Beth Elohim Messianic Synagogue
Parashah 36: B’ha’alotkha (When you set up) 8:1-12:16
Haftarah: Z’kharyah (Zechariah) 2:14-4:7
B’rit Chadashah: Yochanan (John) 19:31-37; Hebrews 3:1-6
This week the focus teaching is from Chapter 9 vv. 15-23.This narrative describes the mindset we must internalize and hold to as we occupy until Yahshua returns (Luke 19:11-37). We are not to assume an escapist attitude in which we quit our jobs, cease to maintain our homes, or stop seeking, asking, and knocking in an effort and desire to ascend in our relationship to YHVH/Yahshua. No, instead we are to live our lives for Him. This means that we may have to pull up our stakes and move in obedience to His will if necessary.
Recall that G-d designated 8,580 persons to work in the tabernacle and move it when necessary. This was no little task. Also recall the population of Israelites was somewhere around 1.2-1.5 million including women, children, and fellow travelers. The cloud always covered the tent of testimony and appeared as a fire at night. “Whenever the cloud was taken up from above the tent, the people of Israel continued their travels.” Note that they continued their travels. There is never any indication that they “stopped” or “started” a new journey. This entire narrative supports the reality that salvation is progressive and will not occur until true believers have reached the Land. Those who refuse to read the B’rit Chadashah (Refreshed, renewed Covenant), or study the Old Testament, miss the complete story that describes the process of salvation from Creation to the New Jerusalem.
“At the order of Adonai, the people of Israel traveled; at the order of Adonai, they camped; and as long as the cloud stayed over the tabernacle. They stayed in camp. Even when the cloud remained on the tabernacle for a long time, the people of Israel did what Adonai had charged them to do and did not travel.” Again, this statement alludes to “occupy until I come (Luke 19:11-37). “Sometimes the cloud was a few days over the tabernacle; according to Adonai’s order, they remained in camp; and according to Adonai’s order, they traveled. Sometimes the cloud was there only from evening until morning; so that when the cloud was taken up in the morning, they traveled. Or even if it continued up both day and night, when the cloud was up, they traveled. Whether it was two days, a month or a year that the cloud remained over the tabernacle, staying on it, the people of Israel remained in the camp and did not travel; but as soon as it was taken up, they traveled.” Then we see a summary of the narrative in verse 23: “At Adonai’s order, they camped; and at Adonai’s order, they traveled- they did what Adonai had charged them to do through Moshe.” Seven times the Torah states that the L-rd alone directs and guides His people. In the Hebrew we see the use of al peh (cording to the mouth [of the L-rd]). Thus, G-d answered Moshe’s intercessory request to lead Israel to the Land (Ex. 33:14-17).
Comparing the beginning of the wilderness journey to the customary wedding practice as sanctioned by G-d, newlyweds would spend a year together before the husband was required to go to war (Deut. 24:5). Similarly, Israel remained at Sinai for nearly a year. Then, the cloud lifted, and Israel pulled up stakes. Finally the journey to the Land began.
Ramban explains the need for so many examples of long and short encampments and journeys that I find interesting and plausible. Who was Ramban? Nahmanides [Nah-man-nid-ez] (רבי משה בן נחמן), also known as Rabbi Moses ben Naḥman Girondi, Bonastruc ça (de) Porta and by his acronym Ramban (1194 – 1270), was a leading medieval Jewish scholar, Spanish Sephardic rabbi, philosopher, physician, kabbalist, and biblical commentator. He was raised, studied, and lived for most of his life in Girona, Catalonia, Spain. He explained that even if the cloud remained for a long time at a site that the people found inhospitable, they submitted to G-d’s will. Sometimes the people may have wanted a long rest from a difficult journey, but the cloud stayed in place for only a number of days, and the moved on, and sometimes they would have only overnight respite from travel, and be forced to leave in the morning. On other occasions, they would march through the night and rest for a full day and night. Then, seeing the cloud remained in place and thinking they would begin to unpack- and then the cloud would lift unexpectedly, making it more difficult to travel than if they had had only an overnight rest. Sometimes, they would rest for two days, and get the signal to march at night, as even more difficult situation. Whatever the situation, the people marched and rested without complaint, according to the word of G-d, as indicated by the cloud.
I support this explanation in light of the information in the B’rit Chadashah that in turn amplifies and supports what G-d teaches us through the Old Testament scriptures. Yahshua uses many illustrations that teach us the importance of being ready to move should He give the “command.” A few examples include the story of Abraham; the command to Lot and his family to leave S’dom immediately; the story of Jonah, G-d’s command to Joshua to “ get up and cross over this Yarden, you and all the people, to the land I am giving to them, the people of Israel (Josh. 1:1); G-d’s calling for Jeremiah (Jer. 1:6-8); and G-d’s commands for Sha’ul and the other disciples to go from one place to another to teach the Gospel of the Kingdom (Matt. 10:5-6). We must remain at the ready to move wherever G-d guides that we may glorify Him before whomever we find ourselves at whatever locale. We can always revert back to this and other parashot that describe the transience of our perceived reality most perfectly described in the book of Ecclesiastes. The only thing that means anything in the long run is “Here is the final conclusion, now that you have heard everything: fear G-d, and keep his mitzvot; this is what being human is all about. For G-d will bring to judgment everything we do, including every secret, whether good or bad” (Ecc. 12:13-14). We must keep the poles in the ark and follow the cloud.
