August 1, 2015 Shabbat Bible Study
©2015 Mark Pitrone and Fulfilling Torah Ministries
Year 3 Sabbath 20
B’Midbar 33:1-56 – YirmeYahu 4:1-2 – Tehellim 118 – Ma’aseh Schlichim 6:7 – 7:60
B’Midbar 33.1-56 – Most people refer to Israel’s ‘Wilderness Wanderings’ (sounds almost like a theme park, which is why I call it “The Wilderness Adventure”). But nothing could be further from the truth. Israel was not wandering. They were being led by Yehovah Yeshua from place to place, and if I were wiser in the real “Bible Code”, which is not to be confused with the hype that those Xian marketing gurus have been using for the last 15 or so years, I could pull some outstanding ‘sod’ teachings out for you. Yehovah had given Moshe instruction to keep a diary of their encampments, as we are told in v.2, and he was now told to rehearse it for the nation and also to record it in Torah.
They started in Rameses, the treasure city, and journeyed to Sukkoth, the tent city. This was probably the site of the grain storage from Yoseph’s day and where the 11 brothers had to face the music (Gen.45). On that site is the ruin of a large building that could have been the grain silo/delivery works of Yoseph. It is very probable, if that is the case, that this is where Yoseph had been buried. He had given instruction that his bones were not to remain in Egypt when Israel left. Moshe honored that instruction:
And Yoseph said unto his brethren, I die: and God will surely visit you, and bring you out of this land unto the land which he sware to Abraham, to Isaac, and to Jacob.  And Yoseph took an oath of the children of Israel, saying, God will surely visit you, and ye shall carry up my bones from hence. (Gen.50.24-25)
19 And Moses took the bones of Yoseph with him: for he had straitly sworn the children of Israel, saying, God will surely visit you; and ye shall carry up my bones away hence with you. 20 And they took their journey from Succoth, and encamped in Etham, in the edge of the wilderness. (Ex.13.19-20)
There are 42 moves and campsites all together. I think it is possible that each move corresponds to the mystical 42 letter Name of the Almighty, the Ayn Sof, but I am not at all equipped to delve into that matter. Chumash DOES speak briefly of this on pg. 918 in the prefatory note to this parsha.
They left Rameses on what would next year, and every year after, be the first day of unleavened bread. It was NOT a Feast until the following year. This year they had to scoot. They made the trip to Succoth and stayed overnight. Then they skedaddled for Etham, which is at the head of the Wadi Watir that leads through a sheer valley to the beach at Pi Hahiroth, modern Nuweiba. Once in the valley, they had to go straight ahead or do an about face and go out the way they had come. By the time they got to Pi Hahiroth, Paroh had closed on them and there was no turning back. Nuweiba is about the only place along the western shore of the Yam Suf that has a beach large enough to support a group of 3-4 million, and it just happens to be about 4-5 miles from ruins of a high watchtower, Migdol (H4024). The description of Pi Hahiroth in B’Midbar fits Nuweiba very well. They would have arrived on what would next year be the last day of unleavened bread, after a one-stop journey of a week’s duration. Pi Hahiroth means “the mouth of the gorges”. There are a number of tributary wadis that run through various gorges and empty into Wadi Watir, which empties into the Yam Suf at Pi Hahiroth. Opposite Pi Hahiroth on the Arabian shore of the Yam Suf lay Baal-Zephon, which means “lord of the north”. This could reference one of 3 things; 1) to Lucifer’s wishful thinking in YeshaYahu 14, “I will sit in the sides of the north”, or 2) to Yehovah because that is the location of his throne which Lucifer covets, or 3) Yes!, depending on whom you worship, Yehovah or idols. Q&C
Vv.8-17 – Once on the opposite side of Yam Suf, they traveled 3 days without a stop and then they pitched at Marah, where they first rebelled vs. Moshe and Yehovah in the perceived need for fresh H2O. As you may remember, they were not OUT of water but they were getting close and, upon seeing water, they wanted to replenish immediately. Under normal circumstances this would actually be a wise thing to do. But, after all the miraculous works that Yehovah had done in their behalf, it would have been better if they had waited for Yehovah’s timing and Moshe’s direction; hindsight, and all that. At Yehovah’s direction Moshe dropped a tree into the bitter water to make it sweet and to satisfy the people’s fear of being out of H2O. Of course, they learned that had they trusted Yehovah they’d have seen his forward thinking, because the next day they came to Elim and the 12 springs of water and the 70 palms. What do you suppose those numbers symbolize? You’d have to have very little knowledge of biblical numerology to NOT know that they symbolize the 12 tribes, the 70 Yacovsons that went into Egypt and the 70 primary nations of the earth. According to Jeff Benner’s Ancient Hebrew concordance, Elim means an ‘arch’, the strongest architectural shape known for passage through a solid structure, like a wall or a rock. Had they awaited ‘the arch’ of Elim, they would have seen how Yehovah had thought it all out ahead of time and was taking them by the best possible route to care for them. The arch is the strongest shape man knows and that is how strong their faith had been had they simply waited on Yehovah’s timing. Just a few more hours of travel – I think just over the next hill. I also think that, had they made it to Elim w/o murmuring, they’d have all crossed at their first encounter with Kadesh.
