Parashah 26: Sh’mini (Eighth)

Parashah 26: Leviticus 9:1-11:47

“On the eighth day, Moshe called Aaron, his sons and the leaders of Isra’el …” (Leviticus 9:1)

After spending seven days in the Tabernacle, Aaron and his sons are called by Yahweh to make offerings.  The number eight in Hebrew is sh’mona and is represented by the letter ‘chet’ picturing an ‘inner room.’  The number eight symbolizes ‘new beginnings.’ Eight people in Noah’s family were saved on the Ark and would have a ‘new beginning’ in a changed world.  The circumcision of a baby boy happens on the eighth day, a new beginning as a child of the covenant.   Feast of Tabernacles is an eight-day festival prophetic to the restoration of the Kingdom. Yeshua was resurrected on the first day of the week, but in a continuous cycle of days,  it was the eighth day.   All dedications of the Tabernacle took eight days and the story of the holy oil lasting eight days during the days of the Maccabees brought a new beginning for Temple.

Aaron offered a calf for a sin offering, a ram for a burnt offering as atonement for himself and the people.  The people of Isra’el were to offer a male goat for a sin offering and a calf and a lamb for a burnt offering, an ox and ram for a peace offering, and a grain offering mixed with olive oil for their own atonement.  These sacrifices needed to be offered because “today Adonai is going to appear to you” (Leviticus 9:4).

Aaron presented his offerings as Yahweh instructed.  Aaron dipped his finger in the blood of the sin offering and put it on the four horns of the Altar of Sacrifice; the rest was and poured out at its base.  The fat was burned up on the Altar and the meat was completely burned up outside the camp.  The blood of the burnt offering was splashed against the sides of the Altar.  Piece by piece the animal, including the head, went up in smoke on the Altar.  After washing the organs and lower parts of the legs, they were burnt on the Altar and went up in smoke.

Aaron presented the people’s offerings.  He presented their sin and burnt offerings just like he did his own.  For the grain offering, he took a handful and made it go up in smoke on the Altar, in addition to the morning’s burnt offering.  The blood from the peace offering was splashed against the sides of the Altar and all the fat was put on the breasts and the fat went up in smoke on the Altar.  Aaron made a wave offering of the right thigh and breasts as he was instructed. 

Aaron raised his hands toward the people, blessed them and came down from offering the sin offering, the burnt offering and the peace offerings.  Moshe and Aaron entered the Tent of Meeting, came out and blessed the people.  Then the glory of Adonai  appeared to all the people.  Fire came forth from the presence of Adonai, consuming the burnt offering and the fat on the altar.  When all the people saw it, they shouted and fell on their faces” (Leviticus 9:22-24).

BUT … A Small BUT Important Word

“BUT Nadav and Avihu, the sons of Aaron, each took their censer, put fire in it, laid incense on it, and offered unauthorized fire before Adonai, something he had not ordered them to do.  Fire came down from the presence of Adonai and consumed them, so that they died in the presence of Adonai” (Leviticus 10:1-2).

BUT is a small word, BUT it is very important in the context of this account.  BUT, interrupts the glorious events of the day when fire from the presence of Yahweh consumes  the burnt offering while the people of Isra’el shouted and fell on the faces.

Priests were to be obedient in every aspect of their service to Elohim in the Mishkan.  Everything was to be done precisely as instructed byYahweh.  BUT,  Nadav and Avihu did something they had not been instructed to do. 

They offered ‘unauthorized fire’ or as some Bible’s translate ‘strange fire.’  Though burning incense was part of the priestly duties, they had not been given instructions to do it. They may have been caught up in the awe of the moment or were responding to the joy of being in Yahweh’s presence, but in either case, the fire was ‘strange fire’ and unacceptable to Yahweh.  In Hebrew, ‘strange fire’ is esh zarah; esh means ‘fire’ and zarah means ‘to winnow, scatter or cast away.’ 

Hebrew Word Pictures

Nadav (Gives) – נדב – noon, dalet, bet

– the life, the door to the house

Avihu (He is my father)אביהואalef, vav, yod, hey, vav, alef

– the strong binding of the finished work revealed bound to the first

When King David wanted to bring the Ark of  the Covenant to Jerusalem, he had it set on a new cart pulled by oxen driven by Uzza and Achyo.  When they arrived at the threshing floor of Nachon, the oxen stumbled and the Ark began to fall off the cart.   Uzza reached out to steady it and Elohim immediately struck him dead.  Uzza’s  intention was to protect the Ark, BUT his action was unacceptable to Elohim. 

