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Commentary - Year 3 Sabbath 20

Numbers 33:1-56  -   Jeremiah 4:1-2   -   Psalm 118   -   Acts 6:8 - 7:60
 

Av 18, 5763 / August 16, 2003

Av 18, 5766 / August 12, 2006 

Av 18, 5769 / August   8, 2009

Av 16, 5772 / August   4, 2012

Av 16, 5775 / August   1, 2015

 

Masei / Journeys   SCRIPTURES should be read first

 

Numbers 33

Yahweh commanded Moses to record this complete list of journeys with their 42 encampments. “Great secrets” are said to be intimated by these place names (Ramban).

#1  Rameses (Treasure City) of Egypt – symbol of sin

#2  Succoth (Temporary Dwellings)

#3  Etham (You)

#4  Pi-hahiroth (The South of the Gorges),

facing Baal-zephon (Hidden Destroyer), before Migdol (Tower).

#5  Marah (Bitterness -testing).

#6  Elim (Palm Tree)

#7  Red Sea

#8  Wlderness of Sin (Desert of Clay)

#9  Dophkah (Knocking)

#10 Alush (Wild Place)

#11 Rephidim (Railing / Ballister)

#12 Wilderness of Sinai

#13 Kibroth-hattaavah (Graves of the Longing)

#14 Hazeroth (Enclosed Place)

#15 Rithmah (Pole Place)

#16 Rimmon-perez (Pomegranate of the Breach)

#17 Libnah (Whitish Tree)

#18 Rissah (Ruin)

#19 Kehelathah (Assembly)

#20 Mount Shepher(Beautiful Mountain)

#21 Haradah (Great Fear)

#22 Makheloth (Assemblies)

#23 Tahath (Bottom)

#24 Terah

#25 Mithkah (Sweetness)

#26 Hashmonah (Fruitfulness)

#27 Moseroth (Correction)

#28 Bene-jaakan (Wise Son)

#29 Hor-haggidgad (Hole of the Cleft)

#30 Jotbathah (Pleasantness)

#31 Abronah (Transition)

#32 Ezion-geber (Giant’s Backbone)

#33 Wilderness of Zin (Crag, to Prick), that is, Kadesh (Sanctuary)

#34 Mount Hor (Mountain of Mountains)

#35 Zalmonah (Shadiness)

#36 Punon (Perplexity)

#37 Oboth (Necromancer)

#38 Iye-abarim (Those who Cover in Copulation)

#39 Dibon-gad (Sorrowing Overcomers)

#40 Almon-diblathaim (Cake of Pressed Figs)

#41 Mountains of Abarim, before Nebo (Babylonian Diety)

#42 Plains of Moab (Of my Father)

       Jordan (Descender from Eden)

 

Eleven journeys were made during the first year, ending with the reception of the Torah at Mt. Sinai and the building of the Tabernacle – an average of about one journey per month. Twenty-two journeys were completed during the next thirty-eight years of “wandering in the wilderness” – averaging was almost two years of rest at each encampment. In the last eight months of the fortieth year, following the death of Aaron, there were eight journeys – one per month.

 

Whenever the people were encamped at one place for a while, they became dissatisfied. Their focus was on their journey, rather than their destination.

 

We need to focus on God’s planned destination for us, rather than being caught-up in the “satisfactions” of this life. It is too easy to become overly entangled with the good and evil of this world: that is why Yeshua said, “Let the dead bury the dead, you follow Me” – let the spiritually dead care for the concerns of this world, we have a higher calling.

 

Israel left Sin’s Treasure City (Rameses, Egypt), and camped in Temporary Dwellings (Sukkot). They camped facing the Hidden Destroyer (Baal-zephon), and were tested at Bitterness (Marah).

 

After receiving the Torah in the Wilderness of Sin, they camped at Sweetness (Mithkah), Fruitfulness (Hashmonah), Correction (Moserot), and Wise Son (Bene-jaakan).

 

After Aaron died at the Mount of Mountains (Hor haHar), they camped at Perplexity (Punon), and Sorrowing Overcomers (Dibon-gad), before reaching the Descender from Eden (Jordan River) – the gate of the Promised Land.

