Tuesday, July 31, 2012

You’re Not Ford

Deuteronomy 4:1-4

“Now therefore hearken, O Israel, unto the statutes and unto the judgments, which I teach you, for to do them, that ye may live, and go in and possess the land which the LORD God of your fathers giveth you.” (Deuteronomy 4:1)

Thirty nine years before, while they at Mount Sinai, God had made a covenant or contract with Israel that if they would obey his laws, he would give them the land and protect them.  He also warned them that if the ignored the commandments, they would lose that land,

“Defile not ye yourselves in any of these things: for in all these the nations are defiled which I cast out before you: And the land is defiled: therefore I do visit the iniquity thereof upon it, and the land itself vomiteth out her inhabitants.  Ye shall therefore keep my statutes and my judgments, and shall not commit any of these abominations; neither any of your own nation, nor any stranger that sojourneth among you: (For all these abominations have the men of the land done, which were before you, and the land is defiled;) That the land spue not you out also, when ye defile it, as it spued out the nations that were before you.” (Leviticus 18:24-28.)

The countries occupying the land at the time had defiled it with the ir wickedness, and being vomited out.  Perhaps it was something of this nature the twelve spies referred to in Numbers 13:32.  “And they brought up an evil report of the land which they had searched unto the children of Israel, saying, The land, through which we have gone to search it, is a land that eateth up the inhabitants thereof…”

God definitely promised that one of the benefits of obeying his commandments fully would be freedom from disease.  Exodus 15:26 quotes him.  “And said, If thou wilt diligently hearken to the voice of the LORD thy God, and wilt do that which is right in his sight, and wilt give ear to his commandments, and keep all his statutes, I will put none of these diseases upon thee, which I have brought upon the Egyptians: for I am the LORD that healeth thee.”  It causes one to wonder how many of the epidemics of history could have been avoided by simply obeying God.

Paul informs Christians, “All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness: That the man of God may be perfect, thoroughly furnished unto all good works,” in II Timothy 3:16-17.  II Peter 1:3 proclaims, “…his divine power hath given unto us all things that pertain unto life and godliness, through the knowledge of him that hath called us to glory and virtue:”

“Ye shall not add unto the word which I command you, neither shall ye diminish ought from it, that ye may keep the commandments of the LORD your God which I command you.” (Deuteronomy 4:2)

God had given every instruction that was needed to live peacefully and happily in the land he gave them.  Any changes they made would make it less effective.  Over the centuries, the Jews developed the Gemara, a collection of commentary and traditional interpretation of the Mishna or text.  Today many Talmudic Jews believe it to be as important as the text itself.  In Mark 7:8-9, Jesus accused the Pharisees of having replaced the word of God with other things. “For laying aside the commandment of God, ye hold the tradition of men, as the washing of pots and cups: and many other such like things ye do.  And he said unto them, Full well ye reject the commandment of God, that ye may keep your own tradition.”

Since God has given everything the Christian needs to please God, any modifications will also interfere with our relationship with him.   Man has no right to add anything to God’s statements, and anything that purports to be from God must be completely aligned with other scripture.   Later God will give specific instructions as to how to determine whether they actually came from God or not.  Until it has been verified as coming from God, it is not to be accepted.  Age was not one of the criteria.  Many ancient manuscripts or apocryphal books exist that do not meet the standards God provided and are thus to be excluded.

Commentaries and other religious writings, while they can be helpful in understanding what the scripture says, are not to be the basis for our teaching or practice, nor are the standards of a pastor or religious leader.  In I timothy 4:1-3, Paul warned, “Now the Spirit speaketh expressly, that in the latter times some shall depart from the faith, giving heed to seducing spirits, and doctrines of devils; Speaking lies in hypocrisy; having their conscience seared with a hot iron; Forbidding to marry, and commanding to abstain from meats, which God hath created to be received with thanksgiving of them which believe and know the truth.”

Setting our own standards is just as much adding to or detracting from the Word of God as writing another book or rewriting the Bible to leave out or include other doctrines.   In Galatians 1:6-8, Paul warned the Galatians, “I marvel that ye are so soon removed from him that called you into the grace of Christ unto another gospel: Which is not another; but there be some that trouble you, and would pervert the gospel of Christ.  But though we, or an angel from heaven, preach any other gospel unto you than that which we have preached unto you, let him be accursed.”

Revelation 22:18-19 warns, “For I testify unto every man that heareth the words of the prophecy of this book, If any man shall add unto these things, God shall add unto him the plagues that are written in this book: And if any man shall take away from the words of the book of this prophecy, God shall take away his part out of the book of life, and out of the holy city, and from the things which are written in this book.”  How much of the teaching about the Second Coming involves either adding to or taking away from God’s word?

“Your eyes have seen what the LORD did because of Baalpeor: for all the men that followed Baalpeor, the LORD thy God hath destroyed them from among you.  But ye that did cleave unto the LORD your God are alive every one of you this day.” (Deuteronomy 4:3-4)

The Israelites Moses was speaking to had seen the consequences of disobedience when Israel got involved with the Moabites at Baalpeor about a year before and thousands died as a result.  They needed to keep it in mind.  Those who followed what God said survived, but those who didn’t think it mattered died.

Ford Motor company’s slogan is “Ford has a better idea.”  While Ford might have a better idea than another car company, it’s pretty arrogant to think we have a better way than God’s, although I’ve heard a few preacher say they had a higher standard.  You are fooling yourself if you believe it.

Friday, July 27, 2012

Joshua Named To Replace Moses

Deuteronomy 3:18-29

“And I commanded you at that time, saying, The LORD your God hath given you this land to possess it: ye shall pass over armed before your brethren the children of Israel, all that are meet for the war.  But your wives, and your little ones, and your cattle, (for I know that ye have much cattle,) shall abide in your cities which I have given you; Until the LORD have given rest unto your brethren, as well as unto you, and until they also possess the land which the LORD your God hath given them beyond Jordan: and then shall ye return every man unto his possession, which I have given you.” (Deuteronomy 3:18-20)

Moses had been hesitant to give the lands east of Jordan to the tribes of Reuben Gad and Manasseh because he feared they would not assist the others in getting their land and that it would lead to problems.  They had agreed to leave their belongings and families behind and go with the rest of the army to help take Canaan.  Numbers 32 describes the agreement.

“And I commanded Joshua at that time, saying, Thine eyes have seen all that the LORD your God hath done unto these two kings: so shall the LORD do unto all the kingdoms whither thou passest.  Ye shall not fear them: for the LORD your God he shall fight for you.” (Deuteronomy 3:21-22) 

The Israelite defeat and seizure of Heshbon and Bashan terrified the surrounding nations.  Rahab described the fear felt in Jericho in Joshua 2:9-11.  “And she said unto the men, I know that the LORD hath given you the land, and that your terror is fallen upon us, and that all the inhabitants of the land faint because of you.  For we have heard how the LORD dried up the water of the Red sea for you, when ye came out of Egypt; and what ye did unto the two kings of the Amorites, that were on the other side Jordan, Sihon and Og, whom ye utterly destroyed.  And as soon as we had heard these things, our hearts did melt, neither did there remain any more courage in any man, because of you: for the LORD your God, he is God in heaven above, and in earth beneath.”

Moses was concerned that the Israelites themselves would be afraid to trust God, even after all the proofs of his power.  God wouldn’t have wasted the effort if he wasn’t going to finish the job.  He basically told Joshua the same thing God told hin in Joshua 1:1-9.  “Now after the death of Moses the servant of the LORD it came to pass, that the LORD spake unto Joshua the son of Nun, Moses' minister, saying, Moses my servant is dead; now therefore arise, go over this Jordan, thou, and all this people, unto the land which I do give to them, even to the children of Israel. 

Every place that the sole of your foot shall tread upon, that have I given unto you, as I said unto Moses.  From the wilderness and this Lebanon even unto the great river, the river Euphrates, all the land of the Hittites, and unto the great sea toward the going down of the sun, shall be your coast.  There shall not any man be able to stand before thee all the days of thy life: as I was with Moses, so I will be with thee: I will not fail thee, nor forsake thee. 

Be strong and of a good courage: for unto this people shalt thou divide for an inheritance the land, which I sware unto their fathers to give them.  Only be thou strong and very courageous, that thou mayest observe to do according to all the law, which Moses my servant commanded thee: turn not from it to the right hand or to the left, that thou mayest prosper whithersoever thou goest. 

This book of the law shall not depart out of thy mouth; but thou shalt meditate therein day and night, that thou mayest observe to do according to all that is written therein: for then thou shalt make thy way prosperous, and then thou shalt have good success.  Have not I commanded thee? Be strong and of a good courage; be not afraid, neither be thou dismayed: for the LORD thy God is with thee whithersoever thou goest.”

We are directed to have a similar focus as Christians.  In Luke 12:31-32 Jesus commanded, “But rather seek ye the kingdom of God; and all these things shall be added unto you.  Fear not, little flock; for it is your Father's good pleasure to give you the kingdom.”  Paul gave similar instructions in II Timothy  1:7-8.  “For God hath not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind.  Be not thou therefore ashamed of the testimony of our Lord, nor of me his prisoner: but be thou partaker of the afflictions of the gospel according to the power of God.”

“And I besought the LORD at that time, saying, O Lord GOD, thou hast begun to show thy servant thy greatness, and thy mighty hand: for what God is there in heaven or in earth, that can do according to thy works, and according to thy might?  I pray thee, let me go over, and see the good land that is beyond Jordan, that goodly mountain, and Lebanon. 

But the LORD was wroth with me for your sakes, and would not hear me: and the LORD said unto me, Let it suffice thee; speak no more unto me of this matter.  Get thee up into the top of Pisgah, and lift up thine eyes westward, and northward, and southward, and eastward, and behold it with thine eyes: for thou shalt not go over this Jordan.  But charge Joshua, and encourage him, and strengthen him: for he shall go over before this people, and he shall cause them to inherit the land which thou shalt see.  So we abode in the valley over against Bethpeor.” (Deuteronomy 3:23-29)

About thirty eight years before, frustrated with the peoples constant complaining, Moses had taken the focus away from God, saying “Must WE bring forth water out of the rock?” and hitting it twice to emphasize his point.  In doing so he implied that it was he and Aaron rather than God doing these things, and God told him he would not be allowed to go into the land because he had not sanctified God in doing so.

