“Adonai said to Moshe, ‘Tell Aharon, When you set up the lamps, the seven lamps are to cast their light forward, in front of the menorah’” (Numbers 8:1-2).
The seven lamps of the Menorah were to cast their light forward. Where the Menorah sat in the Holy Place, the light would shine eastward lighting the Holy Place (Matthew 24:27). Adonai reminds the people that the Menorah was made from hammered gold from its base to its branches to its flowers following the pattern that Moshe saw on the mountain.
The Hebrew word for ‘branch’ is netzer and literally means a ‘shoot or a sprout,’ as in Isaiah 11:1, “But a branch will emerge from the trunk of Yishai, a shoot will grow from his roots.” This verse prophesies that the Messiah would come from the lineage of Jesse, the father of King David. Netzer is the root of ‘Nazareth’ where Joseph and Miryam lived and raised Yeshua. This is why he is referred to as Yeshua of Nazareth and his early followers were known as Nazarenes or ‘branchites’ because they followed the Branch.
Josephus describes the first-century Nazarene movement as being made up of mostly Jewish followers of Yeshua who were concentrated in the area known as Palestine and surrounding regions. They were led by James, the older brother of Yeshua, and flourished between the years 30-80 CE. They were zealous for the Torah and continued to walk in all the mitzvot as enlightened by their Rabbi and Teacher, but accepted gentiles in accordance with some Noachide Laws. In Acts 24:5, Sha’ul is considered the ‘ringleader’ of the Netzarim movement. The term ‘Christian,’ first used in Greek speaking areas for the movement, actually is an attempt to translate the term Nazarene and means ‘Messianist.’
Hebrew Word Pictures
Branch or netzer – נצר – nun, tzade, resh
– life draws near the highest authority
Nazareth or natzrat – נצרת – nun, tzade, resh, tav
– life pulls toward the highest authority of the covenant
The Levite Wave Offering
Levite men served in the Tabernacle between the ages of 25 and 50. After 50, they assisted and purified themselves as part of the calling to the priesthood, but did no work. Each man shaved their entire body with a razor, washed their clothes, cleansed their bodies, and were sprinkled with purification water. Once cleansed, they were presented in front of the Mishkan before the whole nation of Isra’el. The people laid hands on the priests while Aaron offered them to Adonai as a wave offering, set-apart for service in the Tabernacle. The priests laid their hands on the bulls –– a burnt offering and a sin offering –– while Aaron made atonement for them.
“‘Come out from them and be separate,’ says the Lord. ‘Touch no unclean thing, and I will receive you.’ And, ‘I will be a Father to you, and you will be my sons and daughters, says the Lord Almighty.’ Therefore, since we have these promises, dear friends, let us purify ourselves from everything that contaminates body and spirit, perfecting holiness out of reverence for God” (2 Corinthians 6:17-7).
Purifying ourselves like the Levite priests is an essential part of our calling as followers of Messiah if we want to be called sons and daughters of El Elyon. Second Corinthians set our family on the walk of faith that we have today. We had never been taught the difference between ‘clean’ and ‘unclean’ or what defiled our body and our spirit. We assumed that we were holy and pure because we believed in Jesus. Yet, James says “even demons believe in him … and shudder” (James 2:19). We are called to more than a belief system, we are called to be part of the family of Adonai. We are instructed to purify ourselves from defilement because the Father has allowed us to be called His sons and daughters. As His children, He wants us to be pure, reverence Him, and bring honor to His family.
Another Year Begins … Pesach
“Adonai spoke to Moshe in the Sinai Desert in the first month of the second after they had left the land of Egypt. ‘Let the people of Isra’el observe Pesach at its designated time. On the fourteenth day of this month, at dusk, you are to observe it – at its appointed time’” (Numbers 9:1-3).
Two years have passed since the Israelites left Egypt. They have received Adonai’s commandments and spent an entire year making His Mishkan. It’s now time to begin the annual cycle of His ‘appointed times.’ The Israelites were to eat the Pesach lamb, breaking none of its bones, with matzah (unleavened bread), and maror (bitter herbs). Nothing was to remain until morning.