 

(V.51-56) Yahweh said, “When you cross over the Jordan into the land of Canaan, then you shall drive out all the inhabitants of the land from before you, and destroy all their figured stones, and destroy all their molten images and demolish all their high places; and you shall take possession of the land and live in it, for I have given the land to you to possess it.

. . . But if you do not drive out the inhabitants of the land from before you, then it shall come about that those whom you let remain of them will become as pricks in your eyes and as thorns in your sides, and they shall trouble you in the land in which you live. And it shall come about that as I plan to do to them, so I will do to you.”

While some interpret this as a warning about failing to drive out Yahweh’s enemies, others take it as a commandment to live in the Land and a prohibition against leaving it.

 

Psalm 118

The Psalm begins, “Give thanks to Yahweh, for He is good; for His lovingkindness is everlasting.” All Israel, who was led through the Wilderness, is enjoined to say this (v.2). The House of Aaron, who died at Mt. Hor, is enjoined to say this (v.3).

 

All who fear Yahweh are enjoined to say (v.4), “His lovingkindness is everlasting.”

 

The connection of this Psalm to Numbers 33 is clearly seen in v.9-15: “It is better to take refuge in Yahweh than to trust in princes. All nations surrounded me; in the name of Yahweh I will surely cut them off. . . Yahweh is my strength and my song, and He has become my salvation. The sound of joyful shouting and salvation is in the tents of the righteous; the right hand of Yahweh does valiantly.

 

In this Psalm we find the familiar (v.22-23): “The stone which the builders rejected has become the chief corner stone. This is Yahweh's doing; it is marvelous in our eyes”, referring to Yeshua (Matt 21:42, Mark 12:10, Luke 20:17, Acts 4:11, 1 Peter 2:7). And also (v.24): “This is the day which Yahweh has made; let us rejoice and be glad in it.

 

Acts 6-7

(V.13-14) “And they put forward false witnesses who said, ‘This man incessantly speaks against this holy place, and the Law; for we have heard him say that this Nazarene, Yeshua, will destroy this place and alter the customs which Moses handed down to us.’ ” The accusations are that Stephen spoke against the Holy Temple and the Torah, and that Yeshua would change the laws of Moses: note that these are false accusations. In other words, Stephen neither spoke contrary to the Torah, nor did he say that Yeshua would change it.

Stephen then reiterated what we have been studying. He started with God appearing to Abraham and making a covenant with him (Gen 17:5). He spoke concerning the patriarchs of the twelve tribes. He then went into detail about Moses: Moses would be followed by a similar prophet (Yeshua), to whom obedience would be required. He spoke concerning David (a forerunner of Yeshua).

Then Stephen, being so filled with the Holy Spirit that he saw Yeshua in heaven, made his defence: “O beloved, God just wants you to know how much He loves you! He sent Yeshua to take away your sins and make you free from all this Moses stuff!” No? That isn’t how he said it? Being filled with the Holy Spirit, he said (v.51-53), “You men who are stiff-necked and uncircumcised in heart and ears are always resisting the Holy Spirit; you are doing just as your fathers did. Which one of the prophets did your fathers not persecute? And they killed those who had previously announced the coming of the Righteous One (Yeshua), whose betrayers and murderers you have now become; you who received the law as ordained by angels, and yet did not keep it.”

Now, we find ourselves in many different situations, and the same words are not appropriate for all occasions. However, the Torah had not lost its significance when Stephen spoke, which was after Yeshua’s crucifixion and resurrection; and it still has not lost its significance. The words which God spoke through Moses have not changed to a touchy-feely type of love that accepts whatever feels right. The “Law” is still the standard by which sin is defined (1 John 3:4), and sin still requires repentance – turning from sin to God (Acts 26:20).

