Parashah #37: Shlach L’kha B’midbar ( Numbers) 13:1-15:41

Beth Elohim Messianic Synagogue
Parashah #37: Shlach L’kha (Send on your behalf) B’midbar (Numbers) 13:1-15:41
Haftarah: Y’hoshua (Joshua) 2:1-24
B’rit Chadashah: Hebrews 3:7-19

This week we are confronted with a sad aspect of human nature; “lack of trust and faith in the G-d who created the universe. The leaders of the tribes chosen to reconnoiter the land which G-d was about to give them focused on the obvious instead of the ability of G-d to overcome any physical obstacle. This is incredible in light of the fact that G-d ad so recently brought them from under the Egyptian bonds of slavery and through the Sea of reeds parted just for their safe passage. The only two men who had faith and trust in G-d to overcome such monumental obstacles was Y’hoshua the son of Nun, and Kalev the son of Y’funeh. All the people of Israel disregarded the encouragement of these two men and their admonishment that the people not to rebel against Adonai or be afraid of the physical obstacles reported by the other spies. As maturing true believers, we must start our walk by trusting that YHVH/Yahshua is Who He says He is and continue to open our hearts and minds to His Torah just as a butterfly slowly emerges from its chrysalis and spreads its wings to their fullest capacity. Our level of trust in our G-d should continue to expand as we go through the obstacles of life such as the incident of the 10 spies described in our parashah this week.

After reading this narrative, we should ask ourselves why Y’hoshua and Kalev were singled out as the only two spies who possessed such faith and trust in Adonai when the majority of the spies and the people succumbed to human nature to believe only what we physically see and not consider the power of G-d. Now we will explore these two men in a little more detail.

Moshe renamed Hoshea the son of Nun a new name before he went out with the others to reconnoiter the land. His new name was Y’hoshua. We can only understand the significance on these names in the Hebrew. The root of (Yasha) means “salvation” and the root (Yaho) referring to G-d. With the Hebrew name change, the spelling is also different which gives the new name a much more significant meaning. Joshua in Hebrew means “G-d is salvation.” This is because of the addition of the “Yud” (See Exodus 3:14). It seems that Moshe was given the insight to know that Y’hoshua knew from where his strength and salvation would come. This narrative teaches us that we must learn to look beyond what is seen with physical sight and know that we can safely entrust our lives to G-d in all situations. The name change was also a blessing to Joshua because he would have known the meaning of his new name. That there were only 2 of 12 spies who trusted G-d even though the physical obstacles would have been insurmountable for the people had G-d not been involved also shows us that not everyone who calls themselves “believers” will make it into the Kingdom of heaven. For parallel scriptures on this subject see Matt. 7:21; Rom.9:27; Is.10:22; Lev.23; Luke 13:24).
There is an additional significant point of information we don’t want to miss regarding these two men. Kelev represented the tribe of Judah (13:6), and Hoshea represented Ephraim. Although Hoshea, which literally means “help” was the name on the official register, Joshua (from Jehoshua “Yahovah” [YHVH] help, was the name Moshe bestowed upon him (13:16). It is amazing that this far back in the history of mankind and Israel specifically, we see Judah and Ephraim working in tandem! That is Ephraim representing the 10 lost tribes of Israel, and Judah representing the southern tribes Levi, Benjamin, and Judah.
“Defocusing” our thoughts from the immediate situation involving a possible assault depending on the reconnaissance report, G-d used this situation as a terminal test of faith. He knew that from a human standpoint, the report would be overwhelmingly negative. The Anakim were living there. Amalek lived in the area of the Negev. The spies saw the N’filim; hybrid descendants of the fallen angels who were giants compared to the average sized man.
What G-d wanted to do was to put before the spies and the nation the ultimate test of their faith. Would their fears dissipate considering Y’hoshua and Kalev’s strong admonishment and encouragement not to fear the people living in the land even though they were the Nephilim.
It is human nature to fear the unknown, and situations whereby victory seems impossible. But G-d has shown us throughout His Torah that victory under any circumstances can be ours if we put our trust in YHVH/Yahshua just as David did when faced with what seemed like certain death. Recall that Goliath was also a descendant of the N’filim, also identified as a Philistine. Exactly how tall Goliath was depends on where we obtain our information. The Masoretic Text, written in Hebrew indicates he was six cubits and a span. That would be about nine and one-half feet. The Septuagint, which is the ancient Greek translation of the Old Testament has Goliath’s height at four cubits and a span, which is about six- and one-half feet. The Hebrew text found in the Dead Sea scrolls indicates Goliath was four cubits tall, about six feet. Regardless of which is correct, Goliath was physically taller and stronger than David and there were no other takers when it came to who might go up against Goliath. Also remember that the Israelites failed to wipe out the Anakites-a subset of the N’philim- in their conquest of the Promised Land. As a result, the Anakites survived in Gath and its surrounding cities, eventually becoming Philistines. The details about David and Goliath are discussed in this lesson to call our attention to the enormity of what the 10 spies must have seen.