“One aspect of the modern church that most saddens and concerns me is that believers are no longer encouraged to have a healthy fear of God. We seem to assume that the fear of the Lord is something that belonged to the Old Testament period and is not to be a part of the life of the Christian. But fear of God involves not simply a trembling before His wrath, but a sense of reverence and awe because of His glorious holiness.  Even though we are living on the finished side of the cross, the fear of the Lord is still the beginning of wisdom (Psalm 111:10a).  God is still a consuming fire, a jealous God (Deuteronomy 4:24). When we come into His presence, we are to come as children, as those who have been reconciled, BUT there is to be a godly fear inspired by respect for the One with whom we are dealing.”

Over the centuries, the church has lost its reverence for the holy words of Elohim and has embraced and promoted ‘unauthorized’ holidays.  Though believers may not be consumed by fire as Nadav and Avihu or struck dead like Uzza, they are still offering profane gifts that have cut them off from the roots of the their faith and are slowly dying.

The New King James Version calls the strange fire,  ‘profane’ which is chalal in Hebrew and means “to pollute or defile.”   The root of chalal is chol and means ‘common.’   The event of esh zarah should be a warning to each of us.  We may think something we do honors Elohim, BUT if it is ‘unauthorized,’ we will be cast away.   The profane fire offered by priests who had been consecrated as “Holy to Yahweh” cut them off from the people of Isra’el through death!

“Through those who are near me I will be consecrated, and before all the people I will be glorified” (Leviticus 10:3).

Aaron kept silent. 

“I said, “I will watch how I behave, so that I won’t sin with my tongue; I will put a muzzle on my mouth….  I was silent, said nothing, not even good;  but my pain kept being stirred up. My heart grew hot within me; whenever I thought of it, the fire burned” (Psalm 39:1-3).

What could Aaron say?  What words could possibly express what he had just witnessed?  Two of his sons, who had been given the high calling of cohen, had offered esh zerah and were now dead.   Their cousins removed their bodies, still wearing their tunics,  from in front of the Mishkan and carried them outside the camp.   The community of Isra’el mourned their deaths, but Aaron and his two living sons, Eliezar and Itamar, were instructed not to mourn.

They were told not to unbind their hair or tear their clothes so they wouldn’t die and make ‘I AM’ angry with the entire community.  They were told not to leave the Tabernacle or they would die because they still had anointing oil on them.   They were told not to drink intoxicating liquor, basically get drunk to drown their pain, or they would die.   In the midst of the agonizing pain that Aaron and his living sons were experiencing, Yahweh was training them to distinguish between the holy and the profane.

Hebrew Word Pictures

El’azar or Eliezer (God has helped)אליעזרalef, lamed, yod, ayin, zayin, resh

the first shepherd, the finished work seen dividing the head

Itamar (Palm Island) – איתמר – alef, yod, tav, mem, resh

the first finished work, the sign of the mighty head

Moshe told Aaron and his living sons to make a grain offering from the offerings made by fire to Yahweh.  They were to eat it without leaven next to the Altar. They were to eat it in a holy place because it was their share of the especially holy offering.  The breast and thigh that was waved as a peace offering was to be eaten by Aaron, his sons and daughters, in a ’clean’ place. 

Somewhere in the confusion of the consuming fire and the death of their brothers, Eleazar and Itamar messed up, too. The goat for the sin offering for Isra’el went missing.  Moshe discovered it had been burned up and became angry with Eleazar and Itamar. When he questioned Aaron, Aaron finally spoke, “Even though they offered their sin offering and burnt offering today, things like these have happened to me!  If I had eaten the sin offering today, would it have pleased Adonai?” (Leviticus 10:19)

Aaron’s heart was not right before Yahweh to eat the sin offering.  His response reveals his humanity and also his righteous faith.  He understood the deeper purpose for the sin offering and proved himself as the high priest of Yahweh.

Priestly Responsibilities

“So that you will distinguish between the holy and the common, and between the unclean and the clean; and so that you will teach the people of Isra’el all the commandments Adonai has told them through Moshe” (Leviticus 10:10-11).

Being part of any sanctified priesthood has responsibilities.  Just because we have put our faith in Yeshua, doesn’t mean that we no longer have holy responsibilities.