Next stop is the east shore of Yam Suf, then the Wilderness of Sin (the foothills of the mountains), then to Dophkah (to knock – they were knocking on the door of Sinai?) and then to Alush (a crowd of men).
Next stop is Rephidim, where there was no water at all. As Moshe recounts their travels, he just touches on where they stopped, not what happened in each place or how long they stayed there. In the case of Rephidim, it was not far from Sinai. The Rock there sustained their need for water for a year (and then followed them around for the whole ‘Wilderness Adventure’), as they got the Commandments and the additional laws and priesthood and built the various furnishings of the tabernacle, as well as the tabernacle itself.
Kibroth haTa’avah is the place where b’nei Israel lusted for flesh and Yehovah gave them quail, but (I think) in their lust they ate without cleaning it and making offering to Yehovah. The name means ‘kibroth = grave, of the ta’avah = longing after dainties or lusts’. Not much later we’ll have the Korach/Dathan rebellion over similar lusting after the ‘dainties’ of Egypt. They left Kibroth Hata’avah for Hazeroth, which means ‘yards’ or ‘hamlets’. It was at Hazeroth that Miriam and Aharon murmured against Moshe and Miriam was afflicted with tzara’ath, KJV says ‘leprosy’ (more likely a severe psoriasis). I think I see a word-play in Miriam’s affliction and the name of the place; tzara’ath and chatzeroth – the difference is an ayin in tzara’ath and a vav in chatzeroth, like in the difference between owr (אור – light), as seen in Gen.1, and owr (עור – skin), as seen in Gen.3 and the ‘sod’ level wordplay that develops. I may be fishing, though. I have asked for help on this from a man MUCH more fluent and with more access to Zohar than I. Q&C
Vv.18-32 – They moved, after Miriam was allowed back into camp, from Hazeroth to Rithmah. This Rithmah is actually the Kadesh whence the spies were sent out. Chumash has a good note on this on pg.229. They departed Kadesh for Rimmon Peres, the pomegranate of the breach. Rimmon can be either a pomegranate fruit or tree. The pomegranate is supposed to have 613 seeds. Who had the incredible patience to actually count them and NOT eat them is a better man than me. I love pomegranates. This may be the place where Korach/Dathan pulled their shenanigans. That DID create quite a breach, so much so that the ground opened up and swallowed the perpetrators. So they moved from Rimmon to Libnah, which means to be or become white. This may be the ‘Laban’ of Dt.1.1 that isn’t a place, but a personal name. From Libnah they moved to Rissah, which means to ‘drip to pieces’. Rissah was in ruins and looked like its walls were literally dripping apart, like water.
From Rissah they moved to Kehelethah, to congregate from the root kahal, assembly. Thence they moved to har Shapher, mount beauty. The root shaphar = glisten, beautiful. Next, they moved to Charadah. Charadah means ‘fear, anxiety’. Next they went to Makheloth, which is from the same root and Kehelethah, kahal. It means assemblies. From there they moved to Tachath (bottom) and then to Tarah (uncertain root). Remember that all these places that we have not heard of before are likely places where nothing of consequence happened. But nothing that is mentioned in Torah is of no consequence, so I think the places have some sod application of which I am merely unaware.
From Tarah Israel moved to Mithkah, meaning ‘sweetness’, which is NOT a reference to Walter Payton, though he was very sweet to watch in the broken field. It must have been a place with fruit or honey or something sweet for the entire kahal to enjoy. Next was Chashmonah, meaning fertile, and then to Moseroth, meaning corrections. They then went to B’nei Ya’akan – sons of twisting or torture. From there, they went to Chor Hagidgad – the cave of self-inflicted cuts. That sounds like the 450 prophets of Ba’al on Mt. Carmel. Let’s see: They went from Mithkah (sweetness) to Chashmonah (a fertile place) to Moseroth, (correction) to Bnei Ya’akan (sons of twisting/torture) to Chor Hagidgad (a cave of self-inflicted cuts). Not a good progression in my book. Q&C
Vv.33-56 From ChorHagidgad they went to Yotbathah where they were (accepted) to Ebronah (Hebron?) where they could (cross over). From there they went to Ezion-geber (the spine of a valiant warrior). They were on a spiritual roller coaster, but for now, they are where they probably needed to be.
