, if I were to guess, I would say it’s to show us that forgiveness is spiritual, but the consequence of sin is physical. There is no doubt in my mind that Moses is in God’s presence and was saved by his faithfulness and actions during his lifetime. Yet, the sin he committed at the waters of Meribah had consequences that his forgiveness in the spiritual world could not remove from his existence in the physical world.

How many times have we, the Jewish people, looked to the Promised Land but not entered because of our sin?  What I am talking about here is the sin of rejecting salvation through Messiah Yeshua. The Messiah is like the land God promised- long awaited and longed for.  But, the sins we commit in life prevent us from entering; sin such as rejecting Torah, rejecting Yeshua (this is what Judaism has done) , being unrepentant and (worse) being unforgiving. We can see the Promised land ahead of us, but our sins keep us from entering.

Unlike Moses, though, we have a chance to get in: we can enter by doing T’shuvah, by receiving the Grace of God through Yeshua the Messiah, and by forgiving those who have sinned against us. Moses did not enter the land of Israel, yet he is with God, forever. What he lost during his lifetime (which is only a mist, anyway) he received for eternity. We must keep our eyes on the eternal, and for those Christians that have been taught Torah was done away with when Yeshua rose from the dead, well, that’s a fence preventing your entering the land.  And for those Jews who have been told Yeshua is not the Messiah, that is a fence preventing you from entering the land. And for anyone who has been taught “once saved, always saved”- that is a really big fence preventing you from entering the land.

We need to open the gates to these fences, and the way we do that is with the three-sided key of truth: Yeshua is the Messiah, Torah is still valid, and forgiveness is required to be forgiven. These three truths will open any fence, break down any wall and allow anyone to enter into the Promised Land.


Parashah Pinchas, Numbers 25:10 – 30:1

The previous Parashah ended with Pinchus, also called Phinehas, killing the prince of the tribe of Simeon along with Cozbi, the daughter of one of the kings of the Midianites. It was this act of zealousness for God’s law and honor that stayed the plague God had sent among the people for turning to the gods of Midian.

Now, God states that Pinchus and his descendants will be the high priest as reward for his actions. God then commands Moses to take a census of the people (meaning the men) aged 20 and older (except the Levites are to be counted at 1 month and older.)

After we are told the results of the census, the next chapter is about the daughters of Zelophehad, who died in the desert but had no sons. Their request was that they inherit their fathers portion, even though they are women. God agrees that the family should have their share of inheritance, and so the law is created that if there are no sons, the daughters inherit but they must marry within the tribe so the overall property distribution remains stable.

Moses is told that it is time for him to die, and the first thought in Moses’ mind is not about himself (remember- he is the humblest of all men) but for the people, so he asks God to provide a leader. God tells Moses to appoint (no surprise here) Joshua. Moses lays his hands on Joshua in the sight of all Israel so that they know Joshua is the Man!

Finally, God has Moses remind the people about the rules for sacrifice and the festivals that they are to maintain forever once they are in the land.

Some have argued over the years, especially in recent times, that the bible is sexist and God is a misogynist.  The story of the daughters of Zelophehad shows this to be untrue, and unfair. It is an absolute fact that the rights of a woman in those days were no where near the rights women enjoy today, with regards to job opportunities and legal status within the social structure. But, on the other hand, they were given important responsibilities within the family structure and, when you read the bible carefully, you see that they were not really second class citizens (OK, OK- I agree the laws regarding a Get, the divorce decree, are unfair) but simply have a separate and distinct role within the society. Proverbs is very complimentary to women, and show them to be very influential.

The fact that God decreed woman have the right to inherit and own land is unique among the other peoples of that day, and to require marriage within the tribe is a legal matter to maintain the proper distribution of the inheritance the tribe receives. This one section demonstrates that God is not a misogynist.

The chronological order of events in the bible is not always clear, but here we are told that this is some 38 years after the people refused to enter the land, which was only a few chapters ago. Eleazar is the Cohen HaGadol because Aaron is dead. The daughters of Zelophehad tell us their father died in the desert, and the results of the census show that no one who was counted in the first census coming out of Egypt is alive today.

The time to enter the land is coming quickly: all those who were to die are dead, there is a new High Priest, Joshua is now in charge, and Moses is about to die. We’re on the precipice of the desert, about to cross over the Jordan into the land of promise. That is why God tells Moses to remind the people about the laws for sacrifice and the festivals so that they will not forget and sin when they first come into the land. That would be a pretty lousy start, don’t you think?

“Well, here we are…in the Land…finally! Let’s forget everything we are supposed to do and with out first step in the promised land we can fall flat on our faces.”

Not a good idea.

The lesson I see here is simple- the best way to not forget what to do is do remind yourself of it, constantly. God has Moses review the commandments, He told Joshua to write it on the stones on Mount Gerizim, later God tells the kings of Israel to have a copy of the Torah with them always and to read from it every day, and we all (should) have our bibles close at hand, and read from it everyday.

I often tell how I keep my bible in the bathroom, because I know I will be there, at least once, every day of my life. That is how I can guarantee I will have 10 minutes or so, undisturbed, in which I can read a chapter or two, daily, without fail.

Where is your bible? How often do you read it?  Daily? Once a week? Do you take it with you to worship and go to the place in it that the Priest, Pastor or Rabbi tells you? Or do you just figure if you go to services someone there will read something from it to you?

God holds each and every one of us accountable for what we do, and if we do what others tell us, it is still what we do. And you will be held accountable for it! If you only allow others to read the bible to you, then you will not be able to hear the Holy Spirit talking over the sound of the human being reading. Humans shout, but the Holy Spirit speaks in a still, quiet voice. If you want to hear the Holy Spirit ( in Hebrew called the Ruach HaKodesh) then you need to be reading the bible in a still, quiet place. Otherwise, how will you be able to hear the the Lord whispering to you?

Today’s parashah lesson is this: be zealous for God and demonstrate it by reading His word daily. This is the best way to learn about God, what He wants from you, and to hear from the Ruach HaKodesh when it speaks to you. And don’t worry about the “boring” parts, just go through them. That’s what is so wonderful about the Spirit- you are reading a bunch of names and numbers and can’t even figure out why this stuff is in there, and suddenly something you have read a dozen times, that seems to have no impact or worth,  comes alive in your mind and you see a deep and abiding truth that God put there, just for you! That’s right- He had Moses put that in there, millennia ago, just for you.

And now you get it. That’s why we need to read, over and over, until we know it well enough that we can get past the P’Shat (plain language) and into the Drash (deeper meaning). It’s like math- you first learn to count, then how to add and subtract, then how to multiply, and eventually you are doing quantum mechanics in your head.

Well, maybe not in your head. But you can do it! That’s why we need to read every day what God has for us.

It’s like Cracker Jacks- the word of God is like honey on my lips, taste and see that it is good (Psalm 38);  as you devour the word, loving every bite, you will find, hidden deep inside, a prize. That prize is the revelation God has for you, just for you, and it is in there.

You only need to look.