Parsha Naso 2019 June 15, 2019
Numbers 4:21-7:89, haftarah Judges 13:2-5, New Covenant: Luke 1:11-20
At 176 verses, Naso is the longest single parsha in all the Torah. It covers five important topics, including the Aaronic blessing, which we have come to dearly love and proclaim upon all for whom we are praying. The census of the Levites, the gifts presented by the leaders of the 12 tribes for the dedication of the Tabernacle, the instructions regarding the wife suspected of adultery, and, the Nazarite vow are also included this week. We will briefly comment on each and demonstrate how they are related.
The word “naso”, Strong’s 5375, deserves some attention. The English translation used in the opening of our parsha is generally “take” and it also means to “elevate”, “lift up” and “bear”. But, according to Strong’s Concordance, it also means “to forgive, to pardon, to accept, to marry, and to exalt.
Let’s look at a few examples:
Exodus 10:17; “Now therefore, forgive (naso) my sin (Pharaoh speaking), please, only this once, and plead with the LORD your God only to remove this death from me.”
Gen 18:24 Suppose there are fifty righteous within the city. Will you then sweep away the place and not spare (naso) it for the fifty righteous who are in it?
Gen 21:16 Then she went and sat down opposite him a good way off, about the distance of a bowshot, for she said, “Let me not look on the death of the child.” And as she sat opposite him, she lifted up (naso) her voice and wept. 17) And God heard the voice of the boy, and the angel of God called to Hagar from heaven and said to her, “What troubles you, Hagar? Fear not, for God has heard the voice of the boy where he is. 18) Up! Lift up (naso) the boy, and hold him fast with your hand, for I will make him into a great nation.”
Gen 22:4 On the third day Abraham lifted up (naso) his eyes and saw the place from afar… 13) And Abraham lifted up (naso) his eyes and looked, and behold, behind him was a ram, caught in a thicket by his horns. And Abraham went and took the ram and offered it up as a burnt offering instead of his son.
This phrase “lifted up (naso) his eyes” is also used of both Isaac and Rebecca in Gen. 24:63, 64, as well as Jacob after he was inspired to negotiate his wages by separating the spotted and streaked from Laban’s herd to multiply for himself (Gen. 31:10), in addition when he saw Esau coming with 400 men (Gen. 33:1) , and finally, at the end of his days when, presented with Joseph’s children (Gen. 33:5), he asked, “Who are these?”
It is used, as well, by Joseph when his brothers presented Benjamin to him:
Gen 43:29 And he lifted (naso) his eyes and saw his brother Benjamin, his mother’s son, and said, “Is this your youngest brother, of whom you spoke to me? God be gracious to you, my son!”
In Exodus 14:10 the children of Israel “lifted up (naso) their eyes” when they saw the armies of Egypt coming after them and they were “sore afraid.”
In Numbers 24:2 Balaam “lifted up (naso) his eyes and saw Israel camping tribe by tribe. And the Spirit of God came upon him.”
After I spent time examining the word “naso,” I realized it is strongly connected with the idea of covenant, which should be no surprise because it is also part of the proposal to the bride at Mount Sinai.
Exodus 19:4 “You yourselves have seen what I did to the Egyptians, and how I bore (naso) you on eagles’ wings and brought you to myself.”
Exodus 20:7 “You shall not take (naso) the name of the LORD your God in vain, for the LORD will not hold him guiltless who takes (naso) his name in vain.
We should also consider this passage in Leviticus concerning the Day of Atonement:
Lev 16:21 And Aaron shall lay both his hands on the head of the live goat, and confess over it all the iniquities of the people of Israel, and all their transgressions, all their sins. And he shall put them on the head of the goat and send it away into the wilderness by the hand of a man who is in readiness. (22 The goat shall bear (naso) all their iniquities on itself to a remote area, and he shall let the goat go free in the wilderness.
The prophets inform us that in the main Israel refused YHWH’s statutes, ordinances, and commandments while in the wilderness as well as when they came into the land. Worse, they began to worship YHWH as the nations worshiped their gods and eventually Israel bowed to the gods of the nations, even to passing their children into the fire of the altar of Molech. Israel took YHWH’s name in vain. She agreed to be His wife but did not show loyalty to her redeemer. Israel is the adulterous wife, the Sotah, of Numbers 5:12. Year after year YHWH allowed a goat to be the propitiation for the sins of the adulterous woman until “the fullness of time had come, God sent forth his Son, born of woman.” (Gal. 4:4) Yet, it has been said that there was no grace until Jesus!
Ii have found no evidence either in Scripture or in Jewish tradition that the ritual prescribed in Numbers 5:12-31 was ever carried out. In our day, Rico Cortes, a Hebrew roots teacher, sees the prescription for the adulterous woman as a picture of the testing of the Bride during the coming tribulation. Interestingly, Moses, upon finding the golden calf, proceeded to grind it up and make the people of Israel drink it, causing a plague to come upon Israel. Did this foreshadow the statute for the adulterous wife?
Exo 32:19 And as soon as he came near the camp and saw the calf and the dancing, Moses’ anger burned hot, and he threw the tablets out of his hands and broke them at the foot of the mountain. (20 He took the calf that they had made and burned it with fire and ground it to powder and scattered it on the water and made the people of Israel drink it… (25 And when Moses saw that the people had broken loose (for Aaron had let them break loose, to the derision of their enemies), (26 then Moses stood in the gate of the camp and said, “Who is on the LORD’s side? Come to me.” And all the sons of Levi gathered around him. (27 And he said to them, “Thus says the LORD God of Israel, ‘Put your sword on your side each of you, and go to and fro from gate to gate throughout the camp, and each of you kill his brother and his companion and his neighbor.'” (28 And the sons of Levi did according to the word of Moses. And that day about three thousand men of the people fell… (35 Then the LORD sent a plague on the people, because they made the calf, the one that Aaron made.