Haftarah: Z’kharyah (Zechariah) 2:14-4:7
This haftarah contains a vision of the golden Temple Menorah, whose daily kindling is ordered and described at the beginning of the parashah. Incidentally, we are to light our menorahs, that is, our goal of serving YHVH/Yahshua daily. This prophecy was committed to Zechariah shortly before the building of the Second Temple. G-d outlines the rewards that await Joshua and his descendants of they follow G-d’s ways. The greatest reward of which is the Messiah, the Shoot of David.
Zechariah then describes a vision of a golden seven-branched Menorah. An angel interprets the meaning of this vision. “This is the word of the L-rd to Zerubbabel, (descendant of King David, one of the protagonists in the building of the Second Temple. ‘Not by military force and not by physical strength, but by My Spirit, says the L-rd of Hosts.’” Zerubbabel’s descendant, Messiah, will have no difficulty in accomplishing His task. It will be as simple as lighting a menorah. Yahshua is the Light of the World and it is our reasonable service to emulate Him, and “Let your light shine before men in such a way that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father who is in heaven.” Matt. 5:16, King James Bible (Cambridge Ed.)
B’rit Chadashah: Hebrews 3:1-6
The information in this passage explains the parallels between Moshe and Yahshua. Yahshua, like Moshe at Sinai, was G-d emissary, conveying G-d’s truth and instructions (Torah) to the people of Israel. In the Old Testament, Israel was represented by the 12 tribes. In the B’rit Chadashah Israel represents all true believers according to the seven-fold witness found in the book of Revelation. In this first comparison between Moshe and Yahshua, Yahshua fills the role of being a prophet like Moshe, as predicted in Deuteronomy 18:15-19. Also, like Moshe, Yahshua intercedes for the people (7:25), and as such He is fulfilling the role of a cohen, a priest, just as Moshe did when the people worshipped the golden calf (Ex. 32:32, and in many other instances. Let’s now look at some of the differences.
Yahshua is not merely on the same level as Moshe, the paragon of virtue within Judaism (faithful in all G-d’s house), but better than Moshe; just as he is better than angels and all other human beings in general. This is a difference in the teachings of traditional Orthodox Judaism that maintains Moshe was the greatest rabbi ever. However, even if the scriptures did not foretell of Yahshua as the Greater Rabbi, Yahshua deserves more honor than Moshe. Deut. 15:15-22: “The Lord your God will raise up for you a prophet* like me from among your own people; you shall heed such a prophet.* 16This is what you requested of the Lord your God at Horeb on the day of the assembly when you said: ‘If I hear the voice of the Lord my God any more, or ever again see this great fire, I will die.’ 17Then the Lord replied to me: ‘They are right in what they have said. 18I will raise up for them a prophet* like you from among their own people; I will put my words in the mouth of the prophet,* who shall speak to them everything that I command. 19Anyone who does not heed the words that the prophet* shall speak in my name, I myself will hold accountable. 20But any prophet who speaks in the name of other gods, or who presumes to speak in my name a word that I have not commanded the prophet to speak—that prophet shall die.’ 21You may say to yourself, ‘How can we recognize a word that the Lord has not spoken?’ 22If a prophet speaks in the name of the Lord but the thing does not take place or prove true, it is a word that the Lord has not spoken. The prophet has spoken it presumptuously; do not be frightened by it.” Moshe was a servant; Yahshua is the Son. For a more detailed explanation of the differences between a servant and a son in Gal. 4:1-7; Yochanan (John) 15:15. In Heb.3:3 the difference is made between Moshe who managed the house of Israel and the Tabernacle, and Yahshua who built the house and will build the Temple of the L-rd( Zech. 6:12-13), “ And speak unto him, saying, This speaketh the L-rd of hosts saying, Behold the man whose name is The Branch; and he shall grow up out of his place, and he shall build the temple of the L-rd: Even he shall build the temple of the L-rd; and he shall bear the glory, and shall sit and rule upon his throne; and he shall be a priest upon his throne: and the counsel of peace shall be between them both.” Finally in Heb.3:6 speaks of the oneness of Yahshua with and as G-d, “But Yahshua as a son over his own house; whose house are we, if we hold fast to the confidence and the rejoicing of the hope firm unto the end.”
R. Tamah Davis