Friday, June 19, 2009

Shelach-Lekha (‘Send for Yourself’)

This week's Parashah Reading: Shelach-Lekha ("Send for yourself")

Torah:  Numbers 13:1-15:41

Haftarah: Joshua 2:1-24

B'rit Chadashah: Hebrews 3:7-4:1 

The ‘Sin of the Spies’ account in this week’s Torah Portion follows on the heels of the account of Miriam’s sin of lashon hara (evil speech/slander/complaining, fretting, or whining all stemming from disbelieving hearts) against her brother Moses, the prophet of God.  You can read about it in the book of Numbers chapter 12.

Miriam’s punishment for judging Moses’ selection of his wife Tzipporah, (a Cushite woman with black skin) was ironically, to be stricken with tzara’at (a contagious skin disease) that turned her skin AS WHITE AS SNOW.  Miriam had, in essence, judged in this case, a person from outward appearances.

The entire camp watched as Miriam’s skin turned white as snow when the Cloud of ADONAI’s Presence was removed from over the tent. Ten of those who saw were the unbelieving spies!

We see that these ten of the twelve spies had done the same.  They had judged a land, Eretz Yisrael (Land of Israel) according to outward appearances as well. 

The Sin of the Spies was the same as Miriam’s.  They perceived with their eyes only and did not take into account the God Who had ALREADY PROMISED to give them this Land.  

The report they gave the Israelites upon their return was lashon hara, for they came back spreading falsities and fear instead of Truth and Trust in the God of their deliverance.

“We can’t attack those people because they are stronger than we are”; and they spread a negative report about the land they had reconnoitered for the people of Israel by saying, “"The land we passed through in order to spy it out is a land that devours its inhabitants. All the people we saw there were giant!  We saw the N'filim, the descendants of 'Anak, who was from the N'filim; to ourselves we looked like grasshoppers by comparison, and we looked that way to them too!"’ ~ Numbers 13:31-33

Noteworthy:  Just before Moses sent out the Twelve Spies out, he changed Hoshea’s (son of Nun) name to Y’hoshua (Joshua).  This was significant because Moses added the Hebrew letter yud to the front of Hoshea’s name. 

"In changing Hoshea's name to Yehoshua, Moshe [Moses] sought to address this last remaining element. Moshe’s choice of the new form of Hoshea's name was not random: adding the letter "yud" to Hoshea created a string of letters which constitute the first three of Tetragrammaton, the four-lettered DIVINE Name of God [YHWH]. "Hoshea" indicates salvation; by transforming this name to include the Name of God, Moshe includes God in the equation.  Hoshea becomes Yehoshua: God will be within him, there to aid, to bring about their salvation." ~Rabbi Ari Kahn

“YHWH is BEFORE YOU TO DELIVER YOU.  I’m going to change your name, Hoshea, as a REMINDER to you all of YHWH’s DELIVERANCE GOING BEFORE you all!” , was Moses’ encouraging sentiments to the Twelve Spies.

1.) Has lashon hara ever infected your life?  How has it infected the lives of those around you?

2.) Is your speech honorable to ADONAI Eloheinu (LORD our God)?

3.) We see that Caleb ‘had a different spirit’.  “But my servant Caleb, because he has a different spirit and has followed me fully, I will bring into the land into which he went, and his descendants shall possess it.”  ~ Numbers 14:24

a.) How was it different?

b.) In what areas of your life is HE calling you to ‘follow Him fully’ and have a different spirit?

4.) YESHUA (Latin: Jesus) is a contraction of Y’hoshua, meaning ‘YHWH-SAVES’!

a.) How has YESHUA saved you?

b.) How does HE continue to do so?

c.) Where is HE directing you to fully follow Him in your marriage, with your children, co-workers, neighbors and family members, while driving on James River Freeway, and with the unfriendly check-out lady at SuperTarget?

5.)  Do you remember Rachav’s (Rahab) faith in the reading of Joshua 2? 

a.) What does Rachav's emunah (faith) say about her?

b.) What can you learn from Rachav?

c. ) How did ADONAI reward Rachav's faith?

6.) The B’rit Chadasha’s reading in Hebrews 3:7-4:1 equates the ‘good news of deliverance’ to ‘mixing our FAITH with The Message’:  

The Message (Word of Christ) + My Active Faith = Deliverance

a.) How is The Word directly linked to our faith (active trust), and our faith directly linked to our rest (deliverance)?

b .) How do we gain more faith? (Romans 10:17)


Don’t Forget the Tzitzit!

Please Read Numbers 15:37-41

ADONAI instructed the Israelites that ‘they shall make for themselves tassels (Hb. tzitzit) on the corners (Hb. ‘kanaph’ meaning ‘wing’) of their garments throughout their generations, and that they shall put on the tassel of each corner a cord of blue.

The Israelites’ garments would have been large rectangular tunics with four corners.  Today, since that style has gone out of fashion, the prayer shawl or ‘tallit’ has replaced this garb.  The tallit is a rectangular prayer shawl draped over the shoulders with tassels on its four corners.

The color blue is also significant.  The color was more like a dark blue, almost violet.  This dye was taken from a substance secreted by the Murex off of the coast of Phoenicia.  It was not easy to come by and thus, very expensive.  This color was also used within the weavings of the Tabernacle and the High Priests’ robe.

Therefore, when every Israelite was tempted to ‘spy out’ (Hb. tuwr, same root word used for the spies) after their own hearts and eyes, they could look to the tzitzit instead and

1.) REMEMBER the Commandments of ADONAI...

2.) DO THEM...

3.) and THUS NOT (have to) ‘tuwr’/SPY OUT after our own ADULTEROUS hearts and eyes.

Imagine now, how well these mnemonic devices would serve us today!  In essence, always wearing this REMINDER on their garments helped the Israelites to...


2.) REMEMBER to keep HIS Commandments and be HOLY (Hb. kadosh-pure, set-apart, consecrated/unavailable to the world’s system)!

3.) RECOGNIZE who they really were - a ROYAL priesthood!

Where’s my tzitzit??!!

1.) How does this commandment of ADONAI resonate with your spirit in regards to your OWN hearts and eyes (that Scriptures tells us) which pursue ‘zanah’ (fornication, unfaithfulness, adultery, harlotry, idolatry)?

2.) Kodesh means ‘holy’.  It is also the Hebrew word used in the Tanach for the Holy ‘One’ of Israel, speaking of ADONAI HIMSELF!  [Such as Isaiah 1:4] HE is not divided.  He is the Holy ONE of Israel.  He is Faithful.  Thus, to not be in harmony with ADONAI in purpose, thought, and deed through His Word of Instruction and by the Power of the Ruach HaKodesh is akin to adultery against the Bridegroom Himself. 

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But as for me, Heaven forbid that I should boast about anything except the execution-stake of our Lord Yeshua the Messiah! Through Him, as far as I am concerned, the world has been put to death on the stake; and through Him, as far as the world is concerned, I have been put to death on the stake.  For neither being circumcised nor being uncircumcised matters; what matters is being a NEW CREATION. And as many as order their lives by this rule, shalom upon them and mercy, and upon the Isra'el of God! 

~ Galatians 6:14-16

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