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.
Yahweh goes on to command Moses to take vengeance on the Midianites in retaliation for their seducing the Israelites at Baal-peor. Both Balak, the King of Moab, and Balaam, who had advised that Israel would be cursed if they were drawn into sin, are killed in this battle. After the battle, a massive quantity of booty is distributed to the soldiers, and a share is designated for the sanctuary.
Settlement of East Bank of the Jordan.
As the tribes of Israel prepare to cross over the Jordan River into the Promised Land, the tribes of Reuven, Gad, and Menasseh, approach Moses requesting permission to settle on the east side of the Jordan in the territories captured from Sichon and Og. Moses is at first disturbed by this request, accusing them of wanting to shirk their responsibility in following through on taking the Promised Land in obedience to Yahweh’s command. He asks these tribes, “Shall your brethren go to war while you sit here?” (Numbers 32:6). He compares them to the ten spies who came back with a bad report, bringing calamity on Israel. His concern is that their actions will discourage the rest of Israelites from taking the Land. He tells them Num 32:23 But if ye will not do so, behold, ye have sinned against Yahweh: and be sure your sin will find you out. People constantly think that sin is limited to breaking the ten commandments or other Old Testament laws. Sin is disobedience to Yahweh God. Regardless of what or when he instructs it. So today if His bible verse says and mean one thing and you believe another whether of your own understanding or taken from a preacher, you have sinned (see Jeremiah section below).
However, these tribes have no intention of avoiding battle; they just prefer the land on the east side of the Jordan since it is suitable for their large herds and flocks of livestock. [on the east side of the Jordan, in the 20th century, that land was allocated to the creation of an entirely new country called Transjordan (Jordan) by the League of Nations].
They are not only willing to go into battle; but they pledge to go out ahead of the Israelites as shock troops to take the Land. “We will arm ourselves for battle and go ahead of the Israelites until we have brought them to their place .... We will not return to our homes until each of the Israelites has received their inheritance” (Numbers 32:17–18).
When Moses understands their motivation and the full plan, he agrees to their request and Yahweh awards them their inheritance on the east side of the Jordan. We can understand from this that Israel’s inheritance extends beyond the Jordan River. This event also reminds each of us to patiently listen to a person’s reasoning when their request seems to be in conflict with a perceived goal. We should not prejudge motivation and outcomes.
Moses raised an army of twelve thousand Israelites and sent them to make war on the Midianites. He also sent Phinehas into battle along with several holy items. Moses sent a thousand from each tribe, to the war, and Phinehas the son of Eleazar the priest, to the war with them (Numbers 31:6). Although Phinehas led the army into the battle, he was not the high priest. His father Eleazar had the office of the high priesthood, but Eleazar was one anointed for War. The anointed for war was a priest that marched out with the armies of Israel and served as their intercessor and representative of the Almighty on the battlefield. I suppose, like in the case with king David at one point, this was to prevent the High Priest being killed in battle like what happened to king Saul, Johnathan and Eli’s sons.
The Torah says that Phinehas brought “the holy vessels and the trumpets for the alarm” with him into battle. The supernatural weapons prevailed in the battle. What are “the holy vessels”? Jewish tradition says breastpiece with the Urim and the Thummim in them so that the army could consult with the Almighty on the field of battle. Another explanation being “the ark with the tablets which were in it.” The ark represented the presence of God on the battlefield. When the ark would set out, Moses said, “Rise up, O LORD! And let your enemies be scattered, and let those who hate You flee before You”(Numbers 10:35). Remember the Ark was captured in 1 Samual 5:1.
Phinehas also carried the silver trumpets created for rallying the nation and sounding the battle cry. The trumpets invoke the coming of Messiah when “a great shofar will be blown” (Isaiah 27:13). Psalm 110 depicts the Messiah as both priest and warrior. He is the priest “according to the order of Melchizedek,” but He also shatters kings and leaves foreign nations filled with corpses:
Administering the Inheritance.
As if to affirm the coming victory in the Promised Land, Yahweh assigns a leader for each of the other nine and a half tribes who will be in charge of administering the inheritance of the land of Canaan among the people. In addition to this, God also instructs the people to drive out all the inhabitants of the Land once they receive it. He warns them:
“If you do not drive out the inhabitants of the land from before you, then it shall be that those whom you let remain shall be irritants in your eyes and thorns in your sides, and they shall harass you in the land where you dwell.” (Numbers 33:55).
