Netzarim, Original followers of Yeshua & His 12
TODAY'S SHABBAT LESSON:
Parashah 34: B'midbar (Numbers), Numbers 1:1 - 4:20; Haftarah reading: Hosea 2:1-22; B'rit Hadasha suggested reading: Luke 2:1-7; 1 Corinthians 12:12-31.
The first chapter of Numbers is one I used to like to skip over when I first became a believer because I thought: "Who cares how many people there were in each of the tribes and who begat whom? It was boring!
Well, having become a mature believer, I now know better. Today I realize that Numbers, Chapter 1 is very important! Why? Because YHWH is about to announce His Divine “seating chart”!
Remember when you were in school and, on the first day you quickly grabbed the desk next to your best friend, or some cute guy or gal, or some "popular" kid, in hopes that they would notice you and include you in their clique? And then in came the teacher with a seating chart and rearranged everybody - and consequently you had to spend the rest of the year sitting next to the class clown or some "geek"....
Well, this is pretty much what YHWH did to the Israelites. Why? Because it was time for His people to find out who they were and what He wanted them to do! You see, in Egypt they were nothing but slaves, "worker bees" for Pharaoh. They did whatever Pharaoh wanted. Their value was found in what they could produce with their labor. They were stonemasons, bricklayers, shepherds, domestic servants and nannies....whatever the Egyptian taskmasters demanded. Consequently, in Egypt their sense of identity came not from within or who they were created to be, but from external sources – whatever they could do well enough to keep Pharaoh and his taskmasters satisfied.
They were bought and sold in the marketplace, then grouped and herded and moved from place to place according to serve whoever purchased them. They were separated from their families because family obligations and loyalties only interfered with their work.
So, over the generations as Pharaoh’s slaves YHWH's people had lost their sense of lineage and family heritage. The Hebrew families were scattered all across Pharaoh’s vast North African kingdom. But after 400 years in captivity, they had gotten used to this way of life, even comfortable with their situation.
All that, however, changed in the thirteenth month after the Exodus when YHWH's "seating chart" transformed this rag-tag bunch into a People - a kind of People the world has never seen! He caused them to leave behind the comfortable community of friends, peers and coworkers from the days of Egyptian slavery, and knitted them together with their long-lost, forgotten blood relatives. This is because YHWH considers family, tribe and inheritance more important than our vocation, interests or social status, etc.
And this what the Book of Numbers is all about: YHWH's census. Not necessarily of numbers or for YHWH's sake, but so that His people could finally get a good look at who they were, in the grand scheme of things! If you'll remember, there was a “counting”-type census taken of His people just a few months ago (Exodus 30:12-16; 38:25-26), but this one would be very different.... This "seating chart" consisted of the various camps according to companies, by tribe and leader.
Please read Numbers 1:1-4:20, if you haven't done so, and you'll see how exacting YHWH was in His instructions for who was to camp where. This was no small task for there were several million people!
Here is something interesting - The Levites were not to be counted in this census:
Numbers 1: 47 But those who were L'vi'im, according to the clan of their fathers, were not counted in this census; 48 because ADONAI had told Moshe, 49 "Do not include the clan of Levi when you take the census of the people of Isra'el. 50 Instead, give the L'vi'im charge over the tabernacle of the testimony, its equipment and everything else connected with it. They are to carry the tabernacle and all its equipment, serve in it and set up their camp around it. 51 When the tabernacle is to be moved onward, it is the L'vi'im who are to take it down and set it up in the new location; anyone else who involves himself is to be put to death. 52 The rest of Isra'el are to set up camp, company by company, each man with his own banner. 53 But the L'vi'im are to camp around the tabernacle of the testimony, so that no anger will come upon the assembly of the people of Isra'el. The L'vi'im are to be in charge of the tabernacle of the testimony."
How did each person know exactly to which Tribe they belonged to and what their lineage was? That is something I personally don't know, but I have read that this was all by supernatural revelation for each person, through Moshe. It must have been amazing to behold as each man was stripped of his "old life" which he had carried with him out of Egypt and given a new identity that revealed who he really was! This maneuver was pure supernatural revelation - for a people descended from several generations of slaves, to declare Hebrew names and father’s names, and family history!
One has to wonder how the "mixed multitude" of non-Jews who accompanied Moshe and His people out of Egypt) were incorporated into the various tribes....I personally do not know, and if anybody reading this study does know, please fill me in!
