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Yeshua is the Messiah. He is a priest after the order of Melchizedek (Heb. 5:6) and He is the living Torah. (Jn. 1:14) The two portions this week confirm the truth that has been revealed to us. There are many, many examples of Messiah in these portions but for the sake of time I am only going to demonstrate a couple that I had overlooked in prior years. First, there is a beautiful symbol of eternal atonement through Yeshua’s blood within the placement of the ark.

“The cherubim spread out their wings above, overshadowing the mercy seat with their wings, with their faces one to another; toward the mercy seat were the faces of the cherubim.” Exodus 37:9

The cherubim are facing one another with their wings spread out. One on each side.

“And he shall take some of the blood of the bull and sprinkle it with his finger on the front of the mercy seat on the east side, and in front of the mercy seat he shall sprinkle some of the blood with his finger seven times.” Leviticus 16:14

Leviticus 16 suggests that when the priest is standing in front of the ark on one side is east and the other is west which would mean he is facing either north or south. This would also mean that the cherubim are facing east and west. This is important because of what “mercy seat” means in Hebrew. The literal translation of kapporet, or mercy seat is “place of atonement.” This place of atonement is from where G-d speaks and from where atonement comes. The correlation between atonement and the direction of the cherubim alludes to the following verse from the Psalms.

“..as far as the east is from the west, so far does He remove our transgressions from us.” Psalm 103:12

When we come before G-d in sincere repentance, Yeshua’s blood provides eternal atonement for our transgressions and He casts our sins as far as the east is from the west. Yeshua and the Gospel span the pages of the Torah and through the Holy Spirit our eyes are opened to see His marvelous work. This is just one example of many in the portions this week.

Another parallel between the portions this week and Yeshua can be found by the comparison of the following verses from Exodus 40 and Hebrews 3.

“And he erected the court around the tabernacle and the altar, and set up the screen of the gate of the court. So Moses finished the work.” Exodus 40:33

“Therefore, holy brothers, you who share in a heavenly calling, consider Jesus, the apostle and high priest of our confession, Who was faithful to Him who appointed Him, just as Moses also was faithful in all G-d’s house. For Jesus has been counted worthy of more glory than Moses–as much more glory as the builder of a house has more honor than the house itself. (For every house is built by someone, but the builder of all things is G-d.) Now Moses was faithful in all G-d’s house as a servant, to testify to the things that were to be spoken later, but Christ is faithful over G-d’s house as a son. And we are His house if indeed we hold fast our confidence and our boasting in our hope.” Hebrews 3:1-6

The completion of the tabernacle was an amazing event! Moses played a key role in the plans and construction. Hebrews 3 continues the story. These verses show that our Messiah is even more worthy of glory and Moses testified to His work. They also bring to remembrance G-d’s sovereignty over all things.

Finally, there in an interesting verse in Zechariah that mentions the exact phrase as a verse in this week’s portions. Take a look:

“They made the plate of the holy crown of pure gold, and wrote on it an inscription, like the engraving of a signet, ‘Holy to the L-RD.’” Exodus 39:30

“And on that day there shall be inscribed on the bells of the horses, ‘Holy to the L-RD.’ And the pots in the house of the L-RD shall be as the bowls before the altar.” Zechariah 14:20

The phrase “Holy to the L-RD” in the Hebrew of both verses is identical. The holy crown the priests wore was inscribed with this phrase and that makes perfect sense, but it is also inscribed on the bells of the horses? The context in Zechariah 14 is the day of the L-RD. The chapter describes war, plagues, and a global obligation to appear in Jerusalem for Sukkot to worship the King. Also, every pot in Jerusalem will be holy, there will be sacrifices, and there will not be a Canaanite found in the house of G-d. Clearly Zechariah is describing Messianic Days since the King is referred to as, “the L-RD of Hosts.” Based on the context of Zechariah 14 and the fact that the Hebrew word metzilah, or “bells”, in verse 20 is the only time this word is used in the Tanach I believe we are looking at additional revelation of Messianic Days. It would appear that verse 20 is suggesting that everything, even the bells on the horses, in Jerusalem will be “Holy to the L-RD.” The city will be purified and set apart unto HaShem. War and wickedness will still exist but Jerusalem will be inhabited by the righteous remnant and ruled by King Yeshua. Everything in Jerusalem will be as if it touched the alter. (Ex. 29:37) Before the Messianic Days holiness will not go so far as to transform the very bells of horses and after the Messianic Days the phrase “Holy to the L-RD” would apply to absolutely everything. Therefore it is fascinating that a unique word is used to partially describe a unique time. May it be soon and in our days! Come quickly L-rd Yeshua!

