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Commentary - Year 3 Sabbath 19

Numbers 32:1-42  -   Jeremiah 2:1-37   -   Psalm 117   -   James 2:1-26
 

Av 11, 5763 / August 9, 2003

Av 11, 5766 / August 5, 2006 

Av 11, 5769 / August 1, 2009

Av   9, 5772 / July 28, 2012

Av   9, 5775 / July 25, 2015

 

Umiqneh Rav / Much Cattle   SCRIPTURES should be read first

Psalm 117: “His lovingkindness is great toward us, and the truth of Yahweh is everlasting. Praise Yahweh!” As a backdrop for this portion, remember that Yahweh’s lovingkindness is great toward His people, and His truth endures forever.

Numbers 32

Gad, being named first (after the first sentence), seems to have instigated the request to settle on the east side of the Jordan. The tribes of Gad and Reuben had abundant cattle. They may not have had more than other tribes, since all of the tribes shared in the spoils from the conquest of Midian, but they placed an emphasis on material possessions, for which the Midrash faults them. (V.16) They spoke of making pens for their livestock before speaking of making places for their children to live. (V.24) Moses reversed their statements, saying, “Build yourselves cities for your little ones, and pens for your livestock”. (V.26) Then they rephrased their statements in more appropriate order.

The people of these tribes were young, or not yet born, when Israel had met with disaster for falling into the faithlessness of ten spies that went to scout the Promised Land. Now Moses forcefully reminds them, lest they bring God’s wrath upon themselves as their fathers did. They will not be able to give up fighting God’s battles, and settle into comfortable living, until all of their brethren have also obtained their inheritance.

This is written for our admonition (1 Corinthians 10:7). We will not be able to give up fighting God’s battles, and settle into comfortable living, until all of our brethren have also obtained their inheritance!

(V.17) Gad and Reuben promised to “be armed ready to go before the sons of Israel, until we have brought them to their place, while our little ones live in the fortified cities because of the inhabitants of the land.” (V.20) But Moses said that they should “march before Yahweh . . . until He has driven His enemies out”, indicating that fulfilling God’s will is to be more our concern even than being compassionate toward others.

The fighting actually lasted seven years, and the tribes of Gad and Reuben fulfilled their promise to help the remaining tribes drive out Yahweh’s enemies.

(V.38) The cities that were taken, which were named after idols, were renamed.

Jeremiah 2

(V.3) “Israel was holy to Yahweh”; evil came upon all who tried to consume them. (V.5) But they walked away from Yahweh.

(V.8) “Those who handle the law did not know Me; the rulers also transgressed against Me, and the prophets prophesied by Baal and walked after things that did not profit.” (V.13) “My people have committed two evils: they have forsaken Me, the fountain of living waters, and hewn for themselves cisterns, broken cisterns, that can hold no water.” (V.37) “Yahweh has rejected those in whom you trust, and you shall not prosper with them.” (V.31) “Why do My people say, ‘We are free to roam; we will come no more to Thee’?” (V.35-36) “Behold, I will enter into judgment with you because you say, ‘I have not sinned.’ Why do you cheapen yourself so much to change your way?

The same way that natural Israel went seems to be the way that followers of Yeshua have gone. Those who handle God’s Word do not know Him. Their teaching is based on the false gods of pleasure and position and money: though people trust them, Yahweh has rejected them, and their followers will not prosper. So-called “Christians” say that they are free to do whatever they feel is right, without being guilty of sin. But look-out, for such will be judged by God!

James 2

(V.14) “What use is it, my brethren, if a man says he has faith, but he has no works?” Can one be saved by saying he has faith, if he shows no fruit – results of that faith? What are we saved from, if we are continuing in sin? For what do we believe that Yeshua suffered for us, if whatever we do is acceptable?

(V.19-23) “You believe that God is one. You do well; the demons also believe, and shudder. But are you willing to recognize, you foolish fellow, that faith without works is useless? Was not Abraham our father justified by works, when he offered up Isaac his son on the altar? You see that faith was working with his works, and as a result of the works, faith was perfected; and the Scripture was fulfilled which says, ‘And Abraham believed God, and it was reckoned to him as righteousness,’ and he was called the friend of God.

Abraham believed what God promised, and therefore obeyed in offering his son, showing confidence that God would perform what He promised.

Faith means that we recognize that our way is wrong, and accept Yeshua for our atonements: to bear our deserved punishment, and put His righteousness upon us – so that we walk with God in a new life of spiritual reality.

Here we must “overcome” the enemy of sin, until we all obtain the Promised Land, where we will live in perfect peace and prosperity. It is not that we earn salvation, but rather that real faith creates results in our lives.

If we believe that Yeshua, in lovingkindness, suffered for our sins, then we do not desire to keep sinning, adding to His sufferings. If we understand that His truth endures forever, then we can see how Israel’s journey is for a lesson to us.

