Netzarim, Original followers of Yeshua & His 12
Parasha 35: Nazo (Take) Numbers 4:21 - 7:89; Haftarah reading: Judges 13:2-25; B'rit Hadasha suggested reading: John 7:53 - 8:11; Acts 21:17-32.
Today's parasha covers a multitude of commands. If you have read it, you can surely see the magnitude of the undertaking of 600,000 Israeli men attempting to do YHWH's will!
We start with Numbers 4:21-49 which continues with YHWH explaining the census and he respective tasks to be carried out by His people, Israel. Just take a look at the detailed instructions His people were expected to adhere to!
Numbers 4: 21 ADONAI said to Moshe, 22 "Take a census of the descendants of Gershon also, by clans and families; 23 count all those between thirty and fifty years old, all who will enter the corps doing the work of serving in the tent of meeting. 24 "The Gershon families are to be responsible for serving and for transporting loads. 25 They are to carry the curtains of the tabernacle, the tent of meeting, its covering, the fine leather covering above it, the screen for the entrance to the tent of meeting, 26 the tapestries for the courtyard, and the screen for the entrance to the courtyard by the tabernacle and around the altar, along with the ropes and all the utensils they need for their service; and they are to do the work connected with these things.
27 Aharon and his sons are to supervise all the work of the Gershon clan in transporting loads and serving, and to assign them who is to carry what. 28 This is how the Gershon families are to serve in the tent of meeting, and they are to be under the direction of Itamar the son of Aharon the cohen. 29 "As for the descendants of M'rari, take a census by clans and families 30 of all those between thirty and fifty years old, all who will be in the corps doing the work of serving in the tent of meeting. 31 "Their service for the tent of meeting will be to carry the frames, crossbars, posts and sockets of the tabernacle; 32 also the posts for the surrounding courtyard, with their sockets, tent pegs, ropes and other accessories, and everything having to do with their service. You are to assign particular loads to specific persons by name.
33 This is how the M'rari families are to serve in the tent of meeting, directed by Itamar the son of Aharon the cohen." 34 Moshe, Aharon and the community leaders took a census of the descendants of K'hat by their clans and families, 35 all those between thirty and fifty years old who were part of the corps serving in the tent of meeting. 36 Registered by their families, they numbered 2,750. 37 These are the ones counted from the K'hat families of all those serving in the tent of meeting, whom Moshe and Aharon enumerated, in keeping with the order given by ADONAI through Moshe. 38 The census of the descendants of Gershon, by their clans and families, 39 all those between thirty and fifty years old who were part of the corps serving in the tent of meeting, 39 all those between thirty and fifty years old who were part of the corps serving in the tent of meeting, 40 yielded 2,630, registered by their clans and families. 41 These are the ones counted from the families of the descendants of Gershon of all those serving in the tent of meeting, whom Moshe and Aharon enumerated, in keeping with the order given by ADONAI.
42 The census of the families of the descendants of M'rari, by their clans and families, 43 all those between thirty and fifty years old who were part of the corps serving in the tent of meeting, 44 yielded 3,200, registered by their families. 45 These are the ones counted from the families of the descendants of M'rari, whom Moshe and Aharon enumerated, in keeping with the order given by ADONAI through Moshe. 46 The census of the L'vi'im, whom Moshe, Aharon and the leaders of Isra'el enumerated by their clans and families, 47 all those between thirty and fifty years old who were part of those working to serve and working to carry loads in the tent of meeting, 48 yielded a total of 8,580 persons. 49 According to ADONAI's order they were appointed by Moshe, each one to his specific service or work. They were also enumerated, as ADONAI had ordered Moshe.
In Numbers 5:1-8 YHWH reiterates the need for cleanliness, both inward and outward. Numbers 5:9-10 goes on to discuss the consecration of contributions. Here you can see YHWH earnestly took the smallest detail into consideration!