After His resurrection, Yeshua said (Luke 24:44-48): “ ‘These are My words which I spoke to you while I was still with you, that all things which are written about Me in the Law of Moses and the Prophets and the Psalms must be fulfilled.’ Then He opened their minds to understand the Scriptures, and He said to them, ‘Thus it is written, that the Christ should suffer and rise again from the dead the third day; and that repentance for forgiveness of sins should be proclaimed in His name to all the nations, beginning from Jerusalem. You are witnesses of these things.’

Readings:

Reader 1* Amen 1 These are the journeys of the sons of Israel, by which they came out from the land of Egypt by their armies, under the leadership of Moses and Aaron. 2 And Moses recorded their starting places according to their journeys by the command of Yahweh, and these are their journeys according to their starting places. 3 And they journeyed from Rameses in the first month, on the fifteenth day of the first month; on the next day after the Passover the sons of Israel started out boldly in the sight of all the Egyptians, 4 while the Egyptians were burying all their first-born whom Yahweh had struck down among them. Yahweh had also executed judgments on their gods.

Reader 2* Amen 5 Then the sons of Israel journeyed from Rameses, and camped in Succoth. 6 And they journeyed from Succoth, and camped in Etham, which is on the edge of the wilderness. 7 And they journeyed from Etham, and turned back to Pi-hahiroth, which faces Baal-zephon; and they camped before Migdol. 8 And they journeyed from before Hahiroth, and passed through the midst of the sea into the wilderness; and they went three days' journey in the wilderness of Etham, and camped at Marah. 9 And they journeyed from Marah, and came to Elim; and in Elim there were twelve springs of water and seventy palm trees; and they camped there. 10 And they journeyed from Elim, and camped by the Red Sea. 11 And they journeyed from the Red Sea, and camped in the wilderness of Sin.

Reader 3* Amen 12 And they journeyed from the wilderness of Sin, and camped at Dophkah. 13 And they journeyed from Dophkah, and camped at Alush. 14 And they journeyed from Alush, and camped at Rephidim; now it was there that the people had no water to drink. 15 And they journeyed from Rephidim, and camped in the wilderness of Sinai. 16 And they journeyed from the wilderness of Sinai, and camped at Kibroth-hattaavah. 17 And they journeyed from Kibroth-hattaavah, and camped at Hazeroth. 18 And they journeyed from Hazeroth, and camped at Rithmah. 19 And they journeyed from Rithmah, and camped at Rimmon-perez. 20 And they journeyed from Rimmon-perez, and camped at Libnah. 21 And they journeyed from Libnah, and camped at Rissah.

Reader 4* Amen 22 And they journeyed from Rissah, and camped in Kehelathah. 23 And they journeyed from Kehelathah, and camped at Mount Shepher. 24 And they journeyed from Mount Shepher, and camped at Haradah.25 And they journeyed from Haradah, and camped at Makheloth. 26 And they journeyed from Makheloth, and camped at Tahath. 27 And they journeyed from Tahath, and camped at Terah. 28 And they journeyed from Terah, and camped at Mithkah. 29 And they journeyed from Mithkah, and camped at Hashmonah. 30 And they journeyed from Hashmonah, and camped at Moseroth. 31 And they journeyed from Moseroth, and camped at Bene-jaakan. 32 And they journeyed from Bene-jaakan, and camped at Hor-haggidgad.

Reader 5* Amen 33 And they journeyed from Hor-haggidgad, and camped at Jotbathah. 34 And they journeyed from Jotbathah, and camped at Abronah. 35 And they journeyed from Abronah, and camped at Ezion-geber. 36 And they journeyed from Ezion-geber, and camped in the wilderness of Zin, that is, Kadesh. 37 And they journeyed from Kadesh, and camped at Mount Hor, at the edge of the land of Edom. 38 Then Aaron the priest went up to Mount Hor at the command of Yahweh, and died there, in the fortieth year after the sons of Israel had come from the land of Egypt on the first day in the fifth month. 39 And Aaron was one hundred twenty-three years old when he died on Mount Hor. 40 Now the Canaanite, the king of Arad who lived in the Negev in the land of Canaan, heard of the coming of the sons of Israel.