We read what God instructed, yet Christians today have adopted the same customs claiming they are doing it to Yahweh, the God of the bible. Num 33:52 … and destroy all their pictures, and destroy all their molten images, and quite pluck down all their high places: Pictures and images of a “Jesus” are in books, computer presentations, homes etc. Who said and how can you prove that image is of God’s son? You cannot, so why disobey by following a custom?
However, when the Israelites crossed the Jordan, many times they made treaties or allowed the Canaanites to dwell among them, continuing their pagan rituals. In time, these groups either led the Israelites back into pagan practices or tried to attack them from within. Today some believe the Jewish People have no right to the land, but in this study section, we see the Creator of the Universe fulfil the promise He made to Jacob all those years earlier: “The land I gave to Abraham and Isaac I also give to you, and I will give this land to your descendants after you." (Genesis 35:12).
The Boundaries of Israel.
“Then Yahweh spoke to Moses, saying, “Command the children of Israel, and say to them: ‘When you come into the land of Canaan, this is the land that shall fall to you as an inheritance, the land of Canaan to its boundaries “ (Num 34:1-2). Part of the allocation, 48 cities, goes to the Levites, the priests (see Josh 21:41).
Another example of a biblical law followed by countries penal system today is Num 35:9 And the LORD spake unto Moses, saying, Num 35:10 Speak unto the children of Israel, and say unto them, When ye be come over Jordan into the land of Canaan; Num 35:11 Then ye shall appoint you cities to be cities of refuge for you; that the slayer may flee thither, which killeth any person at unawares. Num 35:12 And they shall be unto you cities for refuge from the avenger; that the manslayer die not, until he stand before the congregation in judgment. Is this not similar to putting a person on remand in prison? They do not get to flee or live as if nothing has happened. Neither can an angry relative of the victim get to them to take revenge. When the come to trial before the courts a just decision on the facts of the events is assumed to be made. So before one continues saying the laws are nailed to the cross or do not apply, they need to understand them. Even the law regarding forgiveness of sin remains Heb 9:22 And almost all things are by the law purged with blood; and without shedding of blood is no remission.
Sin must be put away from an individual’s life and kingdom of God if He is to reside there Num 35:34 Defile not therefore the land which ye shall inhabit, wherein I dwell: for I the LORD dwell among the children of Israel.
As the Creator of the Universe, God has the right to set the boundaries for the nations (and individuals) that He created. In this week’s section, God sets the borders of the territory of Israel, which are far larger than what Israel has settled today. The land included Judea and Samaria. Today part of it is being argued for the creation of a Palestine state. Scripture says when the Messiah returns, there will be a redistribution of land to the Twelve Tribes, and the world will plainly see the extent of Israel's borders (Ezekiel 47:15–21). We can read in chapter 36 the concern of the descendants of Manasseh and the end result in v7 Num 36:7 So shall not the inheritance of the children of Israel remove from tribe to tribe: for every one of the children of Israel shall keep himself to the inheritance of the tribe of his fathers. Num 36:8 And every daughter, that possesseth an inheritance in any tribe of the children of Israel, shall be wife unto one of the family of the tribe of her father, that the children of Israel may enjoy every man the inheritance of his fathers. This way, no one should be homeless as their family should always have land and a shelter for them.
At that time, says Yahweh, “when I have brought them back from the nations and have gathered them from the countries of their enemies, I will be proved holy through them in the sight of many nations” (Ezekiel 39:27).
Unlike many of the foreigners who reside in the land today, after the war of Gog and Magog (Ezekiel 38–39) those who remain will have reverence for the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob and no other; therefore, as fellow Believers, Yahweh makes them inheritors as well. “You are to allot [the land] as an inheritance for yourselves and for the foreigners residing among you and who have children. You are to consider them as native-born Israelites; along with you they are to be allotted an inheritance among the tribes of Israel” (Ezekiel 47:22).
Jeremiah Warns Israel of the Coming Exile.
The Prophet Jeremiah had been warning about the impending destruction of the Holy Temple and of Jerusalem for at least a few decades leading up to the Babylonian invasion. In this reading, he details the terrible sins of the kings and the people that led to that destruction. “As the thief is ashamed when he is found out, so is the house of Israel ashamed. They and their kings and their princes, their priests and their prophets, Saying to a tree, ‘You are my father,’ And to a stone, ‘You gave birth to me.’ For they have turned their back to Me, and not their face.