Numbers 5:11-31 touches upon a very sticky subject: Adultery and jealousy. There's a very good study about this on the "Hebrew4Christians" website (http://www.hebrew4christians.com/Scripture/Parashah/Summaries/Naso/naso.html):
The Law of the Sotah
Jewish midrash says that when Israel was in Egypt, the Jewish women all remained faithful to their husbands and refrained from both intermarriage and especially from illicit unions (i.e., adultery and
fornication) with Egyptian men. According to the Talmud, it was on account of their zechut (merit) that God delivered Israel from bondage and sent the 10 plagues upon the Egyptians during the great Exodus.
Despite this great merit, however, the Torah provided a means of testing a woman's fidelity to her husband in cases where there was reasonable doubt. This is called the law of the "Sotah," or the wife suspected of unfaithfulness by her husband (Num. 5:12-31).
In an unusual ritual, a husband would bring his wife to the kohanim and present a "jealousy" offering (actually, an offering of barley rather than wheat, without added oil and spices as was customary for the minchah offering). A kohen would then take the offering and put it in the woman's hand and the woman was required to make an oath of her innocence before the LORD.
After this, the kohen would prepare "bitter water" that the woman would be required to drink. The priest would take an earthen drinking vessel and fill it with water taken from the Kiyyor Nechoshet (bronze laver or wash basin), mixing some dust from the mishkan floor and stirring it into the water. The priest would write on a scroll a curse that described the woman's punishment, written with the sacred Name of God, and immerse it in the water so that the words of the oath "rubbed off"
(dissolved) into the water of the drinking vessel.
Finally she was made to drink "bitter waters." If she was indeed guilty of adultery, she would die a painful death: her body would swell, her face would become ashen, and her limbs would weaken. If she was vindicated, however, the water would not harm her at all, and she would be given a special blessing that she would no longer have pain during childbirth. Note that the Talmud (Sotah 27b) states that though it is the woman who was made to drink the bitter waters, the death sentence was also given to her male partner in adultery.
Next, in Numbers 6 we see YHWH discussing the proper way to conduct vows - specifically a Nazarite vow. Again, I'm borrowing from the Hebrew4Christians site:
The Law of the Nazir
Next is given the law of the "Nazir" (Nazirite), or one takes a vow of consecration for a specific period of time in dedication to the LORD (i.e., the Jewish ascetic). The word nazir means "consecrated" or "separated." To become a Nazirite (no relation to Nazarene), a person (male or female) must take a vow of nezirut (Nazirite vow). This involved refraining from three things:
1. Wine or any kind products of the grape vine (e.g., grapes, raisins, wine vinegar). Apparently there is no prohibition for the nazirite to drink alcoholic beverages not derived from grapes, for example, fermented apple cider, though the prohibition against "strong drink" (shekhar) is clearly stated.
2. Cutting the hair (for a specific period of time)
3. Contact with a corpse (including one's own family members)
Note that if any of these conditions are not kept while under the vow, the nazir must begin his or her time of consecration all over again. For example, if a nazir accidentally becomes tamei during a 30 day nezirut, he must wait the seven required days to become tahor (pure) again, offer korbonot on the eighth day, and begin the 30 day vow all over again, from the beginning.
After the period of the vow ended, the Nazirite would shave his head and burn his or her hair on the fire of one of the korbonot (a special room in the Temple (called lishkat nezirim) was devoted to the shaving of nazir). A number of additional offerings, including a chatat (sin) offering, was then given to the LORD (Numbers 6:10-21).
"While most Nazirite vows were temporary (usually 30 to 100 days), some were Nazirites from birth to death (e.g., Samson (Judges 13:7) and John the Baptist (Luke 1:15-17)). Interestingly, the Apostle Paul himself also took a Nazirite vow (Acts 18:18, 21:22-26), thus demonstrating his allegiance to Torah observance as a follower of Jesus.
Parsha Naso also covers something extremely important: YHWH's command for proper Ha-B’racha – The Blessing.
