Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Behar/Bechukotai (“on the mountain”) Vayikra/Leviticus 25:1 – 27:34


Behar/Bechukotai (“on the mountain”)            Vayikra/Leviticus 25:1 – 27:34

I like numbers – since it is not capitalized I am obviously not speaking of the book.  Don’t get me wrong, I like Numbers also; but this week’s double parashah happens to be in the book before Numbers.

The 25th chapter of Vayikra commences with directions regarding the land’s Sabbath year and the Year of Jubilee.  As I read it here, HaShem’s instruction regarding the Sabbath Year were in much the same pattern as those given dealing with the gathering of manna. 

One obvious difference is that one was done weekly and the other done on a septennial basis.  Going along with that difference, as the people gathered a double portion on the 6th days of the week and nothing on Shabbat, they still needed to gather on the first day of the following week.  However, in reference to the Seventh Year Rest, HaShem tells the people that He will provide for them from the 6th year’s harvest, food for the remainder of the 6th year, the 7th, and 8th years, and up to the 9th year – three full years of foodstuffs (see Lev. 25:20 – 22).  Wow!  I wonder how tasty, nourishing, and abundant that food would have been had His children been obedient!  Someday we will find out, I am sure.

In addition to the directives in reference to the land, similar guidelines are given regarding their fellow believer.  Should someone become poor enough that they felt the need to sell their inherited land, they were not permitted to do so, for they would be dispersing the inheritance of their descendants.  Nevertheless, “leasing” the land to another until the Year of Jubilee was permitted because, joy of joys, the “ownership” of the land would revert back to the family it belonged to in the first place.  Isn’t His Social Security program so much better than ours?

Furthermore, as is related in Lev. 25:39 – 41, should one of the fellow Israelites need to become a “servant” or “slave” to another Israelite, he is NOT to be treated as such, but as an employee or hired servant, and then only to the Year of Jubilee.  The dignity of the man and his family is preserved.

I wish to take a look at these numbers a little further.  My desire is to give us all, including me, something to meditate on, something to chew on – actually “to chew the cud”. 
(See http://www.olivetree.com/learn/articles/meditating-on-gods-word.php for more on the two Hebrew words for “meditate” in the Word – Strong’s 1897 and 7878).

Let us look back into the sixth chapter and the third verse of the first book of the Tanakh, B’resheit/Genesis.  What do we see?  Well, Noah is 480 years old, for it is shown that this is 120 years before The Flood. 

“And the LORD said, ‘My Spirit shall not always strive with man,
for that he also is flesh: yet his days shall be an hundred and
twenty years.’” (KJV)

Though it is an extra-Biblical source, the Book of Jasher (5:8) reports on this conversation as follows:

                        “For thus saith the LORD, ‘Behold I give you a period of one
                        hundred and twenty years; if you will turn to Me and forsake 
                        your evil ways, then will I also turn away from the evil which
                        I told you, and it shall not exist,’ saith the LORD.”

Ok, so we have established the one hundred twenty year time period.  How does that fit in with this week’s readings?  How many years are there between Jubilee Years?  Fifty, of course.  How many years old do we presume the earth to be when the thousand year reign begins?  Six thousand by most conservative believers.  How many Years of Jubilee are there in 6,000 years?  One hundred twenty!

One hundred twenty years after the discussion with Noah, HaShem cleansed the world with water.  At some point He is going to cleanse the world again, but with fire.  The world was and will be restored by these two cleansings.  However, in our reading this week we see that the land and the child of HaShem are both restored in the Year of Jubilee.  Perhaps the 6,000th year will be the Jubilee of Jubilees, for the land and the people will truly be restored.

I know that at some points this is an imperfect comparison, but I believe it is worth chewing on, and on, and on as if we were chewing our cud – for that is how we “meditate”.

Blessed are You, O Lord most high.  If we only had the peshat, dayenu, it would be enough.

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