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As the portion cycle came to a close it was traditional to read Parasha Vezot HaBracha on Simchat Torah. For the sake of further study into the final chapters of the Torah below is a table comparing Jacob’s blessing on his children with Moses’ blessing on the tribes. I pray you find the parallels insightful and this table enhances the study you have already done. Shalom!

  Jacob’s Blessing (Genesis 49) Moses’ Blessing (Deuteronomy 33)
Reuben Reuben, you are my firstborn, my might, and the firstfruits of my strength, preeminent in dignity and preeminent in power.Unstable as water, you shall not have preeminence, because you went up to your father’s bed; then you defiled it—he went up to my couch! Let Reuben live, and not die, but let his men be few.
Simeon Simeon and Levi are brothers; weapons of violence are their swords. Let my soul come not into their council; O my glory, be not joined to their company. For in their anger they killed men, and in their willfulness they hamstrung oxen. Cursed be their anger, for it is fierce, and their wrath, for it is cruel! I will divide them in Jacob and scatter them in Israel. No mention.
Levi [Same as above] Give to Levi your Thummim, and your Urim to your godly one, whom you tested at Massah, with whom you quarreled at the waters of Meribah; who said of his father and mother, ‘I regard them not’; he disowned his brothers and ignored his children. For they observed your word and kept your covenant. They shall teach Jacob your rules and Israel your law; they shall put incense before you and whole burnt offerings on your altar. Bless, O Lord, his substance, and accept the work of his hands; crush the loins of his adversaries, of those who hate him, that they rise not again.
Judah Judah, your brothers shall praise you; your hand shall be on the neck of your enemies; your father’s sons shall bow down before you. Judah is a lion’s cub; from the prey, my son, you have gone up. He stooped down; he crouched as a lion and as a lioness; who dares rouse him? The scepter shall not depart from Judah, nor the ruler’s staff from between his feet, until tribute comes to him; and to him shall be the obedience of the peoples. Binding his foal to the vine and his donkey’s colt to the choice vine, he has washed his garments in wine and his vesture in the blood of grapes. His eyes are darker than wine, and his teeth whiter than milk. Hear, O Lord, the voice of Judah, and bring him in to his people. With your hands contend for him, and be a help against his adversaries.
Zebulun Zebulun shall dwell at the shore of the sea; he shall become a haven for ships, and his border shall be at Sidon. Rejoice, Zebulun, in your going out, and Issachar, in your tents. They shall call peoples to their mountain; there they offer right sacrifices; for they draw from the abundance of the seas and the hidden treasures of the sand.
Issachar Issachar is a strong donkey, crouching between the sheepfolds. He saw that a resting place was good, and that the land was pleasant, so he bowed his shoulder to bear, and became a servant at forced labor. [Mentioned above]
Dan Dan shall judge his people as one of the tribes of Israel. Dan shall be a serpent in the way, a viper by the path, that bites the horse’s heels so that his rider falls backward. I wait for your salvation, O Lord. Dan is a lion’s cub that leaps from Bashan.
Gad Raiders shall raid Gad, but he shall raid at their heels. Blessed be he who enlarges Gad! Gad crouches like a lion; he tears off arm and scalp. He chose the best of the land for himself, for there a commander’s portion was reserved; and he came with the heads of the people, with Israel he executed the justice of the Lord, and his judgments for Israel.
Asher Asher’s food shall be rich, and he shall yield royal delicacies. Most blessed of sons be Asher; let him be the favorite of his brothers, and let him dip his foot in oil.Your bars shall be iron and bronze, and as your days, so shall your strength be.
Naphtali Naphtali is a doe let loose that bears beautiful fawns. O Naphtali, sated with favor, and full of the blessing of the Lord, possess the lake and the south.
Joseph Joseph is a fruitful bough, a fruitful bough by a spring; his branches run over the wall. The archers bitterly attacked him, shot at him, and harassed him severely, yet his bow remained unmoved; his arms were made agile by the hands of the Mighty One of Jacob (from there is the Shepherd, the Stone of Israel), by the God of your father who will help you, by the Almighty who will bless you with blessings of heaven above, blessings of the deep that crouches beneath, blessings of the breasts and of the womb. The blessings of your father are mighty beyond the blessings of my parents, up to the bounties of the everlasting hills. May they be on the head of Joseph, and on the brow of him who was set apart from his brothers. Blessed by the Lord be his land, with the choicest gifts of heaven above,and of the deep that crouches beneath,with the choicest fruits of the sun and the rich yield of the months,with the finest produce of the ancient mountains and the abundance of the everlasting hills,with the best gifts of the earth and its fullness and the favor of him who dwells in the bush. May these rest on the head of Joseph, on the pate of him who is prince among his brothers.A firstborn bull—he has majesty, and his horns are the horns of a wild ox; with them he shall gore the peoples, all of them, to the ends of the earth; they are the ten thousands of Ephraim, and they are the thousands of Manasseh.
Benjamin Benjamin is a ravenous wolf, in the morning devouring the prey and at evening dividing the spoil. The beloved of the Lord dwells in safety. The High God surrounds him all day long, and dwells between his shoulders.
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If G-d commanded through Moses, “take to heart all the words by which I am warning you today, that you may command them to your children, that they may be careful to do all the words of this law.” (Deut. 32:46) then one would assume the Gospel would be included in such an important song, right? Walk through just a few snippets of the inspired song and note the various cross references.