Did you know the first words the human being heard YHWH speak were words of blessing? Right after He created man in His own image, Torah tells us He “blessed them”, saying to them "Be fruitful and multiply; fill the earth and subdue it; rule over the fish of the sea, the birds of the air and every living creature that crawls on earth (Genesis 1:28)."
Just as our forefathers, we need desperately to be blessed and to experience all that a blessing entails before we take the wilderness of life. Whether we realize it, or not, we all long for blessings....
The word "blessing" is tossed around constantly in religious circles; it's basically just another meaningless religious cliché. It has been so overused and misused as to have almost lost any spiritual substance. But the thing is, receiving a blessing from our heavenly Father should stir our souls and cause us to be joyous.
Those of us of us who have been bringing in the Shabbat every Friday evening know by heart the blessing we read in today’s parasha. After we have welcomed the Shabbat together by lifting the cup of blessing to YHWH and by breaking and sharing the double portion of bread we conclude the blessings we speak over our families with these words (it's the blessing I add at the end of every Torah study!):
[May the Holy One bless you]
[and zealously cherish and keep watch over you]
Ya'er YHWH panav elecha
[May YHWH's Face shine upon you]
[and shower you with grace]
Yisa YHWH panav elecha
[May YHWH lift up His countenance upon you]
v’yasem lecha shalom
[and may He give you wholeness, wellness, security, abundant provision, and peace].
The pronunciation of this blessing over our wives/husbands/children is a wonderful thing that resounds through the distance and rests upon those who have been blessed - whoever and wherever they are, whether they know it or not....
Such is the power of the blessing which is the very Word of YHWH, our Creator!
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....
NOTE FOR PEOPLE WHO ARE NEW TO TORAH: The Torah consists of the first five Books of the Bible (Genesis - Deuteronomy). Torah contains all of YHWH's original Divine Instructions in Righteousness. In our studies we refer to "parashas" which are weekly Torah portions that begin with Genesis at the start of the Hebrew year (Rosh Hashanah - which falls on the September/October timeframe on our Gregorian calendars) during a ceremony called Simchat Torah ("Rejoicing in the Torah"). Simchat Torah is not one of the biblical feasts; rather, it marks the completion of the annual cycle of weekly Torah readings that are read publicly in synagogues around the world. The Torah portions are strategically divided up so that all synagogues around the world can read exactly the same portions on any given Shabbat.
Haftarah consists of the portions from the Tanach (writings and prophets), and Brit Chadasha readings are from the “New Testament” scriptures – all of which correlate to that week's Torah portion. (For our studies we use OT scriptures from Stern’s Complete Jewish Bible; and NT scriptures from the AENT.)
The following is a blessing my husband always says before we begin our Torah study:
Hebrew Transliteration: Barukh attah Yahweh eloheinu melekh ha-olam, asher kideshanu b’mitzvotav, v’tzivanu la’asok b’divrei Torah. V'ha'arev na Yahweh eloheinu et divrei toratekha befinu uvfi amekha beit Yisrael. V'niyeh anachnu v'tze'etze'einu v'tze'etza'ei amekha beit Yisrael kullanu yodei sh'mekha v'lomdei toratekha lishmah. Barukh attah Yahweh hamelamed Torah le'amo Yisrael. Barukh attah Yahweh Eloheinu melekh ha-olam, asher bachar banu mikol ha'amim venatan lanu et torato. Barukh attah Yahweh, noten haTorah.
English translation: Blessed art Thou, Yahweh our God, King of the universe, who has made us holy through His commandments and commanded us to actively study Torah. Please Yahweh, our God, sweeten the words of Your Torah in our mouths and in the mouths of all Your people Israel. May we and our offspring, and the offspring of Your people, the House of Israel, may we all, together, know Your Name and study Your Torah for the sake of fulfilling Your desire. Blessed are You, Yahweh, Who teaches Torah to His people Israel. Blessed are You, Yahweh our God, King of the universe, Who chose us from all the nations and gave us the Torah. Blessed are You, Yahweh, Giver of the Torah.