weekly Torah studies

Exodus 33:12–34:26; Ezekiel 38:18–39:16; Revelation 21:1–22:21

Shabbat Shalom at this Moadim L'Simcha (Appointed Times for Joy), 

This weekend ends the weeklong festival of Sukkot (Tabernacles), so I thought to include somethings about it rather than the regular weekly Torah / Bible study.  Sukkot represents the sheltering presence of God and we shall be reading Exodus 33:12–34:26; Ezekiel 38:18–39:16; Revelation 21:1–22:21
 
“Behold, I make a covenant: before all your people I will do marvels, such as have not been done in all the earth, nor in any nation: and all the people among whom you are shall see the work of the Yahweh: for it is an awesome thing that I will do with you”  (Exodus 34:10).  
 
What is Sukkot? 

Sukkot, the Feast of Tabernacles, is a week-long feast during which the Jewish community builds temporary shelters (sukkot means “booths” in Hebrew) to remind each generation that our forefathers lived as nomads, wandering in the desert for forty years (Lev. 23:42-43). The Bible also refers to this holiday as the Feast of Ingathering, which celebrates the final reaping of the crops at the end of the harvest (Ex. 23:16). Throughout the holiday it is customary to wave the Lulav and Etrog, or the four species (date palm, myrtle, willow, citron), representing thankfulness and joy for the present harvest, along with hope for winter rains to ensure an abundant harvest the following spring (Lev 23:40). The waving of the Lulav and Etrog also represents God’s pervasive presence.

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Exodus 33:12–34:26; Numbers 28:16–25; Ezekiel 37:1–14; Luke 24

Because this Shabbat (Sabbath) falls during Chag HaMatzot (Feast of Unleavened Bread), a special reading is inserted into the regular Torah reading cycle (for week 14/4/17).   Shabbat Chol HaMoed Pesach (The Intermediate Sabbath of Passover) Exodus 33:12–34:26; Numbers 28:16–25; Ezekiel 37:1–14; Luke 24. 

The Hebrew term "Chol HaMo'ed (חול המועד)" refers to the intermediate, non-holy days of a biblical festival. Only the festival of Unleavened Bread and the festival of Sukkot contain such days. The Torah designates the first day and the seventh day as days of holy convocation on which work is prohibited. The intervening five days are chol HaMo'ed, intermediate days. They are not festival Sabbaths or holy convocations, but they are still part of the festival.  The term chol HaMo'ed (חול המועד) means "non-sacred [days] of the appointed time." The intermediate days are "non-sacred" only when contrasted against the days of holy convocation on which work is prohibited. Intermediate festival days still retain the sanctity of the festival season and the special commandments of the festival. For example, the Torah forbids leaven through all seven days of Passover, and it requires the native-born Israelite to live in a sukkah for all seven days of the festival of Sukkot. Nevertheless, the intermediate days of those festivals are less sacred than the days of holy convocation because the Torah permits us to work on them.  Outside of the land of Israel, traditional Judaism doubles the festival Sabbaths—a vestige from an era of calendar uncertainties. The doubling of the holy days reduces the number of intermediate days by one. Many Messianic believers, however, do not follow the Diaspora custom of doubling holy days.  With the internet and other methods of instantly knowing when the new moon is sighted, there is no need to double up days. 

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Miketz (At the End) Genesis 41:1–44:17; Zechariah 2:14–4:7; John 1:1–18.

Welcome to this week’s Torah / bible study called Miketz (At the End)  “And it came to pass “at the end” of [miketz] two full years, that Pharaoh dreamed a dream: and, behold, he stood by the river”  (Genesis 41:1). 

In last week’s study, Joseph’s brothers became jealous of Joseph and plotted against him because his father favoured him above his other sons and because his prophetic dreams revealed his own grand destiny.  So they threw him into a pit and then sold him into slavery. While serving honourably as a slave, Joseph was set up and sent to prison for a crime he did not commit.  In this week’s reading, Joseph is finally about to come to the end of his many trials and enter into his destiny.  In fact, the name of this study section, Miketz, the opening verse of this week’s Torah / Bible reading, hints at this since this Hebrew word means “at the end” of. 

