NUMBERS – BAMIDBAR
4 June BaMidbar – In the Wilderness Numbers 1:1 – 4:20; Hosea 2:1-22
11 June Nasso – Take a Census Numbers 4:21 – 7:89; Judges 13:2-25
18 June Beha’alotkha – When you set up Numbers 8:1-12:16; Zechariah 2:10-4:7
25 June Shlach Lecha – Send Thou Numbers 13:1-15:41; Joshua 2:1-24
NUMBERS / BAMIDBAR
Bamidbar– In the Wilderness
The stark, extreme environment of the wilderness is a place where G-d can make evident His Divine protection and daily provision of sustenance. The objective of the wilderness journey, b’midbar, is to afford man the opportunity to develop trust in Him on a daily basis. The haftarah in Hosea this week encapsulates G-d’s faithfulness as He calls His beloved into the wilderness—a realm symbolizing spiritual rebirth and covenantal renewal – where He speaks tenderly to her and once more leads her to Himself, to a place of hope and fruitfulness and safety.
Nasso – Take a Census
The Hebrew verb form nasso is usually translated ‘count’ but the literal meaning is ‘uplift’—to ennoble, to elevate. Nissuin, from the same root word, is the Hebrew term for marriage. During a Jewish marriage celebration it is customary for the bride and groom to be lifted up on chairs accompanied by joyous cheering. This symbolizes the spiritual uplifting of two individuals who now are united, body and spirit, in the noble purposes of G-d. In the portions of B’midbar and Nasso the census counts the individuals who are to serve in the uplifting and sacred task of guarding and caring for the Sanctuary of G-d and its holy contents.
This portion usually falls during the Omer—the time of counting forty-nine days between Passover and Shavuot. As ‘priests’ who serve in His Kingdom, it is a time for taking spiri- tual stock and preparing oneself for what G-d desires to reveal regarding one’s spiritual growth and the direction of one’s life. Just as He did when He revealed Himself to His people at Sinai, our Father G-d meets with us with specific intent to lift us up. He strengthens us and enables us to stand upright in unity with Him together with our Bridegroom Messiah and by the power of His Spirit of Holiness.
Beha’alotkha – When you set up [the lamps]
The central focus of Beha’alotkha is the Menorah in the Holy Place of the Tabernacle. Its shape is that of a trunk and branches and the details of its design resemble an almond tree. It is symbolic of the Word of God and thus is compared to a Tree of Light. The lamps of the Menorah are fueled by pure olive oil and, when lit, represent the radiance of the Presence of God, the illumination of His Word of Truth. The eye-shaped almonds represent His constant care and watch over His people.
In anticipation of the full and final Redemption of Israel and the world, the prophet Zechariah, in seven Hebrew words corresponding to the seven lamps of the Menorah, emphasizes that in the powerful light of the truth of God and in His Spirit of Holiness, nothing is impossible. “Not by might, nor by power but by My Spirit,” says the Lord (4:16).
Shlach Lecha – Send Thou
The next portion, Shlach lecha, carries an echo of the command, “Lech lecha – Go thou!” given by God to Abraham when He sent him forth from his native land to “a land that I will show you” (Genesis 12:1); one which He swore to give to him and his promised descendants forever (Genesis 17:8).
A difference to consider between the two scenarios is that Abraham, not knowing where this land was, set out in pure trust and faith in the One Who sent him; whereas Moses and the Israelites, the descendants of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, knew its exact location. Abraham journeyed and arrived and dwelt in the Land of promise but the narrative of the book Bamidbar (Numbers) presents us with the sad reality that the adult generation of those who left Egypt, with the exception of Joshua and Caleb, did not. They succumbed to resentment, rebellion and negativity; fear replaced faith and doubt replaced trust in God’s Word and leading. Instead of looking forward in faith and in anticipation of the new thing God was doing, they longed for the old ways of Egypt – the place of their slavery.