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This week, a previously overlooked pattern emerged.

“And strip Aaron of his garments and put them on Eleazar his son. And Aaron shall be gathered to his people and shall die there.” Numbers 20:26

The pattern is the specific men that were “gathered to his people.” The following are others that possessed the same description in regard to their death:

  • Abraham – Genesis 25:8
  • Ishmael – Genesis 25:17
  • Isaac – Genesis 35:29
  • Jacob – Genesis 49:33
  • Moses – Deuteronomy 32:50

Those who were gathered to their fathers were:

  • “All that generation” – Judges 2:10
  • King Josiah – 2 Kings 22:20

The first list of men clearly contains the Patriarchs with the exception of Ishmael. G-d did bless Ishmael and increase his offspring (Gen. 17:20) but G-d established the everlasting covenant with Isaac. (Gen. 17:19) However, each man was a father, a leader, and an important part of G-d’s plan. These men comprise a significant portion of the foundation of the Bible! It appears that being gathered to your people reflected a position of leadership and was perhaps referencing, according to the Gesenius’s Lexicon, a reuniting with ancestors after death. Although, it would seem that the phrase’s specificity indicates something more unique than simply reuniting with ancestors. Would not the whole remnant be gathered to their people after death if this is simply referencing the World to Come? It is also plausible being gathered to the people referred to a special ceremonial burial or even resting the body near other ancestors. Still these are simply guesses. The context of each death is different and there is no biblical description I have found of being gathered to your people. Nevertheless, the Patriarchs were special and remain sterling examples. If nothing else, we should view this common phrase as an enhancement of each man’s distinctive life and testimony.

On the other hand, King Josiah as well as Joshua’s generation were “gathered to their fathers.” King Josiah was an incredible example for all to follow. Not only was he an ancestor of Yeshua (Matt. 1:10) but he also demonstrated true repentance.

“But to the king of Judah, who sent you to inquire of the Lord, thus shall you say to him, Thus says the Lord, the God of Israel: Regarding the words that you have heard, because your heart was penitent, and you humbled yourself before the Lord, when you heard how I spoke against this place and against its inhabitants, that they should become a desolation and a curse, and you have torn your clothes and wept before me, I also have heard you, declares the Lord. Therefore, behold, I will gather you to your fathers, and you shall be gathered to your grave in peace, and your eyes shall not see all the disaster that I will bring upon this place.’ And they brought back word to the king.” 2 Kings 22:18-20

This passage encompassed G-d’s grace, love, and salvation for those who humble themselves and seek His face. (2 Chr. 7:14) Those who were gathered to the people demonstrated how to lead. Those who were gathered to their fathers demonstrated how to serve. Has the Word of G-d caused a similar reaction in your life to that of King Josiah? It should.

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This week’s portion is filled with practical examples of various trials and situations regarding leadership. One important trait Moses demonstrated was complete trust in G-d and recognition of G-d as the source of his position. In Moses’ response to Korah he obviated a defensive explanation for his position by simply declaring G-d as the judge. If G-d bestows a position He will also sustain it. (ex. Joshua, King David, Ester, Yeshua, etc.) The wicked intentions of Korah were manifested through his deliberate assignment of his own audacity to Moses.  “You have gone too far!” (Num. 16:3) Korah ridiculously claimed. Moses rightly returned the same phrase as if to say, “You are the one who challenges the L-rd, oh wicked Korah, not I.” In addition, it appears that the actions of Korah and his assembly perhaps revealed hidden doubt in the success of their own plan.

“And Moses said to Korah, ‘Be present, you and all your company, before the Lord, you and they, and Aaron, tomorrow. And let every one of you take his censer and put incense on it, and every one of you bring before the Lord his censer, 250 censers; you also, and Aaron, each his censer.’  So every man took his censer and put fire in them and laid incense on them and stood at the entrance of the tent of meeting with Moses and Aaron.” Numbers 16:16-18

Essentially, Korah challenged the authority of Moses, Aaron, and ultimately G-d then obeyed Moses’ command!  Every word of it! Korah may have been courageous enough to speak against Moses and Aaron but he and his assembly were not courageous enough to rebel against Moses’ command. One reason could be that deep down these brazen men doubted their own authority and merely hoped that the outcome would be in their favor. Although it could also have been haughtiness that influenced Korah’s decision instead of doubt, but either way it is humorous that Korah fully adhered to the command of Moses. Nevertheless Korah and his assembly’s behavior was atrocious and they blatantly opposed G-d. A crime worthy of “something new.” (Num. 16:30)

In conclusion, this portion also contained an illusion to Messiah Yeshua in the form of a public confirmation of Aaron’s position.

