Shemini” “Eighth”, Leviticus 9:1–11:47; 2 Samuel 6:1–7:17; Mark 9:1–13.

Shalom All, Welcome to this week’s Torah / Bible study section. The study title arises from the opening verse: “On the eighth [shemini] day Moses summoned Aaron and his sons and the elders of Israel” (Leviticus 9:1). In our previous cycle study section “Tzav”, God instructed Moses to command Aaron and his sons how to prepare for their duties and rights as kohanim (priests). For seven days, Aaron and his sons stayed at the Tent of Meeting as part of their ordination process. On the eighth day, Moses called for them to begin presenting the offerings (קָרְבֳּנוֹת, korbanot) to Yahweh God. These offerings were given as a kind of “welcoming ceremony” to greet the arrival of God’s Shekhinah (Glory or Divine Presence): “Then Moses said, ‘This is what the LORD has commanded you to do, so that the glory of the LORD may appear to you.’” (Leviticus 9:6). There are many equally important things to cover; and all cannot be at the top of the article. Some had to be put at the end to keep the flow of topics in an order. Kindly read all the study. Chapter 9 starts with instructions for Aaron to make a sacrifice of a sin and burnt offering : Lev 9:6 And Moses said, This is the thing which the LORD commanded that ye should do: and the glory of the LORD shall appear unto you. Lev 9:7 And Moses said unto Aaron, Go unto the altar, and offer thy sin offering, and thy burnt offering, and make an atonement for thyself, and for the people: and offer the offering of the people, and make an atonement for them; as the LORD commanded. Also in the study is chapter 11 regarding clean and unclean animals. The same criteria as Noah followed before the flood. Note verse 23, 31- 32, 44-45 (see also Lev 19:2, 20:26, Isa 52:11, 2 Cor 6:17). They give a criteria to being holy and clean 1Pe 1:16 Because it is written, Be ye holy; for I am holy. Studying Torah Requires Searching the Scriptures. At the very centre of the Torah are the words “Search, search!” The same words can be understood to mean, “Study, study!” Leviticus 10:16 says, “Moses searched carefully for the goat of the sin offering, and behold, it had been burned up!” The words “searched carefully” translate the repeated Hebrew verb darash (דרש). Darash means “to search.” In Hebrew, the verse repeats the verb darash to indicate a diligent search. It says, “darosh darash,” literally, “searching, he searched.” The same word applies to the study of Torah. For example, a short teaching on Torah is sometimes called a derashah, and a traditional interpretation of Torah is called a midrash (מדרש). Midrash comes from the same word “to search.” Studying Torah requires searching the Scriptures. The Torah actually commands us to study the Torah. Deuteronomy 6:7 says, “You shall teach the commandments of the Torah diligently to your sons and shall talk of them when you sit in your house and when you walk by the way and when you lie down and when you rise up.” The sages explain that this commands us to study Torah because to teach the Torah one must study it first. A person should search the Torah, study it, and discuss it, at home and on the way, evening and morning. The Master repeats this commandment to search the Torah when He rebukes the Pharisees in John 5:39, saying, “You search the Scriptures because you think that in them you have eternal life; it is these that testify about Me.” The Greek of John 5:39 can also be read in the imperative sense: “Search the Scriptures diligently. In them you have eternal life because it is these that testify about Me.” As we diligently search the Torah, we encounter Messiah. Most printed editions of the Torah contain a masoretic note on Leviticus 10:16 stating that these two Hebrew words, darosh, darash, are the exact halfway mark of all the words of the Torah. That is to say that if one person started with the last Hebrew word of the Torah and started counting backward, one word at a time, and another person simultaneously started with the first Hebrew word and started counting forward, they would meet at the exact centre, in Leviticus 10:16, where it says, “darosh, darash.” This is to teach us that the entire Torah revolves around constant inquiry. One must never stop studying and seeking ever deeper and broader understanding of the Torah. (Degel Machaneh Ephraim). New Beginnings Start with “Eight”. It took a full seven days of preparation before they could begin this new and holy function as priests who serve God in the Mishkan (Tabernacle), where the Glory of Yahweh came to reside. While the number seven represents completion (such as God’s creation of the universe), the number eight often represents new beginnings: On the seventh day, God rested and blessed it, declaring it as a set-apart, holy day of rest. On the eighth day, however, work resumed once more, only this time, human beings began stewardship of God’s creation by tending and caring for the Garden of Eden. The eighth day is, therefore, a type of anniversary of the Creation. Eight souls were saved during the MabulHaGadol (Great