Parashah #34: B’midbar (In the desert) B’midbar (Numbers) 1:1-4;20

Beth Elohim Messianic Synagogue
Parashah B’midbar: Numbers 1:1-4:20
Haftarah: Hosea 2:1-22
B’rit Chadashah: Luke 2:1-7; 1 Corinthians 12: 12-31

The Zohar comments on this portion that the creation itself had not truly been completed until Israel was led out of Egypt, given the Torah and built the Tabernacle. According to the Zohar, this having been done, YHVH determined to take a census of the congregation of Israel to muster the forces of the Torah and the Tabernacle.
The Torah tells us that this census began on the first day of the second month. This in itself is important. According to the book of Revelation, the Tree of Life bears 12 fruits, which correspond to the 12 months of the Hebrew calendar. A similar tradition exists in Rabbinic Judaism which maintains that the 12 diagonal paths on the Tree of Life diagram correspond to 12 of the Hebrew letters (known as “doubles”) as well as to the 12 months of the Hebrew calendar, the 12 signs in the heavens and the 12 tribes of Israel.
The second month corresponds to the letter vav, the sign of Shor (Taurus), the Tribe of Joseph and the path from Understanding to Keter which binds the Father and the Son of Yah together.
If we put these two ideas together “this census began on the first day of the second month” and “the tree of life produced twelve fruits and in every month gave its fruits”, we may logically deduce YHVH chose to muster the forces of the Torah on the month which corresponds with the letter vav, the sign of Taurus and the Tribe of Joseph.
The letter vav was originally a pictograph of a nail. This reminds us of the Messiah who was pierced through his hands and his feet by nails. Also according to Rabbinic tradition, the three different letters that appears in YHVH (YUD, HEY, and VAV) represent the three pillars of the G-dhead and the VAV itself represents “the Son of Yah”. Moreover, the VAV in the middle of the word OR (the word for “light” spelled in Hebrew: alef-vav-resh) represents the Middle Pillar of the G-dhead (i.e. the Son of Yah), which is between the ALEF (which stands for “ABBA” = “Father) and the RESH (which stands for Ruach HaKodesh, the Holy Spirit).
The sign of SHOR (Taurus) was understood by the ancient Hebrews to symbolize the atonement of Israel and the nations and to point to the offering of the 70 bullocks.
The patriarch Joseph represents the Suffering Servant Messiah (often called “Messiah ben Yosef) because like Joseph the patriarch he was cast into a pit, sold by his own for silver, yet rose out of the pit and redeemed his brothers.
Thus there is great symbolism in the fact that YHVH chose the first day of the second month to bear the fruit of mustering the forces of the Torah.

The Haftarah Connection (Hoshea 2:1-22)
Our Parashah deals with the counting of B’nai Yisrael in the desert.
In the Haftarah, the prophet Hoshea speaks of the future redemption. He begins by stating “B’nai Yisrael will be as numerous as the sand on the seashore, which is so plentiful it can’t be measured.”
Both the Torah and the Haftarah shows that numeric greatness is also a part of B’nai Yisrael’s legacy.
How can this be accomplished without the two sticks of Ezekiel being joined again? It cannot and will not occur until there is but one stick Judah -Israel and Ephraim-Israel as one: Israel all true believers according to the Seven-fold Witness in Revelation and John chapter 14.

B’rit Chadashah: Luke 2:1-7
2 1 Around this time, Emperor Augustus issued an order for a census to be taken throughout the Empire. 2 This registration, the first of its kind, took place when Quirinius was governing in Syria. 3 Everyone went to be registered, each to his own town. 4 So Yosef, because he was a descendant of David, went up from the town of Natzeret in the Galil to the town of David, called Beit-Lechem, in Y’hudah, 5 to be registered, with Miryam, to whom he was engaged, and who was pregnant. 6 While they were there, the time came for her to give birth; 7 and she gave birth to her first child, a son. She wrapped him in cloth and laid him down in a feeding trough, because there was no space for them at the inn.
Augustus is A Title with overtones of divinity given by the Roman Senate in 27 B.C.E. to Gaius Julius Caesar Octavianus, founder of the Roman Empire. He ruled the Mediterranean world until 14 C.E.
There is also a historical problem because according to Tacitus and others, Quirinius did not begin governing in Syria until 6 C.E. But he was in charge of Syria’s defense and foreign policy under Varus around 7 B.C.E. and later. Therefore he could have supervised the registration (for tax purposes) in Herod’s territory. This registration, the first of its kind, or: this first registration, before the better-known one of 6 C.E. referred to in Acts 5:37.

Questions to Explore:
1. Why wasn’t the tribe of Levi counted along with the rest of the tribes?
2. Why were the Levites counted from the age of one month and the rest of B’nai Ysra’el from 20 years and above?
3. When B’nai Ysra’el pitched camp, or was on the move, every tribe had a set place. Was it randomly chosen or is there a reason why each tribe was specifically put where it was?

The Sages Wisdom:
“And G-d spoke to Moshe in the desert saying…” (1:1)
The Midrash says that the Torah was given through three things: fire, water, and the desert. The fire and water symbolize two opposites, teaching us that the Torah is best learned with another friend who thinks in a different way than you do. The desert is symbolic of the humility that must be part of our personality if we want to be able to keep G-d’s Torah.
Fire is also tempered with and by water. Enthusiasm and passion in all things is best expressed balanced with a steady and unrelenting desire to ascend to G-d, represented as a flowing river to the sea (my additional interpretation).
“As they rest, so too shall they travel.” (2:17)
These are the people who keep all the commandments in the confines of their home, but when they go outside their homes and mix with other people, they conveniently forget what it means to be a representative of G-d. In this sentence we are told that when we travel we should make sure to remain the same people that we are at home (Deut. 6:4-11)
“And these are the offspring of Aaron and Moshe” (3:1)
Why does the Torah treat Aaron’s children as though they belonged to Moshe too?
The Tractate Sanhedrin (9b) states that Moshe used to teach Aaron’s children Torah. From this we learn that whoever teaches his friend’s children Torah, it is as if he brought them up. For that matter, anyone teaching Torah should and usually does consider those who sit under his or her instruction as “children” of whom the path of G-d’s Torah should be taught with patience and diligence.
Saviv l’Mishkan: “Surrounding the Mishkan (they shall dwell). (1:50)
The Kohanim and Levites were in charge of the work in the Mishkan. As a result, they were situated around the Mishkan, and had to be careful to maintain a very holy state. This can be seen by comparing the numeric value of Saviv l’Mishkan which is 514, to that of Aham Kadosh, a holy nation, which is also 514.
Shabbat Shalom,
Rabbi Tamah Davis-Hart