weekly Torah studies

LECH LECHA (GO FORTH!) Genesis 12:1–17:27; Isaiah 40:27–41:16; Matthew 1:1–17

Shalom All,  Welcome to this week’s Torah / Bible study Portion of God’s instructions.  “Yahweh said to Abram, ‘Go forth [lech lecha] from your country, your people and your father’s household to the land I will show you ... and I will bless you.’”  (Genesis 12:1–2).  

In last week’s reading, Noach (Noah), concluded with a genealogy of Shem, Noah’s son.  That genealogy ended with Terah, father of Abram, Nahor and Haran.  Terah took his son Abram and Abram’s wife Sarai, as well as Lot, son of Haran, who had died, out of Ur of the Chaldeans and headed toward the Land of Canaan.  Instead of reaching their destination, however, they settled at Haran where Terah lived out the rest of his days.  In this week’s portion, at God’s command, Abram carries on with his father’s unfinished mission, to reach the Land of Canaan, the name given to the Promised Land at that time.  Gen 12:10  And there was a famine in the land: and Abram went down into Egypt to sojourn there; for the famine was grievous in the land.  To get Abram to go to Egypt, God caused a famine in the land in which he was.  Similarly to get Jacob / Israel to go to Egypt God did similar.  Gen 47:13  And there was no bread in all the land; for the famine was very sore, so that the land of Egypt and all the land of Canaan fainted by reason of the famine. 

This week we start with Abraham, the sole righteous man God chose to be the father of the righteous children.

Mat 1:1  The book of the generation of Yahshua (Jesus Christ), the son of David, the son of Abraham.  Mat 1:17  So all the generations from Abraham to David are fourteen generations; and from David until the carrying away into Babylon are fourteen generations; and from the carrying away into Babylon unto Christ are fourteen generations. 

Why does God have a love for Abraham and calls Himself the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob?  God said to Abraham “Go ye forth,” and Abraham went forth.  He said, “Sacrifice for me,” and he sacrificed.  He said to Isaac, “Stay,” and Isaac stayed.  He said to Jacob, “Go back,” and he went back.  Whatever He told them to do, they did.  In short Gen 26:5  Because that Abraham obeyed my voice, and kept my charge, my commandments, my statutes, and my laws. Deu 4:37  And because he loved thy fathers, therefore he chose their seed after them, and brought thee out in his sight with his mighty power out of Egypt;    See also Heb 11:16. God’s love is not limited to Israel only.  When Moses gave directives on how to get God’s love he was not only speaking to mixed multitude Israel but Deu 29:14  Neither with you only do I make this covenant and this oath; Deu 29:15  But with him that stands here with us this day before Yahweh our God, and also with him that is not here with us this day:  Deu 30:16  In that I command thee this day to love the LORD thy God, to walk in his ways, and to keep his commandments and his statutes and his judgments, that thou mayest live and multiply: and the LORD thy God shall bless thee in the land whither thou goest to possess it.

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Noach (Noah / Rest). Genesis 6:9–11:32; Isaiah 54:1–55:5; 1 Peter 3:8–22. “This is the account of Noah and his family.”

Welcome to this week’s Torah / bible study.  Shalom All, Welcome to this week’s Torah / bible study section titled Noach (Noah / Rest). Genesis 6:9–11:32; Isaiah 54:1–55:5; 1 Peter 3:8–22. “This is the account of Noah and his family.” (Genesis 6:9) In last week’s section we restarted the yearly Torah reading cycle of the Word of God from the very beginning with the study by the same name: Bereisheet (In the Beginning). This week, we continue our study in the first book of Moses with the Biblical character of Noah, the only righteous man “of his generation”. “Noah was a righteous man, blameless among the people of his time, and he walked faithfully with God.” (Genesis 6:9). In this section we should also note the existence of many things that are commonly taught to have originated with Moses and the creation of Israel. i.e. The year and a new beginning Gen 8:13 And it came to pass in the six hundredth and first year, in the first month, the first day of the month, the waters were dried up from off the earth: and Noah removed the covering of the ark, and looked, and, behold, the face of the ground was dry. Exo 12:2 This month shall be unto you the beginning of months: it shall be the first month of the year to you. So as we go through the 52 weeks of bible study this year let us see if indeed God is Act 10:34 Then Peter opened his mouth, and said, Of a truth I perceive that God is no respecter of persons: Act 10:35 But in every nation he that feareth him, and worketh righteousness, is accepted with him. Some people tend to divide the bible into 3 parts; before Moses, after Moses or Israel and the New Testament with Yahshua. Or even three groups of people; before Israel the Jews, Israel the Jews and New Testament gentiles. Then some say in each section God had different requirements for salvation or what He accepted and what He did not i.e. laws. Your salvation depends on you finding out what is biblically true and what is not. Empty your cup and let us fill it up solely with Word of God. Fixing A Sinful And Broken World. Why does God punish sin? Why does He care what we choose to do? Why should our personal choices be judged? If rats go uncontrolled they overrun the environment, spread disease and cause damage. If murderers go without control and punishment society is at risk of being controlled by bullies. Weaker persons get murdered and there is not much peace and happiness in society. If sin goes without control similar happens to society. That is many times God says to “put sin away” from the society by putting away the sinner. Human evil grieves God's heart. He observes the earth and its inhabitants like a Father who observes the behaviour of His children. He is like a king taking note of how events unfold in his kingdom. When a father sees his children involved in self-destructive behaviours, it grieves him. When a king sees his subjects living in open rebellion against him, it angers him. As God observed humanity in the days of Noah, He was saddened to see the rampant wickedness of His creations. He saw that every human heart “was evil continually”(Gen 6:5). "Yahweh was sorry that He had made man on the earth, and He was grieved in His heart" (Genesis 6:6). Then God said to Noah, "The end of all flesh has come before Me; for the earth is filled with violence because of them; and behold, I am about to destroy them with the earth." (Genesis 6:13).

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“Bereisheet” [In the Beginning] Genesis 1:1–6:8; Isaiah 42:5–43:10; John 1:1–18.

Shalom All,   Welcome to this week’s Torah / Bible study “In the beginning [Bereisheet] God [Elohim] created the heavens and the earth.”  (Genesis 1:1).  

Is it not wonderful to have a fresh start?  To have an opportunity to begin again and put previous failures right? This is the precious gift we are given each year at the completion of the fall feasts which includes the annual holy day of the Day of Atonement.  At this time the Jewish people also begin their annual reading of the instructions given to mankind by Yahweh God, through Moses.  The instructions given the synonym  of T.O.R.A.H (TORAH).  In an attempt to constantly be learning and maintaining them in their minds, heart and actions.  Added to these are specific readings of the prophets and, by the Messiah believing Jews and others, a section of the New Testament.  The first two being the Law and the Prophets constantly referred to by the Messiah (Yahshua) and the apostles. 

The instructions given by God are contained in the first five books of the Old Testament as these relate to words from God Himself.  They are divided into 52 weekly Torah sections (portions) called Parasha.  Each of which adopt their names from the first unique Hebrew word that appears in the reading, instead of being given a name or title from a theme in the text.  For regular readers, you may note me using either the words, portion, section or Parasha.  Both this first Parasha in the yearly cycle of Torah readings and the first book of the Bible take their name from the first unique word in the text “Bereisheet”, which means in the beginning.  In English, the book of Bereisheet is called Genesis. 

Sometimes the bible account leaves some questions in readers’ minds.  I have added extracts from other accounts not added to the common bible.  These being from the Apocrypha and Josephus’ writings. As this week’s Genesis account should be known to most readers, I have filled the content with an extract from Josephus on Genesis chapters 4 at the end of this week’s scriptures as an example of what is to come in the future. 

A Good Creation. 

