Beth Elohim Messianic Synagogue
Special Parashah Chol HaMoed Sukkot: B’Midbar(Numbers) 29:17-35
Haftarah: Ezekiel 38:18-39:16
B’rit Chadashah: 1 Thess. 5:1-11
This parashah focuses on the offerings given in the Temple during the festival of Sukkot. The sheer number of sacrifices that translates to a very high cost financially and emotionally is astounding and should cause us to consider whether anyone individually or collectively has any justification for begrudging tithes and offerings in contemporary times.
Another interesting aspect of these offerings is that there are 70 bulls given during Sukkot to protect the people from afflictions corresponding to the biblical number of Gentile nations identified in Genesis 10. This presents a stark contrast to how the majority of the Gentile nations treated Israel in the past and to the present day. By and large, they prefer to see Israel irradiated to include all Jews. What these nations are unaware of is what a true Jew is as defined by Yahshua in Romans 2-3. They would soon realize that simply killing anyone with a name or appearance of a stereotype Jew would not serve their objective. Yahshua instructs us to love our enemies and pray for them. Judah, without the benefit of Yahshua, already practiced this doctrine that so many claim as their own yet fail to practice.
Israel is represented by the Lamb in contrast to the bull that represents the Gentiles. The number of lambs offered each day is 14 for a total of 98. The consistency in the number sacrificed each day symbolizes that Israel’s adherence to G-d and His Torah does not depend on the greater or lesser power of its adversaries. Ninety-eight sacrificed lams also represent sacrifices to ward off the curses described in Deuteronomy. The offering of bulls starts with 13 and decreases by 1 each day. This symbolizes the eventual acceptance of G-d’s Torah and dominion by the Gentile nations. The bull symbolizes the power of those who oppose G-d while the Lamb is gentle and represents Israel’s small size and status compared to the powerful Gentile nations.
In verse 18 we read “and their libations.” The Sages noted that the Torah departs here from the singular form libation used in other passages. Also, of interest is that this word is spelled with a superfluous “mem.” In verse 31 it is spelled with a superfluous “yud.” In verse 33 it is again spelled with a superfluous “mem.” This is important to note these deviations as their deviation from the correct spelling signals a hidden message from G-d. These extra letters in Hebrew spell the word water or mayim pronounced as one syllable similar to the English word “mime.” This is the basis for the ceremony of the Drawing of Water by the priests which was placed into one of the two pipes at the Southwest corner of the Altar and mixed with wine; the symbol that Yahshua used to draw attention to Himself at this festival as the Source of Living Water.
Most people fail to recognize that Shemini Atzeret, the Eighth day of restriction or Assembly is a separate holiday. Jewish tradition in the majority does not differentiate between Sukkot and this day. The reason is that it signals the beginning of a new cycle of reading the Torah. To traditional and Messianic Jews, it represents the gift of the written Torah, and for Messianic Jews, also the Living Torah (Yahshua). Therefore, it is a special day for celebration on its own. Yet, there are no Sukkot symbols incorporated into this day. Many consider it a separate Holy day. We are commanded not to any kind of ordinary work (Lev. 23:36).
Many Sages have labored over the word “restriction” and its meaning in the context of this holy day. Rashi states it is not only a restriction to not work, but also a restriction against travel. The rationale is that the pilgrim should remain in place to avail himself to remaining in the sukkah one more day. It is analogous to the Great King being able to enjoy the company of His subjects at a banquet. Onkelos translates the Hebrew word translated as “restriction” by Rashi, as “assembly.” This is the common translation lending itself to restricting travel in order to attend the festival of a holy convocation or assembly. Some use this wording to allow themselves to work, but I submit it means both. Each person must make their own decisions regarding this matter. It is not for us to make decisions for each other or judge those who interpret the verse differently that we choose to interpret it. G-d is our Judge.
