Category Archives: Torah

Numbers 17–18: Aaron’s budding leadership and God’s fairness

“That’s not fair!” The impulse to feel jealousy and resentment for seemingly being unjustly passed over for promotion, rewards, privilege, talent, looks, opportunity, etc. is what we battle against from cradle to grave. And the battle Moshe (Moses) and Aharon (Aaron) faced with fellow leaders of Yisrael (Israel) and of Levi parallels the jealousy Yeshua the Mashiakh (Jesus) faced with leaders of Yisrael and why they plotted to kill Him.

Thought questions

Chapter 17

  • How is this chapter connected to chapter 16?
  • What is the significance of the almond tree in this chapter?
    • Why are almonds depicted on the flame cups of the menorah (seven-branched candlestick in the Tent of Meeting)?
    • Why did God have all the leaders submit an almond wood staff for the “test”?
    • How many rods were submitted?
  • What were people grumbling about in this chapter?
  • Who did they see kill Korah and his family in chapter 16?
    • How might the specter of death over any misstep from God’s commands have affected the morale and attitude of the people?
    • How does Aharon (Aaron) compare to the other Levites?
  • Why did God set up Israel as a theocracy rather than a democracy?
    • To Moshe (Moses)?
    • To the leaders?
    • Why was only Aharon — one person — chosen among the choices of all the people of Israel, as Miriam and Aharon argued in Numbers 15 and then Korah in Numbers 16?
    • Why is YHWH the only One — the only God — among all the אלוהים elohim (Hebrew for “gods” or “powerful ones”) to be cherished and worshipped in the world?
    • Aren’t autocratic governments backward and totalitarian?
    • How does accountability factor into the discussion?
    • How were the American ideal of division of powers exemplified in the relationship between the LORD, Moshe, Aharon and between the Father and Messiah Yeshua?

Chapter 18

  • Has God spoken directly to Aharon (Aaron) before?
  • Why was Aharon responsible for the sins of all Israel?
    • What does that picture?
    • For what is Messiah Yeshua responsible?
    • What were the Levites supposed to receive from the people, and what were they to do with it?
    • How were Yeshua’s disciples related to Him that is similar to Aharon’s relationship to the other Levites?
  • Is Aharon better than everyone else in getting to eat the “best of the best” of the offering?
    • What does he do that warrants those gifts?
    • What does Aharon’s rod’s budding picture in relation to the position and mission of Yeshua the Messiah?
  • How are Aharon and Yeshua similar?
    • Why is such an important message buried in such seemingly archaic instructions?
    • What do we give to the “priesthood,” or our High Priest, Yeshua the Messiah?
    • How should we approach the gifts we give our High Priest per the “best of the best” principle in this chapter and Romans 12?
    • How were the roles of the priests and the apostles similar in their mission related to the gifts the people present?
  • After reading Numbers 16–18, what is the combined message of the stories and commandments therein?

Numbers 16: Korah rebels against God’s anointed

The betrayal by Korakh (Korah) against Aharon (Aaron) mirrors the rejection of Yeshua the Mashiakh (Jesus) by leaders of Yisrael (Israel) at in the first century A.D. We can see a foreshadowing of Yeshua’s grace through Aharon’s reaction to the rebellion.