Parasha Bereisheet opens with a dramatic, awe-inspiring narrative of the creation of our world.  In as few as 31 verses and 469 words, Genesis describes how God takes confusion and emptiness (tohu v’vohu תֹהוּ וָבֹהוּ) and creates a perfect, delicate balance of order and beauty. Forming an environment with all the necessities for human life; spiritual and physical. Spiritual because He also set up appointed times translated as “seasons” in Gen 1:14.  These are not summer, winter, rain or other seasons!  “The earth was unformed and void [tohu v’vohu], darkness was on the face of the deep, and the Spirit of God hovered over the surface of the water” (Genesis 1:2).

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"Ha’Azinu" (Listen), Deuteronomy 32:1–52; Hosea 14:2-10–51; John 20:26 – 21:25.

Shalom All,   Welcome this week’s Torah / bible study section.  “Give ear [Ha’Azinu], Oh heavens, and I will speak …”  (Deuteronomy 32:1).  Last week’s section, “Vayelech” concluded with Moses foreseeing that Israel would turn away from their covenant with God, causing Him to hide His face from them.  Still, Moses promised that the words of Yahweh God’s instructions (Torah) would not be “forgotten out of the mouths of their descendants” (Deuteronomy 31:21).  Moses gathered the people together to listen to a shir (song) called Ha’Azinu (Listen).  That song would always be a reminder of the consequences of turning from YHWH. 

This week’s study section, which is called Ha’Azinu, consists primarily of the 70 line song that Moses sang to the people of Israel on the last day of his life.  At the end, God commands Moses to go up to the top of Mount Nebo to catch a glimpse of the Promised Land before being “gathered unto His people” Deut 32:50.  He was not gathered onto those ending up in hell; but “his people” who are those of God.   God says many will be cut off or blot out from His people.  Many Israelites who sinned were cut off and many gentiles who were obedient as Cornelius in Acts 10:2 was “gathered unto” .  See the study “Cut off Blot Out” to see the criteria of being “gathered unto”.  Remember because of Moses and Aaron’s disobedience they lost the promise made to them of entering the land.  Despite all Moses’ good “works” and frustration in leading stiffnecked Israel.  Let that be a lesson to us of today, that stress of life nor actions of others does not count as an excuse for us.  We are to be longsuffering and endure to the end!  “Yet you shall see the land before you, though you shall not go there, into the land which I am giving to the children of Israel” (Deut 32:52). 

Moses is allowed to see the land, but not enter in.  It is a devastating disappointment and, yet, he ends his public life with a song he taught the survivours of the 40 year trek.   

THE SONG OF THE LAMB.

What is the nature of this song?  It begins by describing God’s loving kindness and faithfulness toward Israel, and it ends with a promise of vengeance, redemption and atonement for God’s land and people.

Rejoice, O Gentiles, with His people; for He will avenge the blood of His servants, and render vengeance to His adversaries; He will provide atonement for His land and His people” (Deuteronomy 32:43). 

It is not only the people of Israel who will rejoice with this final redemption.  The Gentiles (persons of other nations who obey) will rejoice together with God’s people as they will become part of His people.  God’s salvation is for all people, of every tongue, tribe, race and ethnic background.  All people, Jews and Gentiles can rejoice together in unity at the goodness of God the creator of all.  A portion of this song has severe words of rebuke against Israel for infidelity and unfaithfulness to God.  Not only would God “hide His face” from His people; but He would also render judgment.

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"Vayelech" Deuteronomy 31:1–30; Isaiah 55:6–56:8; Romans 10:14–21 (and others)

Shalom All, Welcome to this week’s Torah / Bible scripture study section “Be strong and of good courage, do not fear nor be afraid of them; for Yahweh God, He is the One who goes with you. He will not leave you nor forsake you” (Deuteronomy 31:6). Last week, in study section “Nitzavim”, God emphasized that we have freedom of choice to follow after the way of life or the way of death. In this week’s Torah section, Vayelech (וַיֵּלֶךְ), Hebrew for “then he went out” Moses invests Joshua with leadership and initiates the writing down of the Torah. Vayelech is the shortest Torah reading of the year, consisting of only one chapter. The reading for this particular appointed time of Yahweh (holy day called Sabbath), which comes after the feast of Trumpets (Yom Teruah; Lev 23:24) and before the Day of Atonement (Yom Kippur; Lev 23:27), falls during the Ten Days of Awe (Yamim Nora’im) during which time we are to seek Yahweh with sincere teshuvah (repentance) for our sins and call on the sacrifice blood of Yahshua His son as the cleansing. Heb 10:12 But this man, after he had offered one sacrifice for sins for ever, sat down on the right hand of God; Heb 10:26 For if we sin wilfully after that we have received the knowledge of the truth, there remains no more sacrifice for sins,. I once did a sermon that included this scripture and pointed out it does not say one has to understand or belief what they received; but simply receive it like a letter in your letter box or words to your ears. So if someone has told you about a wrong doing of yours and you refused to heed either did not believe or understand, you may still be guilty. In particular keeping the appointed times of God in Lev 23. This special appointed time (Shabbat) is called Shabbat Shuva (Sabbath of Return) because the special prophetic reading from the book of Hosea starts with Shuvu Yisrael (Return O Israel). Remember Israel are those who obey, by birth right or grafted in. [Deu 31:12 Gather the people together, men, and women, and children, and thy stranger (gentile) that is within thy gates, that they may hear, and that they may learn, and fear Yahweh your God, and observe to do all the words of this law:] It is also called Shabbat Teshuvah (Shabbat of Repentance) as it calls the people of God to turn from their sins and rebellion and to return to God. Shabbat Shuva actually has two special prophetic readings. Hosea 14:1 (2)–9 (10) emphasizes the importance of heartfelt repentance and Micah 7:18–20 praises God’s mercy.
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Nitzavim (You Are Standing), Deuteronomy 29:9–30:20, Isaiah 61:10–63:9, Romans 11:17–26.

Welcome to this week's Torah / bible study section.  “You are standing [nitzavim] today in the presence of Yahweh your God ….  You are standing here in order to enter into a covenant with Yahweh your God” (Deuteronomy 29:10–12).  

Last week’s study of the Torah / Bible titled “Ki Tavo” (When You Enter) concluded with Moses telling the people that just 40 years after they had attained nationhood, they had acquired “a heart to know, eyes to see and ears to hear.”  Reaching that point entailed a 40 year journey in the wilderness.  This week, in Nitzavim-Vayelech, the Jewish People stand before God about to enter into the covenant, a solemn oath with Him. 

United They Stood.

Standing together has different significance according to the occasion or reason.  Whether in unity to hear a national anthem or in response to cheering an action at a recreation event.  The Hebrew language has different words for standing up. The Hebrew of Deuteronomy 29:10 uses the word nitzavim (נצבים) when Moses says to the children of Israel, "You stand today, all of you, before the LORD your God." Nitzavim implies standing at attention, more akin to the pledge of allegiance than the home run standing.  Why were the Israelites collectively standing before God?  It was for one reason alone:  to enter into a covenant with Him.  The expression you are standing (atem nitzavim) is used almost 300 times in the Bible and always to enter into some kind of contract, pact or agreement.  All were invited to enter into the brit (covenant) with God, from the least to the greatest.  Everyone, from the leaders, elders and officers of tribes, to their wives and children had equal opportunity to receive a place in the Kingdom of God.  Even the ger (stranger or foreigner) was offered an equal place in the covenant with Elohim, in order “that He may establish you today as a people for Himself, and that He may be God (Elohim) to you.”  (Deuteronomy 29:13).  This covenant was unique in that it transcended any limitation of time or place.  It was made with “those standing there as well as with those who were not present at that time.”  (Deuteronomy 29:15).  After Israel broke this covenant, God promised through the Hebrew prophet Jeremiah a “New Covenant” (Brit Chadashah) for the people of Israel and Judah in Jeremiah 31:31-33. 