“But in the time of their trouble they will say, ‘Arise and save us.’ But where are your gods that you have made for yourselves? Let them arise, if they can save you in the time of your trouble” (Jeremiah 2:26–28).
To understand the extent of their wickedness, we need only look at King Manasseh (c. 687–642) who “sacrificed his own son in the fire, practiced divination, sought omens, and consulted mediums and spiritualists. He did much evil in the eyes of Yahweh, arousing His anger” (2 Kings 21:6).
The Book of the Law had been hidden away in the Temple so that even the kings had little to no knowledge of what was written in it. Instead, images of Baal were erected in the Temple where God said His name would be placed forever. While in captivity in Babylon, Manasseh repented and with great humility called out to God, who restored him to his reign. Although King Manasseh and later King Josiah tried to return the nation to the worship of the God of Israel alone, it seems they were not able to provoke a national revival in the hearts of the people. When these kings died, other kings took their place and continued to defile the Temple and disobey God's law. Today, our cities and nations are full of the same sins that brought about the destruction of Jerusalem and of the world in the days of Noah. Yahshua told us that His coming would be in a time such as this: “Just as it was in the days of Noah, so also will it be in the days of the Son of Man. They were eating, they were drinking, they were marrying, they were being given in marriage, until the day that Noah entered the ark, and the flood came and destroyed them all” (Luke 17:26–27).
Although a nation as a whole may still suffer the consequences of the collective sins of the people, God does show mercy and restores each individual person who sincerely humbles himself, calls on His name and repents (2 Corinthians 7:10). Therefore, let us make ourselves ready by genuinely turning from our sins and re-establishing His ways in our lives. As Solomon said, there is nothing new under the sun (at least sin wise) we are doing this today as others before us. Jer 2:8 The priests said not, Where is the LORD? and they that handle the law knew me not: the pastors also transgressed against me, and the prophets prophesied by Baal, and walked after things that do not profit. Jer 2:11 Hath a nation changed their gods, which are yet no gods? but my people have changed their glory for that which doth not profit. Jer 2:13 For my people have committed two evils; they have forsaken me the fountain of living waters, and hewed them out cisterns, broken cisterns, that can hold no water. [in other words, they have come up with modern theology of denomination or man in which there is no salvation]. Jer 2:22 For though thou wash thee with nitre, and take thee much soap, yet thine iniquity is marked before me, saith the Lord GOD. Jer 2:23 How canst thou say, I am not polluted, I have not gone after Baalim (lords).
If you have not succumb to false feel good theology I applaud you. I know some readers may get upset with correction; but Pro 27:5 Open rebuke is better than secret love. Pro 27:6 Faithful are the wounds of a friend; but the kisses of an enemy are deceitful.
God Restores His People.
Just as in the ancient days of Israel, God’s desire is to bring correction in order that people will repent and turn back to Him and live in righteousness; for it is not God’s will that even one person should perish. We see this with Manasseh. God allowed him to be taken captive, but even he received God’s mercy and restoration after sincerely repenting: “In his distress he sought the favour of Yahweh his God and humbled himself greatly before the God of his ancestors. And when he prayed to Him, Yahweh was moved by His entreaty and listened to his plea. So He brought him back to Jerusalem and to his kingdom. Then Manasseh knew that Yahweh is God” (2 Chronicles 33:12–13). Further, God will grant everlasting life to those who believe that Yahshua cleansed them from their repented sins with His blood once and for all. “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.” (John 3:16).
Those who believe and are transformed are now free to live not as slaves to the sins of the ruler of the world, but as citizens of Yahweh’s Kingdom. So prepare yourself and keep an upward gaze, looking for the soon coming of the Son of Man Yahshua, our Messiah and Redeemer. "Look, I am coming soon! My reward is with me, and I will give to each person according to what they have done” (Revelation 22:12).
Mathew 23 – 25. Too long chapters; but a few verses for your reflection.
Mat 23:8 But be not ye called Rabbi: for one is your Master, even Christ; and all ye are brethren. Not pastor, reverend or other. Mat 23:9 And call no man your father upon the earth: for one is your Father, which is in heaven.