“But Jeshurun grew fat, and kicked; you grew fat, stout, and sleek; then he forsook God who made him and scoffed at the Rock of his salvation.” Deuteronomy 32:15

“Jeshurun” literally means “upright one” based on the root word yashar which is the verb for “to be right, be straight, be level, be upright, etc.” Therefore the name Jeshurun was an endearing term to describe the “ideal character”1 of Israel. The name in the above verse was juxtaposed with the uncharacteristic forsaking of G-d and the scoffing at the Rock as if to remind future generations not to lose hope but to pursue the higher calling of being the “Upright One.” Indeed, one of Israel’s greatest follies was that of forgetting G-d and scoffing at the Rock.

“What shall we say, then? That Gentiles who did not pursue righteousness have attained it, that is, a righteousness that is by faith; but that Israel who pursued a law that would lead to righteousness did not succeed in reaching that law. Why? Because they did not pursue it by faith, but as if it were based on works. They have stumbled over the stumbling stone, as it is written, ‘Behold, I am laying in Zion a stone of stumbling, and a rock of offense; and whoever believes in him will not be put to shame.’” Romans 9:30-32

It appears Paul blended Isaiah 8:14 and Isaiah 28:16 to emphasize Yeshua as the Rock through whom no shame will be administered to those who believe. The Rock over whom Israel stumbled. Paul conclusively stated Yeshua is the Rock in the following verse:

“For I do not want you to be unaware, brothers, that our fathers were all under the cloud, and all passed through the sea, and all were baptized into Moses in the cloud and in the sea, and all ate the same spiritual food, and all drank the same spiritual drink. For they drank from the spiritual Rock that followed them, and the Rock was Christ. Nevertheless, with most of them God was not pleased, for they were overthrownin the wilderness.” 1 Corinthians 10:1-5

There is only one true Messiah therefore there have been and will be many false messiahs. (see 1 Jn. 2:18) HaSatan desires to pervert what is of G-d and replace good with evil. The song also warns us of the anti-messiah:

“For their rock is not as our Rock; our enemies are by themselves.” Deuteronomy 32:31

To conclude, many verses from the song in this week’s portion were referenced throughout the Bible and it is easy to see the Good News proclaimed in the various passages! It is an important song to study, to memorize, and upon which to meditate “that this song may be a witness”. (Deut. 31:19) For those of us who are not native born Jews the following verse and Paul’s comments on the verse are interesting!