Chazakchazakv’nitchazek – Be strong, be strong, and may we be strengthened!

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The first paragraph of this week’s portion sets the stage for the rest of the portion. Everyone over twenty years old must give a half shekel to make atonement for their lives. (Ex. 30:15) The following verse further explains the purpose of the census tax:

“You shall take the atonement money from the people of Israel and shall give it for the service of the tent of meeting, that it may bring the people of Israel to remembrance before the L-RD, so as to make atonement for your lives.” Exodus 30:16

In addition, the tax would also deter a plague. (Ex. 30:12) Obedience to this one commandment would:

  1. Make atonement for you.
  2. Involve you in the service of the tent of meeting.
  3. Remind you of the L-RD your G-d.
  4. Repel a plague.

All of this for one of the most easy commandments! G-d’s graciousness is abundant. The additional commandments in this portion are very important as well and follow the same pattern. Here are the commandments and here are the consequences for disobedience. This is such an important message for our world today. We can all learn from the disobedience that led to the incident of the golden calf. In fact, we are commanded to remember the sin of the golden calf! (Deut. 9:7) At the end of this portion the Children of Israel experienced two tragic punishments for their disobedience: Death (Ex. 32:28) and a plague. (Ex. 32:35) Zechariah 14 warns of the day of the L-RD when those who disobey will be smitten with a plague and struck down.  May this be a reminder to us all that we serve THE Holy G-d who requires obedience to His Word.

“Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.” Matthew 3:2

The tablets on which the commandments were written demonstrate an individual and corporate function for obedience.

“Then Moses turned and went down from the mountain with the two tablets of the testimony in his hand, tablets that were written on both sides; on the front and on the back they were written.” Exodus 32:15

Scripture emphasizes the writing was on the front and the back. If you picture an individual holding the tablets to read and study then having the writing on the back would also allow others to read and study at the same time. The commandments connect us with G-d individually and our obedience proclaims His Name corporately. His Word is meant for us AND those around us.

“..preach the word; be ready in season and out of season; reprove, rebuke, and exhort, with complete patience and teaching.” 2 Timothy 4:2

Our obedience associates us with His Word and His Name. As we read, study, and obey the Bible we should also reflect G-d’s light to those around us.

Finally, I take note whenever I encounter a word in Hebrew that is only used once in the Tanach. It is puzzling that certain words are only used once to convey something in which another word would have sufficed. I believe the words are deliberately different to express importance or uniqueness. The following verse contains an exclusive word.

“The tablets were the work of G-d, and the writing was the writing of G-d, engraved on the tablets.” Exodus 32:16

The word for “engraved” in Hebrew is charat. This is the first and only time in the whole Tanach where this word is used. It is no mistake that an exclusive word is used as a description for an exclusive occurrence. I cannot find anywhere else but this verse that describes “the writing of G-d.” Scripture does mention the tablets being written with the finger of G-d (Ex. 31:18) which is also fascinating. Although, the verse above stresses that the tablets were, not only divinely inspired, and divinely written, but also contained divine words. The very words are divine through and through. How much more then is the embodiment of those words Divine?

“The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the One and Only, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth.” John 1:14

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

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

If we begin with the premise that “All Scripture is breathed out by G-d and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness,..”(2 Tim. 3:16) then the portions with extensive descriptions such as Terumah would be a welcome opportunity for study. Within the measurements of cubits, and specific material for specific sections lies practical application and revelation of HaShem’s character. In addition, these schematics are G-d’s commandments and should be treated as such.

The first item of interest I would like to discuss is acacia wood.