While in prison Joseph, with God’s help, interprets two dreams of fellow royal prisoners resulting in one being killed and the other reinstated to royal duties.   Despite Joseph accurately predicting the cupbearer's release and his plea to be remembered, the cupbearer seemed to forget about Joseph as soon as he was out of jail.  As disappointing as that must have been for Joseph, it does seem that it was part of God's plan for Joseph to be forsaken and forgotten in prison, since that left him in the right place to fulfil his destiny at the right time.  Note to "interpret" does not mean to translate into another language as people are taught it means in Corinthians with speaking in tongues.  Everyone spoke the same language and understood the words of the stories (dreams); but only Joseph could both understand the language (words) AND the meaning behind the story. Their message, significance, "interpretation".

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Exodus 12:21–51; Numbers 28:16–25; Joshua 5:2–6:1; John 1:29–31

Shabbat Shalom and Chag Sameach on this Passover, (Happy Shabbath and Passover). 

Because tonight is the first night of Passover, the regular Torah / Bible reading cycle is interrupted with a special reading.  Shabbat Pesach (Passover), Exodus 12:21–51; Numbers 28:16–25; Joshua 5:2–6:1; John 1:29–31.

Then Moses summoned all the elders of Israel and said to them, ‘Go at once and select the animals for your families and slaughter the Passover lamb’”  (Exodus 12:21). In today’s reading, Moses instructs the Israeli People concerning the details of the first Passover offering.  Each family was required to choose a lamb, slaughter it, and place its blood on the top and sides of the door frame. “Take a bunch of hyssop, dip it into the blood in the basin and put some of the blood on the top and on both sides of the doorframe.”  (Exodus 12:22). 

This lamb's blood on the doorposts caused the Angel of Death to pass over those within the house, and they were spared the plague that fell upon Egypt, the death of the firstborn. (Similar to the red thread around Rahab’s house in Joshua 2:18 and the area of protection God and His son gives when you enter into the given covenant with them).

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Genesis 1:1–6:8; Isaiah 42:5–43:10; John 1:1–18. “In the beginning"

Shalom All, 

Welcome to Bereisheet  (B’reisheet) (In the Beginning), this week’s Torah / Bible study section.

Genesis 1:1–6:8; Isaiah 42:5–43:10; John 1:1–18.  “In the beginning [Bereisheet] God [Elohim] created the heavens and the earth.”  (Genesis 1:1).  Week 1, 29/10/16 

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.

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Genesis 6:9–11:32; Isaiah 54:1–55:5; 1 Peter 3:8–22

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.

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Genesis 12:1–17:27; Isaiah 40:27–41:16; Matthew 1:1–17

Welcome to Lech Lecha (Go Forth), this week’s Torah / Bible study Portion of God’s instructions.  Genesis 12:1–17:27; Isaiah 40:27–41:16; Matthew 1:1–17 “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). See the inserted narrative from the book of Jasher. 

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.

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Vayera (And He Appeared) Genesis 18:1–22:24; 2 Kings 4:1–37; Luke 2:1–38

Welcome to Vayera (And He Appeared) Genesis 18:1–22:24; 2 Kings 4:1–37; Luke 2:1–38.  This week’s Torah / bible study reading. It is called that because Abraham receives in Hebron's plains of Mamre three mysterious guests.  “Yahweh appeared to Abraham near the great trees of Mamre while he was sitting at the entrance to his tent in the heat of the day.”  (Genesis 18:1).   

In last week’s section “Lech Lecha”, God sealed His Covenant with Abram, which promised the Land to his descendants as an eternal heritage.  Abraham, in obedience to the call of God, left the land of his fathers and journeyed to the Promised Land.  This week’s section contains more angelic activity than any of the other.  Angels appear to 99 year old Abraham as men, bringing messages to him and Sarah of a future child next year despite her 89+ year age.  They also save Lot from a hostile mob, lead Hagar to water for her son, and comfort her with the promise of Ishmael becoming a great nation.  It was only three days after he and his male household were circumcised in obedience to God as a sign of the covenant when he saw three strangers (Genesis 17:11). Household included 318 servants in addition to him and Ishmael. 

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Genesis 23:1–25:18; 1 Kings 1:1–31; 1Pet 3:1-7

Welcome to this week’s Torah / Bible study section which is called Chayei Sarah (Life of Sarah). Genesis 23:1–25:18; 1 Kings 1:1–31; 1Pet 3:1-7.  “And the life of Sarah [Chayei Sarah] was a hundred and seven and twenty years; these were the years of the life of Sarah.”  (Genesis 23:1).  

