Commentary - Year 2 Sabbath 50

Numbers 4:17-20   -   1 Samuel 6:1-21   -   Psalm 94  -   1 Corinthians 12:1-31


I Adar 20, 5763 / Feb 22, 2003

Adar 11, 5766 / Mar 11, 2006 - see Y2-50/51


Al Tachritu / Do Not Let . . . Be Cut Off    SCRIPTURES (should be read first)


Don’t die!


Numbers 4:17

Moses and Aaron were responsible for planning and supervising the work of the Kohathites, so that they did not commit any capital offenses in carrying out their duties. Each of the 2,750 eligible Kohathites, by name (v. 32), was given a specific task to be performed in a specific order, so that there would be no accidental overstepping of boundaries, which would bring death. (V.20) Aaron and his sons were required to wrap the holiest items, and then the Kohathites could carry them, without being able to look upon them.


There is a debate about what the problem was: were the Kohathites afraid to perform tasks for the Tabernacle, and therefore had to be assigned definite tasks? Or were they so eager to do the work, that they had to be assigned limited tasks so as not to accidentally push too far and die?


1 Samuel 6

Israel experienced a great defeat in battle with the Philistines, losing about 4,000 soldiers (1 Samuel 4:2). So, the elders of Israel decided to take the Ark of the Covenant of Yahweh with them to defeat the enemy. But, the Philistines took the Ark, and killed the two sons of Eli, who were with it. Upon hearing the news, Eli, a heavy, elderly man, fell backwards and broke his neck, dying on the spot. His daughter-in-law gave birth immediately, without showing interest for her child, because of the news about the Ark of Yahweh.


Now, the Philistines took the Ark of Yahweh to the house of their god Dagon. The next morning, the great stone Dagon was found lying on the floor. So, he was set upright again. But, the following morning, Dagon was found lying on the floor again, with his head and hands smashed on the threshold. Never again would the priests of Dagon tread on the thresholds of his house.


Then, God smote the Philistines with rats, and hemorrhoids so severe that many were dying. The priests of Dagon responded that the Ark should be returned to Israel, with an offering of five golden hemorrhoids and five golden rats!


Two cows that were nursing mothers were to pull a new wooden cart with the Ark and a box containing the offerings. If the cows did not turn after their nursing calves, but headed straight to Beit Shemesh (House of the Sun), then they were to know that Yahweh had brought the plagues upon them.


When the Ark returned, the cart was broken up for fire-wood, and the cows used for an offering to Yahweh, for the return of the Ark. But, many of the Israelites looked into the Ark, and died there. So, the people of Beit Shemesh sent for the Levites to take the Ark to its appropriate place.


The Haftarah tells us that 50,070 Israelites were killed for looking into the Ark, when it was sent back from the land of the Philistines. The people then said: “Who is able to stand before Yahweh, this holy God?” The holiness of Yahweh is a major point of this Torah portion.


Psalm 94

Those who take pride in their own ways, pouring forth their own words, are called “stupid ones” in today’s Psalm. Do they think that God, who created eyes, does not see? Or He who created ears, does He not hear? Yahweh knows our thoughts, and blessed are the ones whom He chastens, that they may learn Torah!


1 Corinthians 12

Paul tells us how each member of the body has different gifts, all to be used for helping the body to be healthy. Like the consideration of the Kohathite problem, we should earnestly desire gifts to further God’s work, but not push further than is proper. We must not arrogantly claim “gifts” to make a front of being spiritual. We must not pour forth our own words. One who is “prophesying” must expound God’s Words – Torah, regardless of language. “If they speak not according to this word, it is because there is no light in them” – Isaiah 8:20.


In today’s “Messianic” world, we have at least two major areas of spiritual pride: those who claim “spiritual gifts”, such as a false “speaking in tongues” or “words of knowledge”; and Kabalistic teaching, where “reading between the lines” of Torah is taught by those who lack understanding of the real lines of Torah. Those who seek salvation and recognition through this kind of “wonderful works” will hear, “I never knew you; depart from me, you who work iniquity” – Matthew 7:23.


Salvation is by Yeshua, through faith in Him, not by our “wonderful works”. Our gifts and duties here are for the purpose of building-up His church (Matthew 16:18), not for our glory but for God’s glory.