They camped at Etzion Geber at the northern end of the Yam Suf and their next stop was Kadesh, where Miriam died. Kadesh was the place they went about 1½ years out of Egypt to find that their 12 spies were actually 10 tourists; whose only interest was in bringing home some souvenirs; and 2 men. They returned there just before they started their march towards Canaan. The nations through which they would have to pass had watched them all these years and they had most likely had discussions between themselves on the ‘Israel problem’. They left Kadesh to go to Mt. Hor, where Aharon died and passed his mantle to Elazar. So, the likelihood is that Miriam and Aharon died within about a month of each other.
We’re told that Aharon died in the 40th year after the Exodus on the 1st day of the 5th month. This tells me that they made all the rest of their moves in the next 6 months after Aharon’s demise. I think the amount of movement at the end was a training session to get b’nai Israel used to following orders on a moment’s notice and without hesitation – an attitude they would need when they took the Promised Land from its inhabitant/squatters. I say ‘squatters’ in a kind of Yehovah’s eye view of it, because he had promised Eretz Israel to Avraham 430 years before.
In vv.40ff, Israel is moving around Edom and we get the account of Arad coming out against Israel. Arad means naked, as if Israel caught them with their pants down. This was the 1st Canaanite tribe they came up against since the Amalekites some 39 or so years before after the Rock was spilt to gush water in the desert at Rephidim. It just happens that the same Rock that followed them (1Cor.10.4) had just produced more H2O, and they were at least probed by a Canaanite force. Arad came out against Israel, I infer for the water, taking some Israelites captive (perhaps to learn the source of their H2O). So Israel rescued their captives, met Arad and his people and mopped the floor with them. So Israel left Mt. Hor and pitched near Zalmonah (shady – perhaps they rested there for a while in the shade), and left there for Punon (perplexity). From there they went to Oboth (water-skins), and then Iyey Haabarim (the heap or ruins of those who cross over). This is on the border of Moav. When they left Iyim, they came to Dibongad (pining or mourning a troop) and then to Almown Diblathim (hidden cake of figs?). Then they went to Avarim, where Moshe was told to pass his mantle to Yehoshua and Moshe asked that the passing of the mantle be done publicly so there would be no contention with Yehoshua after the fact. From there they went to Nebo (foreign word) and from there to the plains of Moav across the water from Yericho. Their camp on the east side of Yarden stretched from BethYeshimoth (house of the deserts) to Avel Shittim (meadow of Acacias). That’s a stretch of about 5 miles. The camp is probably still a rough circle of 5 miles diameter. You can see a map at www.bibleatlas.org/beth-jeshimoth.htm. I cannot attest to the accuracy of the map, but it seems reasonably close. 2.5-4 milion people would certainly need a large area to pitch camp.