The Levitical priests were to teach all of the instructions given by Yahweh to Moshe.  The royal priesthood has the same responsibility.   In order to teach the commands of Elohim, we must know the instructions.  The consuming focus of Elohim’s amazing grace has brought many believers to the place where they don’t know the instructions of Elohim. Lawlessness abounds and sin is accepted in personal lives as well as in the community of believers.

Every priest of Elohim is to distinguish between the holy and the profane or common.  Common means ‘ordinary or everyday’ while profane means ‘to defile.’  Common activities are distinct from what is unique to the few.  The customs of the nations are common while the instructions to the Israelites were not.   The six days of creation are common while the Sabbath is not.   The name of Elohim is not to be profaned or made common because it is holy, yet many use His name in a common, profane way.

Distinguish Between the Clean and Unclean

Every sanctified priest is to distinguish between what is holy and what is common and between what is ‘clean’ and ‘unclean.’  There were ‘clean’ and ‘unclean’ rules for hygiene and overall physical health.  There were different ‘clean’ and ‘unclean’  rules for men, women and priests.  There were ‘clean’ and ‘unclean’ rules for sickness and infectious disease.  Leviticus 11 describes ‘clean’ and ‘unclean’ animals giving instructions for what He considers food and what He does not.

“For I am Adonai, who brought you up out of the land of Egypt to be your God. Therefore you are to be holy, because I am holy.  Such, then, is the law concerning animals, flying creatures, all living creatures that move about in the water, and all creatures that swarm on the ground.  Its purpose is to distinguish between the unclean and the clean, and between the creatures that may be eaten and those that may not be eaten” (Leviticus 11:45-47).

Elohim begins His instructions about foods by describing “the living creatures which you may eat among all the land animals” (Leviticus 11:2).  Yahweh is the Creator of all things.  He can tell us what we may eat and want we may not eat.  He is the potter and we are his clay vessels (Isaiah 29:16).  We are not to question His instructions, only hear His voice and obey His commands.

The dietary instructions were not about health or a healthy diet.  They were about faith and believing our Creator. “Without faith it is impossible to please God” (Hebrews 11:16).

Chew Cud and Divided Hoof

In order to eat certain mammals, they must chew the cud and have a divided hoof.  These animals do not have both and were not created as food:  camel, coney, rabbit, pig, horse, squirrel, and donkey.  We do not eat camels,  horses or donkeys so why do we eat rabbits, pigs and squirrels?

Water Creatures

Any fish that has fins or scales may be eaten.  This would include salmon, trout, halibut, perch, rockfish, bass, and albacore.

Traditional Net

While in Isra’el, our family took a little boat excursion on the Sea of Galilee.  The boat pilot, a Messianic Jew, showed us how to throw a traditional fishing or casting net over the side of the boat.  It was  round with weights along the edge and had no bottom.   Attached to the net was a landline and was held in his hand as he threw the net.  When the net was cast out into the water, it sunk.  When it was pulled back up, only the fish that had fins and scales were caught.  The others, the bottom dwellers, swam away.

Any water creature without fins and scales, like shrimp, oysters, lobster and clams,  are detestable to Elohim.   Detestable in Hebrew is sheqets and means ‘abhorrent’ or ‘abomination.’  Abomination is toebah and means ‘causing disgust or hatred.’  When we choose to eat things that Elohim considers detestable, we become an abomination and are no longer ‘righteous’ because we didn’t trust Him and obey His instructions.

Creatures of the Air

The list of detestable creatures, not to be eaten include eagles, vultures, osprey, ostrich, screech-owl, little owl, the cormorant, the great owl, the horned owl, the barn owl, the pelican, the stork, the hoopoe, seagull, various kinds of herons, buzzards, ravens and hawks, and the bat.

The list of detestable animals from pig to seafood to creatures of the air includes all of the animals created as beasts of burden or scavengers.  Scavengers eat the garbage of man (pig);  they eat the garbage of the oceans (shrimp, lobster, scallops);  and they eat the carcasses dead animals (eagles and vultures).  When we eat these animals, we eat the garbage of the land and sea. 

Touching carcass of a dead animal, even a ‘clean’ animal, makes an individual ‘unclean.’  Whoever touches the carcass of a dead animal is to wash their clothes and be ‘unclean’ until evening.  Simply, this means good hygiene after dealing with a dead animal. We do this in our western culture because it is logical and wise,  but it also is an instruction of Elohim.