Though Moses begged to go into the land, God refused to allow it.  He did allow him to go up to the top of mount Pisgah and look at the land which they would receive.  Moses was commanded not to ask any more.  Instead, he was to encourage Joshua to lead them.

Thursday, July 26, 2012

The Land On The East Of The Jordan

Deuteronomy 2:24-3:17

“Rise ye up, take your journey, and pass over the river Arnon: behold, I have given into thine hand Sihon the Amorite, king of Heshbon, and his land: begin to possess it, and contend with him in battle.  This day will I begin to put the dread of thee and the fear of thee upon the nations that are under the whole heaven, who shall hear report of thee, and shall tremble, and be in anguish because of thee.” (Deuteronomy 2:24-25) 

Israel was to cross the Arnon river and take the land of  Heshbon form the Amorite hing, Sihon.  It would be the first part of their possession, and the victory would serve to demoralize the surrounding countries.

“And I sent messengers out of the wilderness of Kedemoth unto Sihon king of Heshbon with words of peace, saying, Let me pass through thy land: I will go along by the high way, I will neither turn unto the right hand nor to the left.  Thou shalt sell me meat for money, that I may eat; and give me water for money, that I may drink: only I will pass through on my feet; (As the children of Esau which dwell in Seir, and the Moabites which dwell in Ar, did unto me;) until I shall pass over Jordan into the land which the LORD our God giveth us.” (Deuteronomy 2:26-29) 

Despite the fact that God had told them to take that land, Moses requested permission to cross the land and offered to pay for any damages or food or water consumed.

“But Sihon king of Heshbon would not let us pass by him: for the LORD thy God hardened his spirit, and made his heart obstinate, that he might deliver him into thy hand, as appeareth this day. 

And the LORD said unto me, Behold, I have begun to give Sihon and his land before thee: begin to possess, that thou mayest inherit his land. 

Then Sihon came out against us, he and all his people, to fight at Jahaz.  And the LORD our God delivered him before us; and we smote him, and his sons, and all his people.  And we took all his cities at that time, and utterly destroyed the men, and the women, and the little ones, of every city, we left none to remain: Only the cattle we took for a prey unto ourselves, and the spoil of the cities which we took.  From Aroer, which is by the brink of the river of Arnon, and from the city that is by the river, even unto Gilead, there was not one city too strong for us: the LORD our God delivered all unto us: Only unto the land of the children of Ammon thou camest not, nor unto any place of the river Jabbok, nor unto the cities in the mountains, nor unto whatsoever the LORD our God forbad us.” (Deuteronomy 2:30-37)

Instead of agreeing to allow Israel to pass, Sihon attacked them, making himself the aggressor.  Israel was victorious and wiped them out, keeping the livestock and possessions for themselves.  At the same time, they did not attack any land God had told them not to bother.

“Then we turned, and went up the way to Bashan: and Og the king of Bashan came out against us, he and all his people, to battle at Edrei. 

And the LORD said unto me, Fear him not: for I will deliver him, and all his people, and his land, into thy hand; and thou shalt do unto him as thou didst unto Sihon king of the Amorites, which dwelt at Heshbon.” (Deuteronomy 3:1-2) 

 Hoping to catch Israel off guard, Og, king of Bashan, another Amorite kingdom, decided to strike first.  God reassured Moses that they had nothing to fear.  Israel could defeat him as completely as they had Sihon.

“So the LORD our God delivered into our hands Og also, the king of Bashan, and all his people: and we smote him until none was left to him remaining.  And we took all his cities at that time, there was not a city which we took not from them, threescore cities, all the region of Argob, the kingdom of Og in Bashan.  All these cities were fenced with high walls, gates, and bars; beside unwalled towns a great many.  And we utterly destroyed them, as we did unto Sihon king of Heshbon, utterly destroying the men, women, and children, of every city.  But all the cattle, and the spoil of the cities, we took for a prey to ourselves. 

And we took at that time out of the hand of the two kings of the Amorites the land that was on this side Jordan, from the river of Arnon unto mount Hermon; (Which Hermon the Sidonians call Sirion; and the Amorites call it Shenir;) All the cities of the plain, and all Gilead, and all Bashan, unto Salchah and Edrei, cities of the kingdom of Og in Bashan.  For only Og king of Bashan remained of the remnant of giants; behold, his bedstead was a bedstead of iron; is it not in Rabbath of the children of Ammon? nine cubits was the length thereof, and four cubits the breadth of it, after the cubit of a man.” (Deuteronomy 3:3-11) 

While we do not know how large some giants might have been, anyone over eight feet is considered a giant today.  Og’s bead was over thirteen feet long and six wide, or about the size of two full sized beds side by side.  His size might intimidate ordinary people, but it was no protection against God’s power.  Og was the last descendant of a family of giants who had lived in the region.

“And this land, which we possessed at that time, from Aroer, which is by the river Arnon, and half mount Gilead, and the cities thereof, gave I unto the Reubenites and to the Gadites.  And the rest of Gilead, and all Bashan, being the kingdom of Og, gave I unto the half tribe of Manasseh; all the region of Argob, with all Bashan, which was called the land of giants.  Jair the son of Manasseh took all the country of Argob unto the coasts of Geshuri and Maachathi; and called them after his own name, Bashanhavothjair, unto this day.  And I gave Gilead unto Machir. 

And unto the Reubenites and unto the Gadites I gave from Gilead even unto the river Arnon half the valley, and the border even unto the river Jabbok, which is the border of the children of Ammon; The plain also, and Jordan, and the coast thereof, from Chinnereth even unto the sea of the plain, even the salt sea, under Ashdothpisgah eastward.” (Deuteronomy 3:12-17)

The land taken from the Sihon and Og, and given to the tribes of Reuben and Gad, and half the tribe of Manasseh reached from the border of Moab, where the river Arnon feeds into the Dead Sea north to the sea of Galilee, and from the Jordan river East to the capital of present day Jordan, Amman, or Ammon.

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Summary Of The First Thirty Eight Years In The Wilderness

Deuteronomy 2:1-27

“Then we turned, and took our journey into the wilderness by the way of the Red sea, as the LORD spake unto me: and we compassed mount Seir many days.” (Deuteronomy 2:1)

Israel’s stay at Kadesh Barnea and refusal to go into Canaan gave the Canaanites time to gather and get assistance from the Amorites, thus defeating Israel.  As a result Israel was forced to withdraw to the southeast to the gulf of Aqaba on the Red Sea.  Because both the Moabites and the Edomites refused them permission to enter their land, they spent the next thirty eight years roaming the desert south and east of the Edomite land known as Seir, traveling as far south as mount Hor(Sinai) and Rephidim.

“And the LORD spake unto me, saying, Ye have compassed this mountain long enough: turn you northward.  And command thou the people, saying, Ye are to pass through the coast of your brethren the children of Esau, which dwell in Seir; and they shall be afraid of you: take ye good heed unto yourselves therefore: Meddle not with them; for I will not give you of their land, no, not so much as a foot breadth; because I have given mount Seir unto Esau for a possession.

 Ye shall buy meat of them for money, that ye may eat; and ye shall also buy water of them for money, that ye may drink.  For the LORD thy God hath blessed thee in all the works of thy hand: he knoweth thy walking through this great wilderness: these forty years the LORD thy God hath been with thee; thou hast lacked nothing.” (Deuteronomy 2:2-7) 

After thirty eight years, during which the older men all died, God directed Israel to again go north, but not to bother the Edomites in Seir, the descendants of Esau.  The land of Seir had been given to Esau and was to be theirs.  Israel was to buy any bread or water they obtained from the Edomites, because God had blessed them during the forty years, and they were to show that in their treatment of the Edomites.  Israel went along the eastern border of the Edomite land to the wilderness area on the east edge of Moab.

“And when we passed by from our brethren the children of Esau, which dwelt in Seir, through the way of the plain from Elath, and from Eziongaber, we turned and passed by the way of the wilderness of Moab.  And the LORD said unto me, Distress not the Moabites, neither contend with them in battle: for I will not give thee of their land for a possession; because I have given Ar unto the children of Lot for a possession. 

The Emims dwelt therein in times past, a people great, and many, and tall, as the Anakims; Which also were accounted giants, as the Anakims; but the Moabites call them Emims.  The Horims also dwelt in Seir beforetime; but the children of Esau succeeded them, when they had destroyed them from before them, and dwelt in their stead; as Israel did unto the land of his possession, which the LORD gave unto them.” (Deuteronomy 2:8-12)

God also forbade taking the land from the Moabites because they were descendants of Lot.  Both the Moabites and Edomites had previously refused permission to enter the land, but now they were afraid even to refuse permission.   Both groups had taken the land from previous occupants, including a race of giants known as the Emims.

“Now rise up, said I, and get you over the brook Zered. And we went over the brook Zered.  And the space in which we came from Kadeshbarnea, until we were come over the brook Zered, was thirty and eight years; until all the generation of the men of war were wasted out from among the host, as the LORD sware unto them.  For indeed the hand of the LORD was against them, to destroy them from among the host, until they were consumed.

 So it came to pass, when all the men of war were consumed and dead from among the people, That the LORD spake unto me, saying, Thou art to pass over through Ar, the coast of Moab, this day: And when thou comest nigh over against the children of Ammon, distress them not, nor meddle with them: for I will not give thee of the land of the children of Ammon any possession; because I have given it unto the children of Lot for a possession. 