According to His grace and mercy, Adonai added an instruction for Pesach. If anyone had become ‘unclean’ from touching a dead body or had to travel at Passover, they were allowed to observe it on the fourteenth day of the second month. However, anyone who was ‘clean’ or not traveling and failed to observe Pesach at its ‘appointed time’ would bear the consequence of their sin. This same rule applied to the foreigner as well as the native born as the ‘appointed time’ is not only for Isra’el, but for everyone who join with them in worshiping the Elohim of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob.
The Sukkah of Elohim
“A cloud covered the tabernacle, that is, the tent of the testimony; and in the evening over the tabernacle was what appeared to be fire, which remained until morning” (Numbers 9:15).
While the Israelites camped in the wilderness, Exodus chapter 16 records that they had tents, but they were also covered by the sukkah of Elohim. His cloud covering kept them cool during the day and His fire warmed them at night. Whenever the cloud of His sukkah lifted, the Israelites would pack up and travel. When the cloud of His sukkah over them stopped, they stopped. If the cloud of His sukkah continued both day and night, they would travel days, weeks or months until it stopped. This cloud and fire sukkah allude to the Millennial Kingdom in Jerusalem and Mount Tziyon.
“Adonai will create over the whole site of Mount Tziyon and over those who assemble there a smoking cloud by day and a shining, flaming fire by night; for the Glory will be over everything like a huppah. A sukkah will give shade by day from the heat; it will also provide refuge and cover from storm and rain” (Isaiah 4:5-6).
A huppah or ‘chuppah’ is a bridal canopy symbolizing Elohim’s presence at a wedding. It is said the Ehyeh Asher Ehyeh hovers above it sanctifying the space below. A huppah is made of a square cloth of satin or velvet; sometimes even a large talit or prayer shawl is used. It is supported by four wooden posts held by four men. The wedding ceremony is conducted under the huppah representing the new ‘home’ being established, and after the wedding ceremony, some rabbis invite couples to stand inside to recall their own weddings.
According to the first-century Rabbi Akiva, the Israelites did not actually build and live in sukkot made of wood and vegetation. Rather they resided in sukkot made of the supernatural ‘clouds of glory.’ The observance of sukkot today remembers, but does not reenact, this dimension of the Exodus. The sukkot constructed and inhabited today symbolize a very different kind of sukkah that sheltered our ancestors in the desert.
According to Rabbi Eliezer, a sage of the first and second centuries, if our annual dwelling in sukkot reenacts the real sukkot (booths) in which the Israelites resided in the wilderness, then the conception of the commandment and its experience works differently. A real sukkah is a fragile and impermanent structure, a ‘temporary dwelling’ as rabbinic halacha would later define it. The Israelites, in this view, were vulnerable and insecure throughout the years of wandering, exposed to the elements and susceptible to attack. On Sukkot, we move out of our solid and enduring houses to reenact this experience of vulnerability and instability [needing to put our complete trust in HaShem].
“We know that when the tent which houses us here on earth is torn down, we have a permanent building from God, a building not made by human hands, to house us in heaven” (2 Corinthians 5:1).
“Make two trumpets; make them of hammered silver. Use them for summoning the community and for sounding the call to break camp and move on” (Numbers 10:1).
For an Israelite, the blowing of the silver trumpets was important. The sound let them know if they, as a nation, were to assemble at the Tabernacle or only the leaders were to come. When it was time to move camp, the sounding of the trumpet would let each tribal group know when to set out. When there was war, the trumpet sounded the alarm so ‘I Am’ would remember them and save them from their enemies.
The same holds true for the ‘blowing’ at the Yom Teruah. Each of the four blasts of the trumpet or shofar has a purpose and meaning.
Tekiah means to ‘blow or blast.’ It is a medium length blast with a low to high pitch transition having a hard, short push on low pitch, slight sustain on high pitch, sometimes ended with a short, pushing higher pitched burst. This tekiah is used to gather Adonai’s people together. It was probably the sound used in Joshua 6:5 when the Israelites assembled at Jericho.