Vv.50-56 have Yehovah’s marching orders for the conquest of Canaan. It was basically, “Drive them out or kill them all” (vv.52-53 – cf Chumash note on 53, pg.233). And they were told what would result from disobedience to that standing order, (WARNING!! Mark paraphrase coming! Watch out for striking lightning.) “If you don’t drive them out, they will be nothing but trouble and I’ll end up doing to you what I wanted to do to them.” (cf. Chumash note to v.56, pg.234) The Canaanites represent sin to us. It must be driven out or killed in our lives, or it will be nothing but trouble and a vexation to us, and Yehovah will have to chasten us for regarding it. Q&C
YirmeYahu 4.1-2 – Yehovah promised in v.1 that if we would return to him with our whole heart, we would not be exiled from the Land. In v.2 we’re promised that not only will we glory in Yehovah, but by our rejoicing in him the world would rejoice also. Not only did Israel and Judah fail to abide by this promise, but 1950 years of church history proves that the church has failed as well. As with Israel and Judah, there have been short and relatively minor returns to Abba’s ways in church history, as well. But by and large, Yehovah’s people have never AS A WHOLE heeded
And Y’hovah appeared to Solomon by night, and said unto him, I have heard thy prayer, and have chosen this place to myself for an house of sacrifice.  If I shut up heaven that there be no rain, or if I command the locusts to devour the land, or if I send pestilence among my people;  If my people, which are called by my name, shall humble themselves, and pray, and seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways; then will I hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin, and will heal their land. (2 Chron. 7:12-14)
That says nothing about us evangelizing the world, or feeding the hungry, or caring for the sick, though we ought to do those things. It says nothing about the world doing all those things. It says if we, who call on his Name (not his titles) will humble ourselves, and pray, and seek his face, and turn from OUR wicked ways, THEN he will hear from heaven and forgive us and heal OUR land. Why is there war in Israel? The world? Because we like our sin and are too proud to admit it and turn away from it and seek his face. When we do that, I think Ephraim and Judah will come together and call on the Name of Yehovah and actually get the answer we all desire – Messiah coming with clouds. Q&C
Tehellim 118.1- Who is told to say “For his mercy endureth forever”? 3 groups, not counting the reader and the author, 1) Israel (in this case, the whole house of Jacob, not just the northern tribes), 2) The house of Aharon, and 3) those who fear Yehovah. Why was Aharon singled out? Aharon was not a strong character, being easily led. He transgressed in the golden calf and again in the rebellion w/Miriam, and I believe in the Nadav/Avihu incident as well (he was angry w/Yehovah, but his fear, read abject terror, kept him from voicing it). While there is an aspect of fear that can be described as ‘awestruck’, I don’t believe that is the primary meaning here. Fear in v.4 of Tehellim 118 is from the H3373 – yare, which derives from H3372, the primitive root – yare. 3372 means frighten, dread and terrible. I like the way C.S. Lewis put it in ‘The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe’. Susan asked if people wouldn’t be frightened to be face to face with a Lion. Mr. Beaver said that the Lion was the King above all kings, and if one didn’t tremble in the presence of this king, he was either wicked, or stupid or just plain silly. That pretty much describes the one who doesn’t tremble with fear before Yehovah – crazy, stupid, wicked, or a combination of the 3.
When the Psalmist called upon Yehovah, he answered. Distress = exile. When the psalmist is in distress, he calls on Yehovah, who answers for 3 verses by setting him in a large place. Large = open space – figuratively, liberty.
15 So the heathen shall fear the name of Yehovah, and all the kings of the earth thy glory. 16 When Yehovah shall build up Zion, he shall appear in his glory. 17 He will regard the prayer of the destitute, and not despise their prayer. (Ps.102.15-17)
Yehovah is beside him and has taken up his cause, rendering the author without care for what men can do. If only the political nation of Israel – if only those who say they trust Yehovah – would take vv.7-9 to heart and desist trusting in men and nations and insist on trusting Yehovah, we would be invincible. Israel’s enemies have no power in themselves, like Yehovah has. And neither does Israel.
After he says he trusts Yehovah and not man, he says 3 times (vv.10-12), “He surrounds me with his presence, I will therefore destroy any that comes against me.” Remember that he is in distress – exile and tribulation. But since he trusts Yehovah, he fears nothing that man can do to him and KNOWS he will prevail against man’s (and HaSatan’s) devices. In vv.14-16 he recalls the deliverance of Yehovah by his right arm (Moshiach) in the midst of the tribulation. We need to remember this in the days to come (and they are MUCH closer now than they were only yesterday), to not be discouraged by the tribulation we will face, but trust in Yehovah to bring his deliverance (Yeshua haMoshiach) to us. I can personally attest to the truth of vv.17-21
17 I shall not die, but live, and declare the works of Yehovah. 18 Yehovah hath chastened me sore: but he hath not given me over unto death. 19 Open to me the gates of Tzedikah: I will go into them, I will praise Yehovah: 20 THIS gate of Yehovah (Yeshua), into which the tzadik shall enter. 21 I will praise thee: for thou hast heard me, and art become Yeshuati. (Ps.118.17-19)
He did NOT give me over to death, and I shall not die, but LIVE to declare his righteous works. And when I do, he SHALL open to me the gates of righteousness and I SHALL enter through them to give hallel (praise) and hodu (glory) to Yehovah Yeshua’s Name.