God is holy – different from us. Our ways are not His ways. We are to learn holiness – a requirement for seeing Him (Hebrews 12:14).




Amen* 17 Then Yahweh spoke to Moses and to Aaron, saying, 18 "Do not let the tribe of the families of the Kohathites be cut off from among the Levites. 19 "But do this to them that they may live and not die when they approach the most holy objects: Aaron and his sons shall go in and assign each of them to his work and to his load; 20 but they shall not go in to see the holy objects even for a moment, lest they die."


1 Samuel 6

1 Now the ark of Yahweh had been in the country of the Philistines seven months. 2 And the Philistines called for the priests and the diviners, saying, "What shall we do with the ark of Yahweh? Tell us how we shall send it to its place." 3 And they said, "If you send away the ark of the God of Israel, do not send it empty; but you shall surely return to Him a guilt offering. Then you shall be healed and it shall be known to you why His hand is not removed from you." 4 Then they said, "What shall be the guilt offering which we shall return to Him?" And they said, "Five golden tumors and five golden mice according to the number of the lords of the Philistines, for one plague was on all of you and on your lords. 5 "So you shall make likenesses of your tumors and likenesses of your mice that ravage the land, and you shall give glory to the God of Israel; perhaps He will ease His hand from you, your gods, and your land. 6 "Why then do you harden your hearts as the Egyptians and Pharaoh hardened their hearts? When He had severely dealt with them, did they not allow the people to go, and they departed? 7 "Now therefore take and prepare a new cart and two milch cows on which there has never been a yoke; and hitch the cows to the cart and take their calves home, away from them. 8 "And take the ark of Yahweh and place it on the cart; and put the articles of gold which you return to Him as a guilt offering in a box by its side. Then send it away that it may go. 9 "And watch, if it goes up by the way of its own territory to Beth-shemesh, then He has done us this great evil. But if not, then we shall know that it was not His hand that struck us; it happened to us by chance." 10 Then the men did so, and took two milch cows and hitched them to the cart, and shut up their calves at home. 11 And they put the ark of Yahweh on the cart, and the box with the golden mice and the likenesses of their tumors. 12 And the cows took the straight way in the direction of Beth-shemesh; they went along the highway, lowing as they went, and did not turn aside to the right or to the left. And the lords of the Philistines followed them to the border of Beth-shemesh. 13 Now the people of Beth-shemesh were reaping their wheat harvest in the valley, and they raised their eyes and saw the ark and were glad to see it. 14 And the cart came into the field of Joshua the Beth-shemite and stood there where there was a large stone; and they split the wood of the cart and offered the cows as a burnt offering to Yahweh. 15 And the Levites took down the ark of Yahweh and the box that was with it, in which were the articles of gold, and put them on the large stone; and the men of Beth-shemesh offered burnt offerings and sacrificed sacrifices that day to Yahweh. 16 And when the five lords of the Philistines saw it, they returned to Ekron that day. 17 And these are the golden tumors which the Philistines returned for a guilt offering to Yahweh: one for Ashdod, one for Gaza, one for Ashkelon, one for Gath, one for Ekron; 18 and the golden mice, according to the number of all the cities of the Philistines belonging to the five lords, both of fortified cities and of country villages. The large stone on which they set the ark of Yahweh is a witness to this day in the field of Joshua the Beth-shemite. 19 And He struck down some of the men of Beth-shemesh because they had looked into the ark of Yahweh. He struck down of all the people, 50,070 men, and the people mourned because Yahweh had struck the people with a great slaughter. 20 And the men of Beth-shemesh said, "Who is able to stand before Yahweh, this holy God? And to whom shall He go up from us?" 21 So they sent messengers to the inhabitants of Kiriath-jearim, saying, "The Philistines have brought back the ark of Yahweh; come down and take it up to you."