(That also was accounted a land of giants: giants dwelt therein in old time; and the Ammonites call them Zamzummims; A people great, and many, and tall, as the Anakims; but the LORD destroyed them before them; and they succeeded them, and dwelt in their stead: As he did to the children of Esau, which dwelt in Seir, when he destroyed the Horims from before them; and they succeeded them, and dwelt in their stead even unto this day: And the Avims which dwelt in Hazerim, even unto Azzah, the Caphtorims, which came forth out of Caphtor, destroyed them, and dwelt in their stead.)” (Deuteronomy 2:13-23)

The Ammonites, also descendents of Lot lived next to the Moabites, and Israel was not to disturb them either. Their land had also originally been inhabited by a race of giants.

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Reminded Of The Consequences Of Disobedience

Deuteronomy 1:22-43

 “And ye came near unto me every one of you, and said, We will send men before us, and they shall search us out the land, and bring us word again by what way we must go up, and into what cities we shall come. 

And the saying pleased me well: and I took twelve men of you, one of a tribe: And they turned and went up into the mountain, and came unto the valley of Eshcol, and searched it out.  And they took of the fruit of the land in their hands, and brought it down unto us, and brought us word again, and said, It is a good land which the LORD our God doth give us.” (Deuteronomy 1:22-25) 

When a question came up. Moses went to the Lord for an answer, and the people’s suggestion to send spies was no exception.  God clearly approved as Numbers 13:1-3 shows.  “And the LORD spake unto Moses, saying, Send thou men, that they may search the land of Canaan, which I give unto the children of Israel: of every tribe of their fathers shall ye send a man, every one a ruler among them.  And Moses by the commandment of the LORD sent them from the wilderness of Paran: all those men were heads of the children of Israel.”  

The spies had traveled from Kadesh Barnea to the northern border, identifying the best routes and most powerful cities and returned with samples of the crops demonstrating that the land was very productive.

“Notwithstanding ye would not go up, but rebelled against the commandment of the LORD your God: And ye murmured in your tents, and said, Because the LORD hated us, he hath brought us forth out of the land of Egypt, to deliver us into the hand of the Amorites, to destroy us.  Whither shall we go up? our brethren have discouraged our heart, saying, The people is greater and taller than we; the cities are great and walled up to heaven; and moreover we have seen the sons of the Anakims there.” (Deuteronomy 1:26-28) 

Romans 14:23 states, “…for whatsoever is not of faith is sin.”  Israel’s refusal to trust God and obey him was sin.  As Moses said they rebelled, and accused him of hating them and trying to destroy them, because they believed the people were larger than they were.

“Then I said unto you, Dread not, neither be afraid of them.  The LORD your God which goeth before you, he shall fight for you, according to all that he did for you in Egypt before your eyes; And in the wilderness, where thou hast seen how that the LORD thy God bare thee, as a man doth bear his son, in all the way that ye went, until ye came into this place. 

Yet in this thing ye did not believe the LORD your God, Who went in the way before you, to search you out a place to pitch your tents in, in fire by night, to show you by what way ye should go, and in a cloud by day.” (Deuteronomy 1:29-33)

Moses, as well as Aaron, and Joshua and Caleb, had tried to convince them that God would give the victory, reminding them of what he had already done,  They refused to listen, even threatening to kill them.

“And the LORD heard the voice of your words, and was wroth, and sware, saying, Surely there shall not one of these men of this evil generation see that good land, which I sware to give unto your fathers, Save Caleb the son of Jephunneh; he shall see it, and to him will I give the land that he hath trodden upon, and to his children, because he hath wholly followed the LORD.” (Deuteronomy1:34-36) 

Their refusal to trust him angered the Lord and he refused to allow any of that generation to go into the land except Caleb and Joshua.  Because Caleb was willing to follow completely, he would survive.

“Also the LORD was angry with me for your sakes, saying, Thou also shalt not go in thither.  But Joshua the son of Nun, which standeth before thee, he shall go in thither: encourage him: for he shall cause Israel to inherit it.” (Deuteronomy 1:37-38)

A little later, frustrated with the people’s constant complaining and disobedience, Moses had taken the credit for what God was doing and God said he could not enter the land either.  Instead he was to prepare Joshua to lead Israel into the land.

“Moreover your little ones, which ye said should be a prey, and your children, which in that day had no knowledge between good and evil, they shall go in thither, and unto them will I give it, and they shall possess it.  But as for you, turn you, and take your journey into the wilderness by the way of the Red sea.” (Deuteronomy 1:39-40)

They had used the excuse that their children would become slaves or die in the wilderness.  God stated that he would save the children, who lacked the knowledge to make a choice, and give them the land.  Those who chose not to obey God would not be allowed to go.  Instead they were to turn back to the Gulf of Aqaba and back to the area they had been before.

“Then ye answered and said unto me, We have sinned against the LORD, we will go up and fight, according to all that the LORD our God commanded us. And when ye had girded on every man his weapons of war, ye were ready to go up into the hill. 

And the LORD said unto me, Say unto them, Go not up, neither fight; for I am not among you; lest ye be smitten before your enemies. 

So I spake unto you; and ye would not hear, but rebelled against the commandment of the LORD, and went presumptuously up into the hill.” (Deuteronomy 1:41-43)

Realizing what the consequences of their sin would be, Israel had suddenly decided they’d do what God had originally told them.  Unfortunately they had changed their minds too late, and that option had been withdrawn.  They were warned not to try to go but again disobeyed and tried to go.

“And the Amorites, which dwelt in that mountain, came out against you, and chased you, as bees do, and destroyed you in Seir, even unto Hormah.  And ye returned and wept before the LORD; but the LORD would not hearken to your voice, nor give ear unto you.  So ye abode in Kadesh many days, according unto the days that ye abode there.” (Deuteronomy 1:44-46)

Amorite and Canaanite forces attacked them and forced them to retreat toward Seir and Hormah, killing many.  Suddenly repentant, they begged for God to do what he had originally offered, but he would not change his mind again, and they spent the next forty years in the wilderness, a year for each day they spent in Kadesh Barnea, waiting for the spies.

These events had happened forty years before and only a few of the people were old enough to remember them, although they had heard the stories.  Moses was reminding the new generation of their history so they wouldn’t repeat the same mistakes.

Monday, July 23, 2012

Preparing the People to Enter The Promised Land

Deuteronomy 1:1-21

For forty years, Moses had led the people of Israel around present day Saudi Arabia and Jordan.  God had revealed that he would die soon and commanded him to prepare the people to go into the land of Canaan.  While the last chapters of Numbers focus on the physical preparations, Deuteronomy focuses on the spiritual and emotional preparation.  Moses will review the record of what has happened to them and how God has cared for them, laying a foundation for them to trust God when they enter the land.

At the same time he reviews the agreement between them and God and stresses the importance of keeping their part.  That God will keep his part of the agreement is obvious from his repeatedly having fulfilled it even when they broke their part.  He also reminds them of the consequences they have already suffered for breaking the agreement.

“These be the words which Moses spake unto all Israel on this side Jordan in the wilderness, in the plain over against the Red sea, between Paran, and Tophel, and Laban, and Hazeroth, and Dizahab.  (There are eleven days' journey from Horeb by the way of mount Seir unto Kadeshbarnea.) 

And it came to pass in the fortieth year, in the eleventh month, on the first day of the month, that Moses spake unto the children of Israel, according unto all that the LORD had given him in commandment unto them; After he had slain Sihon the king of the Amorites, which dwelt in Heshbon, and Og the king of Bashan, which dwelt at Astaroth in Edrei: On this side Jordan, in the land of Moab, began Moses to declare this law, saying, The LORD our God spake unto us in Horeb, saying, Ye have dwelt long enough in this mount: Turn you, and take your journey, and go to the mount of the Amorites, and unto all the places nigh thereunto, in the plain, in the hills, and in the vale, and in the south, and by the sea side, to the land of the Canaanites, and unto Lebanon, unto the great river, the river Euphrates.” (Deuteronomy 1:1-7)

In the eleventh month of the fortieth year after leaving Horeb, the area around Mount Hor in Arabia, also known as Sinai, Moses spoke to the people about what they were to do.  They are on the East side of the Jordan river in the desert that swings northeast from the Gulf of Aqaba on the Red Sea, just across from Jericho.   Numbers 33 describes their coming to that particular place.  The census they took there showed that not one of the old men had survived, and God told them they had been in the wilderness and that area long enough.

“Behold, I have set the land before you: go in and possess the land which the LORD sware unto your fathers, Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, to give unto them and to their seed after them.” (Deuteronomy 1:8)

God had promised the land to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, and now Moses has brought them to place where they can take possession of it as he had promised.

“And I spake unto you at that time, saying, I am not able to bear you myself alone: The LORD your God hath multiplied you, and, behold, ye are this day as the stars of heaven for multitude. (The LORD God of your fathers make you a thousand times so many more as ye are, and bless you, as he hath promised you!)  How can I myself alone bear your cumbrance, and your burden, and your strife? 

Take you wise men, and understanding, and known among your tribes, and I will make them rulers over you.  And ye answered me, and said, The thing which thou hast spoken is good for us to do. 

So I took the chief of your tribes, wise men, and known, and made them heads over you, captains over thousands, and captains over hundreds, and captains over fifties, and captains over tens, and officers among your tribes. 

And I charged your judges at that time, saying, Hear the causes between your brethren, and judge righteously between every man and his brother, and the stranger that is with him.  Ye shall not respect persons in judgment; but ye shall hear the small as well as the great; ye shall not be afraid of the face of man; for the judgment is God's: and the cause that is too hard for you, bring it unto me, and I will hear it.  And I commanded you at that time all the things which ye should do.” (Deuteronomy 1:9-18)

When they first started their journey, Moses had been overwhelmed by the constant bickering and demands on his time.  His father-in-law, Jethro had suggested selecting leaders to take judge and deal with such issues, freeing Moses to lead the congregation.  After a brief period the people found it a satisfactory process and when God instructed them to always follow that program with only minor changes the people readily agreed.

Much of the Old Testament Law was devoted to how disputes and conflicts were to be handled in an equitable manner.  While many scholars credit Hammurabi with codifying the first set of laws and believe the Jews copied the idea, accepting the biblical time record leads to the conclusion that Moses had received the Law before Hammurabi came to power.