“On the next day Moses went into the tent of the testimony, and behold, the staff of Aaron for the house of Levi had sprouted and put forth buds and produced blossoms, and it bore ripe almonds” Numbers 17:8

Yet another miraculous manifestation! G-d has repeatedly produced signs and wonders before the Children of Israel. The particular case of the blossoming staff was a beautiful method of demonstrating Aaron’s divinely elected position. A method that shares similarities with a specific prophecy of Messiah Yeshua.

“There shall come forth a shoot from the stump of Jesse, and a branch from his roots shall bear fruit.” Isaiah 11:1

Both instances symbolically describe the progression from a lifeless hewn tree to astonishingly bearing fruit. G-d used a dead branch to produce ripe almonds. G-d also used a virgin, unfertilized woman to bring forth the Savior of the world “from the Holy Spirit.” (Mt. 1:18, Is. 11:2) G-d also established Messiah Yeshua’s position by revealing early on many characteristics and occurrences involving His Anointed One. Then Messiah Yeshua came and fulfilled many with a promise to fulfill the remainder upon His return. These passages strengthen faith and disclose a series of signs and events surrounding Messiah Yeshua’s return. Stay alert. Remain steadfast. Draw closer to G-d.

Leviticus 11 has become such an important chapter in my defense of the applicability of the Bible. So often has this chapter been a shield from the assaults on the obligation of eating kosher. Within this wonderful chapter it is easy to see the meticulous nature of the commands regarding food. G-d wants us to eat some things and He does not allow us to eat other things. His commands reflect His Will and His Will is perfect. Therefore use Leviticus 11 as a rulebook for what to eat and direct skeptics to this convicting chapter.

Let’s dive deeper into this week’s portion. There are statements that appear close to one another that are identical in Hebrew and reflect two opposite outcomes. Notice Leviticus 9:24 and Leviticus 10:2. The phrase, “And fire came out from before the L-RD and consumed” is identical in the Hebrew and the ESV. Below I have listed each verse and an additional reference to describe the outcome.

“And fire came out from before the L-RD and consumed them, and they died before the L-RD.” Leviticus 10:2

“Your hand will find out all your enemies; your right hand will find out those who hate you. You will make them as a blazing oven when you appear. The L-rd will swallow them up in his wrath, and fire will consume them. You will destroy their descendants from the earth, and their offspring from among the children of man.” Psalm 21:8-10

Leviticus 10:6 follows the destruction of Nadab and Abihu after they brought zur (strange, unauthorized) fire before the L-RD. Both men were destroyed by fire because of their disobedience. Psalm 21 describes a similar destruction by the Just Judge from Whom nothing is hidden. He discerns the heart (1 Kn 8:39) and gives according to our deeds. (Jer. 17:10)

But praise be to G-d for there is Good News! Note the outcome of Leviticus 9:24.

“And fire came out from before the L-RD and consumed the burnt offering and the pieces of fat on the altar, and when all the people saw it, they shouted and fell on their faces.” Leviticus 9:24

“Her priests I will clothe with salvation, and her saints will shout for joy.”  Psalm 132:16

Those who are saved will not be consumed by the fire. Those who are saved will shout for joy at His mighty salvation and His awesome power! The following verse beautifully describes the abundance of G-d’s grace and the source of our salvation, Messiah Yeshua.

“Since, therefore, we have now been justified by his blood, much more shall we be saved by him from the wrath of G-d. For if while we were enemies we were reconciled to G-d by the death of his Son, much more, now that we are reconciled, shall we be saved by his life.” Romans 5:9-10

Right here in this week’s portion are the two outcomes of life. We will either be saved by G-d or destroyed. For those that are saved I imagine we will have a similar reaction. We will shout songs of praise and fall on our faces in reverence of the Holy One, Blessed is He. Though we were deserving of G-d’s wrath He saved us by the blood of His Son Yeshua.

To conclude, I have been puzzling over the follow passage:

“And Aaron said to Moses, “Behold, today they have offered their sin offering and their burnt offering before the L-RD, and yet such things as these have happened to me! If I had eaten the sin offering today, would the L-RD have approved?” And when Moses heard that, he approved.” Levitcus 10:19-20

Before this verse Moses seems to be upset at the disobedience of Eleazar and Ithamar. Although, after a somewhat vague explanation from Aaron he seems content and “approves.” It seems that because of what happened to his children Aaron did not think it was proper to have eaten the sin offering. Is this the case? Do you know of a verse or commandment that exempts eating the sin offering due to a tragedy or loss?

I only found this verse:

“But no sin offering shall be eaten from which any blood is brought into the tent of meeting to make atonement in the Holy Place; it shall be burned up with fire.” Leviticus 6:30

Many questions arise. Why did Aaron respond when Moses was apparently angry at Eleazar and Ithamar? Did Aaron do anything wrong? Or was it Eleazar and Ithamar? If Aaron couldn’t eat the sin offering for whatever reason then why didn’t Eleazar and Ithamar?