Reader 6* Amen 41 Then they journeyed from Mount Hor, and camped at Zalmonah. 42 And they journeyed from Zalmonah, and camped at Punon. 43 And they journeyed from Punon, and camped at Oboth. 44 And they journeyed from Oboth, and camped at Iye-abarim, at the border of Moab. 45 And they journeyed from Iyim, and camped at Dibon-gad. 46 And they journeyed from Dibon-gad, and camped at Almon-diblathaim. 47 And they journeyed from Almon-diblathaim, and camped in the mountains of Abarim, before Nebo. 48 And they journeyed from the mountains of Abarim, and camped in the plains of Moab by the Jordan opposite Jericho. 49 And they camped by the Jordan, from Beth-jeshimoth as far as Abel-shittim in the plains of Moab.

Reader 7* Amen 50 Then Yahweh spoke to Moses in the plains of Moab by the Jordan opposite Jericho, saying, 51 "Speak to the sons of Israel and say to them, 'When you cross over the Jordan into the land of Canaan, 52 then you shall drive out all the inhabitants of the land from before you, and destroy all their figured stones, and destroy all their molten images and demolish all their high places; 53 and you shall take possession of the land and live in it, for I have given the land to you to possess it. 54 'And you shall inherit the land by lot according to your families; to the larger you shall give more inheritance, and to the smaller you shall give less inheritance. Wherever the lot falls to anyone, that shall be his. You shall inherit according to the tribes of your fathers. 55 'But if you do not drive out the inhabitants of the land from before you, then it shall come about that those whom you let remain of them will become as pricks in your eyes and as thorns in your sides, and they shall trouble you in the land in which you live. 56 'And it shall come about that as I plan to do to them, so I will do to you.'"

Jeremiah 4:1-2

1 "If you will return, O Israel," declares Yahweh, "Then you should return to Me. And if you will put away your detested things from My presence, and will not waver, 2 and you will swear, 'As Yahweh lives,' in truth, in justice, and in righteousness; then the nations will bless themselves in Him, and in Him they will glory."

Psalm 118

1 Give thanks to Yahweh, for He is good; For His lovingkindness is everlasting. 2 Oh let Israel say, "His lovingkindness is everlasting." 3 Oh let the house of Aaron say, "His lovingkindness is everlasting." 4 Oh let those who fear Yahweh say, "His lovingkindness is everlasting." 5 From my distress I called upon Yahweh; Yahweh answered me and set me in a large place. 6 Yahweh is for me; I will not fear; what can man do to me? 7 Yahweh is for me among those who help me; therefore I shall look with satisfaction on those who hate me. 8 It is better to take refuge in Yahweh than to trust in man. 9 It is better to take refuge in Yahweh than to trust in princes. 10 All nations surrounded me; in the name of Yahweh I will surely cut them off. 11 They surrounded me, yes, they surrounded me; in the name of Yahweh I will surely cut them off. 12 They surrounded me like bees; they were extinguished as a fire of thorns; in the name of Yahweh I will surely cut them off. 13 You pushed me violently so that I was falling, but Yahweh helped me. 14 Yahweh is my strength and song, and He has become my salvation. 15 The sound of joyful shouting and salvation is in the tents of the righteous; the right hand of Yahweh does valiantly. 16 The right hand of Yahweh is exalted; the right hand of Yahweh does valiantly. 17 I shall not die, but live, and tell of the works of Yahweh. 18 Yahweh has disciplined me severely, but He has not given me over to death. 19 Open to me the gates of righteousness; I shall enter through them, I shall give thanks to Yahweh. 20 This is the gate of Yahweh; the righteous will enter through it. 21 I shall give thanks to Thee, for Thou hast answered me; and Thou hast become my salvation. 22 The stone which the builders rejected has become the chief corner stone. 23 This is Yahweh's doing; it is marvelous in our eyes. 24 This is the day which Yahweh has made; Let us rejoice and be glad in it. 25 O Yahweh, do save, we beseech Thee; O Yahweh, we beseech Thee, do send prosperity! 26 Blessed is the one who comes in the name of Yahweh; we have blessed you from the house of Yahweh. 27 Yahweh is God, and He has given us light; bind the festival sacrifice with cords to the horns of the altar. 28 Thou art my God, and I give thanks to Thee; Thou art my God, I extol Thee. 29 Give thanks to Yahweh, for He is good; for His lovingkindness is everlasting.

