Beth Elohim Messianic Synagogue
Parashah#41 (Pinchas) B’Midbar 25:10-30:1
Haftarah: M’lakhim Alef (1 Kings) 18:46-19:21
B’rit Chadashah: Mattityahu (Matthew) 26:1-30
This week’s parashah is a continuation of the previous regarding Pinchas and how he atoned for the whoring of the Israelites with the Midianites and the Moabites, worshipping the sun god Ba’al P’or. With this continuation, we might ask why there is a break from one parashah to another? The sages say this is to show us that in matters of divine zeal, one should not expect immediate reward. Recall that The Children of Israel began whoring with the Moabite women, started making sacrifices to their gods, and were bowing down to them. An Israelite brought a Midianite woman to his family’s tent and this was more than Pinchas could stand. He impaled them both with a single thrust of his spear and the plague instituted by Adonai against the people suddenly stopped. Twenty-four thousand people were killed by the plague. In his zeal for Adonai, Pinchas “atoned” for the people, deflecting G-d’s anger (Num. 25:10). G-d makes a covenant of Shalom with Pinchas who is one of Aharon’s sons, promising that he and his descendants will retain the office of cohen forever (Num. 25:12-13). This action may cause us to ask why Pinchas was not guilty of murder according to the sixth commandment. First, we must understand what it means to be a Cohen or Priest. Secondly, we should understand that true believers are Priests according to 1 Peter 2:9: “But ye are a chosen generation (nation) a royal priesthood, an holy nation, a peculiar people; that ye should show forth the praises of him who hath called you out of darkness into his marvelous light.” Finally, we should ask ourselves, what is the function and nature of a priest, since we are now a royal priesthood?
Aharon was chosen as the first Cohen because he “loved and pursued peace” according to the Pirkay Avot 1:12 (Sayings of the Fathers). He devoted his life to the ideal of peace. Never considering it beneath his dignity to foster love and understanding. He pursued peace between man and man, and in his role as the Cohen Gadol (High Priest), he continued his role in the Mishkan (Tabernacle) between man and YHVH. It may have been this desire to keep the peace between man and man that led him to participate in the sin of the golden calf. However, Aharon came to symbolize the ideal Cohen, the man of YHVH Elohim who strived for the welfare of others with no though of personal gain. This example typifies Yahshua, who as the perfect High Priest was obedient unto death that we might be saved.
Within the human realm, Pinchas put his own life at risk when he rushed into Zimri’s tenet because there was a plague ravaging the nation. YHVH commends Pinchas for atoning for the Israelites. Pinchas acted to bring about peace between man and YHVH just like a Cohen Gadol who serves in the Mishkan. His desire to create shalom (the whole peace of G-d) between man and G-d demonstrated his worthiness of the enormous responsibility of fostering peace and understanding within the nation. The etymology of Pinchas is mixed. From the Egyptian it translates as “Nubian, or negro.” From the Hebrew it translates as “mouth of a snake,” “oracle,” or “to be complete.” Whatever the true meaning, G-d made it clear that Pinchas was not a murderer as accused by the people. Rather, he committed an act that saved countless lives.
To show the magnitude of Pinchas’ deed, the name of the Israelite man and the Midianite woman are provided. (Num. 25:14-15). Zimri was the leader of his tribe and the woman was the daughter of a prince. Her status illustrates the Midianite hatred for the Israelites. Even her father, a prince, readily abandon his daughter to harlotry in order to seduce Israel.
Aharon’s overriding quality was his selfless desire to create shalom between man and man. YHVH on the other hand, selected Pinchas, for preserving the connection between YHVH and man. Both qualities demonstrate a love for the people. Because of this, YHVH gave to Pinchas “his pledge of peace” and appointed hem and all his descendants as Cohanim in Israel. Accordingly, we who are the new priesthood (1 Pet. 2:9) should develop the same kind of love toward YHVH and for every other believer. Note that loving your brother, neighbor, and “loving” your enemies are two very different types of love. I invite you to explore this subject for your continued learning (Hint: start with defining brother, neighbor, and enemy according to the biblical definition).