Although the title of this week’s section, Chayei Sarah (חַיֵּי שָׂרָה), means Life of Sarah, it initially focuses on her death.  This corresponds with the Judaic thought that it is the awareness of death that gives more meaning to life.  In week 4, year 2, I mentioned when YHVH changed Abram’s and Sarai’s name, He added the English equivalent “H” of His name to their former name. 

Sarah is the only woman in the Bible to have a study section of the Torah named after her.  All the other Biblical characters of study sections are named after are men: 

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Genesis 25:19–28:9; Malachi 1:1–2:7; Romans 9:6-29

Shalom All,     Welcome to Toldot (Generations), this week’s Torah / bible reading Portion.  Genesis 25:19–28:9; Malachi 1:1–2:7; Romans 9:6-29. “And these are the generations [toldot] of Yitzchak [Isaac], Avraham’s [Abraham] son: Avraham begat Yitzchak.”  (Genesis 25:19). 

In our last Torah / Bible portion), the son of Sarah and Abraham, Yitzchak (Isaac), carried on the legacy of his parents’ faith and obedience to Yahweh.  After his mother died, Abraham sent his servant to bring home a wife for Yitzchak from among Abraham’s kinsmen.  At the well where the women of the town would soon appear, the servant prayed for God’s help in locating the perfect woman/wife for Yitzchak.  Just then, Rivkah (Rebekah) arrived at the well to provide water for him and his camels.  Yitzchak was 40 when he took/married her (Gen 24:67  And Isaac brought her into his mother Sarah's tent, and took Rebekah, and she became his wife; and he loved). 

In this section we see similarities between Isaac and his wife Rebekah and that of Abraham his father and his wife Sarah.  The famine, promise and calling their wife their sister.   

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Vayetze (And He Left), Genesis 28:10 – 32:2; Hosea 12:13–14:10; John 4:1–26.

Shalom All, 

I have inserted some additional information and their source of the bible accounts of the following events.  Sources being from Josephus, the Jewish historian born about A.D. 37 and the book of Jasher which is mentioned in Jos 10:13 and 2Sa 1:18  of the Bible. 

Welcome to Vayetze (And He Left), this week’s study of the Word of God.  Genesis 28:10 – 32:2; Hosea 12:13–14:10; John 4:1–26.  “And Jacob went out from Beersheba.” (Genesis 28:10).  

Last week, in study section “Toldot”, Isaac’s wife Rebecca had a difficult pregnancy as the twin boys jostled within her.  When she inquired of Yahweh, He told her that two nations were in her womb and the elder (Esau) would serve the younger (Jacob).  This week, study section Vayetze (וַיֵּצֵא) describes Jacob’s travels to and his life in Harran, his mother's homeland, to find a wife and to flee the murderous plot of his brother Esau. 

Last week I gave you some references from the book of Jasher where you could find some additional information on the Esau, Jacob account.  They were chapters 27 – 32.  Today I shall extract from Josephus, the Jewish historian born A.D. 37.  Their birth is from chapter 18. Verse 5 reads:

  1. But when he was old, and could not see at all, he called Esau to him, and told him, that besides his blindness, and the disorder of his eyes, his very old age hindered him from his worship of God [by sacrifice]; he bid him therefore to go out a hunting, and when he had caught as much venison as he could, to prepare him a supper (32) that after this he might make supplication to God, to be to him a supporter and an assister during the whole time of his life; saying, that it was uncertain when he should die, and that he was desirous, by prayers for him, to procure, beforehand, God to be merciful to him.
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“VAYISHLACH” (And He Sent) Genesis 32:4 (3)–36:43; Hosea 11:7–12 (11); Obadiah 1:1–21; Ephesians 4:1–32.

 

Welcome to this week's Torah / Bible study.  “And Jacob sent [vayishlach וַיִּשְׁלַח] messengers ahead of him to his brother Esau in the land of Seir, the country of Edom.”  (Genesis 32:4[3]).  In last week’s study, Jacob left his unjust father-in-law, Laban, while he was off shearing his sheep.  Fearing that Laban would keep his daughters, Leah and Rachel, Jacob stole away with all he had: his sons, his two wives, and all of his livestock, heading for the mountains of Gilead.  This group are the forerunners of those who entered Egytp and came out as the nation of Israel.  Note they consist of the household of Jacob, Gentile servants and wives included.  So from the outset God’s “my people” was and remains a composition of Jew and Gentile who live by His commandments.  No colour nor nation of birth differentiation; but a “mixed multitude” of obedient believers as would be in the promised new heaven and earth. 