Acts 6:8 – 7:60

8 And Stephen, full of grace and power, was performing great wonders and signs among the people. 9 But some men from what was called the Synagogue of the Freedmen, including both Cyrenians and Alexandrians, and some from Cilicia and Asia, rose up and argued with Stephen. 10 And yet they were unable to cope with the wisdom and the Spirit with which he was speaking. 11 Then they secretly induced men to say, "We have heard him speak blasphemous words against Moses and against God." 12 And they stirred up the people, the elders and the scribes, and they came upon him and dragged him away, and brought him before the Council. 13 And they put forward false witnesses who said, "This man incessantly speaks against this holy place, and the Law; 14 for we have heard him say that this Nazarene, Yeshua, will destroy this place and alter the customs which Moses handed down to us." 15 And fixing their gaze on him, all who were sitting in the Council saw his face like the face of an angel.

7:1 And the high priest said, "Are these things so?" 2 And he said, "Hear me, brethren and fathers! The God of glory appeared to our father Abraham when he was in Mesopotamia, before he lived in Haran, 3 and said to him, 'Depart from your country and your relatives, and come into the land that I will show you.' 4 "Then he departed from the land of the Chaldeans, and settled in Haran. And from there, after his father died, God removed him into this country in which you are now living. 5 "And He gave him no inheritance in it, not even a foot of ground; and yet, even when he had no child, He promised that He would give it to him as a possession, and to his offspring after him. 6 "But God spoke to this effect, that his offspring would be aliens in a foreign land, and that they would be enslaved and mistreated for four hundred years. 7 "'And whatever nation to which they shall be in bondage I Myself will judge,' said God, 'and after that they will come out and serve Me in this place.' 8 "And He gave him the covenant of circumcision; and so Abraham became the father of Isaac, and circumcised him on the eighth day; and Isaac became the father of Jacob, and Jacob of the twelve patriarchs. 9 "And the patriarchs became jealous of Joseph and sold him into Egypt. And yet God was with him, 10 and rescued him from all his afflictions, and granted him favor and wisdom in the sight of Pharaoh, king of Egypt; and he made him governor over Egypt and all his household. 11 "Now a famine came over all Egypt and Canaan, and great affliction with it; and our fathers could find no food. 12 "But when Jacob heard that there was grain in Egypt, he sent our fathers there the first time. 13 "And on the second visit Joseph made himself known to his brothers, and Joseph's family was disclosed to Pharaoh. 14 "And Joseph sent word and invited Jacob his father and all his relatives to come to him, seventy-five persons in all. 15 "And Jacob went down to Egypt and there passed away, he and our fathers. 16 "And from there they were removed to Shechem, and laid in the tomb which Abraham had purchased for a sum of money from the sons of Hamor in Shechem. 17 "But as the time of the promise was approaching which God had assured to Abraham, the people increased and multiplied in Egypt, 18 until there arose another king over Egypt who knew nothing about Joseph. 19 "It was he who took shrewd advantage of our race, and mistreated our fathers so that they would expose their infants and they would not survive. 20 "And it was at this time that Moses was born; and he was lovely in the sight of God; and he was nurtured three months in his father's home. 21 "And after he had been exposed, Pharaoh's daughter took him away, and nurtured him as her own son. 22 "And Moses was educated in all the learning of the Egyptians, and he was a man of power in words and deeds. 23 "But when he was approaching the age of forty, it entered his mind to visit his brethren, the sons of Israel. 24 "And when he saw one of them being treated unjustly, he defended him and took vengeance for the oppressed by striking down the Egyptian. 25 "And he supposed that his brethren understood that God was granting them deliverance through him; but they did not understand. 26 "And on the following day he appeared to them as they were fighting together, and he tried to reconcile them in peace, saying, 'Men, you are brethren, why do you injure one another?' 