Parashah #34 B’midbar (Numbers) 1:1-4:20

Beth Elohim Messianic Synagogue
Parashah B’midbar: Numbers 1:1-4:20
Haftorah: 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 so as 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 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)
Our Parshah 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.”
There are four views regarding the explanation for G-d’s command that Hosea marry Gomer who is described as “a woman of harlotries” (1:2). Understandably there is much discussion among scholars concerning the proper understanding of the marriage. One view with which I agree holds that the marriage occurred, and that Gomer was pure at the time, becoming adulterous later. This is called the proleptic view and is the most popular of the four views. The reason is that this view provides an important parallel between Hosea’s life and G-d’s relationship with Israel (1:2,6,7,9;2:1-13). G-d had taken Israel when she was pure (Jer.2:2,3), knowing that she would become unfaithful. Similarly, Hosea was to marry Gomer while she was still pure, though he knew that in time she would become unfaithful.
It is also important to note that the phrase “wife of harlotries” is precisely parallel with the phrase “children of harlotries” (1:2). The children in reference are understood to be those described in the following verses: Jezreel (meaning G-d will gather in the exiled Jews and plant them in the land), Lo-ruhamah (Object of no mercy), for G-d was resolved no longer to be merciful with the unrepentant Jews, and a son named Lo-ammi (not my people)for the Jews had forfeited their claim to their chosen status. After the children were born, G-d ordered Hosea to send them away but Hosea pleaded with G-d that he could not bear to be separated from them.
Then G-d told Hosea that the time will come when the people of Judah and the people of Israel will be gathered together; they will appoint for themselves one leader; and they will go up out of the land; for that will be a great day, the day of Yizre’el (G-d sows)(2:2). Compare this passage to the narrative in Ezekiel 37:15-28.

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.
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.

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)

“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 l’Mishkan which is 514, to that of Aham Kadosh, a holy nation, which is also 514.

Shabbat Shalom,
Rabbi Tamah-Davis-Hart