In Leviticus 10:8 G-d spoke to Aaron and gave several commandments. I wonder if one of the things G-d mentioned revealed a sin in Aaron life for which he wanted to bring an additional sin offering or guilt offering as described in Leviticus 4. Aaron was only reluctant to eat the sin offering on that day. Maybe he wanted to wait until after atoning for his own sin before partaking in a more general sin offering? If you have any thoughts please leave a comment on this post. Thank you!

Priests carry a great responsibility. This portion is a short list compared to the many other commandments for priests. One of the reasons the priesthood is so important and inhabits so many pages of the Torah is because G-d uses the priesthood and the sanctuary to dwell with His people. HaShem taught the priests His procedures and His ordinances to make it possible for Him to dwell among them. We know from Psalm 27 that the one thing David asked for and sought after was to dwell in the house of the L-RD, gaze upon His beauty, and inquire in the temple. Clearly the physical dwelling of HaShem was awe-inspiring and should be something we desire as well. In addition, the elaborate descriptions in this week’s portion contain parallels and symbols that further emphasize the importance of the priests. One of the descriptions that caught my attention is as follows:

“Then you shall take part of the blood that is on the altar, and of the anointing oil, and sprinkle it on Aaron and his garments, and on his sons and his sons’ garments with him. He and his garments shall be holy, and his sons and his sons’ garments with him.” Exodus 29:21

The blood is pleasing to G-d. He commanded the sacrifice and the ritual. Here, Aaron and his sons had the privilege to be instructed to partake of the blood on the altar. In verse 20 the blood was placed on the tip of the right ear, right thumb, and right big toe to remind Aaron and his sons to listen carefully, to recognize service to G-d is the most important thing one does with ones hands, and to faithfully maintain all responsibilities no matter where he may walk. Why was sprinkling the blood on the garments necessary if Aaron and his sons were already wearing the blood on his ear, thumb, and toe? The answer is that the blood was important for the individual and also the position of priest. When the blood was sprinkled on the garments of the priests it was a sign placed on the priesthood and a representation of their mission to facilitate atonement. Yeshua HaMoshiach is a priest after the order of Melchizedek. (Heb. 6:20) Yeshua will also don a garment sprinkled with blood as it says,

“He is clothed in a robe dipped in1 blood, and the name by which he is called is The Word of G-d.” Revelation 19:13

The footnote in this verse says, “Some manuscripts sprinkled with.” Yeshua’s garment is representative as the means of atonement. He is our Savior and the only Priest that can take away our sins. Both priesthoods were established by G-d and both serve His purpose. This week’s portion is beneficial to become familiar with the ritual, which will be reestablished nearing Yeshua’s return and to further understand Yeshua as a Priest.

The practical principles and commandments throughout the Torah are usually straightforward, but there is much wisdom in the minutia. This week the Torah mentions two interesting items as part of the breastpiece of judgment.

“And in the breastpiece of judgment you shall put the Urim and the Thummim, and they shall be on Aaron’s heart, when he goes in before the L-RD. Thus Aaron shall bear the judgment of the people of Israel on his heart before the L-RD regularly.” Exodus 28:30

Urim and Thummim? The translators left these words in their original language. What we see is simply a transliteration. Urim is mentioned 8 times and Thummim is mentioned 6 times in the whole Bible. Urim and Thummim are only used by the priests and it appears that G-d used them to aid in decision-making. (Num. 27:21) It makes perfect sense that the Righteous Judge would equip His anointed with the ability to judge favorably and make decisions. These ornaments were also reminders of the priest’s responsibility to teach the people the difference between clean and unclean (Lev. 10:8-11) because the priest bears the judgment of the people on his heart.

The word Urim literally means lights because it appears to be the plural of ohr which is fire or light. There is a slight difference in the vowel placement with the root of Urim (ראוּ) and the actual word for light (ראוֹ) which is not very significant because the vowels were added around 700 CE2. The word Thummim literally means perfection because it appears to be the plural of tum which means integrity or completeness. In the Hebrew there is a neat truth embedded in the words. םתָּמַ (tammam) is the primitive root word meaning to complete or to finish and is in some cases associated with the destruction or the end of the wicked. םתֻּמִּי (thummim) is the word for perfection. Notice that the letters are exactly the same except for a yud in Thummim. Yud is the first letter in G-d’s name and is usually a letter associated with G-d. So the Hebrew reveals the truth that without G-d the end is destruction. There is finality without perfection. With G-d there is an everlasting perfection through His perfect Son that rescued us from destruction. Blessed be His glorious Name forever and ever! (Ps. 72:19)

2http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Masoretic_Text

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