27 "But the one who was injuring his neighbor pushed him away, saying, 'Who made you a ruler and judge over us? 28 'You do not mean to kill me as you killed the Egyptian yesterday, do you?' 29 "And at this remark Moses fled, and became an alien in the land of Midian, where he became the father of two sons. 30 "And after forty years had passed, an angel appeared to him in the wilderness of Mount Sinai, in the flame of a burning thorn bush. 31 "And when Moses saw it, he began to marvel at the sight; and as he approached to look more closely, there came the voice of the Lord: 32 'I am the God of your fathers, the God of Abraham and Isaac and Jacob.' And Moses shook with fear and would not venture to look. 33 "But the Lord said to him, 'Take off the sandals from your feet, for the place on which you are standing is holy ground. 34 'I have certainly seen the oppression of My people in Egypt, and have heard their groans, and I have come down to deliver them; come now, and I will send you to Egypt.' 35 "This Moses whom they disowned, saying, 'Who made you a ruler and a judge?' is the one whom God sent to be both a ruler and a deliverer with the help of the angel who appeared to him in the thorn bush. 36 "This man led them out, performing wonders and signs in the land of Egypt and in the Red Sea and in the wilderness for forty years. 37 "This is the Moses who said to the sons of Israel, 'God shall raise up for you a prophet like me from your brethren.' 38 "This is the one who was in the congregation in the wilderness together with the angel who was speaking to him on Mount Sinai, and who was with our fathers; and he received living oracles to pass on to you. 39 "And our fathers were unwilling to be obedient to him, but repudiated him and in their hearts turned back to Egypt, 40 saying to Aaron, 'Make for us gods who will go before us; for this Moses who led us out of the land of Egypt-- we do not know what happened to him.' 41 "And at that time they made a calf and brought a sacrifice to the idol, and were rejoicing in the works of their hands. 42 "But God turned away and delivered them up to serve the host of heaven; as it is written in the book of the prophets, 'It was not to Me that you offered victims and sacrifices forty years in the wilderness, was it, O house of Israel? 43 'You also took along the tabernacle of Moloch and the star of the god Rompha, the images which you made to worship them. I also will remove you beyond Babylon.' 44 "Our fathers had the tabernacle of testimony in the wilderness, just as He who spoke to Moses directed him to make it according to the pattern which he had seen. 45 "And having received it in their turn, our fathers brought it in with Joshua upon dispossessing the nations whom God drove out before our fathers, until the time of David. 46 "And David found favor in God's sight, and asked that he might find a dwelling place for the God of Jacob. 47 "But it was Solomon who built a house for Him. 48 "However, the Most High does not dwell in houses made by human hands; as the prophet says: 49 'Heaven is My throne, And earth is the footstool of My feet; What kind of house will you build for Me?' says the Lord; 'Or what place is there for My repose? 50 'Was it not My hand which made all these things?' 51 "You men who are stiff-necked and uncircumcised in heart and ears are always resisting the Holy Spirit; you are doing just as your fathers did. 52 "Which one of the prophets did your fathers not persecute? And they killed those who had previously announced the coming of the Righteous One, whose betrayers and murderers you have now become; 53 you who received the law as ordained by angels, and yet did not keep it." 54 Now when they heard this, they were cut to the quick, and they began gnashing their teeth at him. 55 But being full of the Holy Spirit, he gazed intently into heaven and saw the glory of God, and Yeshua standing at the right hand of God; 56 and he said, "Behold, I see the heavens opened up and the Son of Man standing at the right hand of God." 57 But they cried out with a loud voice, and covered their ears, and they rushed upon him with one impulse. 58 And when they had driven him out of the city, they began stoning him, and the witnesses laid aside their robes at the feet of a young man named Saul. 59 And they went on stoning Stephen as he called upon the Lord and said, "Lord Yeshua, receive my spirit!" 60 And falling on his knees, he cried out with a loud voice, "Lord, do not hold this sin against them!" And having said this, he fell asleep.


© 2003  Beikvot HaMashiach
(Followers of the Messiah)