SHABBAT READINGS & COMMENTARY

Friday, May 05, 2006 | 
Aharei Mot & Kedoshim (After the death & be holy): Leviticus 16:1–20:27; Amos 9:7-15

We have a double reading portion (parasha) again this week. This portion begins with the words “After the death of the two sons of Aaron.” Do you recall the ‘strange fire’ of his sons Avihu and Nadav in one of our previous readings?

In chapter 16, we read about the two scapegoats upon which the lots and destiny of the people were cast. “Aaron shall cast lots (goral) for the two goats, one lot for the LORD and the other lot for the Azazel (which some translate as ‘goat of removal’).”

The Hebrew word used here, goral, is understood by Israelis today as fate or destiny and is related to the word hagrala which means lots. Many believers avoid using the word fate, but there is a biblical form of fate.

For many scholars the scapegoat ‘Azazel’ is still a riddle, the one who was cast alive to the desert (verse 10). Is this the demon of the desert? The desert was a place where demons and the devil were considered to dwell and where men of God and Yeshua himself were tested by Satan. However, this Azazel was actually the one who carried away the the people’s sin. But to where?

According to the Mishnah, approximately 7 miles (12 km) east of Jerusalem, the hill called ‘Beth Hedudo’ is known as ‘Mount Azazel.’ The writer of Abraham Apocalypse also has an interesting commentary on Azazel. He divides all the nations of the world into two groups: the children of Abraham whose lots falls to the LORD and the rest of the world, whose lots fall to Azazel. He hints that those from the nations who confess, however, could possibly have their sin carried away.

This act of the High Priest casting the sin on the scapegoat occurs once a year on the tenth of the “seventh month” (Tishrei), Yom Kippur, the great Day of Atonement when: “You will be clean from all your sins before the LORD” (16:30).

In chapter 18 we find a list of atrocities “that you shall not do” according to the “doings of Egypt” and “of Canaan” (18:3) including pagan rituals, fornication and homosexuality (18:22). These may be unthinkable acts for those who grew up in a Bible-based home, but let us not forget that the people of Israel came out of Egypt and then entered Canaan, two idol-worshipping nations where orgies were part of the lifestyle.

Unfortunately, this spirit of the world is still here today and those attacks on morality have hit the Body of Christ as well, as Paul warns about several times. Therefore, it was so important to God to ‘set apart’ His people because, “all these nations are defiled, which I am casting out before you” (18:24).

This brings us to the second reading, Kedoshim, which speaks about Holiness. Man is called to live a holy life set apart from the spirit of the world. The Hebrew word for holy, kadosh, means set apart.

Many believers try to become culturally relevant, adapting their behavior to that of the world in order to win people to Yeshua. Yet, we are called to be different! The world should see in us the difference that God can make!

“Thus you are to be holy to Me, for I the LORD am holy; and I have set you apart from the peoples to be Mine.” Leviticus 20:26; also 1 Peter 1:16

“For it is not the hearers of the law who are just before God, but the doers of the law will be justified.” Romans 2:13; 1 John 2:3-5 and 2 John 1:6

Those are the true Kedoshim (holy people) about whom the New Testament speaks are those who dedicate their lives completely for God and are set apart!
- Michael Schneider –

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