PARASHIOT “Matot v’ Masei” (Tribes and Journeys of) Numbers 30:1-36:13
So, How's YOUR life journey going? or rather "journeys" because life is all about many journeys, stops, and then starting a new journey. Both physical and spiritual journeys. I just hope that the LORD is leading you. Well, this is one of my LONG WINDED messages, so, you might want to read a little then get a cup-o-coffee, then come back later, or read the whole message. We're starting from Numbers 30, about "vows"
We need to be careful upon making “vows” Adonai takes serious “promises” that we make, especially using “His” Holy Name (YHVH). We might have said in times before words like; “I swear to God that I’ll…or… “I promise that I’ll” …or … “Next week by this time, I’ll…!
But how do you know that you will still be in the land of the living by next week to fulfill your promise? We take “making promises too lightly”.
If we remember the Israelite “Yephtah” who, upon winning a war against Israel’s enemies, “vowed” a vow and said, “Whatever comes out first from my house to meet me, I will offer it up as a burnt offering”. I am sure that he was probably thinking of some animal, be it a lamb or a goat, yet when he got home, his only “daughter” came out to meet him. The WORD of God says he “kept” his vow, yet how can we imagine that God would accept a human sacrifice? The WORD does not say, but there is a possibility that he DID offer up his daughter, yet not as a burnt offering, but perhaps a servant to the Levites in the tabernacle,
What did Yeshua say about vows? “Let our YES be YES, and NO, be NO” without more words. We might have good intentions, yet only the LORD manages our time on earth. If we say that we will do something, and we use God’s name, and we end up NOT doing it, we will have taken HIS HOLY NAME in vain. So, what words can we say when we want to do something, without “vowing”?
”If God permits, I will try to…” or “I am not sure if I can, but, I will try to…” these words seem better because it leaves the option “if God permits”. We can make plans for the future, but the future is always in the hands of Adonai.
In this parashah, we look at a woman vs a man making and keeping vows. If the woman is married, then, as long as the husband agrees to the vow, it is OK, and she must make it good, however, if he doesn’t agree to the vow, then, the vow that the woman makes is annulled. The same thing if the woman is under her father’s roof, (or tent). If the father agrees, all is well, if not, all is NOT well, and the vow is nullified.
How do we take this today? When making vows or promises, and really, it is better NOT to promise, but if so, it should first be discussed between the husband and wife, or between father and daughter, and an agreement reached, whether or not such promise, vow, or decision, is to be made. It is good to serve Adonai and be involved in ministry, but it should be agreed upon when it involves families.
Chapter 31 speaks about the “slaughter of the Midianites” when we read this, we shudder, at such bloodshed, yet it was because of the influence of Balaam, that the Midianite prostitutes caused sin to enter the camp, thus bringing a “curse” upon Israel. It was necessary to wipe out the Midianites so as to prevent further sin, yet we see that the soldiers bring back captive women and children, which was common practice in Bible days as well as the rest of the “loot” such as livestock, silver, gold, etc.
Problem is that the “women” were the cause of the sin that was brought upon Israel. That is why Moshe was so upset, so he ordered the “women who knew men” to be killed as well as the male children, but why the male children? What harm can a little boy do? Perhaps nothing at that time, but in time, these “little boys” would grow up and seek vengeance against “those Israelites who killed daddy!”
Today in modern warfare, we do not see soldiers “looting” houses and people’s property, but they do capture weapons, war equipment, etc. Question! What is to become of all that “drug money” which is captured in drug busts, which is a form of war? Isn’t that “loot?” Well, yes, it is, and, what is to be done about it? Well, this is just my opinion, and mine alone.
I would say, divide up the “loot” and give some of it to the soldiers, officers, and agents involved in the drug busts, because they put their lives on the line, the rest, divide up among clinics, hospitals, halfway houses that deal with drug-addicts and their treatment and recovery. But again, my opinion only.
Chapter 32 deals with the settlement of the tribes of Reuben, Gad, and half of Manasseh in Gilead, on the east side of the Jordan River. Was it a bad thing that they settle on that side? Moshe was of the opinion that if they build shelters for their children, wives, and cattle first and then, join the other tribes to conquer the land of Canaan, then, after the wars and conquest, they could go back to their families.
When we see the land of Israel and then look around at the other nations, there are many more Jews living “outside” of the land of Israel than “inside”. However, we are ALL “Am Echad” (One people) even though divided by oceans and continents.