In synagogues or other religious events, there are certain parts of the service where everyone stands.  For example, whenever the doors of the ark (the chest that contains the Torah scroll) are opened, the entire congregation rises to their feet to express their reverence for God's Word. Certain prayers also require the congregation to stand and be mindful that they are in the presence of God. When a congregation stands together before God, it is more than a room full of individuals. By standing together to revere God, the congregation expresses itself as a single body.

In Deuteronomy 29, Moses knew that he was about to die. Before he left the children of Israel, he wanted to see them committed to the LORD. He asked the children of Israel to stand at attention in reverence before God. He had come to the end of his long depiction of the covenant, its history, its terms and obligations, and its consequences. Now it was time to invite the children of Israel to affirm their commitment to live according to everything that he had just said. 

When we stand before God as the great assembly of His Son, Yahshua, "there is no distinction between Greek and Jew, circumcised and uncircumcised, barbarian, Scythian, slave and freeman, there is neither male nor female; for [we] are all one in the Messiah Yahshua, and Messiah is all, and in all" (Galatians 3:28; Colossians 3:11). As believers, both heirs and coheirs with the great people of Israel, we should always endeavour to remember that differences and distinctions of person and station are irrelevant to our standing in Messiah.

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Ki Tavo (When You Enter), Deuteronomy 26:1–29:9 (8); Isaiah 60:1–22; 1 Peter 2:1–25.

Shalom All,   Welcome to  this week’s Torah / bible section study.  “When you have entered [ki tavo] the land Yahweh your God is giving you as an inheritance ... take some of the first fruits of all that you produce from the soil of the land Yahweh your God is giving you and put them in a basket.  Then go to the place Yahweh your God will choose as a dwelling for His name”  (Deuteronomy 26:1–2). 

Last week, in study section “Ki Tetze”, God gave to the Israelites 74 of the 613 commandments found in the Torah (His instructions for righteous living) far more than any other Torah / bible section.  These laws mostly seem to be concerned with protecting the weaker members of society.  They include the laws concerning the beautiful captive, paying workers in a timely fashion, and leaving a portion of the harvest in the field for the widow, the fatherless and the stranger. 

In this week’s section, Ki Tavo (When You Enter), God instructs Israel to bring the first-ripened fruits (bikkurim) to the central sanctuary once the Israelites have finally entered the Land He promised to them.  It must have been a relief for the children of Israel to hear that their prolonged, 40 year journey through the wilderness would finally be coming to an end.  They were about to cross over into the Promised Land.  In fact, the word in Hebrew for a Hebrew, Ivri, comes from the root I-V-R, which means to cross over.  In a spiritual sense, anyone who has crossed over into the Kingdom of God is an Ivri. 

For that reason, perhaps, Paul said that being a Jew is a matter of having a circumcised heart more than circumcised flesh.  For those of you beginning to understand Paul’s New Testament teachings, you should note they are from the Old Testament.  In this case found in Deut 10:16 and Jerimiah 4:4. He was not by any means negating circumcision; he was emphasizing that to cross over into the Kingdom of God, there must be an inward change.  Those who worship God, worship Him in Spirit and in truth.  They truly keep ALL His commandments in mind and action. 

“But he is a Jew who is one inwardly; and circumcision is that which is of the heart, by the Spirit, not by the letter; and his praise is not from men, but from God”  (Romans 2:29). 

The wilderness experience was so challenging and defining that future rabbinic texts consider any physical or spiritual desert as an enemy to be overcome, including problems.  Our challenge is to walk through the times of wilderness in our lives and be transformed so that we can enter the Promised Land.  Ki Tavo promises that obedience to God will be rewarded as He stipulates.  These rewards include divine protection, prosperity and blessings on families and future generations.  Disobedience and rebellion against God, however  result in punishment / correction.   The Word of God lists 98 chilling admonitions that take up half of this section.  These include diseases, plagues, poverty, famine, slavery and defeat by enemies.

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“Ki Tetze” (When You Go Out). Deuteronomy 21:10–25:19; Isaiah 54:1–10; 1 Corinthians 5:1–5.

Shalom All,   Welcome to this week’s Torah / Bible study section.  “Ki Tetze” (When You Go Out) “When you go forth [ki tetze] to battle against your enemies, and Yahweh delivers them into your hands …”  (Deuteronomy 21:10).  

Last week, in section “Shoftim” focused rather broadly on the system of worship, judicial procedures and the administration of the nation.  This week’s section of Scripture, “Ki Tetze”, includes 74 of the 613 commandments contained in the Torah.  These commandments include miscellaneous criminal, civil, and family laws as well as moral and religious duties of the Israelites.  I remind you to read Exodus 20:18-21 to see, if these verse were taken out, i.e. the people had not got afraid and moved, Yahweh’s instructions would have continued uninterrupted to Ex 23:33.  Moses wrote ALL these words in the book of Ex 24:4 to which the people agreed and the covenant was made in 24:7-8.  THEN Moses goes up to the Mount to get the sacrificial forgiveness of sin system for if and when they broke any of the 613 commandments in the covenant.  For a more comprehensive study read or listen to a sermon titled “What was written on Stone”. 

The Curse and Death on a Tree.   This Torah portion is a very practical compilation of teachings that squarely deals with most real-life situations: from inheritance rights of the firstborn to how to deal with stubborn, rebellious children; from returning lost objects to their owner to building safety fences around the roof of a home in order to prevent loss of life.  From protection of the living to how to treat the body of the deceased. 

The ethical treatment of a corpse extends to criminals hung on a tree after being convicted of a capital offence.  They have to be taken down and buried on the same day.  Bodies could not be left overnight, since anyone hung on a tree is considered cursed by God.  Joh 19:31  The Jews therefore, because it was the preparation, that the bodies should not remain upon the cross on the sabbath day, (for that sabbath day was an high day,) besought Pilate that their legs might be broken, and that they might be taken away

“If a man guilty of a capital offense is put to death and you hang him on a tree [וְתָלִ֥יתָ אֹתֹ֖ו עַל־עֵֽץ], his corpse shall not remain on the tree overnight.  You must bury it the same day; anyone who is hanged is a curse of God.”  (Deuteronomy 21:22–23).  Act 5:30  The God of our fathers raised up Yahshua, whom ye slew and hanged on a tree.  Act 10:39  And we are witnesses of all things which he did both in the land of the Jews, and in Jerusalem; whom they slew and hanged on a tree: Act 13:29  And when they had fulfilled all that was written of him, they took him down from the tree, and laid him in a sepulchre.  (Note not a cross).

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“Shoftim” (Judges). Deuteronomy 16:18–21:9; Isaiah 51:12–52:12; Mark 14:53–64.

Shalom,   Welcome to this week’s Torah / Bible study section.  “Appoint judges [shoftim] and officials [shotrim] for each of your tribes in every town Yahweh  your God is giving you, and they shall judge [shafat] the people fairly [tzedek mishpat / righteous judgment].”  (Deuteronomy 16:18). 

Last week, in section “Re'eh”, God set a blessing and a curse before the Israelites.  The blessing was a result of obeying God's commandments and the curse of forsaking them.  In this week’s study section, Moses instructed the nation of Israel in the appointing of judges (called shoftim in Hebrew) and law enforcement officers (called shotrim) to administer justice.  These judges and officers would not only teach; but also interpret the laws (instructions from God) of the Torah.  What is the difference between a judge and an officer?  A judge refers to one qualified to deliver judgements according to the laws of the Torah.  The officer then enforces these legal judgements, even by force if necessary. 

For those who may have forgotten or are new to these articles, you will see the name of God YHWH (Yahweh, Yahovah), in places where your bible has “the Lord” because translators made the change and I am reverting it back to what it was.  Also Yahshua, His son’s actual Hebrew name rather than the Greek or English imposed derivative Jesus. 