“And when we departed from Horeb, we went through all that great and terrible wilderness, which ye saw by the way of the mountain of the Amorites, as the LORD our God commanded us; and we came to Kadeshbarnea. 

And I said unto you, Ye are come unto the mountain of the Amorites, which the LORD our God doth give unto us.  Behold, the LORD thy God hath set the land before thee: go up and possess it, as the LORD God of thy fathers hath said unto thee; fear not, neither be discouraged.” (Deuteronomy 1:19-21)

Traveling northward from Horeb they had passed through the Amorite homeland.   they had turned northwest to Kadesh Barnea, an eleven day journey by the time they went around the Edomite land of mount Seir.  At Kadesh Barnea, God told them they had come to a part of the land God would give them and they were to proceed in and take the land, with no fear because God had given it.  Numbers 34 tells us Kadesh Barnea was to be one of the points on the southern boundary.

Friday, July 20, 2012

Land Is Not To Be Passed From Tribe To Tribe

Numbers 36:1-13

“And the chief fathers of the families of the children of Gilead, the son of Machir, the son of Manasseh, of the families of the sons of Joseph, came near, and spake before Moses, and before the princes, the chief fathers of the children of Israel: And they said, The LORD commanded my lord to give the land for an inheritance by lot to the children of Israel: and my lord was commanded by the LORD to give the inheritance of Zelophehad our brother unto his daughters. 

And if they be married to any of the sons of the other tribes of the children of Israel, then shall their inheritance be taken from the inheritance of our fathers, and shall be put to the inheritance of the tribe whereunto they are received: so shall it be taken from the lot of our inheritance.  And when the jubile of the children of Israel shall be, then shall their inheritance be put unto the inheritance of the tribe whereunto they are received: so shall their inheritance be taken away from the inheritance of the tribe of our fathers.” (Numbers 36:1-4)

Under Jewish tradition and law, the inheritance was passed to the son.  Zelopehad had no sons, and when it had been called to Moses’s attention in Numbers 27, he asked the Lord how to handle it.  He was told that the land was to be given to the daughters because there was no son.  Under Jewish law, the father determined what tribe the child belonged to, and in the year of Jubilee the land reverted to the original owners.  Women who married outside their own tribe would thus pass ownership to the husband’s tribe.  There was concern that this might cause severe conflicts.

“And Moses commanded the children of Israel according to the word of the LORD, saying, The tribe of the sons of Joseph hath said well.  This is the thing which the LORD doth command concerning the daughters of Zelophehad, saying, Let them marry to whom they think best; only to the family of the tribe of their father shall they marry.  So shall not the inheritance of the children of Israel remove from tribe to tribe: for every one of the children of Israel shall keep himself to the inheritance of the tribe of his fathers.” (Numbers 36:5-7)

God instructed Moses that in such a case, the daughters could only marry within their own tribe to so the land did not become subject to the another tribes jurisdiction.  The inheritance was not to be transferred to another tribe.

“And every daughter, that possesseth an inheritance in any tribe of the children of Israel, shall be wife unto one of the family of the tribe of her father, that the children of Israel may enjoy every man the inheritance of his fathers.  Neither shall the inheritance remove from one tribe to another tribe; but every one of the tribes of the children of Israel shall keep himself to his own inheritance.” (Numbers 36:8-9) 

Not only did this principle apply to the family of Zelophehad, but to any woman who inherited according to Jewish custom.  She had to marry her own tribe to prevent conflict over ownership of land.

“Even as the LORD commanded Moses, so did the daughters of Zelophehad: For Mahlah, Tirzah, and Hoglah, and Milcah, and Noah, the daughters of Zelophehad, were married unto their father's brothers' sons: And they were married into the families of the sons of Manasseh the son of Joseph, and their inheritance remained in the tribe of the family of their father.” (Numbers 36:10-12) 

In order to fulfill the requirement, Zelophehad’s daughters married their cousins so the land would remain in the tribe of Manasseh.

“These are the commandments and the judgments, which the LORD commanded by the hand of Moses unto the children of Israel in the plains of Moab by Jordan near Jericho.” (Numbers 36:13)

Thursday, July 19, 2012

The Levite’s Portion

Numbers 35:1-34

“And the LORD spake unto Moses in the plains of Moab by Jordan near Jericho, saying, Command the children of Israel, that they give unto the Levites of the inheritance of their possession cities to dwell in; and ye shall give also unto the Levites suburbs for the cities round about them.  And the cities shall they have to dwell in; and the suburbs of them shall be for their cattle, and for their goods, and for all their beasts. 

And the suburbs of the cities, which ye shall give unto the Levites, shall reach from the wall of the city and outward a thousand cubits round about.  And ye shall measure from without the city on the east side two thousand cubits, and on the south side two thousand cubits, and on the west side two thousand cubits, and on the north side two thousand cubits; and the city shall be in the midst: this shall be to them the suburbs of the cities.” (Numbers 35:1-5) 

The Levites were to have no separate country of their own,, but each tribe was to give certain cities to the Levites.  Around each of the Levite cities was to be an area of farm and grazing land reaching about three thousand feet or a little over a half mile beyond the wall of the city.  The inner fifteen hundred feet was especially for the fields and gardens with the outer fifteen hundred  especially for their livestock.  Even the smallest city would thus entail and area of about a thousand acres.

“And among the cities which ye shall give unto the Levites there shall be six cities for refuge, which ye shall appoint for the manslayer, that he may flee thither: and to them ye shall add forty and two cities.  So all the cities which ye shall give to the Levites shall be forty and eight cities: them shall ye give with their suburbs.  

And the cities which ye shall give shall be of the possession of the children of Israel: from them that have many ye shall give many; but from them that have few ye shall give few: every one shall give of his cities unto the Levites according to his inheritance which he inheriteth.” (Numbers 35:6-8) 

Forty eight cities were to be given to the Levites, although they were not evenly dispersed, with larger tribes having more than  smaller tribes.  Six of the cities were to be cities of refuge where a person guilty of manslaughter could go for protection.

“And the LORD spake unto Moses, saying,  Speak unto the children of Israel, and say unto them, When ye be come over Jordan into the land of Canaan; Then ye shall appoint you cities to be cities of refuge for you; that the slayer may flee thither, which killeth any person at unawares.  And they shall be unto you cities for refuge from the avenger; that the manslayer die not, until he stand before the congregation in judgment.  And of these cities which ye shall give six cities shall ye have for refuge. 

Ye shall give three cities on this side Jordan, and three cities shall ye give in the land of Canaan, which shall be cities of refuge.  These six cities shall be a refuge, both for the children of Israel, and for the stranger, and for the sojourner among them: that every one that killeth any person unawares may flee thither.” (Numbers 35:9-15)

In Genesis 9:6, immediately after the flood, God commanded, “Whoso sheddeth man's blood, by man shall his blood be shed: for in the image of God made he man.”  Because man was created in the image o God, murder implies we have assumed God’s right to destroy anything including God himself.  An Avenger of Blood was responsible to see that they did not get by with it or repeat it.  God has never changed that standard.

Because it is possible to accidentally kill a person, provision was made for such and event.  Three cities of refuge were established on each side of the Jordan, where they would be readily accessible.  Anyone who had caused the death of another person could flee to one of the cities and be protected from the avenger of blood until a hearing was held.  Precise instructions were given for determining whether a case was murder of manslaughter.

“And if he smite him with an instrument of iron, so that he die, he is a murderer: the murderer shall surely be put to death.  And if he smite him with throwing a stone, wherewith he may die, and he die, he is a murderer: the murderer shall surely be put to death.  Or if he smite him with an hand weapon of wood, wherewith he may die, and he die, he is a murderer: the murderer shall surely be put to death.  The revenger of blood himself shall slay the murderer: when he meeteth him, he shall slay him. 

But if he thrust him of hatred, or hurl at him by laying of wait, that he die; Or in enmity smite him with his hand, that he die: he that smote him shall surely be put to death; for he is a murderer: the revenger of blood shall slay the murderer, when he meeteth him.” (Numbers 35:16-21)

Any indication of premeditation, such as the deliberate use of a deadly weapon or object, or of deliberate attack was evidence of murder.  If it was determined that murder was involved, the guilty party was to be delivered to the revenger of blood for execution.  It was a mandatory sentence.

“But if he thrust him suddenly without enmity, or have cast upon him any thing without laying of wait, Or with any stone, wherewith a man may die, seeing him not, and cast it upon him, that he die, and was not his enemy, neither sought his harm: Then the congregation shall judge between the slayer and the revenger of blood according to these judgments: And the congregation shall deliver the slayer out of the hand of the revenger of blood, and the congregation shall restore him to the city of his refuge, whither he was fled: and he shall abide in it unto the death of the high priest, which was anointed with the holy oil.” (Numbers 35:22-25)

A suddenly provoked attack or with no prior conflict, or accidentally hitting someone one who had not been seen was to be considered manslaughter, and the Guilty person was to be allowed to remain under protection in the city of refuge as long as the current high priest lived.  It was essentially a life sentence.

“But if the slayer shall at any time come without the border of the city of his refuge, whither he was fled; And the revenger of blood find him without the borders of the city of his refuge, and the revenger of blood kill the slayer; he shall not be guilty of blood: Because he should have remained in the city of his refuge until the death of the high priest: but after the death of the high priest the slayer shall return into the land of his possession.” (Numbers 35:26-28) 

If at anytime the guilty party was found outside the boundaries of the city of refuge, the revenger of blood was authorized to execute him.  It was up to the guilty to serve out his sentence and supply his own food.  His family were free to join him in the city of refuge if they chose to do so.

“So these things shall be for a statute of judgment unto you throughout your generations in all your dwellings.  Whoso killeth any person, the murderer shall be put to death by the mouth of witnesses: but one witness shall not testify against any person to cause him to die. “ (Numbers 35:29-30)

These penalties were to be applied to anyone who kills someone, regardless of his position of that of the victim.  To minimize miscarriages of Justice, a conviction could not be obtained with the testimony of a single witness or solely on the basis of circumstantial evidence.