The Messiah who was rejected by men will become the head cornerstone of all scripture and all history. The day that he ascends the throne is the day that Yehovah has made. It will be marvelous (miraculous) and we WILL rejoice and be glad in that day. Vv.25-26 are the very words that the people were saying as Messiah entered Yerushalayim on the donkey 4 days before his death on the tree
Hosheana! … Baruch haba b’Shem Yehovah! (vv.25.26)
It was the day that the Kohen Gadol brought the Pesach Lamb into the city to be examined for 4 days, the very process Yeshua went through for those 4 days in the Temple. V.27 describes the impaling of Yeshua on the tree after being bound to its corners. He is our Elohim, and his atoning death shows forth his mercy, which literally is forever for those who trust him. Q&C
Ma’aseh Shlichim 6.7 – I think v.7 shows the underlying reason the power brokers had to shut Stephen up – “a great company of priests were obedient to the faith”. If the priests became followers of Yeshua, how long would it be before the Temple services stopped? I think that one reason the Temple was destroyed by Rome is because the priests kept offering the atonement on Yom Kippur, which Hebrews tells us is walking all over Yeshua, counting his blood common and despising Ruach’s grace.
29 Of how much sorer punishment, suppose ye, shall he be thought worthy, who hath trodden under foot the Son of God, and hath counted the blood of the covenant, wherewith he was sanctified, an unholy thing, and hath done despite unto the Spirit of grace? (Hebrews 10.29)
That’s why I think the powers that were then had to stop the Way of Yeshua – the source of their power and control was slipping away. The religion of Israel had long before been turned to fables and false gods, as Stephen tells them in his monologue. He just truthfully rehearse Israel’s history straight out of Tanakh and show that the religious authorities had always been more about controlling the people (Nicolaitan) than Torah’s righteousness. The PTB had to silence that sect and Stephen in particular or lose their sweet deal.
The main reason the people came against Stephen is given in
Acts 6:13-14 (KJV)
And set up false witnesses, which said, This man ceaseth not to speak blasphemous words against this holy place, and the law:  For we have heard him say, that this Yeshua of Nazareth shall destroy this place, and shall change the customs which Moses delivered us.
‘He incessantly blasphemes the law, the customs which Moshe delivered to us’, they said. This speaks of the ‘oral law’ (customs), not Torah. These are the Pharisees, who held more in that day to the oral traditions than to Torah. Stephen ran rings around them – even around Sha’ul of Tarsus – with Torah, and they couldn’t refute him, because they were relying on the ‘oral law’ – words of men, while he resorted to Torah – the Word of Yehovah. It was no contest.
Acts 7:53 (KJV)
(Pharisees) Who have received the law by the disposition of angels, and have not kept it.
Stephen made some powerful enemies, who wanted nothing more than to kill him. And they did. I think that the fact that Stephen, presumably an unlearned man, was able to run rings around Sha’ul, the chief talmid of Gamliel whom Gamliel was grooming to be his successor as chief rabbi of Jerusalem, using Torah alone is what REALLY got Sha’ul’s attention. He had been taken to the intellectual cleaners by a man with little or no schooling and it hurt his pride. When Stephen rehearsed all the history of Israel, from Avraham onward in about 4-5 minutes and then applied its sod level meaning to the crowd that was listening in general, and Sha’ul in particular, I think it cut Sha’ul to the quick. Perhaps Sha’ul could not have done such a good job in the same rehearsal. I think he HATED Stephen and engineered his stoning (which was done outside of Torah’s instructions because there was neither verdict, condemnation nor sentence passed down) while standing by to keep the Temple guards from stopping Stephen’s executioners.
V.60 is a perfect example of the principle of ‘loosing’ vice ‘binding.’ He forgave and asked Yehovah to forgive his murderers. This is what Yeshua meant when he said
Matthew 18:15-20 (KJV)
Moreover if thy brother shall trespass against thee, go and tell him his fault between thee and him alone: if he shall hear thee, thou hast gained thy brother.  But if he will not hear thee, then take with thee one or two more, that in the mouth of two or three witnesses every word may be established.  And if he shall neglect to hear them, tell it unto the church: but if he neglect to hear the church, let him be unto thee as an heathen man and a publican.  Verily I say unto you, Whatsoever ye shall bind on earth shall be bound in heaven: and whatsoever ye shall loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven.  Again I say unto you, That if two of you shall agree on earth as touching any thing that they shall ask, it shall be done for them of my Father which is in heaven.  For where two or three are gathered together in my name, there am I in the midst of them.
Binding and loosing have to do w/forgiveness of trespasses against us, a la, Mat.6, …forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors. Only Yehovah can forgive impersonal sins, violations of Torah. And only we can forgive a wrong done to us, as Stephen did. I’ll bet that cut Sha’ul more to the quick than all the preaching he ever heard or would hear. Conviction of sin is very uncomfortable. When others do it to us, we get resentful (because we know he’s right!). Q&C
End of Midrashic study.