Shevarim means ‘broken.’ It consists of three blasts each low-to-high pitch sounded three in a row. The shevarim is a call to repentance. This was probably the blast used in Isaiah 58:1 because the ‘brokenness’ of the blasts signified the need for ‘brokenness’ in the hearts of the children of Isra’el.
Teruah is the battle warning or alarm blast. It consists nine or more rapid one-second pitch bursts like stacatto. The teruah is probably the sound heard when Gideon attacked the Midianites in Judges 7:22. It is most likely the trumpet sound that will begin the ‘Day of Adonai’ as prophesied in Joel 2:1-2.
Tekiah Gadolah is the long, great blast or the Great Shofar. It is similar to the tekiah, only the high note at the end is sustained for the longest possible breath ending with a violent, short, pushed-out breath of an even higher-pitched note. The tekiah gaolah is the blast of resurrection hope prophesied in Isaiah 26:19 and 1 Corinthians 15:53-54.
The Travels Begin
From the time the Israelites left Egypt until they arrived in the Promised Land 40 years later, they made numerous stops. They stopped at Ramses in Egypt, Sukkoth near the Egyptian border, Etham on the edge of the desert, Pi-Hahiroth near the Red Sea, Marah where the water was bitter, Elim where they had wells and palm trees, the desert of Sin where they received manna and quail, Rephidim where Moshe strikes the ‘Rock’ and water gushes out, and the Sinai Desert where they received the commandments of Adonai.
After the Pesach, the Israelites packed their tents to set out on their first journey, moving out in their tribal units as directed by Elohim. The lead group was Judah, Issachar, and Zebulun. The Tabernacle was taken down and Gershon and Merari carried it. They were followed by Reuben, Simeon, and Gad. The descendants of Kohath packed and moved the sanctuary so the Tabernacle could be set up when they arrived. Ephraim, Manasseh and, Benjamin followed the Kohathites. Dan, Asher, and Naftali brought up the rear. Each tribe was under their own banner and chosen leader.
The Ark of the Covenant went ahead searching for a place for them to stop. Before it moved, Moshe would speak these words: “‘Arise Aonai! May your enemies be scattered! Let those who hate you flee before you!’ Whenever the Ark stopped he said: ‘Return, Adonai of the many, many thousands of Isra’el!’” (Numbers 10:35)
“Let God arise, let his enemies be scattered; let those who hate him flee from his presence. Drive them away as smoke is driven away; like wax melting in the presence of a fire, let the wicked perish in the presence of God. But let the righteous rejoice and be glad in God’s presence; yes, let them exult and rejoice” (Psalm 68:1-3).
The Ark of the Covenant searched for a place for them to stop.
Tav’erah – The Place of Burning
“Do everything without grumbling or arguing, so that you may become blameless and pure, children of God without fault in a warped and crooked generation. Then you will shine among them like stars in the sky as you hold firmly to the word of life” (Philippians 2:14-16).
After a three-day walk, the people began complaining. Imagine traveling through a wilderness and having to carry every belonging, including the Tabernacle and all its gold accessories and heavy furnishings. It wouldn’t take long for the reality of the desolation to kick in. There may have been some excitement anticipating the journey to the Promised Land, but the inconveniences would begin to make any normal person whine.
The Egyptians who joined the Hebrews when they left Egypt became greedy for an easier life. They had not been slaves and life in the wilderness was not what they expected. They remembered the supply of meat, fruits, and vegetables. The mixed crowd of Israelites and foreigners had not counted the cost to follow Moshe.
However, they forgot one important detail; they were not ordinary people trekking through the desert. Ehyeh Asher Ehyeh was keeping them cool during the day with His sukkah cloud, warming them at night with His fire and quenching their thirst from the ‘Rock’. Even the manna continued to appear on the ground in the morning dew. They gathered it and ground it in mills or pounded it into paste with a mortar and pestle. They cooked it in pots and made loaves that tasted like honey cakes. In spite of this, they kevetched. They came to the entrance to the Tabernacle, family after family, and whined to Moshe.