“Moreover ye shall take no satisfaction for the life of a murderer, which is guilty of death: but he shall be surely put to death.  And ye shall take no satisfaction for him that is fled to the city of his refuge, that he should come again to dwell in the land, until the death of the priest.” (Numbers 35:31-32) 

No plea bargains or alternative penalties were to be allowed. The victim would not receive another chance, and his killer should not either.  In cases of manslaughter, the guilty was free to return to his property when the High Priest at the time of his crime died.

“So ye shall not pollute the land wherein ye are: for blood it defileth the land: and the land cannot be cleansed of the blood that is shed therein, but by the blood of him that shed it.  Defile not therefore the land which ye shall inhabit, wherein I dwell: for I the LORD dwell among the children of Israel.” (Numbers 35:33-34)

Anything less than the execution of the killer could not make up for the killing.  The very land would be polluted if the killer went free, and God would eventually judge the land.   God judged the Canaanite nations for such pollution, and I believe many of the problems in modern countries are the result of allowing such pollution of the land.  When we refuse to execute murderers, we effectively approve their crimes, and bring judgment on ourselves.

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

The Land God Gave

Numbers 34:1-29

“And the LORD spake unto Moses, saying, Command the children of Israel, and say unto them, When ye come into the land of Canaan; (this is the land that shall fall unto you for an inheritance, even the land of Canaan with the coasts thereof:) Then your south quarter shall be from the wilderness of Zin along by the coast of Edom, and your south border shall be the outmost coast of the salt sea eastward: And your border shall turn from the south to the ascent of Akrabbim, and pass on to Zin: and the going forth thereof shall be from the south to Kadeshbarnea, and shall go on to Hazaraddar, and pass on to Azmon: And the border shall fetch a compass from Azmon unto the river of Egypt, and the goings out of it shall be at the sea.”(Numbers 34:1-5)

Israel was a relatively small group of people, only about two million.  The land was already occupied by several ethnic groups that God was going to displace because of their wickedness.  God specified the boundaries of the area they were to take at that time.  It was considerably smaller than the area God had promised Abraham they would eventually hold, but it was as large and area as they needed at the time.

The Southern border was to run from the wilderness of Zin along the coast or border of Edom to the eastern edge of the Salt or Dead Sea.  From there it was to proceed south along the valley toward the Gulf of Aqaba turning westward where the caravan route climbed out of the valley containing the Dead Sea and the Gulf of Aqaba at the ascent of Akrabbim.  From there it followed the caravan route to the villages of Zin, Kadesh Barnea, Hazaraddar, and Azmon.  At the river marking the eastern boundary of Egypt, the southern boundary turned northwest to the Mediterranean Sea.

“And as for the western border, ye shall even have the great sea for a border: this shall be your west border.  And this shall be your north border: from the great sea ye shall point out for you mount Hor: From mount Hor ye shall point out your border unto the entrance of Hamath; and the goings forth of the border shall be to Zedad: And the border shall go on to Ziphron, and the goings out of it shall be at Hazarenan: this shall be your north border.” (Numbers 34:6-9)

The western boundary was the Mediterranean Sea and extended from present day Al-Arish to present day Mount Carmel.  The Mount Hor mentioned here is not the same one Mentioned earlier, which is about three hundred miles to the south.  Once again we are reminded that descriptive names may be used repeatedly for different places, creating confusion as to what place is actually referred to.

From Mount Carmel it extended to the entrance of Hamath, along the border of Phonecia, of present day Lebanon, and across to Zedad, Ziphron, and Hazarenon of present day Syria.

“And ye shall point out your east border from Hazarenan to Shepham: And the coast shall go down from Shepham to Riblah, on the east side of Ain; and the border shall descend, and shall reach unto the side of the sea of Chinnereth eastward: And the border shall go down to Jordan, and the goings out of it shall be at the salt sea: this shall be your land with the coasts thereof round about.” (Numbers 34:10-12) 

The eastern border was to encompass basically the eastern boundary of Israel as established by the UN after the war of 1967, including the Golan heights and the West Bank where most of the Palestinian conflict is.  Modern Israel now occupies most of the land bounded by these boundaries, extending farther to the south to the Gulf of Aqaba, but not as far as the River of Egypt on the west.   This does not include the land given to the Trans-Jordan tribes.

“And Moses commanded the children of Israel, saying, This is the land which ye shall inherit by lot, which the LORD commanded to give unto the nine tribes, and to the half tribe: For the tribe of the children of Reuben according to the house of their fathers, and the tribe of the children of Gad according to the house of their fathers, have received their inheritance; and half the tribe of Manasseh have received their inheritance: The two tribes and the half tribe have received their inheritance on this side Jordan near Jericho eastward, toward the sunrising.” (Numbers 34:13-15)

The area within the boundaries described was to be given by lot to the nine and a half tribes.  The Tribes of Reuben and Gad, and half the tribe of Manasseh had already been given their portion on the east side of Jordan, occupying about a third of present day Jordan.

“And the LORD spake unto Moses, saying, These are the names of the men which shall divide the land unto you: Eleazar the priest, and Joshua the son of Nun. And ye shall take one prince of every tribe, to divide the land by inheritance.” (Numbers 34:16-18)

God was specific who was to be responsible for overseeing the casting of lots to divide the land so there would be no question of cheating of favoritism.  Besides Joshua and Eleazar, a leader from each tribe was designated to see that everything was done fairly.

“And the names of the men are these: Of the tribe of Judah, Caleb the son of Jephunneh.  And of the tribe of the children of Simeon, Shemuel the son of Ammihud.  Of the tribe of Benjamin, Elidad the son of Chislon.  And the prince of the tribe of the children of Dan, Bukki the son of Jogli.  The prince of the children of Joseph, for the tribe of the children of Manasseh, Hanniel the son of Ephod.  And the prince of the tribe of the children of Ephraim, Kemuel the son of Shiphtan.  And the prince of the tribe of the children of Zebulun, Elizaphan the son of Parnach.  And the prince of the tribe of the children of Issachar, Paltiel the son of Azzan.  And the prince of the tribe of the children of Asher, Ahihud the son of Shelomi.  And the prince of the tribe of the children of Naphtali, Pedahel the son of Ammihud. 

These are they whom the LORD commanded to divide the inheritance unto the children of Israel in the land of Canaan.” (Numbers 34:19-29)

These were all men who had earned the respect of the people in day to day situations.  They were not politicians who had become leaders by playing the system, but men who had demonstrated the ability and confidence to make wise decisions, and to commit to effective action, even when others wavered.  Caleb is the best known of the group and illustrates the nature of such natural leaders.  They are unlikely to be swayed by reputation or entreaty.

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Taking Possession Of The Land

Numbers 33:50-34:12

One of the last things Moses did before his death was to instruct Israel as to how things were to be done when they came into the Promised Land.  The last three chapters of Numbers and the entire book of Deuteronomy detail God’s final instructions to Moses and his delivering them to Israel.  These final chapters of Numbers focus on the division of the land among the tribes, while Deuteronomy focuses on how they were to live when they took possession of the land.

“And the LORD spake unto Moses in the plains of Moab by Jordan near Jericho, saying, Speak unto the children of Israel, and say unto them, When ye are passed over Jordan into the land of Canaan; Then ye shall drive out all the inhabitants of the land from before you, and destroy all their pictures, and destroy all their molten images, and quite pluck down all their high places: And ye shall dispossess the inhabitants of the land, and dwell therein: for I have given you the land to possess it.” (Numbers 33:50-53)

When Israel took possession of the land of Canaan, they were to drive the inhabitants out completely and destroy all their paintings and statues as well and their religious centers to prevent the people from turning to other religions.  Forty years before, God had commanded, “Thou shalt not bow down to their gods, nor serve them, nor do after their works: but thou shalt utterly overthrow them, and quite break down their images,” in Exodus 23:24.  Destruction of their places of worship would eliminate the temptation to experiment with the religion.

There is a tendency to begin to worship the picture or statue itself, and in Exodus 20:4-5 God had commanded, “Thou shalt not make unto thee any graven image, or any likeness of any thing that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth: Thou shalt not bow down thyself to them, nor serve them: for I the LORD thy God am a jealous God…”  The importance of the command can readily be seen in the Catholic veneration of figures of the Virgin Mary or various saints and of Jesus.

“And ye shall divide the land by lot for an inheritance among your families: and to the more ye shall give the more inheritance, and to the fewer ye shall give the less inheritance: every man's inheritance shall be in the place where his lot falleth; according to the tribes of your fathers ye shall inherit.” (Numbers 33:54) 

The land was to be assigned to individual families by casting lots, a random process which gives us the root for the word lottery.  While the exact process is unknown, it was a process designed to minimize human control, thus giving truly random results.

“But if ye will not drive out the inhabitants of the land from before you; then it shall come to pass, that those which ye let remain of them shall be pricks in your eyes, and thorns in your sides, and shall vex you in the land wherein ye dwell.” (Numbers 33:55) 

Failure to drive out the previous inhabitants would cause distractions for Israel, like a pit of sand getting in one’s eye.  There would be constant ethical, moral and religious conflicts, and pressure to lower Israel’s standards, resulting in breaking their covenant or contract with God.

Deuteronomy 7:3-4 commands, “Neither shalt thou make marriages with them; thy daughter thou shalt not give unto his son, nor his daughter shalt thou take unto thy son. For they will turn away thy son from following me, that they may serve other gods: so will the anger of the LORD be kindled against you, and destroy thee suddenly.”  The Separation was for religious differences, not for racial ones.

It is the same principle which Paul states in II Corinthians 6:14-18.  “Be ye not unequally yoked together with unbelievers: for what fellowship hath righteousness with unrighteousness? and what communion hath light with darkness?  And what concord hath Christ with Belial? or what part hath he that believeth with an infidel?  And what agreement hath the temple of God with idols? for ye are the temple of the living God; as God hath said, I will dwell in them, and walk in them; and I will be their God, and they shall be my people.  Wherefore come out from among them, and be ye separate, saith the Lord, and touch not the unclean thing; and I will receive you, And will be a Father unto you, and ye shall be my sons and daughters, saith the Lord Almighty.”  