Chapters 34 to the end of B’Midbar, deal with the journeys of the Israelites during their time in the desert up to the death of Moshe. They journeyed to many different places, yet ALWAYS guided by the RUACH ELOHIM (God’s Spirit). We also journey a lot in our life. One could say that our lives can be considered “journeys and stops” perhaps there are 8 different journeys and stops, the journey of “childhood” which enters later “adolescence” then goes to “young-adulthood” then to “education and career” then to “marriage and family” then to “Senior-adulthood” then to “retirement and rest” then to “eternal rest and Shalom” at death. Each can be a “journey” but are we letting Adonai lead us during these journeys? Or are we doing our “own thing?”
The Book of Numbers ends with; “These are the commandments and the ordinances which YHVH commanded to B’nei Yisrael through Moshe in the Plains of Moab by the Jordan opposite Jericho”
Thus, we see that ALL the Torah mitzvoth come from Adonai, the first Ten being spoken directly to the People of Israel, and the rest, through Moshe to the people. The Torah leads us all to a knowledge of Yeshua, to accept Him as our Savior and LORD, through faith and faith ONLY.
“Masei” (journeys) A Torah Midrash over NUMBERS 33:1-36:13
” Masei” or “journeys” or “stages” in some translations, describes the encampments of the Israelites starting in “Mitzraim” (Egypt) which comes from the root word “Mtzr” or “m’tzar” meaning “restricted” and ending at last in the promised land, giving the division of “Eretz C’anaan” between the different “matot Israel” (the tribes of Israel.
In Numbers 33:1,2 it reads; “These were the wanderings of B’nei Israel who went out of the land of Egypt under the leadership of Moshe and Aaron. Moshe recorded their DEPARTURES, stage by stage as directed by YHVH; and these are the stages of their DEPARTURES.
We see in these 2 verses that the word “departures” is mentioned twice, once in the beginning of the verse, and then at the end. One way we can look at this is that we can either look back to where we came from, or we can look forward to where we are going, or both! We can say “we departed from… or we can say; “We departed towards…”
It is important to remember where we come from, how we were raised, perhaps even our short-comings, our mistakes, yet NOT to DWELL ON THEM! But concentrate on what the LORD has ahead for us, our goals, family goals, work goals, and ministry goals. Don’t let our lives in Egypt depress us, look forward to our land of Canaan.
We can’t just look at this from a superficial view, saying, “well, so what, they traveled here and there and they finally made it home, they would have made it a lot sooner if they hadn’t complained so much! I mean, they listened to the spies, etc.”. We need to look into the moral, spiritual, and symbolism. It is much more than just, “going from place to place physically”
They started out “restricted” to a place called “Egypt” and that is what “Mitzraim” means from the root word, m-Tz-r, (mem, Tzadik, Resh) using the Hebrew letters, “Mitzraim” sounds more plural, so it could also mean “restrictions”. What was restricted? Their FREEDOM! They were surrounded by pagan idolatry, they couldn’t leave! Because they were slaves to Pharaoh. It took the power of Adonai-Elohim the great I AM-YHVH, to get them out using his chosen servant Moshe.
They left on the 15th of Nisan, the morning after Passover. The Word says they left with a “high hand” in some translations, “Boldness” with all “confidence” “fearless” with “valor”. It is interesting that the word “Masei” in the Hebrew is spelled, “mem, Samech, Ayin, Yod” if we could see this word in the ancient Hebrew spelling, the symbols would look like, “water, leaning on a short staff, an eye, and a hand connected to the arm”
So, what could this word symbolize? What does “journeys” mean? Well, here is one idea; the “multitudes march forward, leaning on the staff in sight of the hand!” huh? OK, sooo what does THAT mean? Look at it this way, Moshe lead the way, he walked with a staff, as the custom of all leaders back then, the people kept Moshe in sight, and as he leaned on his staff, they followed, the “hand” leans on the “staff” but who gave Moshe the staff? It was YHVH!
As they journeyed, the kept YHVH in sight! The staff also symbolizes leadership, we lean on HIS leadership, and we have the “hand” in our sight, the “hands” that were pierced with the nails on Calvary. “Journeys” are not only physical, but also spiritual!
