Thursday, July 9, 2015
Pinchas / Phineas B’midbar / Numbers 25:10 – 30:1 (29:40)
Pinchas / Phineas
B’midbar / Numbers 25:10 – 30:1 (29:40)
Tonight’s portion - #4 (27:6 – 22)
Our portion begins with the Almighty telling Moses that the daughters of Zelophehad were correct. Since any text taken out of context can lead to a pretext, and since it is obvious that we are in the middle of particular event, it should behoove the reader to look earlier in the text in order to find out what is occurring.
Essentially we must go back to the beginning of chapter 26 where we find the L-rd directing Moses and Eleazar to take a census of all the tribes except Levi. The men twenty years of age and up, and fit for military service (26:2, 4) were the ones to be counted. By the time we arrive at verse 51 the count has been completed, and we discover that there are 601,730 total.
All well and good, but that still does not inform us about anything regarding the daughters of Zelophehad and why they are correct or what the issue is about which they are correct, More reading – specifically, verses 52 – 56 of chapter 26.
Adonai informs Moses that the land they are about to enter, the land promised to Abram more than four centuries prior; this land is to be parceled out to the tribes based on their population, and then the tribal land is to be assigned by lot to each of its families based upon the size of each family.
So far we have discovered that there has been a census which seems to be directly related to the parceling of the land upon Israel’s having taken possession. Well and good, but what does this have to do with Zelophehad’s daughters? For that answer, we need to go to the first paragraph, verses 1 – 6, of chapter 27.
The five girls are the only children of their father. If only the males are able to inherit the land, then their father’s name would be eliminated, withdrawn from his family. The girls/women posit that they have as much right to an inheritance as their father’s brothers do. Moses then takes the issue before the L-rd.
Aha! Through a very small amount of research we now know what the topic was, and we also understand that the request of the daughters was legitimate. Out of 601,730 men there is a man who was not even counted, he had no descendants who were counted, and yet, he, Zelophehad, was not to be forgotten, not to be thrown on the trash heap of history. He, though dead, had as much a right to an inheritance in the land as any of the living did.
Pause for a moment and contemplate; six hundred one thousand, seven hundred thirty is not just a number. It is made up of “ones,” each “one” as important as any of the “ones” previous or following. Billions of people are alive right now. Untold billions have lived and untold numbers have yet to live. Regardless, though we heap these unfathomable (to us) numbers together, He Who has created all, does no such thing. As is stated in II Peter 3:9, “The L-rd is…not wishing for any to perish, but for all to come to repentance.” (NASB)
An inheritance has been passed on, yet another inheritance is about to be passed on as well. As the portion continues the L-rd instructs Moses top climb a specific mountain and to look at the land to which he brought the people, but he will not be entering it himself. Why will he not be entering it? Verse 14 concisely states that when the community was disputing with Him, Moses rebelled against HaShem by not upholding His holiness regarding the water, while the people looked on.
Moses has been the shepherd of the L-rd’s flock for forty years. He has been a good shepherd, and he still was. Knowing that he was going to die he asked the L-rd to provide another shepherd for the people so the people would not be like sheep without a shepherd.
Joshua is declared by HaShem to replace Moses (27:18 – 23). Moses was instructed to have this “call” witnessed by the people in the presence of Eleazar the high priest. Eleazar laid his hands upon Joshua and commissioned him. Joshua has now inherited Moses’ role as leader of the people, and the people have inherited a new leader, the will not be leaderless.
But wait! There's more! If you call within the next ten minutes… No, no commercials here. But, did you notice? Did you notice the change? HaShem spoke to Moses face-to-face, Joshua will have discovered HaShem’s will through the urim and thummim. Maybe that is something we need to think about and discuss. Hmmm.