After 22 years in Haran, it was likely difficult for Jacob to free himself from Laban’s wicked manipulation and control, but he did succeed.  We can imagine that he was anticipating with great joy his return to his ancestral homeland of Canaan; however, in order to do so, he had to first pass through Edom, the territory of Esau, his estranged brother [Gen 36:1  Now these are the generations of Esau, who is Edom. Gen 36:2  Esau took his wives of the daughters of Canaan; Adah the daughter of Elon the Hittite, and Aholibamah the daughter of Anah the daughter of Zibeon the Hivite;  Gen 36:43 … these be the dukes of Edom, according to their habitations in the land of their possession: he is Esau the father of the Edomites].

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VAYESHEV (And He Lived) Genesis 37:1 – 40:23; Amos 2:6 – 3:8; Romans 8:18–39

Shabbat shalom,  Welcome to Vayeshev (And He Lived), this week’s Torah / bible reading portion.  “Jacob lived in the land where his father had stayed, the land of Canaan.”  (Genesis 37:1).  

In last week’s Torah study, Jacob returned from Haran with his entire household to settle in the Land of Canaan.  After all the twists and turns of Jacob’s life, he longed to settle down in the land God had promised.  The original Hebrew uses the word yeshev, which means to settle.  In Israel, a settlement is called a yishuv, and those who settle in Israel, especially within the disputed territories of Judea and Samaria, do so at great risk from Palestinian terrorists who often live nearby.  In this study section, we learn about the trials of Jacob’s favourite son, Joseph, whom God had given the gift of dreams and their interpretation. Many of those dreams revealed Joseph’s future exalted position.  By relating these dreams to his brothers, however, Joseph fuelled their jealousy, which had already been aroused by their father’s favouritism toward Joseph, son of his favoured wife, Rachel.  The foundation of the events is Jacob had Joseph in his old age from one of his wives.  At age 17 Joseph had a dream which he relayed to his father and brothers Gen 37:2-5.  This implied Joseph would rise to rule over them and led the bothers to sell him into slavery, telling Jacob, their father, that Joseph was eaten by a wild animal.

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Exodus 18:1–20:23; Isaiah 6:1–7:6; 9:5–6 (Ashk.); 1 John 5:1–11

Shalom All,  Welcome to Yitro (Jethro), this week’s Torah / Bible study section.  (A supplementary sermon on this part of scripture is “Law by which to be saved”). 

“Now Jethro, the priest of Midian and father-in-law of Moses, heard of everything God had done for Moses and for his people Israel, and how the LORD had brought Israel out of Egypt.”  (Exodus 18:1).  In last week’s study section, God brought Israel out of Egypt and parted the Red Sea to save them from Pharaoh and the Egyptians.  God provided for the needs of His people in the wilderness by raining down manna from heaven and bringing forth water from a rock.  This week, in section “Yitro”, Moses’ father-in-law, Yitro (Jethro), comes from Midian along with Moses’ wife and two sons to meet him at the Israelites’ camp after hearing of all the great miracles that God had performed to deliver His people. 

Note Jethro was a priest of God.  Through Moses God told His people, the Israelite’s, of His ways.  Obviously Jethro knew how to be a priest before Aaron and must have learnt of the ways somewhere or from someone.  This shows the ways existed before they were, as many today claim, given to the Jews at Mount Sinai.  Remember Moses’ wife knew of the importance of circumcision before it was again passed on to the Israelites via Moses (Ex 4:25).  Two places in Exodus where we can see the pre-existence of God’s ways before Mount Sinai (Exodus 20) is His judgements were known and taught by Moses before God gave them to the people as a whole after Exodus 20.  Exo 16:28  And the LORD said unto Moses, How long refuse ye to keep my commandments and my laws?   It was not Moses; but the people who did not keep them.  Exo 18:16  When they have a matter, they come unto me; and I judge between one and another, and I do make them know the statutes of God, and his laws. See Also Gen 6:12. 

Moses Learns How to Delegate.

“So when Moses’ father-in-law saw all that he did for the people, he said, ‘What is this thing that you are doing for the people?  Why do you alone sit, and all the people stand before you from morning until evening?’”  (Exodus 18:14).

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

 

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).

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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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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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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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“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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“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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“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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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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“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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“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, 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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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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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 Adonai—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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