The Hebrew prophet Isaiah promised that there would come a day when judges would be restored as in the days of old:  “I shall restore your judges [shoftim] as at first, and your counsellors [yaats] as at the beginning” (Isaiah 1:26).  Although Isaiah mentions the judges, the officers do not appear in this prophecy, but rather “counsellors.” 

Why will counsellors replace the role of officers?  In the days of redemption, when the Messiah returns to rule and reign in righteousness, there will be no need for “enforcers” of the Torah.  In the Messianic era, all will have such a deep desire to follow and obey Yahweh that only counsellors will be needed to explain and clarify (not to enforce) the decisions of the judges.  Even today (before that great day of Yahweh that is to come) those who are truly in Messiah do not need external coercion to keep God’s commandments and judgements.  For when we have been given a new heart and a new spirit, there arises within us a desire to keep God’s laws and commandments, not in a spirit of legalism (a concept that does not exist in God’s Torah); but out of a heart of love:

“I will put My Spirit within you and cause you to walk in My statutes, and you will be careful to observe My ordinances” (Ezekiel 36:27). 

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Re’eh (See/ Behold). Deuteronomy 11:26–16:17; Isaiah 54:11–55:5 [66:1-24]; Matthew 7:9–29.

Shalom All,   Welcome to this week’s Torah / Bible Portion study.  “See (רְאֵה Re’eh),” says Moses to the people of Israel, “I place before you today a blessing and a curse: the blessing, if you obey the commandments of YHWH your God which I command you today; and the curse, if you do not obey the commandments of YHWH your God, but turn aside from the way which I command you today, to go after other gods which you have not known.” (Deuteronomy 11:26–28). 

Last week in study section called “Eikev”, Moses promised the Israelites that if they were obedient to the commands of the Torah (Yahweh’s righteous living instructions), they would prosper in the Promised Land.  This week, as the children of Israel stand poised to cross over into the Jordan, God sets before the people two separate and distinct directions:  a way of blessing if they choose to obey God’s commandments and a way of cursing if they choose to walk in disobedience to those laws.  These are universal and eternal commands, so apply today.  These two directions, the blessing and the curse, are to be proclaimed on two mountain tops in the Land:  Mount Gerizim and Mount Ebal.  “Now it shall be, when Yahweh your God has brought you into the land which you go to possess, that you shall put the blessing on Mount Gerizim and the curse on Mount Ebal”  (Deuteronomy 11:29). 

Today, Nablus rests between Mount Gerizim and Mount Ebal, the mountains on which the Israelites were commanded to pronounce the blessings and curses upon entering the Promised Land.  This is also the location of Biblical Shechem, the place where Abram built an altar to Yahweh (Genesis 12:6–8). 

After the giving of Gods instructions and His keeping of His covenant made with Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, to bring their descendants into a promised land, almost the whole bible after is the record of how they kept or broke His commandments.  The punishments, inclusive of exile, scattering and death of those that disobeyed.  It was an extremely serious matter that led Daniel to fast and pray for forgiveness of his sins and that of the nation.  Do you really think God would excuse those of today breaking the same instructions?  It makes no sense if that is your belief.  Deu 11:32  And ye shall observe to do all the statutes and judgments which I set before you this day. 

Each one of us has been given this same choice to follow Him or not; in fact, the entire direction of our lives depends on which path we choose, the path of the blessing or of the curse.  Yahshua (thought to be Jesus by many) the Messiah also told us of two paths, the narrow path that leads to life and the broad path that leads to destruction. Sadly, it seems that few choose the narrow path.  Most walk that broad path of destruction.

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“Eikev” (Because). Deuteronomy 7:12–11:25; Isaiah 49:14–51:3; John 14:1-31.

Shalom,  Last week, in study section Va'etchanan, Moses predicted that the people in future generations would be exiled from the Promised Land and scattered among the nations because they would turn from God and worship idols.  But Moses also foresaw that in the last days they would once again seek Him and obey His commandments.  The title of this week’s section, Eikev, means because.  It is used in this study as a conjunction to create a relationship between experiencing God’s blessings and obedience to His Torah.  In connection with this, the prophetic study section for this week contains an important prophecy that provides us with added insight into how to walk in the blessings of God through faith and obedience.  These three,  faith, obedience, and blessings, are seen operating in our forefather Abraham, who first believed and then out of faith, obeyed God and was circumcised.  Abraham exemplified the concept that obedience is more than exercising our will over our own flesh; it is faith in action.  Out of his faith flowed obedience to God. 

In Genesis 15:6, we see that his faith was counted to him as righteousness, and the ancient Hebrew prophet Yeshayahu (Isaiah) beckons us to look to Abraham, our father of faith.  We are to be like him; putting faith into action.  Then we too will experience the blessings that flow from obedience.  “Listen to me, you pursuers of justice, you who seek YHWH: consider the rock from which you were cut, the quarry from which you were dug; consider Abraham your father and Sarah, who gave birth to you …”  (Isaiah 51:1–2). 

Eikev: The Heel of Messiah. 

The word eikev comes from the verb akav, which means to take by the heel.  Similarly, the Hebrew noun akev means heel, as in the heel of a foot.  All of these words share the root letters ayin-kof-vet.  The word akev is first used in Genesis in an important prophecy: the seed of Chava (Eve) will eventually crush the head of the serpent.  “And I will put enmity between you [the serpent] and the woman, and between your offspring and hers; He will crush your head, and you will strike His heel [akev].”  (Genesis 3:15).

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“Va’etchanan” (And I Pleaded). Deuteronomy 3:23–7:11; Isaiah 40:1–26; John 10:1–42

Shalom All, Welcome to this week’s Torah / Bible study.  “Then I pleaded [va’etchanan] with Yahweh at that time, saying:  ‘O Yahweh God, You have begun to show Your servant Your greatness and Your mighty hand, for what god is there in heaven or on earth who can do anything like Your works and Your mighty deeds?”  (Deuteronomy 3:23–24)

In last week’s study section “Devarim”, the Israelites stood poised at the edge of the Promised Land, on the east side of the Jordan, ready to cross over and possess the Land.  Before they crossed, Moses summarizes for the people their 40-year history of wandering in the wilderness. Included in this week’s section are several of the best known and fundamental passages of Scripture in the entire Tanakh (Old Testament), including what is termed the Ten Commandments and the Shema (Listen! or Hear and Do!) a call in Deuteronomy 6:4–9 to love the one true God with all our being.  This passage also exhorts us to pass on our faith to the next generation by faithfully teaching the Torah (Instructions of Yahweh God) to our children.  

Deut 6:4-5  [Hear, Isra’el! Yahweh our God, is one master]; and you are to love Yahweh your God with all your heart, all your soul and all your strength.”  This is the first prayer spoken in the morning and the last said in the evening before sleep.  It is often the final prayer on the lips of a Jewish person on their deathbed, and it has been uttered by many Jewish martyrs as they gave up their spirits to Yahweh. 

These verses of Scriptures are so central to Judaism (and should be for all believers in Yahweh and Yahshua) that they are written on a parchment and placed in a small box worn on the forehead called tefillin (phylacteries) and also in small, decorated boxes called mezuzot (plural of mezuzah) on the doorposts of Jewish homes. This is done in literal fulfilment of commands found in this week’s study: “Tie them as symbols on your hands and bind them on your foreheads.  Write them on the door frames of your houses and on your gates” (Deuteronomy 6:8–9).

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“Devarim” (Words). Deuteronomy 1:1–3:22; Isaiah 1:1–27; Mark 14:12–26.