Psalm 94

1 O Lord, God of vengeance; God of vengeance, shine forth! 2 Rise up, O Judge of the earth; Render recompense to the proud. 3 How long shall the wicked, O Yahweh, How long shall the wicked exult? 4 They pour forth words, they speak arrogantly; all who do wickedness vaunt themselves. 5 They crush Thy people, O Yahweh, and afflict Thy heritage. 6 They slay the widow and the stranger, and murder the orphans. 7 And they have said, "Yahweh does not see, nor does the God of Jacob pay heed." 8 Pay heed, you senseless among the people; and when will you understand, stupid ones? 9 He who planted the ear, does He not hear? He who formed the eye, does He not see? 10 He who chastens the nations, will He not rebuke, even He who teaches man knowledge? 11 Yahweh knows the thoughts of man, that they are a mere breath. 12 Blessed is the man whom Thou dost chasten, O Yahweh, and dost teach out of Thy law; 13 That Thou mayest grant him relief from the days of adversity, until a pit is dug for the wicked. 14 For Yahweh will not abandon His people, nor will He forsake His inheritance. 15 For judgment will again be righteous; and all the upright in heart will follow it. 16 Who will stand up for me against evildoers? Who will take his stand for me against those who do wickedness? 17 If Yahweh had not been my help, my soul would soon have dwelt in the abode of silence. 18 If I should say, "My foot has slipped," Thy lovingkindness, O Yahweh, will hold me up. 19 When my anxious thoughts multiply within me, Thy consolations delight my soul. 20 Can a throne of destruction be allied with Thee, one which devises mischief by decree? 21 They band themselves together against the life of the righteous, and condemn the innocent to death. 22 But Yahweh has been my stronghold, and my God the rock of my refuge. 23 And He has brought back their wickedness upon them, and will destroy them in their evil; Yahweh our God will destroy them.


1 Corinthians 12:

1 Now concerning spiritual gifts, brethren, I do not want you to be unaware. 2 You know that when you were pagans, you were led astray to the dumb idols, however you were led. 3 Therefore I make known to you, that no one speaking by the Spirit of God says, "Yeshua is accursed"; and no one can say, "Yeshua is Lord," except by the Holy Spirit. 4 Now there are varieties of gifts, but the same Spirit. 5 And there are varieties of ministries, and the same Lord. 6 And there are varieties of effects, but the same God who works all things in all persons. 7 But to each one is given the manifestation of the Spirit for the common good. 8 For to one is given the word of wisdom through the Spirit, and to another the word of knowledge according to the same Spirit; 9 to another faith by the same Spirit, and to another gifts of healing by the one Spirit, 10 and to another the effecting of miracles, and to another prophecy, and to another the distinguishing of spirits, to another various kinds of tongues, and to another the interpretation of tongues. 11 But one and the same Spirit works all these things, distributing to each one individually just as He wills. 12 For even as the body is one and yet has many members, and all the members of the body, though they are many, are one body, so also is Messiah. 13 For by one Spirit we were all baptized into one body, whether Jews or Greeks, whether slaves or free, and we were all made to drink of one Spirit. 14 For the body is not one member, but many. 15 If the foot should say, "Because I am not a hand, I am not a part of the body," it is not for this reason any the less a part of the body. 16 And if the ear should say, "Because I am not an eye, I am not a part of the body," it is not for this reason any the less a part of the body. 17 If the whole body were an eye, where would the hearing be? If the whole were hearing, where would the sense of smell be? 18 But now God has placed the members, each one of them, in the body, just as He desired. 19 And if they were all one member, where would the body be? 20 But now there are many members, but one body. 21 And the eye cannot say to the hand, "I have no need of you"; or again the head to the feet, "I have no need of you." 22 On the contrary, it is much truer that the members of the body which seem to be weaker are necessary; 23 and those members of the body, which we deem less honorable, on these we bestow more abundant honor, and our unseemly members come to have more abundant seemliness, 24 whereas our seemly members have no need of it. But God has so composed the body, giving more abundant honor to that member which lacked, 25 that there should be no division in the body, but that the members should have the same care for one another. 26 And if one member suffers, all the members suffer with it; if one member is honored, all the members rejoice with it. 27 Now you are Messiah's body, and individually members of it. 28 And God has appointed in the church, first apostles, second prophets, third teachers, then miracles, then gifts of healings, helps, administrations, various kinds of tongues. 29 All are not apostles, are they? All are not prophets, are they? All are not teachers, are they? All are not workers of miracles, are they? 30 All do not have gifts of healings, do they? All do not speak with tongues, do they? All do not interpret, do they? 31 But earnestly desire the greater gifts. And I show you a still more excellent way.


© 2003  Beikvot HaMashiach
(Followers of the Messiah)





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