Keeping with the consistency of G-d’s Torah, we may compare the fact that only two of the 10 spies embodied the trust over fear when facing a seemingly impossible situation, and the fact that “And concerning Israel, Isaiah the prophet cried out. “Though the people of Israel are as numerous as the sand of the seashore, only a remnant will be saved” (Rom. 9:27). Again referring to the consistency of G-d’s Torah, we see more evidence of the Jew/Gentile connection and G-d’s consistent standards/regulation for anyone who wants to be considered one of G-d’s people in Romans chapters 9-16.

Another significant truth in the parashah is described in the narrative found in Num. 10:14-24. The sad result of the peoples’ rebellion is that G-d can and does provide provisional forgiveness that does not equate to salvation. The sages identify the ten times the Israelites tested G-d as the following in Avot 5:4; Num 14:22:
1. At the sea (Ex.14;11
2. At Marah (Ex. 15:24
3. Without food (Ex.16:3)
4. Gathering manna ((Ex. 16:20)
5. Manna on Shabbat (Ex. 16:27)
6. At R’fidim (Ex. 17:2)
7. Golden calf ((Ex. 32;4)
8. Murmuring (Num. 11:1)
9. Manna not tasty (Num. 11:4)
10. Believing the spies evil report against the land (no trust) (Num. 14, Arachin 15a).

We see exactly what G-d says about this limited forgiveness: B’midbar (Numbers) 20-24; “Adonai answered, ‘I have forgiven as you have asked. But as sure as I live, and that the whole earth is filled with the glory of Adonai, none of the people who saw my glory and the signs I did in Egypt and in the desert, yet tested me these ten times and did not listen to my voice, will see the land I swore to their ancestors! None of those who treated me with contempt will see it. But my servant Kalev, because he had a different Spirit with him and has fully followed me- him I will bring into the land he entered, and it will belong to his descendants.”

Salvation is not a “given. “It is not granted for those who profess the L-rd/Yahshua yet continue to rebel against His Laws/instructions by following the traditions of men that include but are not limited to celebrating pagan holidays and eating forbidden foods. We must follow G-d’s instructions, G-d’s Torah (not the Oral Torah where it contradicts G-d’s Torah,) Note the word “Spirit” in the above paragraph is capitalized. G-d knew Kalev had the Spirit of G-d in him and he was blessed.

Haftarah: Y’hoshua 2:1-24
This week’s haftarah tells the story of the spies sent by Joshua to scout out Jericho, prior to the invasion of the Holy Land by the Israelites. This event is similar to the one in our parashah. Joshua sent two spies to Jericho, where they stayed at an inn within the city walls, run by Rahab. The king discovered their presence and he sent for Rahab and asked her to report the two men. Rahab covered for the men telling the king they had already left. She actually hid them on her rooftop. Rahab told the men that the people in the city were afraid of the Israelites impending attack because they knew G-d was with them. She told them she knew G-d was going to give them the land. Rahab asked to be remembered and spared with her family when the Israelites attacked. She was told to tie a scarlet thread and hang it from her window. This would be a symbol that her home was a safe haven. She helped the men escape via a rope out her window and she told them how to hide if needed. The spies returned, and Rahab and her family were spared. We can see the similarity of the red thread in the window and the blood on the lentils of the doors during Pesach (Passover). Rahab was obedient as were the Israelites. Her home was symbolically covered by the blood of a Messiah that was yet to physically appear but was already present.

B’rit Chadashah: Hebrews 3:7-19
This passage gives us New Testament confirmation of what G-d said and did in the parashah. There is little need for detailed explanation beyond the literal word. There is a point of no return. The Ruach confirms this fact. “Watch out brothers, so that there will not be in any one of you an evil heart lacking trust, which could lead you to apostatize (fall away) from the living G-d. Instead, keep exhorting each other every day, as long as it is called Today, so that none of you will become hardened by the deceit of sin. For we have become sharers in the Messiah, provided however, that we hold firmly to the conviction we began with, right through until the goal is reached” (Heb. 3:12-14). John 14:12 reads “Yes, indeed! I tell you that whosoever trusts in me will also do the works I do! John 14:15 reads “If you love me, you will keep my commands.” In John 15:9 Yahshua tells us that “If you keep my commands, you will stay in my love.” John 14:21 reads “Whoever has my commands and keeps them (7-fold witness in Revelation), is the one who loves me, and the one who loves me will be loved by my Father, and I will love him and reveal myself to him. “John 14:24 reads “Someone who doesn’t love me doesn’t keep my words.”
Moving to Heb. 3:18-19: And to whom was it that he swore that they would not enter his rest? those who were disobedient.” So, we see that they were unable to enter because of lack of trust. To define the concepts of trust and validate the term as an action verb, Hebrews chapter 11 provides 18 examples I encourage you to read and contemplate.

Shabbat Shalom,
Rabbi Tamah Davis-Hart