Flood). The eighth day is considered a day of covenant (brit), for it is on this day that every Jewish male infant is to be brought into covenant with the Almighty God through the rite of circumcision (called Brit Milah in Hebrew). David was the eighth son of Jesse and Israel’s first great king from whose lineage HaMashiach (the Messiah) would come. On the eighth day (first day of the week), Yahshua (called Jesus by many) rose from the grave and became the bikkurim (firstfruits) of all those who will be resurrected on the last day. (Note the first day started just after sunset the seventh day, about 6pm our Saturday). The Beginning of the Year. Coming into active service in the Mishkan on the eighth day was not the only indication of new beginnings in this study section. The consecration of Aaron and his sons, as well as the desert Tabernacle, took place exactly one year after the Exodus from Egypt, in Nisan, (also called Abib or Aviv) the first month. Exo 40:17 And it came to pass in the first month in the second year, on the first day of the month, that the tabernacle was reared up. Nisan is the beginning of spring, when the rainy season comes to an end, the fruit trees begin to blossom, and the fields are carpeted in wildflowers. The Hebrew word for spring is Aviv. This word can be divided into two parts: av, which means father; and iv, which has a numerical representation of 12. Thus, Aviv (spring) is seen as the father of the twelve months of the year. God Himself designated this period as the start of His calendar (Exodus 12:2). Therefore, the entire Hebrew calendar has a spiritual connection to the formation of the twelve Hebrew tribes, and the service of the priests represents a new beginning for all of Israel. The Beginning of Wisdom. On the eighth day, the preparations for God’s glorious entry into the Mishkan (Tabernacle) were over, and Aaron and his sons began their priestly ministry (Leviticus 9:1). However, something went terribly wrong! Nadab and Abihu, Aaron’s two eldest sons perished in the blink of an eye; devoured by the consuming fire of God’s wrath. Why? The Torah says they offered “strange fire,” which God had not commanded. “Strange” meaning, common, non specified by God, thus unholy. “Aaron’s sons Nadab and Abihu took their censers, put fire in them and added incense; and they offered strange fire [zarah] before the LORD, contrary to His command. So fire came out from the presence of the LORD and consumed them, and they died before the LORD.” (Leviticus 10:1–2) The Hebrew word zarah (זָרָה) carries the connotation of being foreign or another kind. Let this be a lesson and reminder to us that we cannot offer God things or times of the world; but of His appointment. We cannot make something or a period holy, only He can. Also foreign (unholy / sinful) persons cannot get into His presence. What was Aaron’s response to such a disturbing family tragedy? Silence (Leviticus 10:3). There is a well-known saying that “silence is golden” and Aaron's response to this tragedy is perhaps an example of this. At a time of great grief, Aaron remained silent rather than speak out in angry accusation against God. When we go through painful trials in life or when tragedy strikes unexpectedly, whether illness, accident or even death, one of the best initial strategies may be to keep our mouths closed until we have control over what we will say or understand the full circumstances. Solomon, in all of his wisdom, penned the verse: “Even a fool, when he keeps silent, is considered wise; when he closes his lips, he is considered prudent.” (Proverbs 17:28). We see this truth with Job’s friends. After witnessing his terrible situation, they just sat beside him in silence. It is probably the best thing because when they finally opened their mouths to speak, foolish accusations poured forth. Although it appears the offering of the “strange” fire was the cause of the sons demise, a few verse later a possible additional reason is suggested. God’s command soon after their death may suggest that they went into the Tent of Meeting in an inebriated state. God tells Aaron “You and your sons are not to drink wine or other fermented drink whenever you go into the Tent of Meeting, or you will die. This is a lasting ordinance for the generations to come” (Leviticus 10:8–9). Although the Bible permits the drinking of wine and alcohol in moderation, it has no place among those in position of spiritual leadership while they are actively serving Yahweh. Alcohol can dull one’s senses and prevent a person from distinguishing between right and wrong, clean and unclean; one of the specified functions of the priesthood. Just as it is unwise to “drink and drive,” it can be equally dangerous in a spiritual sense to “drink and serve Yahweh in a position of leadership or example.” In any event, it is evident that these sons of Aaron were careless in the face of God’s holiness. The Fear of Yahweh God. Some think that God’s wrath for disregarding His holiness is limited to the Old Testament God of “law and justice.” They think that under the Brit