“Rejoice with him, O heavens; bow down to him, all gods, for he avenges the blood of his children and takes vengeance on his adversaries. He repays those who hate him and cleanses his people’s land.” Deuteronomy 32:43

“For I tell you that Christ became a servant to the circumcised to show God’s truthfulness, in order to confirm the promises given to the patriarchs, and in order that the Gentiles might glorify God for his mercy. As it is written, ‘Therefore I will praise you among the Gentiles, and sing to your name.’ And again it is said, ‘Rejoice, O Gentiles, with his people.’” Romans 15:8-10

According to www.biblegateway.com in Deuteronomy 32:43 there is a footnote that states: “Dead Sea Scroll, Septuagint; Masoretic Text Rejoice his people, O nations.” However www.blueletterbible.org contains the “Masoretic Text” which is actually “a digital version of the Leningrad Codex developed by the Westminster Hebrew Institute at Westminster Theological Seminary in Philadelphia.” and the Hebrew clearly contains hashamayim or “the heavens” in Deuteronomy 32:43. Despite this technological irregularity, in his book The End of Deuteronomy in the Epistles of Paul Guy Prentiss Waters2 writes, “It is sufficient to say that Paul has cited LXX Deut 32:43c and that the peculiarities of the wording of this citation prove “crucial” to his argument at Rom 15:7-13.289” Either way Paul certainly encouraged Gentiles based on the passage from this week’s portion. Rejoice and glorify G-d that while we were yet sinners Yeshua died for us! (Rom. 5:8) If you have any further insight into the parallels of Deuteronomy 32:43 and Romans 15:10 please leave a comment below.


1 http://www.blueletterbible.org/lang/lexicon/lexicon.cfm?Strongs=H3484&t=ESV

2http://books.google.com/books?id=frU1U5ljRHoC&pg=PA223&lpg=PA223&dq=deuteronomy+32:43+and+romans+15:10&source=bl&ots=m7TwCBcwbk&sig=2CVBPNvmLe2e36jTQlA2INT5W20&hl=en&sa=X&ei=vphkUPCFMuGQ2gWhhIGYCQ&ved=0CEkQ6AEwCDgK#v=onepage&q=deuteronomy%2032%3A43%20and%20romans%2015%3A10&f=false

289 Hays, Echoes, 72

Aside from the therapeutic benefits, singing is an excellent way to remember rhetoric. The songs found throughout Scripture are essentially melodious compilations of truth. This week’s portion ends right before the highly anticipated song that G-d commanded Moses to teach the people. Nevertheless, the portion contained the functions of the song.

“Now therefore write this song and teach it to the people of Israel. Put it in their mouths, that this song may be a witness for me against the people of Israel.” Deuteronomy 31:19

“And when many evils and troubles have come upon them, this song shall confront them as a witness (for it will live unforgotten in the mouths of their offspring). For I know what they are inclined to do even today, before I have brought them into the land that I swore to give.” Deuteronomy 31:21

The previous verses demonstrate that the song was to be both a witness and a reminder. Ideally people are less likely to sin the more witnesses are present. In this week’s parasha Moses called “heaven and earth to witness against them” (Deut. 31:28) as well as the song. In addition, G-d is always a witness to every occurrence. (Heb. 4:13) The result is more than enough witnesses to convict someone of even a capital crime. The conclusion is inescapable. It is impossible for man to abscond from conviction. One would assume such opposition would be sufficient for preventing transgression, but it did not suffice nor will it ever. However, the L-rd in His abundant mercy has provided means with which His chosen people avoid the deserving eternal damnation. The King of the Universe “sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins.” (1 Jn. 4:10) The following excerpt from the “Song at the Sea” concisely reveals the same truth.

“The LORD is my strength and my song, and he has become my salvation; this is my God, and I will praise him, my father’s God, and I will exalt him.” Exodus 15:2

G-d is, indeed, our song (in the case of this week’s portion a “witness” and “reminder”) and also our salvation. Praises and exaltation far beyond any human capacity are due to our gracious King. After singing the song of Moses, also include the song of the Lamb.