Another section of this parashah I want to call to your attention is Chapter 27 1-11. This is where we learn of just one example of how G-d treated women fairly. It was the custom to pass land, possessions, and position from father to son. However, M’nasheh had no sons, only five daughters, thus disqualifying them from inheriting land. They were brave enough to speak up and question the custom and G-d honored them. This is why Moshe gave land to the daughters of M’nasheh as scripture states in Numbers 32. Furthermore, G-d sets the rules for passing an inheritance through the family that was and is to “be the standard for judgment by the people of Israel, as Adonai ordered Moshe.” However, as many of us know, man has diverged from this standard as evidenced by the fighting we read of and may have experienced as someone leaves this world. It would be so much simpler if we just follow the Leader.
Haftarah: M’lakhim Alef (1 Kings) 18:46-19:21
Pinchas is acknowledged as the first zealot of Israel. In this Haftarah, we learn that this quality still exists within B’nai Yisra’el and is one of the characteristics of a great prophet. As Eliyahu (Elijah) 19:10, 14 reads: I have indeed been very zealous for Adonai, the G-d of armies: because the people of Israel have abandoned your covenant, broken down your altars, and killed your prophets with the sword.” Elijah echoed the same sentiment and motivation for his zealous act as did Phineas.
This raises another very important point: We are to be zealous for the L-rd, but with knowledge and wisdom; not out of a rebellious, anti-Torah attitude. Sh’aul addresses this very issue in Romans 10:2 “Brothers, (he is speaking to the Messianic community in Rome) my heart’s deepest desire and my prayer to G-d for Israel is for their salvation; for I can testify to their zeal for G-d. But it is not based on correct understanding; for, since they are unaware of G-d’s way of making people righteous as instead seek to set up their own, they have not submitted themselves to G-d’s way of making people righteous.” An excellent illustration is seen in the reading of Zechariah 4:6 where the vision involves the rebuilding of the Temple. The general intent of this vision is to assure Zechariah, and by him the people, that this good work of building the temple should, by the special care of divine Providence, and the immediate influence of divine grace, be brought to a happy conclusion, though the enemies of it were many and mighty and the friends and supporters of it few and feeble. The angel lets the prophet know, in general, that this vision was designed to illustrate a word which the L-rd had to say to Zerubbabel, to encourage him to go on with the building of the temple. Let him know that he is a worker together with G-d in it, and that it is a work which G-d will own and crown.
- G-d will carry on and complete this work, as He had begun their deliverance from Babylon, not by external force, but by secret operations and internal influences upon the minds of men. He says this who is the Lord of hosts, and could do it vi et armis—by force, has legions at command; but He will do it, not by human might or power, but by his own Spirit. What is done by his Spirit is done by might and power, but it stands in opposition to visible force. Israel was brought out of Egypt, and into Canaan, by might and power; in both these works of wonder great slaughter was made. But they were brought out of Babylon, and into Canaan the second time, by the Spirit of the L-rd of hosts working upon the spirit of Cyrus, and inclining him to proclaim liberty to them, and working upon the spirits of the captives, and inclining them to accept the liberty offered them. It was by the Spirit of the L-rd of hosts that the people were excited and animated to build the temple; and therefore they are said to be helped by the prophets of G-d, because they, as the Spirit’s mouth, spoke to their hearts, Ezra 5:2. It was by the same Spirit that the heart of Darius was inclined to favor and further that good work and that the sworn enemies of it were infatuated in their councils, so that they could not hinder it as they designed. We should ingrain in our hearts and minds that the work of G-d is often carried on very successfully when yet it is carried on very silently, and without the assistance of human force; the temple is built, not by might or power (for the weapons of our warfare are not carnal), but by the Spirit of the L-rd of hosts, whose work on men’s consciences is mighty to the pulling down of strong-holds; thus the excellency of the power is of G-d, and not of man. When instruments fail, let us therefore leave it to G-d to do his work himself by his own Spirit.
Similarly, we can apply this truth to what is happening in our world today as YHVH dos not change. This is to say that the answer for what is happening in our country today is not to plan a rebellion. There is nothing wrong with defending our families and fellow believers for whom we are responsible. But more than this, we are to pray, fast when we are led, study, internalize, and live Torah. Yahshua spent much time teaching his talmidim (disciples) then and us now how to prepare for what is to come. Depending on our own strength and wisdom which the Torah says leads to death is as destructive to G-d’s plan as doing nothing. G-d’s Torah and trust in the faithfulness of Yahshua is ALL we need. Let us not confuse zealous acts by men such as Elijah and Pinchas with many of the current movements spearheaded by those who know nothing of G-d and his Torah.