The complaining made Elohim angry –– so angry that His fire broke out against them and consumed the outskirts of their camp. The fire that had been their warmth and protection suddenly became a curse. Moshe cried out to Adonai to release him from the burden of so many people. He was not their ‘father,’ and could not provide what they needed.
A Portion of Elohim’s Spirit
As a prophet of El Elyon, Moshe had been given a portion of Adonai’s Ruach. The Ruach Elohim enabled him to stand before Pharaoh, lead the children of Isra’el through the Red Sea, and build the Tabernacle. Yet, Moshe is miserable when dealing with the Israelites and “carrying them like a father in his arms or as a nurse carries a baby” (Numbers 11:12).
“Adonai came down in the cloud, spoke to him [Moshe], took some of the Spirit that was on him and put it on the seventy leaders. When the Spirit came to rest on them, they prophesied – then but not afterwards” (Numbers 11:25).
Adonai instructed Moshe to choose 70 men that he considered leaders in Isra’el. Moshe gathered the men and placed them around the Tent of Meeting. The Ruach Elohim came down on those who appeared at the Tabernacle, along with two men, Eldad and Medad, who should have gone to the Tabernacle, but did not. All 70 prophesied in the camp. Joshua asks Moshe to stop Eldad and Medad from prophesying, but Moshe replied, “Are you so zealous to protect me? I wish all of Adonai’s people were prophets! I wish Adonai would put his Spirit on all of them!” (Numbers 11:29)
Moshe’s words prophesy to the new covenant. According to Ezekiel and Sha’ul, Isra’el and all nations who join with her will be filled with the Ruach Elohim.
“I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit in you; I will remove from you your heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh. And I will put my Spirit in you and move you to follow my decrees and be careful to keep my laws. Then you will live in the land I gave your ancestors; you will be my people, and I will be your God” (Ezekiel 24:26-28).
“For God did not call us to be impure, but to live a holy life. Therefore, anyone who rejects this instruction does not reject a human being but God, the very God who gives you his Holy Spirit” (1 Thessalonians 4:7-8).
This group of 70 leaders became the foundation for the Sanhedrin or Bet Din HaGadol –– ‘The Great Court.’ After Moshe laid hands (semicha) on Joshua passing the leadership of Isra’el on to him, the Sanhedrin had its official beginning. As men within ‘The Great Court’ passed away or became unfit for service, new leaders were ordained. The ordinations continued from Joshua to the elders to prophets like Ezra and Nehemiah to ‘The Great Assembly’ to the sages. It was not until several hundred years after the destruction of the Temple in 70 CE that the Sanhedrin dissolved.
“The chief priests and the whole Sanhedrin were looking for false evidence against Yeshua so that they could put him to death” (Matthew 26:59).
“The apostles were brought in and made to appear before the Sanhedrin to be questioned by the high priest” (Acts 5:27).
During the days of Yeshua, the Sanhedrin still made legal decisions for Isra’el. The high priest ruled over the court system, but had become corrupt.
Kivrot HaTa’avah – Graves of the Greedy
“Has Adonai’s arm grown short? Now you will see whether what I said will happen or not”
When Moshe and the 70 returned to camp, the Israelites cried out for meat. Moshe felt inadequate and could not imagine how much meat would be enough to satisfy their greedy hearts.
Ehyeh Asher Ehyeh sent a wind that brought quail from the sea and let them fall near the camp. He sent so much quail they covered the ground three feet high and were about one day’s trip from each edge of the camp. The Israelites were surrounded by quail. They went out and gathered quail for days. The least amount that anyone gathered was ten heaps. While the meat was still in their mouths, before they had even chewed it up, ‘I Am’ struck the people with a plague. Many people died and were buried in the place named ‘Graves of the Greedy.’
In Hebrew the word for ‘quail’ is selav. A variation of shalah means ‘prosper’ which holds the idea of the wicked prospering even though they are careless, thoughtless, and go astray (Psalm 94:3).