If we have “much cattle”, we need to consider our prosperity in light of God’s purpose for our service to Him.

Readings:

"Blessed are You, Yahweh our God, King of the Universe,

Who chose us from among all peoples by giving us Your Torah.

Blessed are You, Yahweh, giver of the Torah."

 

Reader 1*  Amen.  1 Now the sons of Reuben and the sons of Gad had an exceedingly large number of livestock. So when they saw the land of Jazer and the land of Gilead, that it was indeed a place suitable for livestock, 2 the sons of Gad and the sons of Reuben came and spoke to Moses and to Eleazar the priest and to the leaders of the congregation, saying, 3 "Ataroth, Dibon, Jazer, Nimrah, Heshbon, Elealeh, Sebam, Nebo and Beon, 4 the land which Yahweh conquered before the congregation of Israel, is a land for livestock, and your servants have livestock." 5 They said, "If we have found favor in your sight, let this land be given to your servants as a possession; do not take us across the Jordan."

Reader 2*  Amen. 6 But Moses said to the sons of Gad and to the sons of Reuben, "Shall your brothers go to war while you yourselves sit here? 7 "Now why are you discouraging the sons of Israel from crossing over into the land which Yahweh has given them? 8 "This is what your fathers did when I sent them from Kadesh-barnea to see the land. 9 "For when they went up to the valley of Eshcol and saw the land, they discouraged the sons of Israel so that they did not go into the land which Yahweh had given them. 10 "So Yahweh's anger burned in that day, and He swore, saying, 11 'None of the men who came up from Egypt, from twenty years old and upward, shall see the land which I swore to Abraham, to Isaac and to Jacob; for they did not follow Me fully, 12 except Caleb the son of Jephunneh the Kenizzite and Joshua the son of Nun, for they have followed Yahweh fully.'

Reader 3*  Amen. 13 "So Yahweh's anger burned against Israel, and He made them wander in the wilderness forty years, until the entire generation of those who had done evil in the sight of Yahweh was destroyed. 14 "Now behold, you have risen up in your fathers' place, a brood of sinful men, to add still more to the burning anger of Yahweh against Israel. 15 "For if you turn away from following Him, He will once more abandon them in the wilderness, and you will destroy all these people."

Reader 4*  Amen. 16 Then they came near to him and said, "We will build here sheepfolds for our livestock and cities for our little ones; 17 but we ourselves will be armed ready to go before the sons of Israel, until we have brought them to their place, while our little ones live in the fortified cities because of the inhabitants of the land. 18 "We will not return to our homes until every one of the sons of Israel has possessed his inheritance. 19 "For we will not have an inheritance with them on the other side of the Jordan and beyond, because our inheritance has fallen to us on this side of the Jordan toward the east."

Reader 5*  Amen. 20 So Moses said to them, "If you will do this, if you will arm yourselves before Yahweh for the war, 21 and all of you armed men cross over the Jordan before Yahweh until He has driven His enemies out from before Him, 22 and the land is subdued before Yahweh, then afterward you shall return and be free of obligation toward Yahweh and toward Israel, and this land shall be yours for a possession before Yahweh. 23 "But if you will not do so, behold, you have sinned against Yahweh, and be sure your sin will find you out. 24 "Build yourselves cities for your little ones, and sheepfolds for your sheep, and do what you have promised." 25 The sons of Gad and the sons of Reuben spoke to Moses, saying, "Your servants will do just as my lord commands. 26 "Our little ones, our wives, our livestock and all our cattle shall remain there in the cities of Gilead; 27 while your servants, everyone who is armed for war, will cross over in the presence of Yahweh to battle, just as my lord says."

Reader 6*  Amen. 28 So Moses gave command concerning them to Eleazar the priest, and to Joshua the son of Nun, and to the heads of the fathers' households of the tribes of the sons of Israel. 29 Moses said to them, "If the sons of Gad and the sons of Reuben, everyone who is armed for battle, will cross with you over the Jordan in the presence of Yahweh, and the land is subdued before you, then you shall give them the land of Gilead for a possession; 30 but if they will not cross over with you armed, they shall have possessions among you in the land of Canaan." 31 The sons of Gad and the sons of Reuben answered, saying, "As Yahweh has said to your servants, so we will do. 32 "We ourselves will cross over armed in the presence of Yahweh into the land of Canaan, and the possession of our inheritance shall remain with us across the Jordan."

