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At first glance one may consider the Sages harsh when they write of Balaam. After all, he refused the diabolical offer from Balak at least a couple times, he only spoke the words G-d told him, and G-d actually spoke to him! A closer look at the story reveals more reason to believe Balaam strayed from the ways of G-d. The Bible all but entreats the reader to reexamine the story of Balaam after this clear statement found later in Numbers:

“Behold, these, on Balaam’s advice, caused the people of Israel to act treacherously against the LORD in the incident of Peor, and so the plague came among the congregation of the LORD.” Numbers 31:16

One interesting parallel at the beginning of this week’s portion provides a glimpse of the actions to follow.

“And God came to Balaam and said, ‘Who are these men with you?’” Numbers 22:9

It is obvious G-d was not asking Balaam this question to learn the answer. Where is the first time G-d asks a rhetorical question? Right after Adam and Eve sinned.

“But the Lord God called to the man and said to him, ‘Where are you?’” Genesis 3:9

Can you hear the voice of a gracious father who is disappointed at the choice of his son? It seems as if G-d was using a similar approach. The reason the parallel is interesting is because G-d’s rhetorical question came after Adam and Eve sinned. But how did Balaam sin to provoke the question? By fellowshipping and keeping company with diviners for the evening instead of immediately driving them away. As it is written:

“You shall not eat any flesh with the blood in it. You shall not interpret omens or tell fortunes.” Leviticus 19:26

“There shall not be found among you anyone who burns his son or his daughter as an offering, anyone who practices divination or tells fortunes or interprets omens, or a sorcerer” Deuteronomy 18:10

Allowing the wicked elders to stay with him may have influenced his own actions or perhaps Balaam was already involved in divination, which resulted in lax standards. Either way look at how Balaam is described later in Joshua:

“Balaam also, the son of Beor, the one who practiced divination, was killed with the sword by the people of Israel among the rest of their slain.” Joshua 13:22

The most important truth from the story of Balaam is that G-d can use what was meant for evil and treachery to save his people. In this case, Balak demanded that Balaam curse Israel in hopes it would weaken them enough to destroy Israel. Instead Balaam pronounced blessings from G-d and even prophecies.

Balaam’s Prophecy:

“…The LORD their God is with them, and the shout of a king is among them.” Numbers 23:21

Parallel:

“Rejoice greatly, O daughter of Zion! Shout aloud, O daughter of Jerusalem! Behold, your king is coming to you; righteous and having salvation is he, humble and mounted on a donkey, on a colt, the foal of a donkey.” Zechariah 9:9

Balaam’s Prophecy:

“Like palm groves that stretch afar, like gardens beside a river, like aloes that the LORD has planted, like cedar trees beside the waters. Water shall flow from his buckets, and his seed shall be in many waters; his king shall be higher than Agag, and his kingdom shall be exalted.” Numbers 24:6-7

Parallel:

“And there shall be a unique day, which is known to the Lord, neither day nor night, but at evening time there shall be light. On that day living waters shall flow out from Jerusalem, half of them to the eastern sea and half of them to the western sea. It shall continue in summer as in winter. And the Lord will be king over all the earth. On that day the Lord will be one and his name one.” Zechariah 14:7-9

Balaam’s Prophecy:

“I see him, but not now; I behold him, but not near: a star shall come out of Jacob, and a scepter shall rise out of Israel; it shall crush the forehead of Moab and break down all the sons of Sheth.” Numbers 24:17

Parallel:

“But of the Son he says, ‘Your throne, O God, is forever and ever, the scepter of uprightness is the scepter of your kingdom.’” Hebrews 1:8

This portion contains bountiful illusions to Messiah Yeshua none of which should be overlooked. Study very carefully. Just as the prophet Micah spoke:

“O my people, remember what Balak king of Moab devised, and what Balaam the son of Beor answered him, and what happened from Shittim to Gilgal, that you may know the saving acts of the LORD.” Micah 6:5

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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!

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