Hebrew Word Pictures
Quail or selav – שלו – shin, lamed, vav
– consume and draw near the binding
Prosper or shalah – שלה – shin, lamed, hey
– consume and draw near, revealed
Hatzerot – The Camp of ‘Sorry’
“Now this man Moshe was very humble, more so than anyone on earth” (Numbers 12:3).
After the burden of the Israelites’ problems became lighter, Moshe’s family begins to attack him. Aaron and Miryam began criticizing his marriage to an Ethiopian woman. They became jealous and demand to know why Moshe was given the highest authority when Elohim had also spoken with them.
The word ‘humble’ is defined as ‘lower in dignity and importance.’ The Hebrew word is anav meaning ‘meek.’ Moshe knew and understood his place as merely a man in the presence of Adonai. He had stood on holy ground at the burning bush and had prostrated himself. He knew he was not worthy of the position given him, but had been chosen by Adonai and empowered to accomplish His will. He was nothing more than an earthen vessel used by Elohim to achieve His plan with His chosen nation.
Adonai would not allow Moshe to be attacked by anyone, especially his own siblings. He lets Aaron and Miryam know that His relationship with Moshe is different from any other man, woman, prophet or prophetess. There would never be another prophet to whom He would speak panim el panim so that their face would become so radiant that it had to be veiled. Moshe was the only faithful person in Adonai’s entire household.
“‘Listen to what I say: when there is a prophet among you, I, Adonai, make myself known to him in a vision, I speak with him in a dream. But it isn’t that way with my servant Moshe. He is the only one who is faithful in my entire household. With him I speak face to face and clearly, not in riddles; he sees the image of Adonai. So why weren’t you afraid to criticize my servant Moshe?’ The anger of Adonai flared up against them, and he left” (Numbers 12:6-9).
When the cloud lifted, Miryam had tzara’at. Her skin was whiter than snow. Moshe and Aaron begged Adonai to heal their sister, but Miryam had iniquity in her heart that needed to be resolved. Adonai healed her, but she had to live outside the camp for seven days for purification. Elohim wanted the Israelites to understand that no one should ever challenge Him regarding His chosen servant and prophet, Moshe.
“God opposes the proud but shows favor to the humble” (James 4:6).
“For by the grace given me I say to every one of you: Do not think of yourself more highly than you ought, but rather think of yourself with sober judgment, in accordance with the faith God has distributed to each of you” (Romans 12:3).
Yeshua of Natzeret
“However, when he heard that Archelaus had succeeded his father Herod as king of Y’hudah, he was afraid to go there. Warned in a dream, he withdrew to the Galil and settled in a town called Natzeret, so that what had been spoken by the prophets might be fulfilled, that he will be called a Natzrati” (Matthew 2:22-23).
“When he entered Yerushalayim, the whole city was stirred. ‘Who is this’ they asked. And the crowds answered, ‘This is Yeshua, the prophet from Natzeret in the Galil’” (Matthew 21:10-11).
“In their synagogue just then was a man with an unclean spirit in him, who shouted, ‘What do you want with us, Yeshua from Natzeret? Have you come to destroy us? I know who you are — the Holy One of God!’ But Yeshua rebuked the unclean spirit, ‘Be quiet and come out of him!’” (Mark 1:23-25)
“But he said, ‘Don’t be so surprised! You’re looking for Yeshua from Natzeret, who was executed on the stake. He has risen, he’s not here! Look at the place where they laid him’” (Mark 16:6).
“Now when he went to Natzeret, where he had been brought up, on Shabbat he went to the synagogue as usual. He stood up to read, and he was given the scroll of the prophet Yesha’yahu”
“‘What things?’ he asked them. They said to him, ‘The things about Yeshua from Natzeret. He was a prophet and proved it by the things he did and said before God and all the people’” (Luke 24:19).
“There they nailed him to the stake along with two others, one on either side, with Yeshua in the middle. Pilate also had a notice written and posted on the stake; it read, YESHUA FROM NATZERET, THE KING OF THE JEWS” (John 19:18-19).
“Kefa said, ‘I don’t have silver, and I don’t have gold, but what I do have I give to you: in the name of the Messiah, Yeshua of Natzeret, walk!’” (Acts 3:6)
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