Shabbat Bible Study for April 21, 2018
©2018 Mark Pitrone and Fulfilling Torah Ministries
Year 3 Sabbath 6
Numbers 13:1-33 – Josh. 2:1 – Psalm 105 – Hebrews 11:24-40
B’Midbar 13:1-33 – Y’hovah commanded Moshe to send a leading man of each tribe, but not the elder of the tribe – perhaps the 2nd man or the leading warrior of each tribe. Up until now, Nachshon was the elder of the tribe of Yehudah, and there is nothing to say that he was not still their elder. But Kalev is the one sent as Yehudah’s representative. Elishama had been the Elder of the tribe of Ephraim, but here it is Hoshea, to whose name Moshe added a yud to make his name Y’hoshua. None of the elders were sent into the land as spies. Perhaps the elders, being old, would be intimidated by the potential enemies they would encounter and so younger men were sent. That didn’t work out so well for them, did it? Cf. the first and last prefatory paragraph to the Schottenstein’s Chumash notes on p.88 The spies are not listed in the same tribal order as the elders had been in ch.1. In ch.1, they are listed in order of their camps, but here the Chumash says they were listed in order of their greatness, presumably in battle. Kalev is listed 3rd and Yehoshua 5th. None of these guys was a ‘Woos’. All had been in the battle with Amalek at Rephidim, so they were already battle hardened. Kalev’s father was Yephuneh, a Kenezite (son of Kenaz, a descendant of Esav – not an Israelite).
Moshe gave them instruction to go up the mountain and give the land a cursory look and decide how they wanted to walk through it to complete Moshe’s charge to them. Did they break up into teams and some go along the coast, and some go up the middle of the land and yet another go up the Yarden? Or did they travel as one large group? I think it is possible, though not necessarily so, that Yehoshua and Kalev traveled together. Moshe told them to look at the land, was it a good land or bad? He told them to look at the water, was it plentiful? He told them to look at the cities, where they open or fortified? He told them to study the people, were they strong or not? Then in v.20 he asked if there were trees, and then he asked that they bring fruit from the land to show the people. Rashi says the reference to trees has a hidden meaning – were there tzadikim, righteous men, there? And in conjunction with the request for fruits, I think Moshe wanted them to bring proof of the righteousness of the tzadikim. Now I base that on a sod application from Rashi, so it could very well be wrong. That they brought great fruits, large enough that it took 8 men to carry the bunch of grapes and 2 more to each carry a pomegranate and a fig tells me they found no tzadikim in the land (cf. note on v.23 in Chumash, pg.91).
In v.21, they went all over the land from the south end of the Dead Sea to the Bekaa Valley near Damascus. On their way back to Kadesh and the camp they must have come to the southern side of Hevron because in v.22, “THEY ascended from the south and HE came to Hevron” – Vaiy’alu b’negev vayavo ad-Hevron. (Monte’s monthly magazine is called Yavoh! [He comes])Why the change from plural to singular? Chumash says that only Kalev went into Hevron. I can see that, since that was where he eventually settled, some 44 or 45 years later. It was at Hevron that they saw the sons of Anak – giants before whom they felt like bugs. They never talked to the Anakim, but they somehow knew that the Anakim thought they were bugs, too. I think they projected their insecurities into other people’s attitudes for which they had NO EVIDENCE. Hevron was the town nearest Machpelah, the field and caves that Avraham had purchased for a burial ground for Sarah in Gen.23.
In v.23, they came as a group to the brook Eshcol. The root of the word is H810
‘eshek eh’-shek from an unused root ashak אשך ‘to enclose’); a testicle (as enclosed in a scrotum).
The word Eshcol itself means a bunch or cluster, so either the brook was what was used to water the grapevines or the brook had a bunch of rocks clustered together in its bed and the vines were nearby – or both. A brook is a ‘wash’ or wadi, a stream bed that only has water when it rains. In the US southwest they are called arroyos. A little free advice, If you are in a wadi or arroyo and it starts to rain, or if it’s raining a few miles upstream of you, get out of there or the runoff may ‘wash’ you away.
In v.25, the spies returned from their mission after 40 days – a number that signifies probation, trial and chastisement. The people knew that the time was soon that they would be going into the land. There must have been a mixture of anticipation and unease at the thought. Until just a few days or weeks ago, they were comfortably camped at Sinai with the rock of Rephidim providing all the H2O they or their gardens or their livestock could use. Since they’d left there, they have had to be ready to march at any time, day or night. They knew there were people with formidable forces set to defend the land Israel was about to invade. But this was the time they’d been more or less anticipating for around 400 years, since Avraham got the land grant from Y’hovah. In effect, they were not invaders, but landowners coming to drive out the squatters. And here come the spies they had sent in to check out the land, the people, the produce and the spirit of the place. That the people were anticipating something is seen in v.26, where the spies came to not only Moshe and Aharon, but the congregation. The WHOLE congregation came out to hear the spies report. They showed the fruit to Moshe and the people and in v.27 said the land was good and the fruit was incredible. The first word of v.28 changes the whole tone of the meeting, as I think it was meant to do. “But” (Schottenstein’s Tanakh) means ‘exactly the opposite’ in this context. “As good as all this looks to the untrained eye,” they were saying, “there’s a lot more THERE than meets the eye HERE.” They gave a basically truthful report of what they’d seen, but the way they told the story was intended to dissuade the people from taking any chances.