“Moreover it shall come to pass, that I shall do unto you, as I thought to do unto them.” (Numbers 33:56)

If Israel began to adopt the moral standards or religion of those other peoples, they would suffer the same judgment that had caused God to take their land from them and give it to Israel.  Deuteronomy 11:26-28 advises, “Behold, I set before you this day a blessing and a curse; A blessing, if ye obey the commandments of the LORD your God, which I command you this day: And a curse, if ye will not obey the commandments of the LORD your God, but turn aside out of the way which I command you this day, to go after other gods, which ye have not known.

An activity always produces the same result.  It is the height of stupidity, or as Einstein said, evidence of insanity to expect a different result when you do the same thing.  Change in results requires a change in behavior.  If we do what others have done, we cannot rightly expect a different outcome, and have only ourselves to blame if we are not satisfied.

Monday, July 16, 2012

Listing Israel’s Camps in The Wilderness

Numbers 33:1-49

All the events recorded from Exodus 3 to the  end of Deuteronomy occurred during a forty two year period.  Everything from Exodus 12 through Numbers 9 occurred during the first year when they came out of Egypt.  Almost all the events listed after Numbers 20 and all of Deuteronomy took place during the last year in the wilderness.  Only a few references are made to the intervening thirty nine years, and even those references tend to refer to a general area rather than to a specific camp site.  As a result it is difficult to determine exactly when or where those events occurred.  This is further complicated because the names given different places are descriptive and  frequently were used for more than one location, some what like Springfield or Farmington are used in the United States.

“These  are the journeys of the children of Israel, which went forth out of the land of Egypt with their armies under the hand of Moses and Aaron.  And Moses wrote their goings out according to their journeys by the commandment of the LORD: and these are their journeys according to their goings out.” (Numbers 33:1-2) 

Jewish history gives a little more information, but most of the details are still unclear.  The author of Numbers gives us a chronological listing of all the thirty nine different places Israel camped for a significant period during the forty one years they were in the wilderness.  Because it refers to specific camps rather than general areas, it is still difficult to pin down the exact locations of some of the events.  Sometimes more than one name is applied to a single location.

“And they departed from Rameses in the first month, on the fifteenth day of the first month; on the morrow after the passover the children of Israel went out with an high hand in the sight of all the Egyptians.  For the Egyptians buried all their firstborn, which the LORD had smitten among them: upon their gods also the LORD executed judgments.” (Numbers 33:3-4)

The Egyptians were preoccupied with burial of their children when Israel fled from the area known as Ramses, including the land of Goshen, giving them a headstart.  Once the funerals were over, Pharaoh realized the Israelites were gone and pursued them.

 "And the children of Israel removed from Rameses, and pitched in Succoth.  And they departed from Succoth, and pitched in Etham, which is in the edge of the wilderness.   And they removed from Etham, and turned again unto Pihahiroth, which is before Baalzephon: and they pitched before Migdol.” (Numbers 33:5-7) 

At Succoth Israel took the caravan route stretching from Morocco to China.  They followed the Silk Road east to Etham, on the east side of the valley enclosing the Gulf of Suez, an arm of the Red Sea.  In an effort to escape the Egyptians, they turned south east into the wilderness at Etham arriving at Pihahiroth, near the edge of the Gulf of Aqaba, another arm of the Red Sea on the twenty second day of the month.   The Egyptians caught up with them there. Over a century later Pihahiroth became an Egyptian outpost.

"And they departed from before Pihahiroth, and passed through the midst of the sea into the wilderness, and went three days' journey in the wilderness of Etham, and pitched in Marah.” (Numbers 33:8)

On the twenty second day of the month they crossed the Gulf of Aqaba next to the ancient city of Baalzephon, and camped there   That day they watched the destruction of the Egyptian army, and for the first time were able to take time to let the bread rise before baking it.  Three days later they came to Marah where the water was bitter and unusable.

“And they removed from Marah, and came unto Elim: and in Elim were twelve fountains of water, and threescore and ten palm trees; and they pitched there.  And they removed from Elim, and encamped by the Red sea. Nu 33:11 And they removed from the Red sea, and encamped in the wilderness of Sin.  And they took their journey out of the wilderness of Sin, and encamped in Dophkah. Nu 33:13 And they departed from Dophkah, and encamped in Alush.  And they removed from Alush, and encamped at Rephidim, where was no water for the people to drink." (Numbers 33:10-14)

From Marah, Israel proceeded south to Elim where they spent several days befor continuing south west where they camped on the edge of the Gulf of Aqaba.  From the camp on the Gulf of Aqaba, they turned northeast through the wilderness of Sin to Rephidim, where Moses was instructed to strike the rock.

“And they departed from Rephidim, and pitched in the wilderness of Sinai.” (Numbers 33:15) 

The Sinai Wilderness was named for it’s outstanding feature, Mount Sinai. They arrived there about three months after leaving Egypt, and would remain in the area over nine months.  The events that occurred during that period are described between Exodus 19 and Numbers 9.

“And they removed from the desert of Sinai, and pitched at Kibrothhattaavah.  And they departed from Kibrothhattaavah, and encamped at Hazeroth. ” (Numbers 33:16-17) 

It was at Kibrothhattavah, the people’s complaining resulted in God giving the quail. The complaints over Moses’ wife occurred at about this time.

“And they departed from Hazeroth, and pitched in Rithmah.  And they departed from Rithmah, and pitched at Rimmonparez.  And they departed from Rimmonparez, and pitched in Libnah.” (Numbers 33:18-20)

From Hazeroth Israel went into the Wilderness of Paran, carefully avoiding Moabite and Edomite territory after being refused to cross it.  The spies went into the Land of Canaan from Paran, and after refusing to cross into the promised land the Amalekites and Canaanites forced them back to the southwest along the Gulf of Aqaba and through Midianite territory as far as the area around Mount Sinai or Hor.  They then proceeded north and east again.  The events described between Numbers 9 and 33 are not all in chronological order.

 “And they removed from Libnah, and pitched at Rissah.  And they journeyed from Rissah, and pitched in Kehelathah.  And they went from Kehelathah, and pitched in mount Shapher.  And they removed from mount Shapher, and encamped in Haradah.  And they removed from Haradah, and pitched in Makheloth.  And they removed from Makheloth, and encamped at Tahath.  And they departed from Tahath, and pitched at Tarah.  And they removed from Tarah, and pitched in Mithcah.  And they went from Mithcah, and pitched in Hashmonah. 

And they departed from Hashmonah, and encamped at Moseroth.  And they departed from Moseroth, and pitched in Benejaakan.  And they removed from Benejaakan, and encamped at Horhagidgad.  And they went from Horhagidgad, and pitched in Jotbathah.  And they removed from Jotbathah, and encamped at Ebronah.  And they departed from Ebronah, and encamped at Eziongaber.  And they removed from Eziongaber, and pitched in the wilderness of Zin, which is Kadesh.  And they removed from Kadesh, and pitched in mount Hor, in the edge of the land of Edom.” (Numbers 33:21-37) 

For thirty nine years they wandered around northern Saudi Arabia and Jordan, trying to avoid trespassing on the lands of Moab and Edom.  In the fortieth year, they were again at Mount Hor, on edge of the Edomite land.  Miriam was buried at Kadesh,

“And Aaron the priest went up into mount Hor at the commandment of the LORD, and died there, in the fortieth year after the children of Israel were come out of the land of Egypt, in the first day of the fifth month.  And Aaron was an hundred and twenty and three years old when he died in mount Hor.” (Numbers 33:38-39)

Aarons death preceded that of Moses by only a few months,  During that time Joshua was appointed to lead Israel into Canaan.

“And king Arad the Canaanite, which dwelt in the south in the land of Canaan, heard of the coming of the children of Israel.” (Numbers 33:40) 

After forty years wandering in the wilderness, a potential threat to all the surrounding countries, Israel was being carefully watched.  The Canaanites were aware of Joshua’s appointment and intentions.

“And they departed from mount Hor, and pitched in Zalmonah.  And they departed from Zalmonah, and pitched in Punon.  And they departed from Punon, and pitched in Oboth.  And they departed from Oboth, and pitched in Ijeabarim, in the border of Moab.

 And they departed from Iim, and pitched in Dibongad.  And they removed from Dibongad, and encamped in Almondiblathaim.  And they removed from Almondiblathaim, and pitched in the mountains of Abarim, before Nebo.  And they departed from the mountains of Abarim, and pitched in the plains of Moab by Jordan near Jericho.  And they pitched by Jordan, from Bethjesimoth even unto Abelshittim in the plains of Moab.” (Numbers 33:41-49) 

The defeat of the Amorites and the king of Bashan, and failure of the Moabites to curse Israel must have caused a lot of consternation, and especially after they conquered the Midianites. This time they did not hesitate to cross Moabite territory in their approach to Canaan, coming right to the Jordan just across from Jericho.  It was from that area Moses delivered the book of Deuteronomy.

Friday, July 13, 2012

The Trans-Jordan Tribes

Numbers 32:1-42

“Now the children of Reuben and the children of Gad had a very great multitude of cattle: and when they saw the land of Jazer, and the land of Gilead, that, behold, the place was a place for cattle; The children of Gad and the children of Reuben came and spake unto Moses, and to Eleazar the priest, and unto the princes of the congregation, saying, Ataroth, and Dibon, and Jazer, and Nimrah, and Heshbon, and Elealeh, and Shebam, and Nebo, and Beon, Even the country which the LORD smote before the congregation of Israel, is a land for cattle, and thy servants have cattle: Wherefore, said they, if we have found grace in thy sight, let this land be given unto thy servants for a possession, and bring us not over Jordan.” (Numbers 32:1-5) 

Israel had conquered a large area similar to the western great plains.  While the main focus was on the more fertile and better watered area to the west of the Jordan, The tribes of Reuben and Gad recognized the area they had already taken was ideal for raising livestock.  Since livestock was their special interest, they requested that they be given that part and nor be forced to move across the Jordan to land that was more suitable for growing crops.