Shalom All, 

Welcome to this week's Torah / Bible study.  “These are the words [Devarim] which Moses spoke to all Israel on this side of the Jordan in the wilderness” (Deuteronomy 1:1).  Last week’s readings in the Book of Bamidbar (Numbers) concluded with Torah portion “Matot–Masei”.  This week, we begin the Book of Devarim (Deuteronomy), with the Torah / bible section that is also called Devarim.  In this study section, Moses retells the wilderness saga and reviews with all the people everything that Yahweh had ordered them.  He begins with God’s directive at mount Horeb to get moving and take the Promised Land, which extends from the Mediterranean Sea to the Euphrates River, including the lands of Ammon, Moab, and Edom.  The book of Deuteronomy begins, “These are the words which Moses spoke to all Israel.  Devarim in the Hebrew name of the book.  Deuteronomy comes from the Greek meaning of the repetition of the law.  A person should never consider himself to be above learning Torah. If the Torah really does convey the words of the living God, then it continues to impart revelation regardless of how many times a person has read it. It will always be new. When Moses recapitulated the Torah in the words of Deuteronomy, he delivered the same Torah, but it became like new material as he spoke it. 

The second redeemer, the Messiah, will be like the first redeemer. Just as Moses reiterated the Torah and it became like a new Torah as he did, the Messiah will reveal a “New Torah” to the world in the Messianic Era. Then the Torah will go out from Zion. All nations will ascend to Messianic Jerusalem to learn Torah from the Messiah. The Messiah’s “New Torah will go forth” to all nations, as it says, “A Torah will go forth from Me, and I will set My justice for a light of the peoples” (Isaiah 51:4). 

The New Torah of Messiah is not a different Torah, nor does it contradict anything in the Torah of Moses. Instead, the New Torah reveals the spiritual Torah behind the Torah of Moses, that is, the hidden will and wisdom of God. It will be the same Torah, but the Messiah will reveal the inner meanings. He will open the spiritual dimensions of the Torah and show us the things hidden in the Torah. The written scroll of Moses containing Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, and Deuteronomy can be compared to the physical body; the Torah of Messiah is like the divine soul which animates the body.

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Matot-Masei “Tribes-Journeys”. Numbers 30:2–36:13; Jeremiah 2:4–28, 3:4, 4:1–2; Matthew 23:1–25:46.

Shalom All, Welcome to this week’s Torah / Bible study.  "Moses said to the heads of the tribes [matot] of Israel:  'This is what Yahweh commands:  When a man makes a vow to Yahweh or takes an oath to obligate himself by a pledge, he must not break his word but must do everything he said'"  (Numbers 30:1–2). 

Last week, in section (Parasha) “Pinchas”, God rewarded Aaron’s grandson, Pinchas (Phinehas), a pact of peace and everlasting priesthood in response to his zeal for Yahweh.  In this week’s double section of Matot-Masei, the Israelites are coming to an end of their 40 years of wandering in the wilderness.  Both Miriam and Aaron, the sister and brother of Moses, have died in the desert; and Moses, in preparing for the end his life in the desert as well, has passed on the mantle of leadership to his successor Joshua. 

This week’s reading begins with the instructions (laws) regarding vows and oaths, emphasizing our responsibility to be a people who keep our word and do what we have promised.  In Chapter 30 a man is bound by his vow or oath to Yahweh. In Judges 11:30 we read of Jephthah’s vow concerning his daughter and how he was bound by it.  A woman’s vow however can be annulled by either her father if she is unmarried, or husband providing it is done in the day he hears it.  An example is in 1 Sam with Hannah, Samuel’s mother. Num 30:13  Every vow, and every binding oath to afflict the soul, her husband may establish it, or her husband may make it void.  Num 30:15  But if he shall any ways make them void after that(the day) he hath heard them; then he shall bear her iniquity. Widows or divorced women are bound to their vow like the man.  [See additional section on vows at the end]. 

Num 31:22  Only the gold, and the silver, the brass, the iron, the tin, and the lead, Num 31:23  Everything that may abide the fire, ye shall make it go through the fire, and it shall be clean: nevertheless it shall be purified with the water of separation: and all that abideth not the fire ye shall make go through the water.  This is the same sterilising process done today when there is no chemicals.  Heat to a high temperature or wash.  Yet I constantly hear preachers say the laws were nailed to the cross.

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PINCHAS (Phinehas / Dark Skinned), Numbers 25:10 - 30:1; 1 Kings 18:46 – 19:21, Mark 11:27 – 12:37.

Shalom All,

Welcome to our weekly study of Yahweh’s Torah / bible / instructions and righteous living guidance called “Pinchas” (Phinehas).  May you be blessed, your knowledge increase and obedience to God’s requirements in your physical actions as you study.

“Pinchas son of Eleazar, the son of Aaron, the priest, has turned my anger away from the Israelites.  Since he was as zealous for my honour among them as I am, I did not put an end to them in my zeal." (Numbers 25:11).   

Last week’s study section "Balak", concluded with a man named Pinchas ending a devastating plague that had come on Israel and already killed 24,000 Israelites.  The plague resulted from the Israelites participating in sexual immorality with the Midianite women.  A snare Balaam counselled Balak to set for them.  I can’t curse them; but we can tempt them to sin and step out of the conditional protective hedge of Yahweh their God.  The death toll ended when Pinchas (the grandson of Aaron) killed the Israelite Zimri, a Simeonite leader who openly brought a Midianite princess into his tent.  Pinchas entered his tent and plunged a spear through both of them.

Religion is a two-edged sword. On the one hand, faith in God, trust in Messiah and obedience to God's commandments is the narrow path that leads to life (Rev 12:17  And the dragon was wroth with the woman, and went to make war with the remnant of her seed, which keep the commandments of God, and have the testimony of Yahshua.  See also 14:12).  It brings peace, joy and purpose to existence. On the other hand, religious convictions can become a source of strife, enmity and hatred between people and nations.

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“BALAK” [בָּלָק] (Destroyer), Numbers 22:2–25:9; Micah 5:6–6:8; 2 Peter 2:1–22.

Welcome to our Torah / Bible study section for this week “And Balak [בָּלָק] the son of Zippor saw all that Israel had done to the Amorites” (Numbers 22:2). 

Last week’s study section “Chukat” ended with Israel seeking to pass through the land of the Amorites on their way to the Promised Land.  The Amorites responded with war; but with God's help, Israel defeated them.  In this week’s section, we see the overpowering strength of God’s blessing on Israel.  When Balak, the king of Moab, sent a sorcerer named Balaam to curse Israel, he found that he could not. 

Although Balaam was commissioned to pronounce a curse over Israel, he found he could only issue a blessing, saying, “How shall I curse whom God has not cursed?”  (Numbers 23:8).  Many might come against the nation of Israel or a prophet of God like with Elijah in 2 Kings 1:12; but no one can curse those whom Yahweh Himself has blessed!   The Moabite King Balak, whose name means waste or to lay waste, wanted to lay waste the nation of Israel.  To his dismay, he found that he was unable to do so because of God’s blessing upon her.  Remember the “nation” included a mixed multitude of individuals from other nations who grafted themselves or were married in. 

Why did King Balak feel so threatened by Israel that he felt the need to have her cursed?  It is because Balak, along with his elders, had heard of the Israelites stunning victories over the mighty enemies of Sihon and Og.  Just like  Rahab and her city had heard in Joshua 2:9.  Therefore, deciding that it would be too risky to fight Israel directly, they hired a “spiritual mercenary,” Balaam, who was a heathen sorcerer, to put a “hex” on their enemies.  Although we may consider this an ancient superstition, many practice sorcery even today.  For instance, in the United States there exists a form of Louisiana Voodoo (also known as New Orleans Voodoo).  It is rooted in West African Dahomeyan Vodun went to the American south through the slave trade.

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CHUKAT (Statute or Decree) Numbers 19:1–22:1; Judges 11:1–33; Hebrews 9:1–28

Welcome to this week’s Torah / Bible study section called CHUKAT (Statute or Decree)  “This is a requirement [חֻקַּ֣ת / Chukat / statute] of the law [Torah] that Yahweh has commanded: Tell the Israelites to bring you a red heifer [parahadumah]” (Numbers 19:2).   

