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This week’s portion is just one of the many places in Scripture where the phrase “with milk and honey” resides.

“And they told him, ‘We came to the land to which you sent us. It flows with milk and honey, and this is its fruit.’”  Numbers 13:27

In fact, it is used about 20 times throughout the Bible. Why is this unusual phrase repeated so often to describe the Promise Land and what is significant about the phrase? Both answers are the same. The significance of the phrase is revealed in examining the two delicacies. Both milk and honey come from animals. Therefore man cannot simply grow milk or honey as they could other food. The existence of milk-producing animals and honey-producing bees in a land is entirely a miracle of G-d! Initially, the climate would have to be conducive and the land would have to be fertile in order to sustain plant and animal life. Both of which depend solely on G-d. By using the phrase “flows with milk and honey” G-d encapsulates all the blessings contained in the Promise Land. G-d demonstrated the preparations that were made and His promised sustenance. Since G-d established the Promise Land it is no longer a mystery as to why the details would be repeated so frequently. G-d continually reinforced the correlation between the Promise Land and His miraculous involvement.

In conclusion, a seemingly unimportant word actually demonstrates a beautiful truth.

“Then the Amalekites and the Canaanites who lived in that hill country came down and defeated them and pursued them, even to Hormah.” Numbers 14:45

Numbers 14 verse 45 is the first usage of the word “Hormah.” The word in Hebrew is Chormah and means devotion. This verse does not divulge any information other than the deduction, based on context, that Hormah is the name of a place. In particular, a place where the Children of Israel attempted to enter even though “neither the ark of the covenant of the L-RD nor Moses departed out of the camp.” (Num. 14:44) The summery of this occurrence was that the Children of Israel pursued devotion without G-d (ark of the covenant) and without Moses (the law). The next appearance of Chormah is in chapter 21 of Numbers.

“And Israel vowed a vow to the L-RD and said, ‘If you will indeed give this people into my hand, then I will devote their cities to destruction.’ And the L-RD heeded the voice of Israel and gave over the Canaanites, and they devoted them and their cities to destruction. So the name of the place was called Hormah.” Numbers 21:2-3

In this occurrence Israel made a vow unto the L-RD first before proceeding. The result was that G-d delivered the Canaanites to Israel and the place was named after their devotion. This is such an interesting parallel to approaching G-d and eternal salvation. Without the law (and obedience to it) one cannot physically approach G-d. (Lev. 22:9) Without Messiah Yeshua a person cannot spiritually approach G-d nor dwell forever with Him. (Jn. 14:6) Rabbi Gimpel once said that Scripture recounts the mistakes made by the people to help us avoid the same mistakes. Indeed, learning from history aids in avoiding repetition of past errors. This is an excellent approach to use during Torah study. There is much to be learned from the detailed journey through the wilderness which is at least one reason why the wilderness experience constitutes an entire book of the Torah. Take not for granted G-d’s gracious preservation of His Word. Remember:

“But be doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves.” James 1:22

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