Parashah #42: Mattot (Tribes) B’midbar (Numbers) 30:2-32:42

Beth Elohim Messianic Synagogue

Parashah #42: Mattot (Tribes) B’midbar ( Numbers) 30:2-32:42
Haftarah: Yirmeyahu ( Jeremiah) 1:1-2:3
B’rit Chadashah: Mattityahu (Matthew) 5:33-37

This parashah begins with specific regulations on the subject of vows. I recall a time when a handshake was sufficient to ensure the parties were going to follow through with an agreement. Even prior to this practice, an individual’s word was binding. This is a biblical concept brought to our attention in this parashah. However, the vows of women in various life stages seems to take the focus of the narrative. Remember that the laws of G-d are universal and there was a time when nuclear families were the norm. Exceptions were made for widows, but the optimal family situation included a man, a woman, and children. The man was the spiritual leader of the home, and he was the one who provided for the needs of his family. Why are women the main focus in this narrative concerning vows? In a family situation where every family had what they needed and possibly more, a woman living in a family with material abundance at her disposal might become overzealous in her love of G-d and His laws and vow to obligate more than the family could actually “afford,” upsetting the household economy. In such a case, the husband could nullify her vow and she would be forgiven. If, however, he agreed with it or held his peace, the vow stood as made by the woman.
The primary law concerning vows was and remains that when a man makes a vow to G-d or makes a formal path, he is not to break his word. This brings us back to a man’s word being his bond with or without a handshake.
Vows can be positive or negative. An example of a positive oath it could be the giving of personal property to G-d. The word neder is translated as “vow.” A negative one involving refraining or abstinence from something uses the word issar translated as “bond.” Interestingly, the positive term is used indicating a positive aspect even though a negative aspect is involved. That is abstaining from cutting the hair or taking wine, but the positive side is dedication of ones’ body/service to the L-rd.
Again, vows made by women were subject to the man as the head of the house with the exception of a widow or divorcee whose vows stood since they were considered households in themselves.
So, we may wonder how a vow differs from an oath? An oath refers to a promise made in G-d’s presence to another human. A vow refers to a promise made directly to G-d.
Under Israelite law, parents could overrule their children’s vows. It is not difficult to understand the harmful and serious ramifications of taking this hierarchy away from parents and allowing children to make vows, oaths, and other decisions based solely on their emotions and peer pressure. Children are now being indoctrinated overtly and covertly through social media, other forms of misinformation dissemination streamed on electronic devices; pressure from the department of education and liberal socialists on parents and schools to indoctrinate children on lifestyles that are clearly defined as abominations to G-d, and pressure from influencers by organizations such as the Chinese Communist Party through TikTok as only one major venue. Many parents are losing control of their children’s education and the importance of a G-dly value system, minimized, and criticized by a growing number of liberal socialists in our government, even to the point of calling believers in Yahshua/G-d, radical fundamentalists, and biblical teaching as “indoctrination.” In direct opposition to the secular humanistic and socialistic pressure to renounce G-d, G-d’s Torah says, “ You shall teach them[G-d’s commands] diligently to your children” (Deut. 6:7). “ Train children in the way they should go; when they grow old, they won’t depart from it” ( Prov. 22:60). If we do not teach our children to love and follow G-d and His commands, the world will teach them that G-d does not exist and that there are no “rules” that everyone should follow. Other scriptures concerning teaching children the ways of G-d include Psalm 127:3 and Eph. 6:4. Unfortunately, many parents who were brought up in the 1960s learned a social paradigm of “free love” and acceptance/tolerance of everyone no matter their lifestyle. This lax social paradigm made it easy for the Adversary to permeate the United States and the world with a return of the pagan god/goddess worship of Ishtar, Moloch and Ba’al. Indeed, when G-d was “thrown out” of society, the vacancy was ripe for reinvasion and worship of gods that have not been exterminated… yet. Briefly, Ishtar was known as the Queen of Heaven and was the goddess of sex, war, and justice. She was believed to have the ability to change a person’s gender. Moloch was a Canaanite deity associated in biblical sources with the practice of child sacrifice. Child sacrifice through abortion for convenience is available in most states.
Ba’al is associated with the demons and devils; false gods; idols. Interestingly, the sign of Ba’al is the bull; a bronze sculpture of a bull sits right in the business district of Manhattan in New York City. Just think of the symbology related to prophecy as it applies to the United States! A thorough review of these pagan deities is a subject for a separate teaching but mentioning them as “alive and well” in our country is definitely indicated as it relates to what children are beginning to be exposed to and the resulting danger that belief in and participation in a lifestyle or activities consistent with them will incur.
Now that the minds and hearts of many children are being filled with pagan teachings, we can know without a doubt that many young people will be taken in by the Antimessiah who is the great imitator of light. Artificial Intelligence will be used in malicious ways to advance Satan’s agenda. Children are and will be making decisions based on the negative input that is bombarding them on a daily basis. It is no wonder that G-d placed such emphasis on placing the authority for keeping vows and oaths on parents who once had life experience and a G-dly value system.
May G-d protect and strengthen parents who love and follow G-d in these end times. May they teach their children G-d’s commands and may G-d strengthen and protect the children as they grow up in such difficult times that are prophesied to become even more difficult through the Tribulation.

Haftarah: Yirmiyahu (Jeremiah) 1:1-2:3
In this haftarah, we are assured as was Jeremiah, that our G-d is with us and will rescue us IF we are but obedient with heartfelt intent to G-d’s Torah (1:6-8). We are reminded that “Israel is set aside for Adonai, the first fruits of His harvest; all that devour him will incur guilt; evil will befall them.” (2:3). However, we are also reminded of how far Israel had fallen away from G-d and that He pronounce His judgments against Israelites and anyone else who abandons Him and chooses his own way.

B’rit Chadashah: Mattityahu (Matthew) 5:33-37
This section reiterates the importance of vows, a subject addressed at the beginning of our parashah. We must follow through with our choice to either do something we promise to do or not do that which we vowed not to do. The commentators say that vows can be used to prohibit something that is permitted, but not to make permitted, that which is prohibited. For the believer, we know that all our vows are made before G-d as we are His representatives on this earth. Yahshua takes the issue of vows to another level, teaching us that it is better not to make a vow at all, rather than making a vow that we may not keep (Ecc. 5:1-6). After all, only G-d knows what will happen to us from one second to the next. It is actually arrogant for us to make any vow. It is in our best interest to pray, study, internalize and live G-d’s Torah from day to day, making it our second nature and increasing our ability through G-d’s strength and power to live what we say we believe.
One other point of interest is that using the Hebrew numeric system of Gematria, the phrase “V’lo nifkad me’menoo ish: “and not one man was missing” (31:49) is 718. The numeric value of La’avairot (for sins) is also 718. This alludes to the idea that none of the fighters had fallen because of the sin of not trusting in YHVH Elohim.

Shabbat Shalom,
Rabbi Tamah Davis-Hart