Reader 7*  Amen. 33 So Moses gave to them, to the sons of Gad and to the sons of Reuben and to the half-tribe of Joseph's son Manasseh, the kingdom of Sihon, king of the Amorites and the kingdom of Og, the king of Bashan, the land with its cities with their territories, the cities of the surrounding land. 34 The sons of Gad built Dibon and Ataroth and Aroer, 35 and Atroth-shophan and Jazer and Jogbehah, 36 and Beth-nimrah and Beth-haran as fortified cities, and sheepfolds for sheep. 37 The sons of Reuben built Heshbon and Elealeh and Kiriathaim, 38 and Nebo and Baal-meon-- their names being changed-- and Sibmah, and they gave other names to the cities which they built. 39 The sons of Machir the son of Manasseh went to Gilead and took it, and dispossessed the Amorites who were in it. 40 So Moses gave Gilead to Machir the son of Manasseh, and he lived in it. 41 Jair the son of Manasseh went and took its towns, and called them Havvoth-jair. 42 Nobah went and took Kenath and its villages, and called it Nobah after his own name.

 

"Blessed are You, Yahweh our God, King of the Universe,

Who in giving us Yeshua, the Living Torah, has planted everlasting life in our midst.

Blessed are You, Yahweh, giver of the Torah."

------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

"Blessed are You, Yahweh our God, King of the Universe,

Who selected good prophets, delighting in their words which were spoken truthfully.

Blessed are You, Yahweh, Who chose the Torah, Your servant Moses, Your people Israel,

and the prophets of truth and righteousness."

 

Jeremiah 2:1-37

Reader 8*  Amen. 1 Now the word of Yahweh came to me saying, 2 "Go and proclaim in the ears of Jerusalem, saying, 'Thus says Yahweh, "I remember concerning you the devotion of your youth, the love of your betrothals, your following after Me in the wilderness, through a land not sown. 3 "Israel was holy to Yahweh, the first of His harvest. All who ate of it became guilty; evil came upon them," declares Yahweh.'" 4 Hear the word of Yahweh, O house of Jacob, and all the families of the house of Israel.

Reader 9*  Amen. 5 Thus says Yahweh, "What injustice did your fathers find in Me, that they went far from Me and walked after emptiness and became empty? 6 "They did not say, 'Where is Yahweh Who brought us up out of the land of Egypt, Who led us through the wilderness, through a land of deserts and of pits, through a land of drought and of deep darkness, through a land that no one crossed and where no man dwelt?' 7 "I brought you into the fruitful land to eat its fruit and its good things. But you came and defiled My land, and My inheritance you made an abomination. 8 "The priests did not say, 'Where is Yahweh?' And those who handle the law did not know Me; the rulers also transgressed against Me, and the prophets prophesied by Baal and walked after things that did not profit.

Reader 10*  Amen. 9 "Therefore I will yet contend with you," declares Yahweh, "and with your sons' sons I will contend. 10 "For cross to the coastlands of Kittim and see, and send to Kedar and observe closely and see if there has been such a thing as this! 11 "Has a nation changed gods when they were not gods? But My people have changed their glory for that which does not profit. 12 "Be appalled, O heavens, at this, and shudder, be very desolate," declares Yahweh. 13 "For My people have committed two evils: they have forsaken Me, the fountain of living waters, to hew for themselves cisterns, broken cisterns that can hold no water.

Reader 11*  Amen. 14 "Is Israel a slave? Or is he a homeborn servant? Why has he become a prey? 15 "The young lions have roared at him, they have roared loudly. And they have made his land a waste; his cities have been destroyed, without inhabitant. 16 "Also the men of Memphis and Tahpanhes have shaved the crown of your head. 17 "Have you not done this to yourself by your forsaking Yahweh your God when He led you in the way? 18 "But now what are you doing on the road to Egypt, to drink the waters of the Nile? Or what are you doing on the road to Assyria, to drink the waters of the Euphrates? 19 "Your own wickedness will correct you, and your apostasies will reprove you; know therefore and see that it is evil and bitter for you to forsake Yahweh your God, and the dread of Me is not in you," declares Lord Yahweh of hosts.

Reader 12*  Amen. 20 "For long ago I broke your yoke and tore off your bonds; but you said, 'I will not serve!' For on every high hill and under every green tree you have lain down as a harlot. 21 "Yet I planted you a choice vine, a completely faithful seed. How then have you turned yourself before Me into the degenerate shoots of a foreign vine? 22 "Although you wash yourself with lye and use much soap, the stain of your iniquity is before Me," declares Lord Yahweh. 23 "How can you say, 'I am not defiled, I have not gone after the Baals '? Look at your way in the valley! Know what you have done! You are a swift young camel entangling her ways, 24 A wild donkey accustomed to the wilderness, that sniffs the wind in her passion. In the time of her heat who can turn her away? All who seek her will not become weary; in her month they will find her.