Haftarah: Ezekiel 38:18-39:16
This haftarah speaks of G-d’s future fury and anger against Gog (of the land of Magog), chief prince of Meshekh and Tuval. According to Benson commentary on Ezekiel 38:18-20; My fury shall come up in my face — An expression taken from human reactions to anger whereby the blood of an angry person causes the face to turn red and the nostrils to flare. So, Isaiah describes Almighty G-d as burning with anger, his lips being full of indignation, and his tongue as a consuming fire, Ezekiel 22:31, where we see the note. For in my jealousy — My zeal for the salvation and happiness of my people, and for my own glory; have I spoken — Against my enemy Gog, and his herd. Surely in that day there shall be a great shaking — A great commotion. This will be a time of great confusion, a tumultuous time. Great changes and alterations in kingdoms and governments are often expressed in Scripture by shaking of heaven and earth, the sea and dry land. So that the fishes of the sea, &c., shall shake at my presence — Every part of the creation shall bear its share of this calamity, as if there were a convulsion of the whole frame of nature. The prophets often describe G-d’s judgments upon particular countries or persons, as if a dissolution of the whole world took place, because his particular judgments are an earnest of the general judgment: see Isaiah 13:10. And the mountains shall be thrown down — The strong holds situate on the mountains, and the walls, towers, and other fortifications, shall be beat down and demolished. So, where is Meshekh and Tuval? Included in this mix is Paras, Ethiopia, and Put; Gomer, and Togarmah (Ezekiel 38:1-6). Many suggestions have been offered by the Jewish scholars over the years as to the identity of “Gog from the land of Mogog”. According to the Jewish Targum Yonathan commentary on 1 Chronicles 1:5, Mogog is identified with Germania. Other sources note that Mogog may denote the Mongols, whose very name may be a corruption of Mogog or called the Mongogs. Indeed, Medieval Arab writers referred to the Great Wall of China as the “wall of al Mogog” In the Jewish year 2000 after the creation of Adam in Eden, the tower of Babel was destroyed by the forces of the Elohim (G-d(s) of creation) and the tribes of Ham, Shem and Japheth were scattered over the face of the earth. At the fall of the Tower of Babel, the unified tribes were divided into 70 different language groups that were associated with the “seventy different faces of Man’s evil inclination.”
In essence we can say that from Noah came 70 different national entities from his three sons. Ham, whose descendants went south from the center of the earth at Jerusalem, had 30 nations in descent.
Shem’s descendants migrated along the thirtieth parallel of this planet. Their family represented 26 different national entities.
Japheth, whose descendants traveled to the north from Babel and today reside to the north of the city of Jerusalem, represented 14 different nations. Half of them went into Eurasia and the rest became part of the Russia and Asia Minor. This places their ancestral roots predominately on the European continent and Asian continent.
On the European continent we see the following: Yavan (Javan) became the Ionians or the Greeks, Gomer and his son Ashkenaz as the Germanic tribes of central Europe, Tarshish went to Crete and the Iberian Peninsula of Spain and the Cornwall peninsula of Britain while Togarmah became the progenitor race of the Turkish peoples.
To the east and the Asian continent, we see the following tribal centers: Meshech went to the western flank of the Russia’s empire that surrounded the city of Moscow. Tubal on the other hand went to the eastern flank of Russia’s Empire east of the Urals in western Siberia. Madai became the Kurdish people in upper Iraq. The tribe of Magog is a mystery. They initially settled in the central and northern territories of Siberia and then disappeared in the mist of antiquity.
There is so much more detail on this subject that cannot be covered in the :http://www.Biblesearchers.com and research the topic “The identification from the Jewish Sages of “Gog from the land of Magog.” There is a plethora of valuable information that ties in the teachings of the prophets and the inclusion of America in the mix.
Paras is identified as Persia; Put was the third of ham’s sons. The name Put (or Phut) refers to the homeland of the Phoenicians, it is also used in the Bible for the people or nation said to be descended from him, placed in Ancient Libya, but a few scholars proposed the Land of Pun known from Ancient Egyptian annals.
Gomer is found in Genesis 10:2,3; 1 Chronicles 1:5; Ezekiel 38:6, a son of Japheth, and father of Ashkenaz, Riphath, and Togarmah. He is believed to have settled the northern shores of the Black Sea and given name to the ancient Cimmerians and to the Crimea. About 700 B. C. a part of his posterity diffused themselves in Asia Minor. Traces of his name and parentage are also found in the Cymbri, Umbri, and Cambri of historians, in Kumero and Kumeraeg, the names of the Welsh people and language, and among various nations of Europe.
B’rit Chadashah: 1 Thess. 5:1-11
In this narrative, Sha’ul (Paul) is encouraging those in the Messianic community of Thessalonica to take heart and not fear; to continue love for one another and even more so, and not to worry about trying to figure out when the Day of the L-rd will come. They are told he will come like a thief in the night, when the world is saying all is well and secure, destruction will suddenly come upon them, like a woman in labor, and there will be no way out for those who have rejected YHVH/Yahshua.
But Sha’ul reminds the brethren that they are not in the dark over this event because as true believers, they are people who belong to the light, belong to the day. They and we are told to stay alert and vigilant. We are to “stay sober, putting on trust and love as a breastplate and the hope of being delivered as a helmet. For G-d has not intended that we should experience his fury, but that we should gain deliverance through our L-rd Yahshua the Messiah, who died on our behalf so that whether we are alive or dead, we may live along with him. Therefore, encourage each other, and build each other up-just as you are doing.”
May we be found to be as cohesive as a body of believers, faithful and true to Messiah Yahshua as was this Thessalonian community of believers.
Rabbi Tamah Davis-Hart