Tag Archives: Numbers 32

Parashot Matot/Massei (מטות/מסעי): Numbers 30–36

“As God is my witness, I will do that.” Such words can roll off our tongues easily, but we can forget that One is witnessing such a vow and watching to see whether we respect the Creator enough to follow through. That’s why Moshe (Moses), Yeshua haMashiakh (Jesus the Christ) and His apostle Ya’akob (James) warned us against dragging the LORD in to co-sign on our promises.

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Numbers 30–36: ‘Be angry, and yet do not sin’

“And Moses said to them, ‘Have you spared all the women? Behold, these caused the sons of Israel, through the counsel of Balaam, to trespass against the LORD in the matter of Peor, so the plague was among the congregation of the LORD. Now therefore, kill every male among the little ones, and kill every woman who has known man intimately.’” (Numbers 31:15–17 NASB)

God killed 24,000 Israelite men for their debauchery with these women. These women were willing tools in Midian and Moab’s efforts to seduce the people of Israel into idolatry. This is why they were killed.

The men of Midian used their wives to seduce the Israelites. In the dual Torah readings מטות Matot and מסעי Massei, we learn that Midian did this under the belief that they had to conquer Israel for their own long-term survival, for the sake of their sons. Hence when God tells Israel to wipe out the men, wives and young boys, he is telling them to wipe out the people complicit in Israel’s idolatry and also the reason for which they excused their idolatry.

Continue reading Numbers 30–36: ‘Be angry, and yet do not sin’

Parashat Matot (מטות): Numbers 30–32

“As God is my witness, I will do that.” Such words can roll off our tongues easily, but we can forget that One is witnessing such a vow and watching to see whether we respect the Creator enough to follow through. That’s why Moshe (Moses), Yeshua haMashiakh (Jesus the Christ) and His apostle Ya’akob (James) warned us against dragging the LORD in to co-sign on our promises.

Yisrael’s promise to remain faithful to the One Who delivered the people out of bondage in Mitsraim (Egypt) eroded under the temptation of a flesh-friendly religion. So a former ally of 40 years ago became an existential enemy and had to be defeated. The wisdom of being very careful in making promises and seeking the strength to keep them is the subtext of the Torah reading מטות Matot (“tribes”), covering Numbers 30–32.

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Numbers 32–33: Reuben and Gad linger east of Jordan; remembering the Exodus

We may be tempted to give up when the end of our jobs, our relationships or lives are looming. Yet Moshe embodies apostle Paul’s encouragement to “fight the good fight” and “run the race” with all we have until we reach our goal or it’s time to pass the baton to the next person. Moshe encouraged the tribes of Reuben and Gad to pitch in to the hard settlement of Canaan, even when their new home was secured.

Thought questions

  • What are the “high places”?
  • How many campsites were there between Egypt to the entry into Canaan?
    • What’s the significance of the number of sites?
  • What is the setting of the book of Deuteronomy?
  • Why did Reuben and Gad want to stay on the east side of the Jordan?
    • What was involved in conquering that?
    • What geography is east of that area?
    • What was Moses’ response to their request?
    • What would be the consequence if they weren’t part of the conquest of Canaan?
    • How did God deal with the first generation that rebelled against God?
      • How did God impress this upon the second generation?
    • How would Reuben’s and Gad’s reticence affect the rest of the tribes?
    • How was the message that God got across during the 40 years in the desert related to their relationship to each other and to God?
    • How did Gad and Reuben respond?
      • Did all the people of those two tribes go over the Jordan with the other tribes?
  • Who were the leaders of the people and did most of the leadership?
    • Moshe (Moses)?
    • Aharon (Aaron)?
    • Eleazar?
    • How’s that form of government similar to our form of government?
  • Num. 32:28-30 is one of the first times Moshe makes provision for how things will work after he is no longer around. How long did Moshe have to conquer the east side of Jordan?
    • How was that timeframe connected to Moshe’s  coming death?
    • What does that diligence say about Moshe’s character?
    • What did he realize about the importance of what God has been building in the people of Israel after the Exodus?
  • How is the division of the territory of Manasseh important to keeping the tribes together?
    • What was the significance of the half-tribe that was on the east side of the Jordan?
    • What did Gad andf Reuben do with the cities they conquered? How did the east half of Manasseh do it?
    • How much did Moshe know about Israel’s future?
      • How did that play into the division of the territory of Manasseh?
      • What does that say?
  • Most of the meanings of the of place names in Moses’ list  of camps has been lost. What’s the signifcance in the number of generations to Messiah and the number of campsites from Moshe’s leaving Egypt to Joshua’s entering Canaan?
    • What’s the significance of the multiples of 6 and 7?
    • Some ideas have surfaced about the meaning of the 42 camp sites:
      1. Could they be 42 steps to achieve godliness?
      2. Could the place names be symbolic of the generations connected in the previously mentioned time spans?
        • Ramses to Sukkot
        • Abram to when Abram was called out
  • What were the five requirements for Israel in conquering the land?
    1. Expel people.
    2. Destroy carved images.
    3. Demolish high places.
    4. Divide the land by lots.
    5. Live in the land.
  • How successful was Israel in these five?
    • How do the sages interpret “barbs” and “thorns” in the curse for nonobedience?
    • How did God follow through with this promise to “to to you what I plan to do to them”?