The Israelites left Egypt, crossed the Red Sea, now, they left “restrictions” behind, the sacrificed lambs of Passover symbolized Yeshua, the sacrificial lamb, who conquered the curse of sin and death, of HaSatan. Now they are on their way to a new life, just as we begin a new journey starting from the cross of Calvary. The Israelites experienced “bitter waters” at Marah, yet they experienced an oasis at Elim. We experience both bitter times, and times of “refreshing cool waters”. Good times and bad times are part of our wanderings, or “life’s journeys”
They encamped at Mt Sinai, to receive the Torah, to become officially united as a nation. “Am Echad b’Elohim” (One united People of God) We receive Yeshua as our Messiah and LORD, and we receive his WORD, his Torah to guide us through the “wilderness of life”.
Then comes a list of all the places where they stopped, camped, and continued when the Glory Cloud lifted. All these stopping places took place during a period of 40 years. The number “40” symbolizes “testing” The LORD was “trying, testing” his people. Each place they stopped at, they learned new things, they experienced the sacrificial offerings once the Mishkan (tabernacle) was fully erected. Yes, they complained, and Adonai chastised, yet forgave his children. He was with them all through the 40 years of journeys, and He brought them into the promised land through their new leader “Yehoshua” who took Moshe’s place.
Our journeys through life will take us to many “stops” and “settlements” one might consider a “new job” a kind of “Stopping to settle down for a while” just like moving from “house to house” or “apartment to apartment” or “mobile home to mobile home”. Another “journey” in life is the “marriage journey” then there are the “childhood, adolescence, teenage, young adult, middle age, and Senior” journeys. In each journey we learn and experience different things, “bitter waters” as well as “refreshing new waters” all the time being led by “the LIVING WATER!
There will be enemies to fight, the worse kind being “spiritual enemies from the Kingdom of Darkness” who will put traps in our way, stumbling blocks, bad attitudes, issues, carnality, etc. But all these are part of the journeys in life. Aaron’s journey lasted 123 years. Methuselah’s journey lasted 969 years, while Abel’s journey was very short, maybe his journey ended when he was a teen. Enoch’s journey lasted 300 years.
We know not how long our journey will last, it is in God’s hands. What is important is that we learn from our experiences during our “stops” along the way, especially the “education stops” Education is a lifelong stop, or, could we even call it a "journey?" it should continue all of our days. We have our secular education and our Torah education. Sometimes there are conflicts between them, and we must adjust our ways, to the TORAH ways, not the other way around. We should continue to learn until the day we enter our eternal shalom, and even "up there" we might even continue to learn. Maybe Heaven has Bible institutes with professors like David, and Abraham doing the teaching, and even Yeshua himself.
The last stop is the “Canaan” stop, “death” is our trip across the Jordan River that will bring us to the River of Life in the World to Come, In the New Jerusalem, we will receive our share of our inheritance, issued out to us by Our LORD and Messiah, Yeshua HaMashiach, (Jesus the Christ) Then, in the New Jerusalem, begins our “new journey” which will never end.
How can we imagine a journey without an end? We really can’t, not with finite minds. “Time” as we know it will be meaningless. Perhaps 100 years on earth will be like 10 seconds in heaven. As Elohim says, “One day is likened unto a thousand years and a thousand years as a day”
It is said that the “Jew is always wandering/traveling” Is this really true? The Jewish nation was sent out of the land to foreign lands, yes, they were cast out, and expelled, but for what eternal and divine purpose? To take the belief in One God, in Adonai-Elohim, Adonai-Echad, YESHUA! To the pagan peoples. Many look at expulsion as a punishment, yet the big picture is “evangelism”. Rav Shaul (Apostle Paul) was a traveling Jew, He founded many “Kehilot Meshichit” (Messianic congregations) in many different areas of the middle east.
” Ashkenaz” was a descendant of Japheth, son of Noah, who “journeyed” to what is now Germany, and his descendants to East Europe and Russia (probably after the fall of “Babel”), and “B’nei Israel” (the Children of Israel) in their “journeys” met with the “descendants” of Ashkenaz, intermarried, and thus spreading the belief of ONE GOD to Germany and East Europe, thus we have the “Y’hudim-Ashkenazim” (The Ashkenazim Jewish peoples).
Some say that the desire to “travel” and “journey” is inbred into all Y’hudim, perhaps not all, many Jewish families have stayed in one place for centuries, and others, are on the move. I personally like to travel and go to different places. I have traveled to many states in the USA and to about 12 countries in my “life’s journeys”
As we physically journey from place to place, remember that we are also “journeying” spiritually, being guided (hopefully) by God’s WORD, through his Holy Spirit. May you prosper in your journeys through life,
“Buen Camino Peregrino!” (Have a good walk pilgrim!)
Ben Avraham (Yeah, this was a bit long!)