Thought questions

  • What is the situation in this chapter?
    • From the people’s perspective, who were doing the actions and calling the shots?
    • Who else beside Moshe (Moses) and Yeshua the Messiah (Jesus) could speak and death would come?
  • What are the two challenges in this chapter?
    • Why is the challenge between Korakh and Aaron significant? Who is “holy unto the LORD’?
    • Is the challenge similar to the predicted challenge between Messiah and anti-Messiah?
    • Between Miriam and Aharon on one side and Moshe on the other?
  • How did Aharon “make atonement” for the the people to stop the plague? What is the incense for?
    • How is Aharon’s action similar to Messiah’s? Who does Moshe represent in this incident?
    • How is this symbolism of Moshe and Aharon similar what we see in the 10 plagues in Mitzraim (Egypt)?
  • Where does Moshe’s power to open the earth come from?
    • What was Peter’s greatest miracle?
  • Why did the whole family of Korah die for his rebellion?
    • Do children need baptism before adulthood to protect them?
    • What about the instruction in the Torah to execute a rebellious child (Deuteronomy 21:18–23)?
    • Are rebellious teenagers doomed to destruction?
      • Do they know the difference between right and wrong?
    • How does the Bible passage “I can kill and make alive again” (2nd Kings 5:7) affect popular culture’s view that God warrants wanton destruction of the innocent?
    • How does the prophecy of the Valley of Dry Bones in Ezekiel 37 help us understand this dilemma better?
    • What will happen to those who die or are killed while in rebellion or apart from God at the resurrection?
    • Is a rebellious person evil?
    • What are “sins that lead to death” that we read about in apostle Yochanan’s (John’s) writings?
  • What does the Psalm of the Sons of Korah (Psalm 84) tell us about the tragic impact of Korah’s rebellion?
  • What does a “young man dying to save him from the trouble that is coming” have to do with the deaths of the women and children of the rebellious and wicked?

Numbers 15: Of tassels of blue, Sabbath reverence and offerings

After the accounts of rebellion and fear in trusting God’s leading into Canaan (Numbers 13–14), there’s this passage talking about types of offerings, tying blue-corded fringes on clothes and setting aside a memorial portion of each loaf, called challah. These may seem like grab-bag topics, but they all are connecting to a life of faith.

Thought questions

  • What is the purposed of the whole congregation’s offering a bull?
    • What does a bull represent?
  • What does the she-goat represent?
    • Why a male goat for the nation and a female goat for the person?
  • What does the Passover lamb symbolize?
  • What’s the difference between the burnt (khol), grain (minkhah), guilt, sin and fellowship (shalom) offerings?
    • Are these sacrifices obsolete, as many Christians teach?
    • What are the sacrifices we offer today, in light of Romans 12:1 and Hebrews 13:15–16?
    • What about freewill offerings?
    • What is the equivalent today?
  • Isn’t killing someone for collecting wood on the Sabbath unreasonably harsh?
    • Why do violations of the Ten Commandments bring death when restitution is available for theft?
  • What is challah bread?
    • Why do we lift the bread to God when we bless it?
  • What are the tassels (in Hebrew, tzitzitot) described in Numbers 15 for?
    • Do they have relevance for us today?
    • What is the blue cord in the tassel?

Reader: Jeff. Teacher: Richard Agee.

Numbers 13–14: Trusting in God and His apostles

The shockwave of Israel’s shrinking back from entering Canaan under the LORD’s protection reverberated for the next 40 years of wandering and throughout time. It’s all about trusting God when the task seems too big and the means so meager.

This faith in God’s apostles — shelakhim, or “sent ones” — is crucial to entering God’s rest. At the helm of that mission recorded in Numbers 13–14 was Yehoshua, whose name and role foreshadowed the greatest of all God will ever send, Yeshua (Jesus) the Mashiakh (Messiah).

Thought questions

  • What is an “evil report”?
    • Why did the 10 spies give this “evil report”?
    • Why did they exaggerate the potential perils of the Promised Land?
    • Why do we often presume the LORD’s blessing when we’re doing things that are divergent from His will?
    • What is the significance of the 40 days of the spies’ mission?
    • What is causing the people to continue to want to go back to Egypt?
    • Who wanted to send spies into Canaan, Moshe or the people?
  • Who are the spies, and why weren’t they the previously mentioned leaders of the tribes?
    • What time of year was this spying?
    • How were the people of Canaan similar to manna, the “daily bread” God gave Israel each morning?
  • How were the reports of Caleb and Yoshua like “pearls before swine”?
    • What kind of spirit did Caleb have, and how was it different from the spirit in the rest of the people?
    • Why did Moshe change Yehoshua’s name?
    • How was Yehoshua’s role similar to Messiah Yeshua’s?
  • What’s the difference between the rebellious of Israel receiving punishment “to the third and fourth generation” and the teaching in Ezekiel that each will die for his own sin?

Reader: Jeff. Teacher: Richard Agee.