“They shall make an ark of acacia wood.”  Exodus 25:10

Acacia wood is an important ingredient and is used throughout the construction of the tabernacle, but why does this particular wood have the privilege of being used? It must be a strong wood since it was used to support heavy weight. It must have grown in the wilderness or was at least easily accessible.  The acacia tree or shittah was also stricken with thorns.1 It is no mistake that G-d chose a tree with a thorny exterior yet a strong, durable interior. Look at what HaShem said in 1 Samuel:

“For the L-rd sees not as man sees: man looks on the outward appearance, but the L-rd looks on the heart.” 1 Samuel 16:7

Encoded here in the wood selection is a principle and practical application. First, G-d can use anyone or anything to accomplish His purpose. Even those with a rough appearance can be used for His glory! We are neither the judge nor the decision-maker. Second, when G-d commands something, even when the command contradicts our judgment, we must do it. Even if we don’t think acacia wood is the best, we must use it. Even when we don’t think a slanderous comment will cause damage we must remain silent. We are servants of the Most High, not consultants. Notice that there is no resistance to the commandments of building the tabernacle. Israel followed the measurements precisely and obediently. Only when we think we know better do we compromise and disobey. We should be humbled at the privilege to keep G-d’s commandments! Let’s approach the Bible with a humble heart and a desire to demonstrate love.

Every morning the following verse is recited during shacharit as an important reminder:

“Speak to the people of Israel, and tell them to make tassels on the corners of their garments throughout their generations, and to put a cord of blue on the tassel of each corner.” Numbers 15:38

In Hebrew, the word for blue is techelet and the first usage of this word is found in this week’s parasha.

“And this is the contribution that you shall receive from them: gold, silver, and bronze, blue and purple and scarlet yarns and fine twined linen, goats’ hair,..” Exodus 25:3-4

The first use of a word in Hebrew is significant and it may reveal additional meaning in future use. The word techelet debuts in the passage about Israel’s contribution to HaShem for the building of the tabernacle. Later in Numbers 15, the tassels with techelet are commanded to be worn so that we will “remember all the commandments of the L-RD..” (Num. 15:39) The connection between both passages is the description of our contribution to HaShem! The children of Israel brought an array of beautiful items for the tabernacle, but even without a tabernacle the contribution from our life is obedience to G-d’s commands to bring Him glory and further His kingdom. He desires holiness and if we truly love Him then we will keep His commandments. Yes, it is difficult to keep the commandments but the strength to do so is a gift from G-d! The gifts for the tabernacle originated from G-d. He brought the children of Israel out of Egypt and had “given the people favor in the sight of the Egyptians…Thus they plundered the Egyptians.” (Ex. 12:36) Similarly, when HaShem eternally redeems us through the blood of Yeshua (Eph. 2:13) His Spirit enables us to keep His commandments (Jn. 14:26).  Our G-d is abundant in mercy and He “who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Yeshua HaMoshiach.” (Phil. 1:6)

1http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Acacia_seyal

By now we realize that names are significant for a variety of reasons. The prophetic characteristic of a name is one reason that is demonstrated beautifully in the opening verses of this week’s portion.

“Now Jethro, Moses’ father-in-law, had taken Zipporah, Moses’ wife, after he had sent her home, along with her two sons. The name of the one was Gershom (for he said, ‘I have been a sojourner in a foreign land’), and the name of the other, Eliezer (for he said, ‘The God of my father was my help, and delivered me from the sword of Pharaoh’).” Exodus 18:2-4

If you recall Exodus 2, Gershom is the only son mentioned yet two chapters’ later Scripture mentions Moses’ “sons.” (Ex. 4:20) Referring back to the verse in this week’s portion the intention for delaying the revelation of Eliezer’s name appears clear. At the time, the children of Israel only understood the oppression and the aberrancy of dwelling in a foreign land. Now, they are no longer enslaved and the source of deliverance is reiterated through the mention of Eliezer.

On a more practical note, I marveled at the simple conversation between Jethro and Moses and plan to use it as an example of the proper conversational sequence.

“Then Moses told his father-in-law all that the L-RD had done to Pharaoh and to the Egyptians for Israel’s sake, all the hardship that had come upon them in the way, and how the L-RD had delivered them.” Exodus 18:8

The sequence is as follows: Speak of the blessings and the mighty acts of G-d, then mention the challenges you have faced, and finally share how G-d has enabled you to overcome those challenges. Begin and end with praising L-RD. The same sequence is practiced when we eat. We bless G-d before and after. It is certainly no coincidence that both activities involve our mouth. If you have had the opportunity to read the ruminations of the Chofetz Chaim and/or the book of Proverbs you will begin to grasp the vacillating tendency of our mouth and the devastating punishments for misuse. Moses and Jethro’s conversation was important and it sets a high standard for our daily communication. The habitual practice of blessing G-d in each new conversation greatly reduces the opportunity to sin with our mouths.