Winged Insects

All winged swarming creatures that move on all fours are detestable unless they have jointed legs above their feet enabling them to jump off the ground.  The ones that may be eaten as food are all kinds of locusts, grasshoppers, katydids and crickets.

Several years ago we had a plague of grasshoppers.  They ate everything from the vegetable garden and summer flowers to the screens on our windows.  During that plague, I actually researched how to prepare and cook grasshoppers. If we were ever in need of food, grasshoppers could become our sustenance along with all the crickets that hide out in our basement.

“If one of them [unclean winged insect] falls into a clay pot, whatever is in it will become unclean, and you are to break the pot.  Any food permitted to be eaten that water from such a vessel gets on will become unclean, and any permitted liquid in such a vessel will become unclean… even a stove or oven…” (Leviticus 33:34).

This verse instructs about a fly falling into a pot of stew or chicken soup.  Though it’s difficult to throw it away, it needs to be disposed of in its entirety.  Living in the country where flies abound, I have never had to actually throw away a pot of stew, but their constant presence in my kitchen makes the event likely and it is very disconcerting.

Selah

Clay jars that have something detestable fall in them are to be destroyed.  According to 2 Corinthians 4:7, we are clay jars.  We can either contain treasures or abominations.

 

Small Creatures

There small creatures are not considered food by Elohim: the weasel, mouse, various kinds of lizards, the gecko, crocodile, the skink, sand-lizard and the chameleon.  When they are dead, they are ‘unclean’ and anything that touches them, including food utensils becomes ‘unclean’ and must be washed.

Be Holy As I Am Holy

“I made myself accessible to those who didn’t ask for me, I let myself be found by …a nation not called by my name. I spread out my hands all day long to a rebellious people… who follow their own inclinations; a people who provoke me to my face all the time…they eat pig meat and their pots hold soup made from disgusting things” (Isaiah 65:1-4).

Elohim’s reason for giving us dietary rules: He wants us to be holy as He is holy.  He doesn’t want only Isra’el to be set apart for Him, He also wants those who love His Son to become holy, distinguishing between the ‘clean’ and ‘unclean,’ between the animals that were created as food and those that were not.  It was disobedience to one simple food command that brought sin into the world.  Because of disobedience to Elohim’s one instruction about the fruit of a tree, Adam and Eve were kicked out of Paradise.

“But it tastes good.  I like it.” A response like this reveals the heart condition of those who refuse to accept that Elohim has dietary instructions.  Yeshua did not suffer death on the cross to redeem the pig, the eagle or the lizard.  Peter understood that his vision was not about suddenly being free to have a pork roast, but that the message of salvation in the Messiah of Isra’el was going to the gentiles. 

The Real Problem with ‘Porky the Pig’

Did you know that Jewish people who were forced to convert to a new religion called Christianity were called marranos?   This word in Spanish means ‘damned, accursed, banned and HOG’.   It was applied to Spanish and Portuguese Jews when they succumbed to eating the flesh of swine in order to save their lives.

Pig in the form of  pork, sausage or bacon has been used throughout Christian history to force Jewish people to convert to Christianity on pain of death.  Jewish people converted to this foreign religion with a trinity of gods to avoid cruel and inhumane persecutions based solely on the fact that they obeyed Yahweh’s commandments. They followed the dietary instructions, they circumcised their sons and kept the Sabbath along with the  Feasts of Elohim.  They were forced with threat of death to disobey Elohim’s commands in order to reside within the church community as a marrano ‘pig’ convert by eating the flesh of swine.

The whole issue of eating pork and other pig byproducts has been and continues to be used by the enemy to keep Jewish people from knowing the love of Elohim through their own Messiah.  It is used (and eaten) explicitly by people who say they love Jesus Christ!  This is unfortunate because Jewish people are looking for a Messiah who will teach the Torah in proper perspective as Yeshua did.  They do not recognize a pork eating, Sabbath breaking Christian Jesus as their deliverer and they never will.

“As people who obey God, do not let yourselves be shaped by the evil desires you used to have when you were still ignorant. On the contrary, following the Holy One who called you, become holy yourselves in your entire way of life” (1 Peter 1:14-15).

Yeshua and Bread

An Exegesis of Mark 7

“The Pharisees and some of the teachers of law Torah who had come from Jerusalem gathered around Yeshua and saw some of his disciples eating food with ‘unclean’–that is, ceremonially unwashed–hands” (verse 1).