Last week in section titled "Korach", the Levite Korach incited mutiny against Moses.  He and 250 tribe chiefs of Israel questioned the anointed position of Moses as leader and Aaron as high priest.  This week’s section Chukat, presents the ritual laws of the ParahAdumah (פָרָהאֲדֻמָּה / Red Heifer) and the deaths of Aaron and the prophetess Miriam, Moses and Aaron's sister.  

Chukat (חוקת | Statute)

Torah scriptures: Numbers 19:1-22:1.  Prophetic scriptures: Judges 11:1-33  [Jephthah and his vow].  New Testament scripture: Hebrews 9:1-28. 

Scriptures Summary.

Chukat is the thirty-ninth reading from the Torah. The word chukat (חוקת) means "statute." The name is derived from the second verse of the reading: "This is the statute of the law which YHWH has commanded" (Numbers 19:2). Chukat presents the mysterious laws of the red-heifer ceremony for purification after contact with human death. This reading also contains the story of Moses striking the rock, the stories of the deaths of Aaron and Miriam and the wars with the Amorites.  The section concludes with the host of Israel encamping on the edge of the Promised Land. 

Portion Outline.

TORAH Section:  Numbers 19:1 | Ceremony of the Red Heifer. Numbers 20:1 | The Waters of Meribah. Numbers 20:14 | Passage through Edom Refused.  Numbers 20:22 | The Death of Aaron. Numbers 21:1 | The Bronze Serpent. Numbers 21:10 | The Journey to Moab. Numbers 21:21 | King Sihon Defeated.  Numbers 21:33 | King Og Defeated. 

The Purity Paradox.

In Numbers 19, the Torah gives the laws for preparing the ashes of the red heifer. The red heifer is an unusual sacrifice which was slaughtered and burned outside of the Tabernacle.  Its ashes were then collected and mixed with water.  The water was sprinkled in a purification ceremony which removed ritual uncleanness engendered by contact with death.  Paradoxically, the preparation of the red heifer renders each person involved unclean.  The priest who oversees the slaughter and the burning becomes unclean and incurs first degree impurity.  The man who ignites the fire becomes unclean.  The man who gathers the ashes together is rendered unclean.  Moreover, the one who sprinkles the water of cleansing to remove the impurity of corpse contamination incurs first degree impurity.  Is this not a paradox, an inexplicable decree of the Almighty where those doing the cleaning become dirty.  I suppose like one who washes dirt off of cloths or cleaning their home.  They become dirty from the dirt coming off the cloths or home. 

Who decreed this? Was it not … God? We have learned that all the people engaged in preparing the water of the ashes of the red heifer, from beginning to end, defile garments, while the heifer itself makes garments ritually clean.

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“Korach”, קורח Numbers 16:1-18:32, 1 Samuel 11:14-12:22, Luke 18:35-19:28.

Welcome to “Korach”, קורח , "Korah "  the name of this week’s Torah / Bible study section.  

Scriptures are:  from the Torah (Law or instructions of God) Numbers 16:1-18:32,  [Now Korah the son of Izhar... took action].  From the Prophets: 1 Samuel 11:14-12:22 and from the New Testament, gospel of  Luke 18:35-19:28. 

"Korach son of Izhar, the son of Kohath, the son of Levi, and certain Reubenites Dathan and Abiram, sons of Eliab, and On son of Peleth, became insolent and rose up against Moses”  (Numbers 16:1–2). 

In last week’s study section titled “ShelachLecha”, the seeds of rebellion were sown as the Israelites threatened to replace Moses as their leader.  So great was their fear of the giants in the Promised Land, and so great was their unbelief that they would be able to overcome those giants, that they wanted to forsake the promises of God and return to Egypt.  In this week’s Torah section study, the rebellion continues with the mutiny against Moses’ leadership by a man named Korach (קֹרַח), which means baldness, ice, hail, or frost. 

Portion Outline.  TORAH:

Numbers 16:1 | Revolt of Korah, Dathan, and Abiram

Numbers 17:1 | The Budding of Aaron's Rod

Numbers 18:1 | Responsibility of Priests and Levites

Numbers 18:8 | The Priests' Portion. 

PROPHETS:

1Sa 11:1 | Saul Defeats the Ammonites

1Sa 12:1 | Samuel's Farewell Address. 

Portion Summary:

Korah (korach, קורח) was the name of a prominent Levite. This week’s Torah reading tells the story of how Korah led an unsuccessful rebellion against Moses and Aaron. After thwarting the insurrection, God confirms Aaron in the priesthood and provides additional legislation regarding priestly and Levitical privileges and responsibilities. 

A proverb says, "Woe to the wicked, and woe to his neighbour." This applies to Dathan and Abiram, the neighbours of Korah.  According to the arrangements for the tribal encampments, the Kohathites and the Reubenites both encamped on the south side of the Tabernacle (Numbers 2:10; 3:29).  Dathan and Abiram were neighbours with a contentious man. That is why they were punished with him and were swept from the world. Contention against leadership is contagious, and contentious people work hard to convince their companions to join their cause. Korah's initial grievances against Moses and Aaron had nothing to do with the Reubenites, but through frequent conversation and the subtle manipulation of ideas, Korah was able to draw his neighbours into sedition. 

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ShelachLecha (Send Forth). Numbers 13:1–15:41; Joshua 2:1–24; Romans 4:1–25.

Welcome to our Torah / Bible study for this week, which is called ShelachLecha (Send Forth).  “Then Yahweh spoke to Moses saying, ‘Send out for yourself (shelachlechaשְׁלַח-לְך) men so that they may spy out the land of Canaan, which I am going to give to the sons of Israel; you shall send a man from each of their fathers' tribes, everyone a leader among them."  (Numbers 13:1–2). 

Last week in study section “Behaalotecha”, God commanded Aaron to light the lamps of the Menorah and the tribe of Levi was initiated into the service of the Sanctuary.  This week’s Parasha (Scripture portion) describes how God tests the Israelites by sending out 12 meraglim (spies) to check out the situation in the Promised Land (as God had commanded them) before going in to take possession of it. 

The Promised Land Is Bountiful.

“Be of good courage.  And bring some of the fruit of the land.’  Now the time was the season of the first ripe grapes.”  (Numbers 13:20). 

God instructed Moses to send one chief from each of the 12 tribes of Israel to scout out the land of Canaan.  Among the spies were Caleb, son of Jephunneh from the Tribe of Judah and Hosea (Hoshea), son of Nun from the Tribe of Ephraim.  Later, Moses changed Hosea’s name to Joshua.  When Moses sent out the spies, it was the season of the first ripe grapes.  They were to go in with courage and bring back a sample of the fruit of the Land.  They were also to assess the characteristics of the inhabitants, the fortification of the cities and the existence of any trees. 

After 40 days, they returned with a cluster of grapes from the Valley of Eshkol (cluster), which was so bountiful that they had to tie the cluster to a pole and carry it on their shoulders.  Today in Israel, the grapes begin to ripen around mid-July in the heat of summer.  So it is likely that the spies went into the Promised Land around the end of July. 

The Number 40.

Why were the spies scouting the land of Canaan for 40 days?  Why not a month or two weeks? The number 40 is significant in the Torah / Bible as it is the number of testing, preparation and leadership, as well as the harbinger of something new (according to Jewish Wisdom in the Numbers).

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Beha'alotcha (בהעלותך (When you set up / ascend). Numbers 8:1-12:15: Zechariah 2:14-4:7: Luke 17:11-18:14.

Welcome to this weeks Torah / Bible study.  “Now the LORD spoke to Moses, saying, ‘Speak to Aaron and say to him, “When you set up (behaalotecha בְּהַעֲלֹתְךָ) the lamps, the seven lamps shall give light in front of the Menorah.” 