In conclusion, this portion contains many manifestations of G-d’s awesome power. Not the least of which was the “sound of the trumpet” that “the people saw and trembled.” (Ex.20:18) That must have been frightening. There is also an amazing example of grace within one of the demonstrations of power.

“The people stood far off, while Moses drew near to the thick darkness where G-d was.” Exodus 20:21

The word for darkness here is ha’araphel. Not only is this the first usage of this word for darkness but there is a couple other verses that mention the same darkness surrounding G-d. (1 Ki. 8:12, Ps. 97:2) 1 John 1:5 says that “G-d is light” and the previous verses describe the darkness as being around Him. Therefore it was a merciful act of a loving G-d to conceal Himself in a thick darkness so that the people were not immediately killed or blinded. The scene that unfolded in front of the people was magnificent, but it was just enough a human could endure to sear the vivid sight on the minds of every witness. For this reason G-d mercifully allowed Himself to be enshrouded by the cloud so that all would know that He is G-d and there is none other. His mercy with the children of Israel at Sinai reflects His mercy with those He has eternally chosen. Every single one of us deserve His wrath and destruction (Eph. 2:3) but by His unfathomable mercy He came, a little lower than the angels (Heb. 2:7), clothed in human form, and saved us. (Mt. 1:20-21) The final act of redemption will be even more glorious than the act at Mount Sinai and just as we have not forgotten the exodus we will never forget His eternal salvation. (Ps. 40:16)

Here we see an amazing fulfillment of prophecy. Through Moses, G-d leads the children of Israel out of Egypt and they take with them Joseph’s bones just as Joseph requests in Genesis 50:25. The interesting part is the language used. We know that Joseph’s body was not simply laid in a cave and left to naturally decay. His body was embalmed and placed in a coffin. (Gen. 50:26) So why would Joseph use the word bones instead of body? Bones, of course, is simply another word to describe a dead person but it is also a reminder that a body without the spirit is a heap of bones.

“Thus says the L-rd G-D to these bones: Behold, I will cause breath to enter you, and you shall live.”  Ezekiel 37:5

Despite the process of embalming, mummifying, or any other postmortem preservation the body is nothing but bones without the breath of life. You may ask, “Then what was the point of taking the bones? They were useless.” Indeed, they were useless but Joseph was taught that we are commanded to bury the dead (Deut. 21:23) and that the burial site is significant. (Gen. 23:4, 49:31, 50:13) Joseph desired to be taken out of Egypt and to receive a permanent and biblical burial. By the grace of HaShem Joseph’s request was fulfilled.

“As for the bones of Joseph, which the people of Israel brought up from Egypt, they buried them at Shechem, in the piece of land that Jacob bought from the sons of Hamor the father of Shechem for a hundred pieces of money. It became an inheritance of the descendants of Joseph.” Joshua 24:32

“By faith Joseph, at the end of his life, made mention of the exodus of the Israelites and gave directions concerning his bones.” Hebrews 11:22

I believe an addition lesson encapsulated in the text is the significance of a reputation. Our bodies do not last, but our reputation endures. Joseph had a reputation for being a man of G-d and a son of Israel. Being buried in a pagan land amongst a pagan people, whom G-d judged, would have diminished this reputation. Have we wisely prepared for the future? Have we evaluated our associations? We too, should conduct ourselves accordingly and ensure that our reputation glorifies G-d even after our death. Our lives are not our own.

This week we see a most brutal (yet deserving) exacting of punishment. HaShem not only preserves Israel but utterly destroys the Egyptian army. All of them.

“The Egyptians pursued them, all Pharaoh’s horses and chariots and his horsemen and his army, and overtook them encamped at the sea, by Pi-hahiroth, in front of Baal-zephon.” Exodus 14:9

Examples of Pharaoh’s selfishness and arrogance are littered throughout the book of Exodus. In this portion, Pharaoh launches his whole army against Israel, but Pharaoh himself is not mentioned when they pursue into the sea.