They said (in a Mark paraphrase), “Oh, yeah! The fruit is enormous and sweet and nutritious. I mean LOOK at the pomegranate! ONE of those seeds will feed your whole family! But it could be a Monsanto product! That just ain’t NATURAL! The land certainly flows with milk and honey. But you SEE the fruit! Can you imagine the size of the BEES?! Their STINGERS have to be my height! Of course, it would only take one apple to make the Charoset for Pesach – for the WHOLE NATION! Now the just plain folk, like us are very strong in and of themselves. Remember Amalek, the jackals that attacked our rearward stragglers at Rephidim? They are there, too. Their cities are well fortified, but that’s not all. We saw the Nephilim there, from whom came children of Anak, whom we saw in Hevron.”
The first instance in the KJV of ‘giants’ in v.33 is the word Nephilim. It literally says, nephilim b’nei Anak. Now, if the rabbis are right, the only guy with chones enough to go into Hevron and actually SEE the sons of Anak was Kalev. So where did they get this information? Kalev probably told them that he’d seen the 3 sons of Anak, but I think they pulled the Nephilim thing right out of their nether regions to convince the people to NOT go up. They were intimidated by what they PERCEIVED with their eyes and let their interpretation of the empirical evidence outweigh the FACTS, 1) that Yhwh had not once reneged on a promise and 2) what they’d experienced over the previous year. They had been spared the severity of Elohim through the plagues, delivered through the Sea and seen Paroh drowned and the armies of the nation of Egypt destroyed. They had seen miraculous provision of food and water and they’d had the wits scared out of them by the trumpets and the Voice of Y’hovah from Sinai. Why were they so afraid of a few oversized trans-humans? Did they not think that Y’hovah could take care of them, as he had against Amalek at Rephidim when they fought a pitched battle without suffering even a scratch? Kalev had tried to tell the people to go up and take the land, that Y’hovah would be their shield and their strong right arm, as it were, but the 10 ‘tourists’, for that is what they’d become, shouted him down. It was only AFTER Kalev’s attempt to remind the people of Yhwh’s deliverance and get the upper hand that the word Nephilim came up. It worked and the Kingdom of Elohim became a democracy, as we’ll see next week, Y’hovah willing and the creek don’t rise. Q&C
Y’hoshua 2:1 – As Moshe sent in spies from Kadesh to check out haAretz, so Y’hoshua sent in spies from Shittim. If you remember shittim wood was used to build the ark, the other furnishings, and the boards of the Mishkan. There must have been a forest of them on the East Bank of Yarden. Shittim wood is also called acacia, which is a dense wood with long, tough thorns protruding – quite possibly the same type of thorns in which the ram had his horns entangled at the Akeida and from which the ‘crown of thorns’ was plaited for Yeshua. The spies went into the city and were taken in by Rachav, a prostitute, for ‘lodging’. Stone’s Tanakh’s note to v.1 says that the word zonah can be translated as either ‘prostitute’ or ‘grocer’ (zun – to feed) and so it translates the word ‘woman innkeeper’ which is meant to convey the thought that Rachav was a ‘madame’ who ran a brothel disguised as an inn. The root verb is zanah זנה, ‘to be unfaithful’ or ‘to defect’. V.3 has the king of Yer’cho sending to Rachav as if she might have the spies in a rented room, which is reasonable. If she were known to be or was outwardly walking the streets, he might not have asked her, but if she was running a legitimate inn keeping business, it was not any kind of a stretch to think she might be lodging them or that they would come to her for lodging. She may not have known they were Israelites until the king’s men came to her to tell her to watch for them. She put 2&2 together quickly and made her plans. Maybe we’ll be able to get into more detail on the rest of the chapter another time.
Tehellim 105 – The 1st 5 verses are filled with imperatives – commands – to show the greatness of Y’hovah and tell of his works, which is the point of this psalm. Then he directs those imperatives to Avraham’s seed (Gal.3.16, 29). There is one seed, but many chosen children of Jacob, so all children of Yisrael are the seed of Avraham and echad – one
Now to Abraham and his seed were the promises made. He saith not, And to seeds, as of many; but as of one, And to thy seed, which is Mashiyach… And if ye be Mashiyach’s, then are ye Abraham’s seed, and heirs according to the promise. (Galatians 3:16, 29)
From v.7, the psalmist rehearsed the history of the spiritual seed of Avraham and Y’hovah’s covenant with them. He made the covenant with Avraham that his seed would inherit all the land on which Avram’s feet would fall. He confirmed that covenant with Yitzhak and again with Ya’acov. He made these covenants when the seed’s number was minuscule. That they believed him against all conventional wisdom is the thing that made them special. Avraham had only one child of promise, Yitzhak, who had only one child of promise, Ya’acov. It was with Ya’acov that he began to multiply the seed, and that was primarily through the 2 tzedakim, Yoseph and Yehudah, whose offspring would bring numerous kings and prophets to the forefront.