And they sing the song of Moses, the servant of God, and the song of the Lamb, saying, “Great and amazing are your deeds, O Lord God the Almighty! Just and true are your ways, O King of the nations!Who will not fear, O Lord, and glorify your name? For you alone are holy. All nations will come and worship you, for your righteous acts have been revealed.” Revelation 15:3-4

Moses often reminded Israel of the two consequences of actions: blessing for obedience and curses for disobedience. Moses could not have been more straightforward yet to this very day people seek biased justification and over-spiritualization to forsake all responsibility of true obedience. Unfortunately those people are too preoccupied avoiding legalism that they miss the amazing correlation between obedience and salvation. Here in this week’s portion, amidst the Moses’ supplications, was a verse that demonstrated the aforementioned correlation.

The first verse in this week’s portion framed the proceeding declarations in the portion.

“See, I am setting before you today a blessing and a curse:” Deuteronomy 11:26

Look closely at this specific declaration:

“And when the LORD your God brings you into the land that you are entering to take possession of it, you shall set the blessing on Mount Gerizim and the curse on Mount Ebal.” Deuteronomy 11:29

It is intriguing that the blessing and the curse were set on two different mountains. Natural curiosity leads to a desire to research the definitions of each mountain. Take a look:

  • Gerizim = cuttings off
  • Ebal = stone or bare mountain

The mountains represented a visual manifestation of consequences for obedience or disobedience.   Deuteronomy 11 described the desolation and bare land that would result from disobedience.

“Take care lest your heart be deceived, and you turn aside and serve other gods and worship them; then the anger of the LORD will be kindled against you, and he will shut up the heavens, so that there will be no rain, and the land will yield no fruit, and you will perish quickly off the good land that the LORD is giving you.” Deuteronomy 11:16-17

And Leviticus 11 recounted the incredible result of being one of G-d’s people.

“I am the LORD who brought you up out of Egypt to be your God; therefore be holy, because I am holy.” Leviticus 11:45

First, G-d saved the Children of Israel from Egypt to make a covenant then G-d commanded the people to be set apart. How can one be holy? Through obedience to G-d (Num. 15:40) and obedience comes with blessing. (Deut. 7:11-16; 30:16) Gerizim is the plural form of the verb garaz which means to cut, to cut off, or to separate, a definition that is similar to “holy” (kodesh) which means to separate and to “covenant” (beriyt) which comes from the root bara (to cut). Therefore those who obey, and receive the blessing that was set on Mount Gerizim, do so because of the covenant with G-d that called them to be separate from the world, destined for holiness. This covenant is not only physical through obedience to the commandment of circumcision but it is also spiritual through Messiah Yeshua Who gives a new heart. Deuteronomy 30 summarized the Good News and demonstrated what should be the desired distribution of blessings and curses that were set on the two mountains.

“And the Lord your God will circumcise your heart and the heart of your offspring, so that you will love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul, that you may live.  And the Lord your God will put all these curses on your foes and enemies who persecuted you.” Deuteronomy 30:6-7

Messiah Yeshua is the mediator of the New Covenant which enables faithful obedience. He has separated a remnant, cut a covenant with them, and leads them toward holiness. Baruch HaShem for His love and grace that counts us as part of that remnant! Baruch HaShem for His loving and gracious commandments that draw us closer to Him and bring such immense blessing!

This week’s parasha provides an additional parallel between Moses and Yeshua. During the many warnings against idolatry and the reminders of G-d’s Justice Moses stated the following:

“When you father children and children’s children, and have grown old in the land, if you act corruptly by making a carved image in the form of anything, and by doing what is evil in the sight of the Lord your God, so as to provoke him to anger, I call heaven and earth to witness against you today, that you will soon utterly perish from the land that you are going over the Jordan to possess. You will not live long in it, but will be utterly destroyed.” Deuteronomy 4:25-26

Moses would call heaven and earth to witness against the idolater. This truth helps explain a passage found in Hebrews!

“Anyone who has set aside the law of Moses dies without mercy on the evidence of two or three witnesses.” Hebrews 10:28

Two or three witnesses are required by the Torah to administer a sentence of capital punishment and/or establish a charge.  (Num. 35:30, Deu. 17:6, Deu. 19:15) In Deuteronomy 4 the word for “witness” in Hebrew is (ha’idoti) הַעִידֹתִי (the root word is ud עוּד) which is a verb that literally means to testify, give warning, or to return. In Numbers 35 the word for “witness” is (ed) עֵד which is contracted from the same root (ud)עוּד and describes the noun “witness.” It is very interesting that the particular word used for the “witnessing” of heaven and earth can also mean warning or return. Perhaps this describes one of the purposes of having witnesses that are always around! First they serve as a warning to return to the ways of G-d then they become a condemning witness. It is impossible to escape both heaven and earth just as it is impossible to dwell somewhere G-d is not, for He is everywhere.