Mat 23:23 Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye pay tithe of mint and anise and cummin, and have omitted the weightier matters of the law, judgment, mercy, and faith: these ought ye to have done, and not to leave the other undone. Here is Yahshua confirming mercy (charity) and faith is part of the law!! It is not a New Testament concept. He also says they are the heaviest parts. Christian teaching today always refer to the errors of the Pharisees; but not the beam in their own eyes.
Mat 24:4 … Take heed that no man deceive you. Mat 24:5 For many shall come in my name, saying, I am Christ; (or preach in his name) and shall deceive many (to follow denomination and traditions than thus says the Word. MY EMPHAIS IN PLACES NOT QUOTATIONS).
Mat 24:13 But he that shall endure unto the end, the same shall be saved. Being saved is not at baptism etc; but at ENDRANCE to the END.
Mat 24:20 But pray ye that your flight be not in the winter, neither on the sabbath day: Confirmation Yahshua saying, after ,my death, when the persecution comes, the Sabbath commandment restrictions will still be valid.
Mat 24:24 For there shall arise false Christs, and false prophets, and shall shew great signs and wonders; insomuch that, if it were possible, they shall deceive the very elect. So when they were first called “Christians” in Antioch it was another name for followers of an anointed one; but which anointed one. Not necessarily referring to the One from Nazareth.
Mat 24:36 But of that day and hour knoweth no man, no, not the angels of heaven, but my Father only.
Mat 25:30 And cast ye the unprofitable servant into outer darkness: there shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth.
Mat 25:31 When the Son of man shall come in his glory, and all the holy angels with him, then shall he sit upon the throne of his glory: Mat 25:32 And before him shall be gathered all nations: and he shall separate them one from another, as a shepherd divideth his sheep from the goats: Mat 25:33 And he shall set the sheep on his right hand, but the goats on the left. Strive to enter in at the straight narrow gate of obedience to God and repentance not following traditions of denomination or man.
ow or oath is an oral promise to which a person voluntarily obligates himself. Vows and oaths have not disappeared from the world. If a Roman Catholic enters the priesthood, he takes certain vows. If a person becomes a monk or a nun, he or she takes the vows of the order. When a man and woman get married, they exchange vows. Vows are like extra-solemn promises for which we expect God to hold us accountable.
If a man makes a vow to the LORD, or takes an oath to bind himself with a binding obligation, he shall not violate his word; he shall do according to all that proceeds out of his mouth. (Numbers 30:2)
In Hebrew, a vow (neder, נדר) is a type of oath by which a person binds himself or herself to perform a certain act or refrain from a certain thing. A vow is understood as a promise, obligation or prohibition that a person declares upon himself or herself. The Nazarite vow of Numbers 6 is a good example of a biblical vow.
Oaths are similar to vows. When a politician begins his term, he takes an oath of office. Before testifying in a court of law, a witness is required to take an oath to tell the truth, sometimes by swearing on a Bible or other holy book. An oath (shavuah, שבועה) can be any statement, formal declaration, or promise that a person swears to uphold.
In Bible times, oaths were taken in the names of the gods. The idea was that if the person taking the oath proved false, the gods would deal with him. The Bible warns us not to take oaths in the names of other gods (Exodus 20:13.). Instead, if one must take a vow or an oath, he should "fear only the LORD ... and swear by His name" (Numbers 5:21). When a person in the days of the Bible wanted to make a vow or an oath, he would say something like, "May the LORD deal with me, be it ever so severely, if I do not do such and such." Or he might say, "As the LORD lives, I will do such and such."
You shall not be double-minded nor double-tongued; for to be double-tongued is a snare of death. Your speech shall not be false, nor empty, but fulfilled by deed.
However, taking an oath or a vow in the name of God is a risky enterprise. The LORD warns us not to "swear falsely by My name, so as to profane the name of your God" (Leviticus 19:12). This is part of the meaning of the commandment "You shall not take the name of the LORD your God in vain" (Exodus 20:7). God says if a person takes His name in vain, He will not leave that person unpunished. That is why Yahshua warned His disciples against needlessly taking oaths (Matthew 5:33-7; 23:16—22).
If a person does take a vow or oath, he should make every possible effort to keep his word. Not only that, a person should treat everything that comes out of his mouth as if it were a solemn vow. The Torah says, "He shall do according to all that proceeds out of his mouth" (Numbers 30:2). This requires being careful about everything we say, not just vows and oaths.
Shalom and wish you a blessed week.