Saturday, July 16, 2011
This weeks parasha is titled Mattot, it has the root word of Tribes, which begins with HaShem directing Moshe to speak to the heads of the tribes of Israel. To begin the Parasha Moshe teaches about vows, oaths and obligations to the Israelites. Bamidbar 30:2 says "When a man makes a vow to the Lord or takes an oath to abligate himself by a pledge he must not break his word but must do everything he said". Whoever said "their just words they don't mean anything", obviously didn't take the time to see that words can cause peace, words can start wars, words can initiate love and hate, words can establish a persons credability or make them a liar, our beauitful Torah was created with words along with all creation. When we don't keep our vows it not only ruins our own credibility but it may also be negative to the credibility of Adonai. As ambassadors of Christ we are looked upon by nonbelievers and our peers to have a higher moral standard. To follow thru with our words affirms our love and dedication to HaShem which strenghtens the moral conduct that we are called to. Unfortunatly our human nature and pride leads us to make vows in times that are made in the heat of the moment cituations such as Jephthah made in Jdg 11:30-31. "And Jephthah made a vow to the Lord: 'if you give the Ammonites into my hands, whatever comes out of the door of my house to meet me when I return in triumph - I will sacrifice it as a Burnt offring.' We see later that Jephthah is a man of his vow and offers his only child as an offering to fulfill his obligation. Yeshua says it best in in Mat 5:37 "let your 'yes' be 'yes' and your 'no' be 'no'". In it's basic meaning is to be a man of your word. We see further in the teaching of vows the authority of the man, or leader of the house, has to nullify their wifes or young daughters vows. Here alot of responsibility falls on the man to keep his family safe from making hasty vows. If this is not handled correctly we see that the husband or father will cary the guilt of the vow. Responsibility is unltimatly put on the head of the family.
Num 31:1-2 "HaShem said to Moshe, Take vengeance on the Midianites for the Israelites. After that, you will be gathered to your people." What I find interesting here is that Moshe knowing that after this battle he will be gathered to his people yet he does not delay in organizing the army for battle. Moshe shows by his quick action his love and devotion to HaShem. One thousand men from each tribe is to be present for the war. The tribe of Levi would also be represented in battle, perhaps because of the zealous act of dedication to HaShem by Phinehas. The commanders of the army allowed the woman to live even though they were the cause of the Idolatry. Moshe commands that all women of sexual age to be killed and only leave the young male and females alive. To keep purity in the camp, all soldiers were comanded to go thru the ritual of purification. This included any articles or plunder that were brought back to the camp that may have come into contact with a dead body. Moshe never misses a beat when it comes to leading the nation into obiedence to the commands of the Torah. Do we in our own lives take on the character of Moshe and not hesitate to perform as we are called?
The tribes of Ruben and Gad decide that the land they had just subdued from the Midianites are very suitable for their livestock. As these tribes patition to stay in this land the dialoge between them and Moshe becomes very heated. At first glance, the request looks as if it is for selfish reasons. Ruben and Gad are looking out for thier own wants and desires and not for the well being of the entire community of Israel. Moshe is reminded of the distrust by the actions of the spy's 39 years earlier. Moshe knows that by letting the Rubenites and Gadites stay east of the Jordan this could lead to the rest of the tribes having fear and distrust towards HaShem as they begin to enter the Promised Land. The actions of Ruben and Gad themselves show their commitment to HaShem. By them not trusting in HaShem to possess the land that they have been promised, they believe that they can do better for themselves than what HaShem can do for them. How many times ourselves do we act like this. Are we commited enough to HaShem to give up our selfish needs and riches for the greater good of the nation and trust in the promises that we have been given? After much harsh rebuke from Moshe we see Ruben and Gad excersise their rites and make a vow. Num 32:17-18 "But we are ready to arm ourselves and go ahead of the Israelites until we have brought them to their place. - we will not return to our homes until every Israelite has received his inheritance." Ruben and Gad later prove to be tribes of their word.