“The Egyptians pursued and went in after them into the midst of the sea, all Pharaoh’s horses, his chariots, and his horsemen.” Exodus 14:23

I do not believe that Pharaoh drown with the rest of the Egyptians. I believe Pharaoh’s cowardice spared him but he was forced to watch as his entire army, his protection, was decimated. He was the only one left standing which meant he was the only one to blame. HaShem punished Pharaoh according to his filthy sin of pride. By giving Pharaoh his desire (his life) He took from him what he needed. (security, safety) For those of us who read the Proverbs this should come as no surprise.

 “Pride goes before destruction, and a haughty spirit before a fall.” Proverbs 16:18

In conclusion, this year I was struck by a wonderful verse in this week’s portion that paints a picture of a beautiful place and also symbolized Israel.

“Then they came to Elim, where there were twelve springs of water and seventy palm trees, and they encamped there by the water.” Exodus 15:27

Elim must have been a beautiful oasis in the midst of the wilderness! Plenty of fresh water, shade, and the sweet smell of palm trees surrounded the entire encampment. In addition, this verse symbolizes the ideal Israel. The twelve springs of water feed one large body of water just as twelve tribes of Israel encompasses G-d’s chosen people.  One nation, following one G-d. (Ez. 37:22) Also, the seventy palm trees are a canopy that cover those beneath just like seventy righteous men (Num.11:16) who protect and represent the people. G-d’s design is to have a united nation, serving Him, within the structure described in the Bible. May it be so soon and in our days.

Come quickly L-rd Yeshua!

It is a valid question to ask, “What made Moses the most humble man?” (Num. 12:3) There are several answers to this question but I believe one of the paramount answers is located right here in this week’s parasha. Carefully read the following verse:

“And the L-RD said to Moses, “See, I have made you like G-d to Pharaoh, and your brother Aaron shall be your prophet.”  Exodus 7:1

I am unable to find an additional verse that recounts someone being made like G-d as it is written in this verse. Moses was given extraordinary power and supernatural characteristics throughout his life. Any ordinary human, placed in a similar position, would instantly succumb to pride and arrogance. Scripture teems with examples of human corruptibility. Yet Moses, through the help of HaShem, maintained an unsurpassed humility. Does this remind you of someone? Perhaps these verses will demonstrate the similarities of the two characters.

“21 For to this you have been called, because Christ also suffered for you, leaving you an example, so that you might follow in his steps. 22 He committed no sin, neither was deceit found in his mouth. 23 When he was reviled, he did not revile in return; when he suffered, he did not threaten, but continued entrusting himself to him who judges justly. 24 He himself bore our sins in his body on the tree, that we might die to sin and live to righteousness. By his wounds you have been healed.” 1 Peter 2:21-24

Both Moses and Yeshua were incomprehensibly humble. At any moment Moses could have used his power and recognition to bring glory to himself, though he did not. In the rare cases when Moses transgressed G-d corrected and punished him swiftly and justly. Despite any error Moses was still endowed with title of most humble man on earth. Also, at any moment Yeshua could have used His power and recognition to destroy the naysayers and the hypocrites, though He did not. As a lamb led to slaughter He was silent and paid the debt of our sin. The parallel of humility is yet another reason why Yeshua was and is a Prophet like Moses. (Deut. 18:15, Jn. 5:46)

This week’s portion contains the first 7 plagues: the Nile turned to blood, frogs, gnats, flies, devastation of livestock, boils, and hail. The magicians were able to replicate each plague (which is very ironic since intelligent people would attempt to *reverse* the plague) until the passage about the plague of gnats.

“The magicians tried by their secret arts to produce gnats, but they could not. So there were gnats on man and beast.”  Exodus 8:18

This is the last attempted replication of the plagues. Once the magicians reached the limit of their facade they were left with no other choice but to acknowledge G-d’s sovereignty. (Ex. 8:19) The Hebrew word for gnats (ken) presents a potential explanation for their inability to imitate this plague. Gnats (ken) is only used 5 times in the Tanach and three of which are here in Exodus. Here are the other two verses:

“He spoke, and there came swarms of flies, and gnats (ken) throughout their country.” Psalm 105:31