Notice two things.  First, the disciples were eating food.  The word ‘food’ in this verse is the Greek word artos and means ‘bread.’  The disciples were eating bread. Second, they had not washed their hands.

“The Pharisees and all the Jews do not eat unless they give their hands a ceremonial washing, holding to the tradition of the elders” (verse 2).

This verse specifically states that hand washing was a prerequisite to eating food, in this case bread.  Hand washing was a tradition that even involved a certain way to wash the hands.

“When they come from the marketplace they do not eat unless they wash.  And they observe many other traditions, such as the washing of cups, pitchers and kettles” (verse 3).

This verse explains the tradition was not just about hand washing, but about washing everything they used.  The traditions of the elders made cooking and eating a burden because of all the rules.

“So the Pharisees and teachers of the Torah asked Yeshua, ‘Why don’t your disciples live according to the tradition of the elders instead of eating their food with ‘unclean‘ hands?” (verse 4).

The question asked in this verse is not about what the disciples were eating, but why they were not following the tradition of the elders in regard to hand washing. The disciples were eating with ‘unclean‘ or unwashed hands.

“Yeshua replied, ‘Isaiah was right when he prophesied about you hypocrits; as it is written ‘These people honor me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me.  They worship me in vain; their teachings are but rules taught by men.  You have let go of the commands of God and are holding on to the traditions of men.‘  …And he said to them, ‘You have a fine way of setting aside the commands of God in order to observe your own traditions” (verses 6-8).

From this point on, there is no further mention of food artos – ‘clean’ or ‘unclean.’  The issue being disputed is the traditions or manmade laws that nullify the commandments of Elohim, specifically hand washing.   

Yeshua continues to give other examples where the Pharisees and teachers of Torah  “nullify the word of God by your tradition that you have handed down” (verse 13).

“Again Yeshua called the crowd to him and said, ‘Listen to me, everyone, and understand this.  Nothing outside a man can make him ‘unclean’ by going into him.  Rather, it is what comes out of a man that makes him ‘unclean” (verse 14).

In this verse, Yeshua never mentions food, bread.    He says that nothing outside a man can make him ‘unclean’ referring to something that had to do with the tradition of hand washing.

“After he had left the crowd and entered the house, the disciples asked him about this parable.  ‘Are you so dull?’ he asked.  ‘Don’t you see that nothing that enters a man from the outside can make him ‘unclean’?  For it doesn’t go into his heart, but into his stomach, and then out of his body (into the latrine)” (verses 17-19).

Yeshua does not mention food when he explains the parable to his disciples.   He says, ‘no thing’ that enters a man from outside can make him ‘unclean’.   Consider the issue being discussed: the ceremonial hand washing.  Yeshua’s disciples had come from the marketplace or a grain field or even the Sea of Galilee.  Their hands were dirty and they were eating bread (artos).  This offended those leaders who held to the tradition of the elders in regard to ritual hand washing.  According to the tradition, no one is supposed to eat food, in this case bread, with dirty hands.  Yeshua tells his disciples that dirty hands don’t make a man dirty or ‘unclean’ in his heart.   The dirt that may enter his mouth on the bread will go through his body and out into the toilet.

The next verse causes the confusion. “In saying this, Yeshua declared all foods clean” (verse 19).  In some versions of the Bible there is a footnote clarifying that this parenthetical statement was added later by translators.  This means that some translator injected their opinion rather than taking the Scriptural events at face value.

However, on some level what the translator wrote is true.  Everything created by Elohim for food is ‘clean.’  However, the specific food spoken about in this passage,  artos or bread, has always been and always will be ‘clean.’  Some versions have translated artos as ‘meat’ taking this discourse into a very different direction than what Yeshua meant and his disciples understood.

(For further exegesis on clean and unclean foods and Noah, Peter’s Vision, and the Council of Jerusalem, click here.)

Haftarah (Readings of the Prophets)

2 Samuel 6:1-7:17

2 Samuel 7:11-13

Isaiah 66:15-17

B’rit Chadashah (New Testament Readings)

Mark 7:1-23

Acts 5:1-11

Romans 14:1-8

Galatians 2:11-16

Midrash Sh’mini: Purifying Body and Spirit

Discuss 2 Corinthians 6:14-7:1 and the result of ‘touching no unclean thing.’  Discuss Biblical ways to purify body and spirit from those things that defile in order to be completely holy.

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©2018 Tentstake Ministries

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