As you may remember, it was primarily through Yehudah’s influence that Yoseph was sold into Egypt via the Midianite traders. But Yoseph came to understand that it wasn’t that Yehudah betrayed him, but that Y’hovah made provision for his seed to endure through the suffering of the tzadik while using the experience to take a rotter like Yehudah had been and build in him another tzadik. In the days of Avraham, Yitzhak and Ya’acov, many Canaanite kings tried to impose their wills on the seed, but Y’hovah would not allow those kings to prosper. I see where an extrapolation can be made in vv.14-15,
14 He suffered no man to do them wrong: yea, he reproved kings for their sakes; 15 Touch not mine anointed, and do my prophets no harm.
This can be applied to ALL Avraham’s seed, if we will just trust him to perform as he’s covenanted with us to do. All his seed is anointed, because all his seed is in Mashiyach, whether Jew, Israelite or goy. The dearth that came on all the earth during Yoseph’s sojourn in Egypt was a part of Y’hovah’s plan to deliver his seed to their inheritance at the proper time. Everything that happened to Yoseph while in Egypt was designed to prove his spirit and to show him that Y’hovah is faithful. When Y’hovah’s Word came to the baker and the butler, and Yoseph proved that he was a prophet of Y’hovah, the stage was set for Israel to be delivered from death so it could later be delivered to new life in the Promised Land. It was in Egypt that Israel became a great nation, from a family of 70 souls to a nation of 2-4 million in less than 200 years. When Egypt turned on Israel, Y’hovah sent Moshe to deliver them from their bondage and to their inheritance. Y’hovah’s works witnessed to the greatness of Y’hovah and the futility of Egypt’s gods. Then he delivered Yisrael through the sea in which he drowned the armies of Egypt. Y’hovah provided every need they had in the Wilderness Adventure, food, water, protection from enemies and from the elements.
Y’hovah did all this because he remembered Avraham, his friend and the covenant he’d made with him. He brought us to the land that was flowing with milk and honey, with crops in the fields and fruit on the trees, just waiting for their arrival, so that we could concentrate on observing his chukim and watching or guarding his Torah. Q&C
Ivrit 11:24-40 – Everyone who’s been a believer for more than a day or 2 knows that Heb.11 is called “The Faith Hall of Fame”. Each different “Hall of Famer’s” witness begins with “By faith”. Already mentioned are Avraham (v.17), Yitzhak (v.20), Ya’acov (v.21), Yoseph (v.22), Amram and Yocheved, Moshe’s parents (v.23). Notice that ‘they were not afraid of the king’s commandments.’ They would NOT do as the king ordered, but exercised their trust in Y’hovah. The 1st 3 years of Moshe’s life, spent in Yochebed’s care must have been a very intensive training session, because he KNEW that A&Y were his parents and that he was an Israelite, but that Paroh’s daughter had adopted him. He was being groomed as the next Paroh, even as Rav Sha’ul was being groomed as the next Chief Rabbi of J’lem. Each had great pressure from the flesh to continue in the path other people had chosen for them, but chose to follow after the path Y’hovah had chosen, even though it meant hatred and exile from their familiar people and places. I can see a parallel in every matter of faith in Moshe’s life to a similar one in Paul’s. Paul is writing here about Moshe, by faith, keeping Pesach so that the ‘angel of death’ would pass over the homes in Israel. How can people think that Paul, after praising Moshe for doing something that had never been done before and getting the people to do it, as well, writes elsewhere that the Feasts of Y’hovah are no longer important to observe?
The next “Hall of Famer” is actually b’nei Israel, who also saw all the judgments Y’hovah brought against Egypt, marched for a week to get to Nuweiba, from whence they walked through the parted Red Sea and saw Paroh and his army drowned in pursuit of them. They also exercised faith that Y’hovah would deliver Yir’cho into their hands. Next is Rachav, who also believed that Y’hovah would deliver the city to them, put her trust in Y’hovah, and protected the spies from her king and his security forces. Every one of the ‘hall of famers’ that were named and those who were merely alluded to, Like YeshaYahu, Daniel, AzarYahu, Mishael and ChananYahu, etc. all stood up to the trials that were put upon them by the trust they had in Y’hovah and the certainty of rewards to come as a result of that faithfulness. NONE of them actually received the promise, but they knew that they had an inheritance coming and kept striving to attain it.
End of Shabbat Bible Study