Beth Elohim Messianic Synagogue
Parasha B’midbar: Numbers 1:1-4:20
Haftorah: Hosea 2:1-22
B’rit Hadashah: Luke 2:1-7; 1 Corinthians 12: 12-31
G-d often spoke to Moshe in the tent of meeting. The opening statement of our parashah indicates the order to take a census was also given in the tent of meeting. Communicating with Moshe in this venue would certainly prevent any gossip by those who would eavesdrop on the conversation!
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 so as to muster the forces of the Torah and the Tabernacle. However, we know that G-d created the heavens and the earth and everything in them in the first 6 days. This includes hell. It is critical to always compare what we read, hear, or see to G-d’s Torah. Midrashim are interesting and prompt critical thinking, but cannot be accepted as fact if not consistent with G-d’s Torah.
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. This knowledge reveals that Orthodox Jews knew of the Messiah Yahshua although they deny Him!
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 (wrists) 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 YHWH 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)
This week’s haftorah begins with the words “The number of the children of Israel shall be as the sand and of the sea [shore], which can be neither measured nor counted.”; an appropriate reading for the first Torah reading of the Book of Numbers.
Hosea first prophesies about the eventual reunification of the houses of Judah and Israel. During the Messianic Era, these two perennial antagonists will make peace and appoint a single leader. Hosea then rebukes the Jewish people for their infidelity, abandoning their “husband, “ G-d, and engaging in adulterous affairs with pagan deities. He describes the punishments they will suffer because of their unfaithfulness.
Eventually, though, Hosea reassures the Jews that they will repent, and G-d will accept them wholeheartedly. The haftorah concludes with the moving words: “And I will betroth you to Me forever, and I will betroth you to Me with righteousness, and with justice and with loving-kindness and with mercy.” This is part of the blessing for the wrapping of tefillin . The point is that we are reminded that the two sticks of Ezekiel MUST be reunited in order for this prophecy to be fulfilled. It will happen.
B’rit Chadasha: 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.” This time of year was Shavu’ot.
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.
Today I am going to include the following analytical comments by the Sages as these midrashim are interesting and applicable.
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 la’Mishkan: Surrounding the Mishkan (they shall dwell). (1:50)
The Cohanim 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 laMishkan which is 514, to that of Aham Kasosh, a holy nation, which is also 514.
Rabbi Tamah Davis-Hart