“Lift up your eyes to the heavens, and look at the earth beneath; for the heavens vanish like smoke, the earth will wear out like a garment, and they who dwell in it will die in like manner (ken); but my salvation will be forever, and my righteousness will never be dismayed.”  Isaiah 51:6

The verse in Psalms is simply a recount of the passages in Exodus, but the verse in Isaiah should appear strange. “In like manner?” The Hebrew word for “thus or like this” is kakah as used in Exodus 12:11, “In this manner you shall eat it..” The verse in Isaiah is more comprehendible if kakah is used because it would read, “and they who dwell in it will die like this.” The word ken is used deliberately. I believe it illuminates the passage in Exodus. One of the reasons the magicians could not duplicate the plague is found here in Isaiah. HaShem’s salvation will be forever and His righteousness will never be dismayed. All human attempts at competing with G-d will wear out and vanish, but His Name will be glorified by His marvelous works and His eternal salvation. There exists a limit to human ingenuity, creativity, and even sorcery, but G-d is limitless. In this parasha, even wicked necromancers recognized the sovereignty of G-d. This week, let us remember to cease from vainly striving for success through our own hands and rely solely on the assistance of our sovereign G-d.

by tzadikguy

“If your brother, the son of your mother, or your son or your daughter, or the wife of your bosom, or your friend who is like your own soul will entice you secretly, saying, “Let us go and worship the gods of others” – that you did not know, you or your forefathers, from the gods of the peoples that are all around you, those near to you or those far from you, from one end of the earth to the other end of the earth – you shall not accede to him and not hearken to him; your eye shall not take pity on him, you shall not be compassionate nor conceal him. Rather, you shall surely kill him; your hand shall be the first against him to kill him, and the hand of the entire people afterwards.” Deuteronomy 13:7-10

G-d is a Holy G-d. He is the one and only. Serving other gods is a sin worthy of death. HaShem commands us to literally kill the person that commits such a heinous sin. Although, there is something interesting about this passage. Notice in the list of potential seducers there is no mention of a father and/or mother. The reason is the mitzvah [command] “honor your father and mother” takes precedence in this situation. A father and mother are to be honored and respected forever. According to this verse a child is never allowed to kill or even strike his/her mother or father even if the parents force the child to serve other gods. HaShem states in Exodus 21:

15“Whoever strikes his father or his mother shall be put to death.”

17“Whoever curses his father or his mother shall be put to death.”

In verse 17, the word “curses” in the Septuagint is reviles which Merriam-Webster’s Dictionary defines as “to subject to verbal abuse”. Dishonor and disrespect occur through our attitudes, our actions, and even our words. We are called to always bring honor to our parents even when it is difficult; even when our parents force us to serve other gods. Why is this so? I believe the relationship between parents and children is an earthly reflection of the relationship between us and G-d. The Bible describes G-d as “Father” in several instances. “So now, HaShem, You are our Father. We are the clay and You are our Potter, and we are all Your handiwork.” Isaiah 64:8 Just as G-d created man, a husband and wife create a child. In a Biblical marriage, G-d is a crucial part of the relationship, and when we dishonor our father and mother, we are dishonoring G-d.

In the extreme case where a person’s parents actually force them to worship foreign gods an appeal can be made in a respectful and honorable way. A great guide to presenting wise appeals is found in Dr. Gothard’s The Basic Youth Conflicts Seminar: Seminar Workbook.

  1. Check out attitudes
  2. Clear our consciences
  3. Discern basic intentions
  4. Design a creative alternative
  5. Appeal to our authority
  6. Give G-d time to change their minds

If the parents still enforce idol worship after the appeal then the child is obligated to honor his/her parents’ demand. HaShem spoke and said, “Honor your father and your mother, that your days may be long in the land that the L-RD your G-d is giving you.”1 When we honor and respect our parents HaShem promises a long life. This is one of the few mitzvot [commandments] that is accompanied by a promise. We should not do what is right in our own eyes and dishonor our parents through disobedience. Who are we to say to G-d, “I don’t think that is right so I am not going to do that.”? Our mortal minds cannot understand HaShem’s plan or purpose. Therefore we must be obedient to His Torah. Similarly, we do not understand why our parents would force us to disobey HaShem but we must honor and respect them as our authority. Parents will be accountable one day for all actions, but it is not our place to dishonor or curse our parents.

__________________
1Exodus 20:12

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