“And Moses said unto the children of Gad and to the children of Reuben, Shall your brethren go to war, and shall ye sit here?  And wherefore discourage ye the heart of the children of Israel from going over into the land which the LORD hath given them?  Thus did your fathers, when I sent them from Kadeshbarnea to see the land.  For when they went up unto the valley of Eshcol, and saw the land, they discouraged the heart of the children of Israel, that they should not go into the land which the LORD had given them. 

And the LORD'S anger was kindled the same time, and he sware, saying, Surely none of the men that came up out of Egypt, from twenty years old and upward, shall see the land which I sware unto Abraham, unto Isaac, and unto Jacob; because they have not wholly followed me: Save Caleb the son of Jephunneh the Kenezite, and Joshua the son of Nun: for they have wholly followed the LORD.  And the LORD'S anger was kindled against Israel, and he made them wander in the wilderness forty years, until all the generation, that had done evil in the sight of the LORD, was consumed. 

And, behold, ye are risen up in your fathers' stead, an increase of sinful men, to augment yet the fierce anger of the LORD toward Israel.  For if ye turn away from after him, he will yet again leave them in the wilderness; and ye shall destroy all this people.” (Numbers 32:6-15)

Moses remembered how the spies had been afraid forty years before and discouraged the people from going into the land.  He was afraid Reuben and Gad were doing the same thing again.  Even refusing to go help with the battle might well discourage the others enough they would refuse to go.  If the people refused to go again, he was afraid of the consequences.

“And they came near unto him, and said, We will build sheepfolds here for our cattle, and cities for our little ones: But we ourselves will go ready armed before the children of Israel, until we have brought them unto their place: and our little ones shall dwell in the fenced cities because of the inhabitants of the land.  We will not return unto our houses, until the children of Israel have inherited every man his inheritance.  For we will not inherit with them on yonder side Jordan, or forward; because our inheritance is fallen to us on this side Jordan eastward.” (Numbers 32:16-19) 

Reuben and Gad requested permission to prepare fortresses for their families and corrals to keep their cattle because of the threat of raids by the neighboring groups, but they would go with the rest of Israel and help in getting their land.  When the conquest was complete they would return to area on the east side of Jordan, and claim no part of the land on the west side.

“And Moses said unto them, If ye will do this thing, if ye will go armed before the LORD to war, And will go all of you armed over Jordan before the LORD, until he hath driven out his enemies from before him, And the land be subdued before the LORD: then afterward ye shall return, and be guiltless before the LORD, and before Israel; and this land shall be your possession before the LORD.  But if ye will not do so, behold, ye have sinned against the LORD: and be sure your sin will find you out.  Build you cities for your little ones, and folds for your sheep; and do that which hath proceeded out of your mouth.” (Numbers 32:20-24)

Moses agreed to let them have the land that they had already conquered if they would do as they had offered, warning that if it was just an attempt to get the advantage and avoid helping the others, it would soon become apparent and they would face God’s judgment.

“And the children of Gad and the children of Reuben spake unto Moses, saying, Thy servants will do as my lord commandeth.  Our little ones, our wives, our flocks, and all our cattle, shall be there in the cities of Gilead: But thy servants will pass over, every man armed for war, before the LORD to battle, as my lord saith. 

So concerning them Moses commanded Eleazar the priest, and Joshua the son of Nun, and the chief fathers of the tribes of the children of Israel: And Moses said unto them, If the children of Gad and the children of Reuben will pass with you over Jordan, every man armed to battle, before the LORD, and the land shall be subdued before you; then ye shall give them the land of Gilead for a possession: But if they will not pass over with you armed, they shall have possessions among you in the land of Canaan.” (Numbers 32:25-30)

God had already told Moses he would not be allowed to lead into the land, so he was very careful to make sure the agreement with Gad and Reuben was known to all the leaders.  If they refused to go along, they would be forced to give up the land they wanted and settle on the west side of Jordan.

“And the children of Gad and the children of Reuben answered, saying, As the LORD hath said unto thy servants, so will we do.  We will pass over armed before the LORD into the land of Canaan, that the possession of our inheritance on this side Jordan may be ours. 

And Moses gave unto them, even to the children of Gad, and to the children of Reuben, and unto half the tribe of Manasseh the son of Joseph, the kingdom of Sihon king of the Amorites, and the kingdom of Og king of Bashan, the land, with the cities thereof in the coasts, even the cities of the country round about.” (Numbers 32:31-33) 

When the agreement was reached, half of the tribe of Manasseh chose to do the same thing and were given part of the land as well.  Part od present day Jordan, the land had previously been held by the Amorites and the people of Bashan under the giant, Og.

“And the children of Gad built Dibon, and Ataroth, and Aroer, And Atroth, Shophan, and Jaazer, and Jogbehah, And Bethnimrah, and Bethharan, fenced cities: and folds for sheep. 

And the children of Reuben built Heshbon, and Elealeh, and Kirjathaim,  And Nebo, and Baalmeon, (their names being changed,) and Shibmah: and gave other names unto the cities which they builded. 

And the children of Machir the son of Manasseh went to Gilead, and took it, and dispossessed the Amorite which was in it.  And Moses gave Gilead unto Machir the son of Manasseh; and he dwelt therein.  And Jair the son of Manasseh went and took the small towns thereof, and called them Havothjair.  And Nobah went and took Kenath, and the villages thereof, and called it Nobah, after his own name.” (Numbers 32:34-42)

The Trans Jordanian or ‘across Jordan’ tribes quickly captured and built fortified towns for their families to live in, renaming them in the process.  

Thursday, July 12, 2012

Dividing The Spoils

Numbers 31:25-54

“And the LORD spake unto Moses, saying, Take the sum of the prey that was taken, both of man and of beast, thou, and Eleazar the priest, and the chief fathers of the congregation: And divide the prey into two parts; between them that took the war upon them, who went out to battle, and between all the congregation: And levy a tribute unto the LORD of the men of war which went out to battle: one soul of five hundred, both of the persons, and of the beeves, and of the asses, and of the sheep: Take it of their half, and give it unto Eleazar the priest, for an heave offering of the LORD.” (Numbers 31:25-29) 

The spoils were to be divided with those who fought retaining half of the benefits and the other being given to the rest of the people.  The twelve thousand who did the work were the primary beneficiaries, but they were to share with those who were not able to go. Of the soldiers’ portion, one in every five hundred, or two tenths of a percent was to be given to the priests for heave offering.

And of the children of Israel's half, thou shalt take one portion of fifty, of the persons, of the beeves, of the asses, and of the flocks, of all manner of beasts, and give them unto the Levites, which keep the charge of the tabernacle of the LORD.” (Numbers 32:30) 

Two percent of the half divided among the people was to go to the Levites.  Galatians 6:6 commands, “Let him that is taught in the word communicate unto him that teacheth in all good things.”  This communication includes sharing of our physical and financial benefit, as we see in Philippians 4:15-16.  “Now ye Philippians know also, that in the beginning of the gospel, when I departed from Macedonia, no church communicated with me as concerning giving and receiving, but ye only.  For even in Thessalonica ye sent once and again unto my necessity.”  Here we have a clear picture of what Paul described.

“And Moses and Eleazar the priest did as the LORD commanded Moses.  And the booty, being the rest of the prey which the men of war had caught, was six hundred thousand and seventy thousand and five thousand sheep.  And threescore and twelve thousand beeves, Nu 31:34 And threescore and one thousand asses, And thirty and two thousand persons in all, of women that had not known man by lying with him. 

And the half, which was the portion of them that went out to war, was in number three hundred thousand and seven and thirty thousand and five hundred sheep: And the LORD'S tribute of the sheep was six hundred and threescore and fifteen.  And the beeves were thirty and six thousand; of which the LORD'S tribute was threescore and twelve. Nu 31:39 And the asses were thirty thousand and five hundred; of which the LORD'S tribute was threescore and one.  And the persons were sixteen thousand; of which the LORD'S tribute was thirty and two persons. And Moses gave the tribute, which was the LORD'S heave offering, unto Eleazar the priest, as the LORD commanded Moses. 

And of the children of Israel's half, which Moses divided from the men that warred, (Now the half that pertained unto the congregation was three hundred thousand and thirty thousand and seven thousand and five hundred sheep, And thirty and six thousand beeves, And thirty thousand asses and five hundred, And sixteen thousand persons;) And sixteen thousand persons;) Even of the children of Israel's half, Moses took one portion of fifty, both of man and of beast, and gave them unto the Levites, which kept the charge of the tabernacle of the LORD; as the LORD commanded Moses.” (Numbers 31:31-47) 

The spoils enlarged Israel’s herds a great deal, but there was no serious resistance to taking such a small portion for the Levites or for sacrifices.   People like to feel good about giving, and when pressured, they resent it.  Many people will cheerfully give a large tip to a waitress, often far more than the normal fifteen percent, but if a tip is automatically added, they resent being forced to pay it.  Christians are the same way, resenting any form of pressure.  With no sense of pressure, the soldiers offered even more.

“And the officers which were over thousands of the host, the captains of thousands, and captains of hundreds, came near unto Moses: And they said unto Moses, Thy servants have taken the sum of the men of war which are under our charge, and there lacketh not one man of us.  We have therefore brought an oblation for the LORD, what every man hath gotten, of jewels of gold, chains, and bracelets, rings, earrings, and tablets, to make an atonement for our souls before the LORD. 

And Moses and Eleazar the priest took the gold of them, even all wrought jewels.  And all the gold of the offering that they offered up to the LORD, of the captains of thousands, and of the captains of hundreds, was sixteen thousand seven hundred and fifty shekels.  (For the men of war had taken spoil, every man for himself.)  And Moses and Eleazar the priest took the gold of the captains of thousands and of hundreds, and brought it into the tabernacle of the congregation, for a memorial for the children of Israel before the LORD.” (Numbers 31:48-54)

Twelve thousand men had gone to war, and not a single person had been lost.  The soldiers were thankful for that and brought a token of what they had gained to the Lord to show their appreciation.  They gave more on their own than had originally been asked.

