THE ISRAELITES’ time in the wilderness is drawing to a close. Today, we discuss instructions from Yahweh to Moses about vows to the Lord, the military operation against the Midianites (which resulted in the death of the prophet-for-hire, Balaam son of Beor), and the decision of the tribes of Reuben and Gad and the half-tribe of Manasseh to take their inheritance east of the Jordan River rather than in the land of Canaan.
Tag Archives: Eleazar
JUST AS Israel seemed to be on a spiritual high, the people found a way to squander the blessings of God. Again.
Last week, we looked at the effort of Balak, king of Moab, to curse the Israelites through Balaam, a pagan prophet-for-hire. Instead, Yahweh pronounced three blessings on Israel. But before Balaam left, he apparently counseled Balak on ways to entice the Israelites to curse themselves, which led the Israelites “to whore with the daughters of Moab.”
The Israelites began to worship Baal of Peor, whose rites were apparently sexual. This provoked the wrath of Yahweh, who sent a plague that killed 24,000.
If that wasn’t bad enough, Zimri, a prince from the tribe of Simeon, brought a princess from Midian into the camp and had relations with her–possibly inside the Tent of Meeting itself. (Remember, Baal was a fertility god.) Phinehas, the grandson of Aaron, grabbed a spear and killed the couple in the act, which turned back God’s wrath.
This is an incident identified by skeptics as proof of the murderous nature of Yahweh. That shows only that they don’t understand the spiritual war being fought by the rebellious bene elohim or the high stakes involved–no pun intended.
ONE OF the great mysteries of the Bible is the sacrifice of the red heifer. According to Numbers 19, it is required to purify those who come into contact with corpses.
In Jewish tradition, the red heifer has even greater significance. It is believed that the sacrifice of an unblemished red heifer is necessary to restore a state of purity to the world before the Third Temple can be built.
Since we know from the prophets Daniel (chapter 9) and Ezekiel (chapters 40-48) that there will be sacrifices again, which the Antichrist will cause to stop, a temple will be built in Jerusalem. So the birth of an unblemished red heifer would signal another milepost on the prophetic road leading to Christ’s return.
We also discuss the rights and responsibilities of the Levitical priesthood, Moses’ disobedience in striking the rock to bring forth the waters of Meribah, and the deaths of Miriam and Aaron.