Could Psalm 91 be ultimately a promise of protection for the bride who passes the test during the Great Tribulation?
Psa 91:1 He who dwells in the shelter of the Most High will abide in the shadow of the Almighty. (2 I will say to the LORD, “My refuge and my fortress, my God, in whom I trust.” (3 For he will deliver you from the snare of the fowler and from the deadly pestilence. (4 He will cover you with his pinions, and under his wings you will find refuge; his faithfulness is a shield and buckler. (5 You will not fear the terror of the night, nor the arrow that flies by day, (6 nor the pestilence that stalks in darkness, nor the destruction that wastes at noonday. (7 A thousand may fall at your side, ten thousand at your right hand, but it will not come near you. (8 You will only look with your eyes and see the recompense of the wicked. (9 Because you have made the LORD your dwelling place— the Most High, who is my refuge— (10 no evil shall be allowed to befall you, no plague come near your tent. (11 For he will command his angels concerning you to guard you in all your ways. (12 On their hands they will bear you up, lest you strike your foot against a stone. (13 You will tread on the lion and the adder; the young lion and the serpent you will trample underfoot. (14 “Because he holds fast to me in love, I will deliver him; I will protect him, because he knows my name. (15 When he calls to me, I will answer him; I will be with him in trouble; I will rescue him and honor him. (16 With long life I will satisfy him and show him my salvation.”
Now, let’s switch to the word “Nazir.” This word appears first when Jacob blesses his sons.
Genesis 49:26; “The blessings of your father are mighty beyond the blessings of my parents, up to the bounties of the everlasting hills. May they be on the head of Joseph, and on the brow of him who was set apart (nazir) from his brothers.
The word “nazir” is only found in the context of being set apart, separated or consecrated to YHWH. Note that Israel’s blessings are designated “on the head” of the one who was separated from his brothers. Moses repeats this in Deut. 33:16 …Let the blessing come on the head of Joseph, and on the top of the head of him who was separated from his brothers.
Of Samson, the Angel told his mother in Judges 13:5, found in this week’s haftarah portion, “…you shall conceive and bear a son. And no razor shall come upon his head. For the child shall be a Nazarite to God from the womb and he shall begin to deliver the Israelites…”
On this side of Calvary, we can clearly see Joseph and Samson as shadow pictures of Yeshua. But, we also need to recognize that the reason we are the most blessed people who have ever lived on this planet is because today, the Body of Messiah is the “head of Joseph” or the Northern Kingdom who was scattered among the nations. Just as the princes of each tribe, or the heads of each tribe, in this week’s torah portion present their gifts and offerings in one accord, so are we greatly privileged to be able to offer our gifts and offerings and to use our gifting and skills in service to YHWH. Those of us desire to be set-apart, or holy, by guarding and observing His commandments should not be surprised when the promised blessings overtake us.
Let’s now consider the Aaronic blessing:
Num 6:22-27 The LORD spoke to Moses, saying, “Speak to Aaron and his sons, saying, Thus you shall bless the people of Israel: you shall say to them, The LORD bless you and keep you; the LORD make his face to shine upon you and be gracious to you; the LORD lift up (naso) his countenance upon you and give you peace. “So shall they put my name upon the people of Israel, and I will bless them.”
Says Rabbi Jonathan Sacks, of the shalom promised in the Aaronic blessing: “This is a concept of peace heavily dependent on the vision of Genesis 1, in which G-d brings order out of tohu va-vohu, chaos, creating a world in which each object and life form has its place. Peace exists where each element in the system is valued as a vital part of the system as a whole and where there is no discord between them. The various provisions of parshat Naso are all about bringing peace in this sense.”
And so, in summation, in this week’s portion, we see that these five major themes are intertwined with the idea of covenant. In the numbering and the assignments of the Levites, we see pictures of the body of Messiah today faithfully going about their business carrying the gospel from place to place, packing and unpacking, establishing a set-apart place for a set apart people to worship and be taught the Word of God.
In the unity of twelve tribes presenting identical lavish gifts we see what it will look like when all division is removed, when the lies and confusion that divide us will have been dealt with by Messiah, and we experience the harmony that Abba intended in the garden.
We see in the torah of the adulterous woman the provision for the innocent bride to be free of the curse of bitter water. We have all sinned and have come short of the glory of God. We are all guilty of the shedding of innocent blood. The Lamb was slain that we might be naso-ed, that is, forgiven pardoned and set free, just like the second bird of Leviticus 14:6-7.
In the blessings that Jacob and Moses proclaimed upon the nazir, we see the reason we are the most blessed people who have ever lived on this planet. And we remember, soberly, that “to whom much is given, much is expected.” (Luke 12:48)
Finally, as adopted children, we delight in the knowledge that we are “no longer strangers and aliens, but are fellow citizens” (Eph 2:19) of the “commonwealth of Israel,” (Eph 2:12), thus, fully eligible for every blessing promised to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, including the fullness of the shalom of the Aaronic blessing being our rightful inheritance, for us and our children.
The song that came to me this morning was the hymn “Rejoice the LORD is King.” And no wonder! “Lift up (naso) your heart, lift up (naso) your voice, rejoice, rejoice!”
May YHWH be praised forever!
Shalom and shavua tov!