Reader 13*  Amen. 25 "Keep your feet from being unshod and your throat from thirst; but you said, 'It is hopeless! No! For I have loved strangers, and after them I will walk.' 26 "As the thief is shamed when he is discovered, so the house of Israel is shamed; they, their kings, their princes and their priests and their prophets, 27 Who say to a tree, 'You are my father,' and to a stone, 'You gave me birth.' For they have turned their back to Me, and not their face; but in the time of their trouble they will say, 'Arise and save us.' 28 "But where are your gods which you made for yourself? Let them arise, if they can save you in the time of your trouble; for according to the number of your cities are your gods, O Judah. 29 "Why do you contend with Me? You have all transgressed against Me," declares Yahweh.

Reader 14*  Amen. 30 "In vain I have struck your sons; they accepted no chastening. Your sword has devoured your prophets like a destroying lion. 31 "O generation, heed the word of Yahweh. Have I been a wilderness to Israel, or a land of thick darkness? Why do My people say, 'We are free to roam; we will no longer come to You'? 32 "Can a virgin forget her ornaments, or a bride her attire? Yet My people have forgotten Me days without number. 33 "How well you prepare your way to seek love! Therefore even the wicked women you have taught your ways. 34 "Also on your skirts is found the lifeblood of the innocent poor; you did not find them breaking in. But in spite of all these things, 35 Yet you said, 'I am innocent; surely His anger is turned away from me.' Behold, I will enter into judgment with you because you say, 'I have not sinned.' 36 "Why do you go around so much changing your way? Also, you will be put to shame by Egypt as you were put to shame by Assyria. 37 "From this place also you will go out with your hands on your head; for Yahweh has rejected those in whom you trust, and you will not prosper with them."

 

Psalm 117    (To be sung.)

1 Praise Yahweh, all nations; laud Him, all peoples! 2 For His lovingkindness is great toward us, and the truth of Yahweh is everlasting. Praise Yahweh!

  

James 2:1-26

Reader 15*  Amen. 1 My brethren, do not hold your faith in our glorious Lord Yeshua the Messiah with an attitude of personal favoritism. 2 For if a man comes into your assembly with a gold ring and dressed in fine clothes, and there also comes in a poor man in dirty clothes, 3 and you pay special attention to the one who is wearing the fine clothes, and say, "You sit here in a good place," and you say to the poor man, "You stand over there, or sit down by my footstool," 4 have you not made distinctions among yourselves, and become judges with evil motives? 5 Listen, my beloved brethren: did not God choose the poor of this world to be rich in faith and heirs of the kingdom which He promised to those who love Him? 6 But you have dishonored the poor man. Is it not the rich who oppress you and personally drag you into court? 7 Do they not blaspheme the fair name by which you have been called? 8 If, however, you are fulfilling the royal law according to the Scripture, "You shall love your neighbor as yourself," you are doing well. 9 But if you show partiality, you are committing sin and are convicted by the law as transgressors.

Reader 16*  Amen. 10 For whoever keeps the whole law and yet stumbles in one point, he has become guilty of all. 11 For He who said, "Do not commit adultery," also said, "Do not commit murder." Now if you do not commit adultery, but do commit murder, you have become a transgressor of the law. 12 So speak and so act as those who are to be judged by the law of liberty. 13 For judgment will be merciless to one who has shown no mercy; mercy triumphs over judgment. 14 What use is it, my brethren, if someone says he has faith but he has no works? Can that faith save him? 15 If a brother or sister is without clothing and in need of daily food, 16 and one of you says to them, "Go in peace, be warmed and be filled," and yet you do not give them what is necessary for their body, what use is that? 17 Even so faith, if it has no works, is dead, being by itself.

Reader 17*  Amen. 18 But someone may well say, "You have faith and I have works; show me your faith without the works, and I will show you my faith by my works." 19 You believe that God is one. You do well; the demons also believe, and shudder. 20 But are you willing to recognize, you foolish fellow, that faith without works is useless? 21 Was not Abraham our father justified by works when he offered up Isaac his son on the altar? 22 You see that faith was working with his works, and as a result of the works, faith was perfected; 23 and the Scripture was fulfilled which says, "And Abraham believed God, and it was reckoned to him as righteousness," and he was called the friend of God. 24 You see that a man is justified by works and not by faith alone. 25 In the same way, was not Rahab the harlot also justified by works when she received the messengers and sent them out by another way? 26 For just as the body without the spirit is dead, so also faith without works is dead.

 

"Blessed are You, Yahweh our God, King of the Universe,

Rock of Ages, righteous throughout all generations.

You are the faithful God, promising and then performing, speaking and then fulfilling,

for all Your words are true and righteous.

Faithful are You, Yahweh our God, and faithful are Your words,

for no word of Yours shall remain unfulfilled;

You are a faithful and merciful God and King.

Blessed are You, Yahweh our God, Who are faithful in fulfilling all Your words.


© 2003  Beikvot HaMashiach
(Followers of the Messiah)