Moses stated that he would “call” heaven and earth to “witness.” Both words are the same and they are combined in Deuteronomy 4. Therefore it was as if Moses was including himself in the witnessing. If so, then that would be a total of three witnesses. Now, according to Scripture Moses shared many characteristics with Messiah Yeshua. (Heb. 3:2,5; Deu. 18:15; Jn. 5:46-47) One of the most important parallels to firmly grasp is that Moses wrote of Messiah Yeshua. (Jn. 5:46-47) Also, Moses wrote the law that G-d spoke to him. (Deu. 31:9) It is the law that condemns and it is Messiah Yeshua that saves but both were revealed by G-d written by Moses. That is why setting aside the law is a capital crime lacking mercy because it is also setting aside or rejecting Messiah Yeshua. The same witnesses adjudicate for both sins.

“You search the Scriptures because you think that in them you have eternal life; and it is they that bear witness about me, yet you refuse to come to me that you may have life.” John 5:39-40

May this never describe us. May we never separate Yeshua from His law. And may both be on our lips at all times.

Here we are. The last book of the Torah. Deuteronomy could have been strictly a continuation of the story in the wilderness and the eventual entrance to the land. Though HaShem used the last book of the Torah to summarize the previous four books and emphasize the importance of the Law. There were many instances of miraculous occurrences and benevolent blessings experienced by the Children of Israel. Although time and time again, the Children of Israel forgot G-d and slipped into sin. To avoid participation in similar mistakes take note of the excellent principle found in the first chapter of this week’s parasha.

“after he had defeated Sihon the king of the Amorites, who lived in Heshbon, and Og the king of Bashan, who lived in Ashtaroth and in Edrei. Beyond the Jordan, in the land of Moab, Moses undertook to explain this law, saying” Deuteronomy 1:3-4

Notice the sequence of the previous verse. The Children of Israel defeated a formidable foe through G-d’s intervention and “had no survivor left.” (Deut. 3:3) Then Moses “explained this law” and recounted the marvelous acts of HaShem. Why in this order? Because we are most vulnerable to fleshly seduction and pride when we are satisfied. Skipping ahead to Deuteronomy 8, G-d warned of this temptation:

“Take care lest you forget the Lord your God by not keeping his commandments and his rules and his statutes, which I command you today, lest, when you have eaten and are full and have built good houses and live in them, and when your herds and flocks multiply and your silver and gold is multiplied and all that you have is multiplied, then your heart be lifted up, and you forget the Lord your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of slavery, who led you through the great and terrifying wilderness, with its fiery serpents and scorpions and thirsty ground where there was no water, who brought you water out of the flinty rock, who fed you in the wilderness with manna that your fathers did not know, that he might humble you and test you, to do you good in the end. Beware lest you say in your heart, ‘My power and the might of my hand have gotten me this wealth.’ You shall remember the Lord your God, for it is he who gives you power to get wealth, that he may confirm his covenant that he swore to your fathers, as it is this day. And if you forget the Lord your God and go after other gods and serve them and worship them, I solemnly warn you today that you shall surely perish.” Deuteronomy 8:11-19

Following the example of Moses and deliberately remembering G-d’s magnificent works after receiving a blessing will help prevent sin. The Torah shared several tactics to avoid forgetting the L-rd our G-d. One notable tactic is the commandment to “bless the Lord your God for the good land he has given you.” (Deut. 8:10) after a meal. Also, wearing tzitzit on the four corners of a garment, placing His words on the doorpost, binding His words to our arm and head, and teaching our children. Deuteronomy contains many references to remembering the L-rd and commandments not to forget certain occurrences. Ultimately, Deuteronomy is a revelation of G-d’s grace. An entire generation passed away in the wilderness due to sin and turning away from G-d. Therefore Deuteronomy serves as an entreaty to learn from the mistakes and strive to walk uprightly before G-d. In several passages the tone is almost that of pleading with the reader to follow G-d and G-d alone. What a gracious Father that He would instruct the repetition of “this law” and key events of the wilderness journey.