Chadashah (New Testament), we are “under grace” and, therefore, immune to God’s judgment. However, the account of Ananias and Sapphira reveals that this is a fallacy. This “New Covenant” (as some label it, though it should be Testament) couple brought an offering to the apostles in Jerusalem, and lied to the RuachHaKodesh (Holy Spirit) about how much money they received for the sale of their property. “Now a man named Ananias, together with his wife Sapphira, also sold a piece of property. With his wife’s full knowledge he kept back part of the money for himself, but brought the rest and put it at the apostles’ feet” (Acts 5:1–2). For lying to God, both Ananias and Sapphira were struck dead (Acts 5:4–11). Although God is merciful, patient, compassionate, and slow to anger, we must not take these qualities for granted, nor test Yahweh our God by treating His holiness carelessly. God is equally just and holy. For this reason He is called a “Consuming Fire” throughout the Tanakh (Old) and Brit Chadashah (New Testament). May we all walk in a healthy fear of the Lord, which will keep us on the narrow road that leads to life. “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom.” (Proverbs 9:10). Pro 14:27 The fear of the LORD is a fountain of life, to depart from the snares of death. Deu6:2 That thou mightest fear the LORD thy God, to keep all his statutes and his commandments, which I command thee, thou, and thy son, and thy son's son, all the days of thy life; and that thy days may be prolonged. Spiritual Fire Do not be a spiritual thrill seeker. The quality and sincerity of true worship is not manifest in emotional highs and ecstatic exuberance. When we assemble together to worship, we should anticipate a close encounter with God. When Israel gathered for the first worship service in the Tabernacle, fire blazed forth from God and consumed their offerings. Everyone fell on their faces before the glory of the LORD. When we gather in His houses of worship on His appointed times, it is reasonable to expect that He will be present in some manner and impact our lives. On the other hand, the fire of the LORD did not blaze forth in that manner on a daily basis. The priests continued to serve and bring the offerings every day after that first miraculous worship service. They kept the divine fire alive by feeding the flames of the altar, but the amazing glory of the LORD did not blaze out again. There were probably some Israelites who felt as if something was amiss. "Why has this Tabernacle become so spiritually dry?" they might have wondered. Perhaps they went looking for other tabernacles where God's Spirit was "really moving." Some people are always looking for spiritual fire. They are in constant pursuit of emotional highs and pneumatic dazzlement. If God does not provide it, they will, with dancing etc. They judge the quality of a worship service and the sincerity of other worshippers by means of their own internal, emotional barometer, and they equate the mundane and routine with spiritual lifelessness. Other people are more like the priests. They may have had experiences with spiritual fire; but they do not live their lives in pursuit of experiences. Instead of demanding fresh fire from heaven every week, they are diligently keeping the spiritual flame alive as they go through the seemingly mundane routines of serving the Almighty according to His instructions. Sometimes there is fresh fire; but the mature man of faith serves steadfastly in all seasons. Which of the above two types of people would you prefer to be married to? Would you want the person who is always looking for romantic and physical thrills, even to the point of abandoning the relationship if he feels it has dried up? Or would you prefer the person who is willing to stay steadfastly committed in both good times and bad? Which kind of worshipper do you think God is seeking? The divine fire did appear again from time to time: at the announcement of the birth of Samson in Judges 13, when Solomon dedicated the first Temple in 2 Chronicles 7 and when Elijah challenged the prophets of Baal on Mount Carmel in 1 Kings 18. The divine fire signified that both the sacrifice and the sacrificer had found favour in God's eyes. In Acts 2, the flames of God's glory appeared among the apostles, signifying the bestowal of the Holy Spirit upon them as prophesied in Joel 2:28 and other prophets. It happened during the feast of Pentecost while the people of Israel were worshipping at the Temple and offering the prescribed festival sacrifices. We are still keeping that Pentecost flame alive today. 