Moving on to the B'rit Chadasha (New Testament), here is a census you'll surely recognize:
Luke 2: 1. Now it happened in those days that a decree went out from Augustus Caesar that the names of all the people of his dominion should be written down. 2. This census first happened during the governorship of Qurinius in Syria. 3. And everyone went in his own city to be registered. 4. And Yosip was also going up from Nasrath, a city of Galeela into Yehuda to the city of Dawid, which is called Beth-Lekhem, because he was from the house and from the clan of Dawid, 5. With Maryam his bride while she was pregnant, that there they might be registered. 6. And it happened that while they were there, her days of pregnancy were fulfilled. 7. And she bore him a firstborn son and wrapped him in swaddling clothes, and laid him in a manger because there was no room where they could lodge.
And how about this one - a census of the members of our body and of the Body of Messiah!
1 Corinthians 12: 12. For as the body is one, and in it are many members; and all those members of the body, though many, are one body; so also is the Mashiyach. 13. For all of us, likewise, by one Spirit, have been immersed into one body, whether Jews or Arameans,  whether slaves or free; and all of us have been nourished in one Spirit. 14. For a body also is not one member, but many. 15. For if the foot should say, Because I am not the hand, I am not of the body; is it, on that account, not of the body? 16. Or if the ear should say, because I am not the eye, I am not of the body; is it, on that account, not of the body? 17. And if the whole body were an eye, where would be the hearing? Or if it were all hearing, where would be the smelling?
18. But now has Elohim placed every one of the members in the body, according to His will. 19. And if they were all one member, where would be the body? 20. But now they are many members, yet but one body. 21. The eye cannot say to the hand, You are not needful to me: nor can the head say to the feet, You are not needful to me. 22. But rather, those members which are accounted weak, are indispensable. 23. And those which we think dishonorable in the body, on them we heap more honor; and those that are not beautiful, on them we put the more decoration.
24. For the honorable members in us, have no need of honor: for Elohim has tempered the body, and given more honor to the member which is inferior; 25. That there might be no conflict in the body, but that all the members, equally, might care for one another; 26. So that, when one member is in pain, they will all sympathize; and if one member is exalted, all the members will be exalted. 27. Now you are the body of Mashiyach, and members in your place. 28. For Elohim has placed in his assembly, first, Shlichim; after them, prophets; after them, teachers; after them, workers of miracles; after them, the gifts of healing, and helpers, and leaders, and (various) kinds of tongues. 29. Are they all Shlichim? Are they all prophets? Are they all teachers? Are they all workers of miracles? 30. Have all of them the gifts of healing? Do they all speak with tongues? Or do they all interpret? 31. And if you are searching for superior gifts, on the other hand, I show to you a better way.
 One the clearest statements about “Godhead” in the entire NT. The relationship between YHWH and Y’shua is like that of the mind/head to a limb of the body. The arm is not a separate entity from the body, nor does it move in any way other than with the full power and intent of the mind. Y’shua is literally the arm of YHWH in this manner (Exodus 6:6, 23:20-22, Isaiah 53:1). This statement by Rav Shaul proves this idea is not some modernized Nazarene doctrine, but the original doctrine of Mashiyach which is founded in the Tanakh; not the expansion of this in verses 14-28.
 Again the word is “Armaya”—Arameans. All the tribes of Israel are comprised of Hebrews and Arameans. Others are grafted into the faith, first though Torah observance (before Mashiyach came) and then through Mashiyach according to the Renewed Covenant of Torah being written upon the heart. Rav Shaul is assuming his audience is similarly grafted in.
 The word here for “teacher” is malpana, which denotes a person of high intelligence and disciplined study, but who has done so informally, outside of the rabbinical schools. Many people in First Century Israel functioned in this unofficial role, either as village elders or, in Y’shua’s case, as itinerant Torah lecturers. Y’shua was frequently called by this title, as well as the more familiar “rabbi”. In many cases, malpana was meant perjoratively by his critics, as they held his lack of formal training against him. On the other hand, the rich man in Matthew 19 used it as a compliment asking, “Malpana tava (good teacher), what must I do to inherit eternal life?”
This brings us to the end of another parasha. May the Ruach haKodesh (Holy Spirit) continue to work in all of us to not only help us better understand YHWH's Word so that we can keep striving for holiness in our lives, but also to keep us humble and ever willing to keep learning and obeying so that we may one day stand before Him to hear Him say: "Well done, good and faithful servant!"
Thank you for reading our Torah study notes for this week, and I pray for you a blessed week ahead, that may you ever grow in your knowledge of YHWH.
There is so much more that could be said about today's study, and I wholeheartedly urge you to read the cited scriptures through, if you haven't already done so. If you have any questions or comments, please don't hesitate to write! Thank you for reading my Torah study notes for this week, and I pray for you a blessed week ahead, that may you ever grow in your knowledge of YHWH. And, as always, please let me know if you ever see anything in my newsletters that sounds "off the mark"! Nobody has the market cornered on absolute Truth; we are all learning and obeying to the best of our abilities....