When you set up / ascend the lamps" (Numbers 8:2), a reference to the fact that the priest had to step up to clean and light the lamps of the menorah. This portion is jam-packed, telling the story of the consecration of the Levites, the first Passover in the wilderness, the silver trumpets, the cloud of glory, the departure from Sinai, the grumbling in the wilderness, the first Sanhedrin and the punishment of Miriam. 

Outline: Numbers 8:1 The Seven Lamps; Numbers 8:5 Consecration and Service of the Levites; Numbers 9:1 The Passover at Sinai; Numbers 9:15  The Cloud and the Fire; Numbers 10:1 The Silver Trumpets; Numbers 10:11 Departure from Sinai; Numbers 11:1 Complaining in the Desert; Numbers 11:16 The Seventy Elders; Numbers 11:31 The Quails; Numbers 12:1 Aaron and Miriam Jealous of Moses; Zec 2:6 Interlude: An Appeal to the Exiles; Zec 3:1 Fourth Vision: Joshua and Satan; Zec 4:1 Fifth Vision: The Lampstand and Olive Trees. 

The Menorah: “Now this workmanship of the Menorah was hammered gold; from its shaft to its flowers it was hammered work.  According to the pattern which the LORD had shown Moses, so he made the lampstand.”  (Numbers 8:4). 

Section “Behaalotecha” opens with the kindling of the Menorah, the lampstand that is a symbol of the light of revelation and truth.  God commanded Moses to make it out of gold according to the pattern shown him on Mount Sinai.  Why gold and not bronze or silver?  Gold symbolizes something precious, of great value, and it is a metaphor for purity in the Bible.  The fire in the Menorah represents the fire of the Divine Light spreading throughout the entire world, beginning with Israel.  We can understand it also as Godliness; therefore, the fire can be seen as symbolic of God refining His people so that they may be as fine gold!

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“Nasso” (meaning Lift Up or Elevate). Numbers 4:21 – 7:89, Judges 13:2-5, Ephesians 1:1–23

Shabbot Shalom All,

Welcome to this week’s Torah / Bible study section titled “Nasso” (meaning Lift Up or Elevate). Numbers 4:21 – 7:89, Judges 13:2-5, Ephesians 1:1–23. “The LORD spoke to Moses, saying, ‘Take a census of the sons of Gershon also, by their fathers' houses and by their clans.’” (Numbers 4:21–22). Last week, in section Bamidbar, a census was taken of the Israelite men of draftable age. The Levites, who were given the duty to serve in the Sanctuary in the place of Israel’s firstborn, were excluded. The title of this week’s Torah section, Naso, means lift up or elevate. It was the term used to take a head count (census) of the children of Israel. In the Hebrew it reads, “Lift up the heads” (נָשֹׂא אֶת רֹאשׁ — naso et rosh). This week, the headcount of the Israelites is completed with a census of the Levites who are between the ages of 30 and 50. They are to do the work of transporting the Mishkan (Tabernacle). Besides discussing the duties of the Levites, this Scripture portion also provides the law of the nazir, or Nazirite, and the Aaronic Benediction (Birkat Kohanim — ברכת כהנים), more commonly known as the Priestly Blessing. THE PRIESTLY BLESSING. The LORD bless you, and keep you; the LORD make His face shine on you, and be gracious to you; the LORD lift up His countenance on you, and give you peace. Numbers 6 closes with the immortal words of the priestly blessing, a commandment for the sons of Aaron to bless Israel. To this day, the sons of Aaron lift their hands over the worshipers in the synagogue service while they utter the words, (I have added the name of God, Yahweh instead of the Lord or Adonai) “Yahweh bless you, and keep you; Yahweh make His face shine on you, and be gracious to you; Yahweh lift up His countenance on you, and give you peace” (Numbers 6:24-26).
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“Bamidbar (In The Wilderness)”: Numbers 1:1 – 4:20; Hosea 1:10 – 2:22; Romans 15:1-7.

Shalom All,  Welcome to this week’s Torah / Bible study titled “Bamidbar (In The Wilderness)”: the service of the Levites. Numbers 1:1 – 4:20; Hosea 1:10 – 2:22; Romans 15:1-7. “Adonai spoke to Moses in the Sinai Desert [Bamidbar].” (Numbers 1:1). Last week, we finished studying the Book of Leviticus with Parasha Bechukotai. This week’s Torah / Bible study begins the fourth of the five books of Moses, Bamidbar, which means “in the desert” or “wilderness”. While this name is taken from the fifth Hebrew word in verse one, it reflects one of the themes of this book. In this section, God makes it a priority to create an Israelite military force before they set out on their journey through the wilderness to the Promised Land. The Counting of the Army: Bamidbar is called “Numbers” in English because the first four chapters mention censuses of Israelites, the first of which number the men who are able to bear arms. An older Hebrew name for Bamidbar, Sefer Hapikudim (Book of the Countings) also reflects this theme of counting. In chapter one of Bamidbar, the Israelites still camp at Mount Sinai after having received the law, built the Tabernacle, and been instructed in worship. Now before they move forward to the Promised Land, they must be prepared for the threats that lie ahead on the journey. Yahweh commands Moses to take a census of all Israelite males able to bear arms from ages twenty and up. They assembled on the first day of the second month in the second year “And so he counted them in the Desert of Sinai” (Numbers 1:19). All the people of God are real people. Moses and Aaron counted them according to their "genealogical registration by their families, by their fathers' households, according to the number of names, head by head" (Numbers 1:20). This method gave every Israelite the opportunity to tell his name and be counted as an individual of worth. Each person is valuable and unique, a special treasure to God. The census results reveal that the Israelites are mighty in number. The men capable of battle are listed by tribe, totalling 603,550 men:

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Behar-Bechukotai (On the Mount / In my Statutes)”. Leviticus 25:1 – 27:34; Jeremiah 32:6–27; Romans 6:1–23.

Welcome to this week’s Torah / Bible study.  “Yahweh said to Moses at Mount Sinai, ‘Speak to the Israelites and say to them: ‘When you enter the land I am going to give you, the land itself must observe a Sabbath to Yahweh’”  (Leviticus 25:1–2).  

Last week, in study section “Emor”, God called the Kohen (priests) to live lives that expressed a greater measure of holiness.  It also described seven essential festivals that are fundamental to Israel’s walk with Yahweh God which He calls His feasts, in addition to the weekly seventh day Sabbath (our Friday sunset to Saturday sunset).  This week, in “Behar” God gives Moses the law of the Shemitah (literally release; but commonly translated Sabbatical Year). 

STUDY TO LEARN, TO DO.

What was the purpose of God redeeming Israel from Egypt and giving them instructions?  What is the purpose of us going to church or reading our bibles?  Study to Learn, Learn to Do!  In Jewish thought, the purpose for studying is not the acquisition of knowledge; but to study to learn and we learn to do.  Most bible readers and church attendees do not follow the purpose.   To many it is to learn the scriptures, recite them, call on their promises or teach others them; but they do not do nor teach it is about the doing.  Infact, many teach the contrary.  That it is not about the doing; but the belief.  If you know your bible you should be aware of the numerous times the doing is emphasised in both Old and New Testaments.  Going to the tabernacle or synagogue was not about singing, definitely not about dancing; but about learning and doing.  The singing was reserved to the appointed Levites as part of their service.  Rom 2:13  (For not the hearers of the law are just before God, but the doers of the law shall be justified. Jas_1:23  For if any be a hearer of the word, and not a doer, he is like unto a man beholding his natural face in a glass: 

The Torah portion begins by saying, "If you walk in My statutes and keep My commandments so as to carry them out ... " (Leviticus 26:3).  What is the difference between (1) walking in the statutes, (2) keeping the commandments and (3) carrying them out?