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Consequences of Causing Others to Sin

Numbers 31:1-24

“And the LORD spake unto Moses, saying, Avenge the children of Israel of the Midianites: afterward shalt thou be gathered unto thy people.” (Numbers 31:1-2) 

According to Genesis 25, the Midianites were descendants of Abraham by his wife Keturah.  They were closely allied to Ishmael’s descendants, as we learn from Genesis 37.  Moses’ father-in-law was a priest of Midian and seems to have known the Lord.

When Balak and the Moabites induced Israel to sexual sin and idolatry in Numbers 25, the Midianites played a major part in the seduction.  As a result, “…the LORD spake unto Moses, saying, Vex the Midianites, and smite them: For they vex you with their wiles, wherewith they have beguiled you in the matter of Peor, and in the matter of Cozbi, the daughter of a prince of Midian, their sister, which was slain in the day of the plague for Peor's sake.”(Numbers 25:16-18).  Twenty four thousand Israelites died as a result of the sin.

“And Moses spake unto the people, saying, Arm some of yourselves unto the war, and let them go against the Midianites, and avenge the LORD of Midian.  Of every tribe a thousand, throughout all the tribes of Israel, shall ye send to the war. 

So there were delivered out of the thousands of Israel, a thousand of every tribe, twelve thousand armed for war.  And Moses sent them to the war, a thousand of every tribe, them and Phinehas the son of Eleazar the priest, to the war, with the holy instruments, and the trumpets to blow in his hand. 

And they warred against the Midianites, as the LORD commanded Moses; and they slew all the males.  And they slew the kings of Midian, beside the rest of them that were slain; namely, Evi, and Rekem, and Zur, and Hur, and Reba, five kings of Midian: Balaam also the son of Beor they slew with the sword.” (Numbers 31:3-8) 

Twelve thousand Israelites, accompanied by Phineas, Aaron’s grandson, attacked the Midianites and killed the men, including five of their kings.  The prophet, Balaam was slain for his part in it, because he disobeyed God and gave Balak the information he needed to bring Israel into judgment.

“And the children of Israel took all the women of Midian captives, and their little ones, and took the spoil of all their cattle, and all their flocks, and all their goods.  And they burnt all their cities wherein they dwelt, and all their goodly castles, with fire.  And they took all the spoil, and all the prey, both of men and of beasts.  And they brought the captives, and the prey, and the spoil, unto Moses, and Eleazar the priest, and unto the congregation of the children of Israel, unto the camp at the plains of Moab, which are by Jordan near Jericho.” (Numbers 31:9-12) 

Israel looted the villages, taking all the livestock and belongings of the Midianites, including the women and children back to the Israelite camp,  They burned the villages and forts.

We find frequent warnings against causing others to sin in the Bible.  Romans 14 stresses that even the standards we set for ourselves can cause others to sin.  Romans 14:14:13 commands, “Let us not therefore judge one another any more: but judge this rather, that no man put a stumblingblock or an occasion to fall in his brother's way.”  We are responsible to ensure that our standards and actions do not cause others to be tempted unnecessarily.

“And Moses, and Eleazar the priest, and all the princes of the congregation, went forth to meet them without the camp. 

And Moses was wroth with the officers of the host, with the captains over thousands, and captains over hundreds, which came from the battle.  And Moses said unto them, Have ye saved all the women alive?  Behold, these caused the children of Israel, through the counsel of Balaam, to commit trespass against the LORD in the matter of Peor, and there was a plague among the congregation of the LORD. 

Now therefore kill every male among the little ones, and kill every woman that hath known man by lying with him.  But all the women children, that have not known a man by lying with him, keep alive for yourselves. 

And do ye abide without the camp seven days: whosoever hath killed any person, and whosoever hath touched any slain, purify both yourselves and your captives on the third day, and on the seventh day.  And purify all your raiment, and all that is made of skins, and all work of goats' hair, and all things made of wood.” (Numbers 31:13-20)

It was getting sexually involved with the Midianite and Moabite women that had led to the deaths of twenty four thousand Jews.  Bringing them into the camp might well lead to further judgment.  Moses ordered the death of all the boys among the captives, as well as of all the women who had been sexually active, but those who had not been sexually active could be kept, as they were unlikely to spread sexually transmitted diseases.

There is an emotional bonding that takes place as a result of sexual activity.  I Corinthians 6:16 refers to this bonding, relating it to the marriage as described in Genesis 2. “What? know ye not that he which is joined to an harlot is one body? for two, saith he, shall be one flesh.”  In Matthew 19:6 Jesus makes it clear God causes this bonding.  Promiscuity interferes with proper development of that bond.  Those who have been sexually involved with more than one person often find it hard to put the memories out of mind and be satisfied with the one they are with.

Many of the health, psychological and social problems in today’s society stem from the modern acceptance of promiscuity as normal or even desirable.  Executing those who had had sexual relations with others reduced emotional stress and the likelihood of sexual infidelity, as well as preventing the spread of sexually transmitted diseases, and illegitimate births.

Everyone who might have been exposed to deadly disease by touching a dead body or killing someone was to be quarantined for the requisite seven days, including all the captives.  Everything that might harbor dangerous organisms was to be disinfected to prevent the spread of plague.

“And Eleazar the priest said unto the men of war which went to the battle, This is the ordinance of the law which the LORD commanded Moses; Only the gold, and the silver, the brass, the iron, the tin, and the lead, Every thing that may abide the fire, ye shall make it go through the fire, and it shall be clean: nevertheless it shall be purified with the water of separation: and all that abideth not the fire ye shall make go through the water. And ye shall wash your clothes on the seventh day, and ye shall be clean, and afterward ye shall come into the camp.” (Numbers 31:21-24) 

Things that would not be destroyed by heat were to be heated to a temperature that would kill any pathogens, but they were still to be disinfected.  Things that could not stand the heat were to be soaked in disinfectant and all their clothing  washed on the seventh day, before they were allowed to come into the camp.  Every effort was taken to prevent spread of disease.

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Contracts And Responsibilities

Numbers 30:1-16

“And Moses spake unto the heads of the tribes concerning the children of Israel, saying, This is the thing which the LORD hath commanded.  If a man vow a vow unto the LORD, or swear an oath to bind his soul with a bond; he shall not break his word, he shall do according to all that proceedeth out of his mouth.” (Numbers 30:1-2) 

A person was obligated to fulfill his agreement, whether there was a written contract or not.  This is very different than today’s practice, when unless there is a written contract, most people feel they have no responsibility, and even a contract may be broken with the assumption it will not stand up in court.

Jesus said the very idea that a contract or oath is needed indicates the intent to lie in Matthew 5:34-37.  “But I say unto you, Swear not at all; neither by heaven; for it is God's throne: Nor by the earth; for it is his footstool: neither by Jerusalem; for it is the city of the great King.  Neither shalt thou swear by thy head, because thou canst not make one hair white or black.  But let your communication be, Yea, yea; Nay, nay: for whatsoever is more than these cometh of evil.”

“If a woman also vow a vow unto the LORD, and bind herself by a bond, being in her father's house in her youth; And her father hear her vow, and her bond wherewith she hath bound her soul, and her father shall hold his peace at her: then all her vows shall stand, and every bond wherewith she hath bound her soul shall stand.  But if her father disallow her in the day that he heareth; not any of her vows, or of her bonds wherewith she hath bound her soul, shall stand: and the LORD shall forgive her, because her father disallowed her. 

And if she had at all an husband, when she vowed, or uttered ought out of her lips, wherewith she bound her soul; And her husband heard it, and held his peace at her in the day that he heard it: then her vows shall stand, and her bonds wherewith she bound her soul shall stand.  But if her husband disallowed her on the day that he heard it; then he shall make her vow which she vowed, and that which she uttered with her lips, wherewith she bound her soul, of none effect: and the LORD shall forgive her.” (Numbers 30:3-8)

Because the parent or husband bore the responsibility for the oversight of the family, he had the right to refuse allow his wife or daughter to make certain commitments that he felt were contrary to the family‘s good, but he had to make his decision immediately.  He could not reap the benefits, and then cancel the agreement.  If he overrode her decision, he assumed responsibility for her failure to perform, but if he allowed it, it was her responsibility to fulfill it.

“But every vow of a widow, and of her that is divorced, wherewith they have bound their souls, shall stand against her.  And if she vowed in her husband's house, or bound her soul by a bond with an oath; And her husband heard it, and held his peace at her, and disallowed her not: then all her vows shall stand, and every bond wherewith she bound her soul shall stand.  But if her husband hath utterly made them void on the day he heard them; then whatsoever proceeded out of her lips concerning her vows, or concerning the bond of her soul, shall not stand: her husband hath made them void; and the LORD shall forgive her.” (Numbers 30:9-12)

Divorced women and widows were not responsible to a parent or father, and had to take responsibility for their own decisions.  If the commitment had been made prior to the death or separation, then the husband’s decision still stood.  The other party could not force her to honor an agreement that had been overridden.

“Every vow, and every binding oath to afflict the soul, her husband may establish it, or her husband may make it void.  But if her husband altogether hold his peace at her from day to day; then he establisheth all her vows, or all her bonds, which are upon her: he confirmeth them, because he held his peace at her in the day that he heard them.  But if he shall any ways make them void after that he hath heard them; then he shall bear her iniquity.” (Numbers 30:13-15) 

The principle is restated, that the husband had the right to void his wife or daughter’s commitments if he acts immediately upon learning of them.  Delay in voiding them implies he has approved them.  He will be held responsible for her failure to live up to her responsibility if he voids her commitment.

“These are the statutes, which the LORD commanded Moses, between a man and his wife, between the father and his daughter, being yet in her youth in her father's house.” (Numbers 30:16)

This is the standard of responsibility for the husband or father as head of the home.  He has the right to override the decisions of  his wife or children, because he bears the ultimate responsibility, but he must take responsibility for his decisions, both to God and to other people.  Today, many women rebel at having to consider their husband’s wishes, while many men make selfish and capricious decisions with no thought of accountability.