In addition, Moses foreshadowed Messiah Yeshua. Moses explained the Law, recounted important events, and called for repentance before he died just as Yeshua eventually did when He dwelled on earth.

“Jesus answered him, “I have spoken openly to the world. I have always taught in synagogues and in the temple, where all Jews come together. I have said nothing in secret.” John 18:20

“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 God’s house.” Hebrews 3:1-2

Come quickly L-rd Yeshua!

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!

In the first sentence of this parasha there is a textual anomaly. The alef in vayikra is small. (וַיִּקְרָא) Abnormal letters are rare but they should draw our attention to the word or verse.

“The L-RD called Moses and spoke to him from the tent of meeting, saying..” Leviticus 1:1

Vayikra means to call and daber means to speak. It seems redundant “to call” and then “to speak” to Moses but I believe this is teaching an important lesson. Vayikra is first used in the creation description in Genesis where G-d calls the light day and the darkness night. Once G-d calls it can never be undone. First we are called out of darkness and into His marvelous light (1 Pet. 2:9) and then He speaks and we obey. Every word He speaks is a treasure, which we cherish. One reason Leviticus, the book detailing about 247 commandments, begins with the word vayikra may be to emphasize that the commandments demonstrate that we are called out. How else would anyone know you are called out and set apart if not by your deeds? With this in mind the pictograph of an alef is an ox, which represents strength and its gematria is 1 representing the one and only G-d. Buried within the details and laws surrounding the sacrifices, temple, and priesthood is revelation about the one and only G-d. And it is G-d Who is our refuge and strength. (Ps. 46:1) I believe this is what the small alef represents. Before we read another word in Leviticus we have a reminder in the text that G-d is the center of everything we are about to read and from Him we have strength to keep His commandments. The small size of the letter suggests that these themes are subtle but they are certainly present.

Throughout this portion there are several animals that qualify for a sacrifice. Previously in Genesis 22 when G-d commanded Abraham to sacrifice his only son a ram is what Abraham found caught in the thicket. Although Isaac asked about a lamb and Abraham responded, “G-d will seek out for Himself a lamb for the offering my son.” (Gen. 22:8) Why then was a ram provided instead of a lamb? This portion may provide one answer.

“And he shall bring to the priest as his compensation to the L-RD a ram without blemish out of the flock, or its equivalent for a guilt offering.” Leviticus 6:6

This portion describes a ram being used for a guilt offering. In other portions a ram is used for a burnt offering (Lev. 16:3) and a peace offering (Num. 6:14) but never a sin offering. It was as if G-d was assuring Abraham that he did not commit any sin. Even further, G-d provides a ram, which may be used for a guilt offering to alleviate any feelings of guilt Abraham may have had after performing such a traumatic act. What a gracious and loving G-d! His will is perfect!

Finally, in the end of the parasha the Art Scroll Stone Chumash contains the following commentary:

“This Masoretic note means: There are 111 verses in the Sidrah, numerically corresponding to the mnemonic, know G-d. This alludes to man’s striving to know his Creator and come closer to Him, a goal that is achieved by means of the offerings. Another mnemonic is, He commanded. This alludes to an essential facet of the Sidrah, which repeats several times that offerings are, a satisfying aroma, because, G-d says, ‘I have commanded and My will has been done’ (Rashi 1:9; R’ David Feinstein)”

This struck me particularly because G-d blessed my wife and I with our first child last week and Vayikra is her portion. My prayer for her and my responsibility as a father is to help her “know G-d” and obey what “He commanded” just like her amazing mother. My wife is an excellent example for her and I am excited about teaching my daughter about our G-d, our Savior, and His Word. She is such a wonderful gift and we are very excited about our new journey together as a family. Thank you for your prayers!

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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