B’rit Chadashah: Mattityahu (Matthew) 26:1-30
In this chapter, Yahshua speaks to his talmidim (disciples) about his coming execution and Pesach (Passover, Ex. 12:1-13;16) two days hence. The central event of the original Passover was the slaughtering of a lamb “without blemish or spot” by each Israelite family, whereupon YHVH spared the firstborn sons of Israel but slew the firstborn of Egypt. This subject is addresses because of its mention in our parashah in Chapter 28:16-25. When Yochanan the Immerser (John the Baptist) speaks of Yahshua as the “lamb of YHVH (John 1:29), he is invoking the imagery of the Temple and Pesach. In the B’rit Chadashah this event is called the “Last Supper,” and is so rendered in most English translations and understood to mean a Passover meal or Seder by most scholars. There is a controversy that this “Last Supper” was not Pesach, but the other scriptures assigned to this parashah support the Pesach theme (Mark 14:1-26; Luke 22:1-20; John 2:13-22; 7:1-13, 37-39;11:55-12:1; 13:1; 18:28,39; 19:14; Acts 2;1-21; 12:3-4; 20-5-6, 16; 27:9-11; 1 Cor. 5:6-8; and Hebrews 11:28). Mattityahu, as the others scriptures listed, are (vv.17-30) rich with Pesach themes that provide deeper levels of meaning for the believer. Below is a list of prophecies implied from verse 24 relating to the death of the Messiah in the Tanakh and their fulfillment in the B’rit Chadashah; once again demonstrating that the Old and “New” Testaments are inextricably related.
|Prophecy (the Messiah would be)||Prophecy in Tanakh||Fulfillment in NT|
|Hated without a cause||Isaiah 49:7||John 15:24-25|
|Rejected by the Rulers||Psalm 118:22||Matthew 21:42, John 7:48|
|Betrayed by a friend||Psalm 41:9||Mt. 26:21-25, 47-50; John 13: 18-19|
|Sold for Thirty Pieces of Silver||Zechariah 11:12||Matthew 26:15|
|Subject to having his price given for a potter’s field||Zechariah 11:13||Matthew 27:7|
|Forsaken by His Talmidim||Zechariah 13:7||Matthew 26: 31-56|
|Struck on the cheek||Micah 4:14||Matthew 27:30|
|Spat on||Isaiah 50:6||Matthew 26:67, 27:30|
|Mocked||Psalm 22:8-9||Matthew 26: 67-68, 27:31, 39-44|
|Beaten||Isaiah 50:6||Matthew 26:67; 27:26, 30|
|Executed by crucifixion||Psalms 22: 17||Matthew 27:35; John 19:18,37:20:35|
|Executed without having a bone broken||Exodus 12:46; Psalm 34:21||John 19:33-36
|Thirsty during the execution||Psalm 22:16||John 19:28|
|Given vinegar to quench thirst||Psalm 69:22||Matthew 27:34|
|Considered a transgressor||Isaiah 53:12||Matthew 27:38|
|Buried with the rich when dead||Isaiah 53:9||Matthew 27:57-60|
|The One whose death would atone for the sins of mankind||Isaiah 53:5-7, 12||Mark 10:45; John 1:29, 3:16; Acts 8:30-35|
|Raised from the dead||Isaiah 53:9-10, Psalms 2:7, 16:10||Mt. 28:1-20; Acts 13:33; 1 Cor. 11:4-6|
|Ascended to the right hand of YHVH||Psalms 16:11, 68:19, 110:1||Luke 24:51; Acts 1:9-11, 7:55; Hebrews 1:3|
|“Cut off, but not for himself,” 69×7 years after rebuilding of the wall of Jerusalem||Daniel 9:24-26||Romans 5:6; Peter 3:18|
May each of us seek to rightly divide the Word of G-d for our growth and His glory. “Do all you can to present yourself to G-d as someone worthy of his approval, as a worker with no need to be ashamed, because he deals straightforwardly with the Word of the Truth. But keep away from godless babbling, for those who engage in it will only become more ungodly, and their teaching will eat away at people like gangrene … the L-rd knows his own and let everyone who claims he belongs to the L-rd stand apart from wrongdoing.” (excerpt from2 Tim. 2:15-19)
Rabbi Tamah Davis