2Samuel 6:1- 7:17 Deals with David bringing the Ark to Jerusalem and Uzzah being killed by God for touching it. Like Aaron’s sons who offered unholy incense to God. We are constantly reminded of His holiness and allergic to un-holiness. I would say it contaminates Him and cannot be allowed. We are to be holy as He is holy and follow His instructions 2Sa 7:14 I will be his father, and he shall be my son. If he commit iniquity, I will chasten him with the rod of men, and with the stripes of the children of men: Some verses for particular attention. Why are some food clean and others unclean? The short and correct answer is YHWH| in His wisdom and all knowing made it so. He has that prerogative. I doubt it is to do with taste. Our reason should be "I would certainly eat it, but My Father in heaven has forbidden me to eat of it, so I will not." Some things we have to accept simply because God says so. If we obey God only when it makes good sense to us or when we happen to have a similar inclination, that is not really obedience. The laws of what is clean and what is unclean have to do with being able to participate in the Levitical worship system. Things that make a person ritually unfit include death, leprosy, mildew, and human mortality. Some of the animals designated as "unfit" are predators or scavengers that feed on carrion. Some of them carry associations with ritual contamination. Perhaps the Almighty designated some animals as unfit because of their associations with ritual uncleanness. God desires His people to be a kingdom of priests, and that requires implementing ritual concern in daily life. Though we may not be able to deduce why God designated some animals as clean and others as unclean, we do know why He imposed the dietary laws on His people Israel. The Torah tells us that it is a matter of holiness: You shall not make yourselves unclean with them so that you become unclean. For I am the LORD your God. Consecrate yourselves therefore, and be holy, for I am holy. And you shall not make yourselves unclean with any of the swarming things that swarm on the earth. For I am the LORD who brought you up from the land of Egypt to be your God; thus you shall be holy, for I am holy. (Leviticus 11:43-45) God gave Israel the dietary laws to make them holy. The word holy does not necessarily refer to a moral or ethical quality. It means to be set apart for the LORD. The distinctive requirements of the Torah's dietary laws accomplish that by forcing the Jewish people to cluster together in communities while limiting their potential interactions with other communities. Do the prohibitions on eating unclean animals apply to Gentile believers? The dietary laws for God-fearing Gentile believers forbid them from food contaminated by idols, from blood, and from the meat of incorrectly slaughtered animals. Lev 10:10 And that ye may put difference between holy and unholy, and between unclean and clean; Lev 10:11 And that ye may teach the children of Israel all the statutes which the LORD hath spoken unto them by the hand of Moses. Lev 11:2 Speak unto the children of Israel, saying, These are the beasts which ye shall eat among all the beasts that are on the earth. Lev 11:3 Whatsoeverparteth the hoof, and is clovenfooted, and cheweth the cud, among the beasts, that shall ye eat. Lev 11:4 Nevertheless these shall ye not eat of them that chew the cud, or of them that divide the hoof: as the camel, because he cheweth the cud, but divideth not the hoof; he is unclean unto you.Lev 11:11 They shall be even an abomination unto you; ye shall not eat of their flesh, but ye shall have their carcases in abomination.Lev 11:44 For I am the LORD your God: ye shall therefore sanctify yourselves, and ye shall be holy; for I am holy: neither shall ye defile yourselves with any manner of creeping thing that creepeth upon the earth. Because many persons of Christian bible preachers do not understand the laws of God, they also do not understand Jesus’ or Paul’s New Testament writings which mention food. Paul cannot change what God ordained. 2Pe 3:16 As also in all his epistles, speaking in them of these things; in which are some things hard to be understood, which they that are unlearned and unstable wrest, as they do also the other scriptures, unto their own destruction. Num19:11 He that toucheth the dead body of any man shall be unclean seven days. Num19:12 He shall purify himself with it on the third day, and on the seventh day he shall be clean: but if he purify not himself the third day, then the seventh day he shall not be clean. Num19:13 Whosoevertoucheth the dead body of any man that is dead, and purifieth not himself, defileth the tabernacle of the LORD; and that soul shall be cut off from Israel: because the water of separation was not sprinkled upon him, he shall be unclean; his uncleanness is yet upon him. Many believers in word at least, if not actions, are walking around unclean and may die in that state through ignorance or following traditions. If not on this touching of the dead instruction, maybe on another law violation. Would “grace” get us through the gate of the heavenly kingdom? Mark 9:1-13 We must note this was a vision of the apostles and not of the actual risen bodies of Elijah and Moses. Had they risen from the dead they would have risen before the Messiah and be the first. Scripture says Messiah was the first. Mat 17:9 ... Tell the VISION to no man, until the Son of man be risen again from the dead. Shalom and happy studying and PRACTICING.

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