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“Emor” meaning “speak” or “say”. Leviticus 21:1–24:23; Ezekiel 44:15–31; James 1:1–18

Shalom All, Welcome to this week’s torah / bible study. “The Lord said to Moses, ‘Speak [emor] to the priests, the sons of Aaron, and say to them: A priest must not make himself ceremonially unclean.’” (Leviticus 21:1). Last week’s study “Kedoshim”, gave the laws concerning living a holy life, emphasizing its connection to loving our neighbour as ourselves. In this week’s Torah reading continues the study of holiness, providing the laws regarding purity of the priests and the sanctity of time through the moadim (God’s appointed holy feasts and festivals). God gives Moses instructions regarding rules of purity for the priests (כֹּהֲנִים, Kohanim), who are held to a stricter standard than the general population. Because the kohanim are set apart to serve Yahweh God by performing the daily and holy day offerings, additional laws of purity apply to them that do not apply to the general tribe of Levi or the Israelites as a whole. Contact with a dead body makes a person ritually unfit for seven days. This is not a problem for the average person. It is not a sin to become ritually unfit, but it is a good deed to attend to the dead and escort them to burial. For priests, though, this presents a problem. A priest is supposed to be in a state of ritual fitness to be able to serve in the Temple. Moreover, he must be in a ritually fit state before he can eat the priestly portions of food and the sacrifices. For that reason, priests are required to maintain ritual purity. One way to do that is to avoid coming into contact with a corpse. As regards the set apart status of priests, for instance, they are not allowed to marry a divorced woman. Also the priests are not to make themselves ceremonially unclean through contact with a person who had died, unless that person was a very close relative such as a father or mother, or son, or daughter. The laws of sexual purity for the kohanim are so rigorous that a daughter of a priest (kohen) who committed sexual immorality was to be burned by fire! The priests also have to carefully adhere to stringent laws of holiness; for example, a priest cannot marry a prostitute or a divorced woman. The Kohen Gadol (High Priest), who had been anointed with the holy anointing oil, is compelled to even higher standards: he must marry only an Israelite virgin “And the daughter of any priest, if she profanes herself by whoring, profanes her father; she shall be burned with fire” (Leviticus 21:9). “The woman he marries must be a virgin. He must not marry a widow, a divorced woman, or a woman defiled by prostitution, but only a virgin from his own people, so that he will not defile his offspring among his people. I am the LORD, who makes him holy” (Leviticus 21:13–15).
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"Acharei Mot" (After Death). Leviticus 16:1 – 20:27; Ezekiel 22:1–19; Amos 9:7–15 ; 1 Corinthians 6:9 – 20

Welcome to this week’s Torah / Bible study section.   “Yahweh spoke to Moses after the death [acharei mot] of the two sons of Aaron who died when they approached YHWH”  (Leviticus 16:1). 

“Acharei Mot” begins with God's instructions for Aharon (Aaron), the Cohen HaGadol  (The High Priest), regarding entering the innermost chamber of the Sanctuary, the Holy of Holies, with the ketoret  (incense offering) and the preparations for the crucial once-a-year sacrifice on Yom Kippur (the Day of Atonement).  It seems that YHWH is trying to prevent any more “accidental deaths” due to well-meaning Israelites coming too close to the holiness of God as Aaron’s two sons.  During this time, the Holy of Holies was placed behind a thick, heavy curtain or veil in front of the atonement cover on the Ark.  There YHWH appeared in a cloud:    “YHWH said to Moses: ‘Tell your brother Aaron that he is not to come whenever he chooses into the Most Holy Place behind the curtain in front of the atonement cover on the ark, or else he will die.’”  (Leviticus 16:2). 

Not just anyone could enter this most innermost sanctuary, but only the High Priest (Cohen HaGadol) and even then only one day out of the entire year on the Day of Atonement (Yom Kippur).   This week’s study emphasizes that it is the blood that makes atonement for the soul.  “For the life of the flesh is in the blood, and I have given it to you upon the altar to make atonement for your souls; for it is the blood that makes atonement for the soul” (Leviticus 17:11).

The first section of the Torah portion (Acharei Mot) describes the Yom Kippur offering of two goats:  one for the offering and the other as the scapegoat (called the Azazel [עֲזָאזֵלin Hebrew).   “But the goat chosen by lot as the scapegoat shall be presented alive before the LORD to be used for making atonement by sending it into the wilderness as a scapegoat.”  (Leviticus 16:10).  Lots would be cast over two goat, one of which would be offered to God as a sin offering.  The High Priest would lay his hands upon the other goat, symbolically laying all the sins of Israel upon the Azazel.  The goat would then be banished into the wilderness, carrying away the sins of Israel along with it (Lev 16:21-22). 

The scapegoat's carrying away of sin is a beautiful picture of what is described in Isaiah 53: “We all, like sheep, have gone astray, each of us has turned to our own way; and the Lord has laid on him the iniquity of us all.”  (Isaiah 53:6).  Just as this scapegoat took the sins of the Jewish People and carried them away into the wilderness, so did Yahshua carry away our sins.  When Yochanan the Immerser (John the Baptist) saw Yahshua coming to the Jordan River, he said, “Hinei seh ha’Elohim, hanoseh chatat ha’olam (Here is the Lamb of God who carries away the sins of the world”  (John 1:29).  Once we begin to see these Scriptures in their Hebraic context, not only do they make more sense but they also bring a richness to our faith that we cannot have without this understanding of its Jewish roots.  The Hebrew term l'azazel in this Parasha means either for absolute removal or to Azazel (a name).  Azazel has been translated scapegoat in the King James Bible, but the Septuagint translates it the sent away or the sent away one.  Later rabbis believed l'azazel referred to azaz (rugged) and el (strong), interpreting it to be the rugged cliff from which the goat was thrown.

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"Tazria-Metzora" (She Conceives), Leviticus 12:1–15:33; 2 Kings 4:42-5:19; Luke 5:12–31.

Welcome to Tazria (She Conceives), this week’s Torah / bible study section.   “Speak to the people of Israel, saying, If a woman conceives [tazria] and bears a male child, then she shall be unclean [tameh] seven days.  As at the time of her menstruation, she shall be unclean [tameh].”  (Leviticus 12:1–2). 

In last week’s study section, God issued a fire to consume the offerings on the altar, and the Divine Presence came to dwell in the newly built Sanctuary; which was set up in the first month of the following year. He also commanded the kosher laws, identifying which animals were fit for consumption. It also discussed some of the laws of ritual purity, instructing the Israelites “to make a distinction between the holy and the profane, and between the unclean and the clean.” (Leviticus 10:10). This week’s double portion of Scripture (Tazria-Metzora) continues with the laws of ritual purity (tahorah) and impurity (tumah). God provides Moses with the laws of purification after childbirth. He also gives the laws concerning afflictions of the skin (otherwise known as leprosy). The name of this week’s Torah portion, Tazria, is related to the Hebrew root word zarah (זרע), meaning seed; therefore, an alternative translation of Tazria is She Bears Seed or Bearing Seed, rather than She Conceives. When considering the purification rituals that God gave for mothers following childbirth, many questions naturally arise: Why is a woman ritually impure when she gives birth? Why is there a need for an offering? “When the days of her purification for a son or daughter are over, she is to bring to the priest at the entrance to the tent of meeting a year-old lamb for a burnt offering and a young pigeon or a dove for a sin offering. ... He shall offer them before the LORD to make atonement for her, and then she will be ceremonially clean from her flow of blood.” (Leviticus 12:6–7). Why are there 7 days of isolation following the birth of a boy, coupled with 33 days of ritual purity? Why are there 14 days of isolation following the birth of a girl, coupled with 66 days of ritual purity? “But if she bears a female child, then she shall be unclean two weeks, as in her menstruation.” (Leviticus 12:5).
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