SHABBAT READINGS & COMMENTARY

Thursday, June 01, 2006 |  Michael Schneider
Naso (Take a census): Numbers 4:21–7:89; Judges 13:2-25

On this Shabbat, we read a little more about the matter of the priestly lines from the houses of Gershoni and Merari. The task of these groups of Levites was divided, be it in the setting up and the taking down of the “tent of meeting.”

  • The Gershonites were to: “…carry the curtains of the tabernacle and the tent of meeting with its covering…” (4:24-25)
  • The sons of Merari were responsible for “the boards of the tabernacle and its bars and its pillars and its sockets, and the pillars around the court and their sockets and their pegs and their cords” (4:31-32).

    Chapter 5 begins with strong instruction that “Every leper and everyone having a discharge…” shall leave the “camp of the Lord.” This brings to mind the stern words of Paul in 1 Corinthians 5 when he warned that he would throw all the immoral and adulterous ones out of “the camp of the Lord,” the Body of Messiah, because they bring defilement. Again, the same matters are spoken of: uncleanness and immorality. We cannot fool and despise God!

    From verse 11 we read about the test to determine if a woman has committed adultery. The “spirit of jealousy” comes upon her husband, or suspicion. In this case, the man turns to the priest with his wife and the priest orders her to drink special water. If she was found guilty, her thigh would “waste away and her abdomen swell” (5:21), a visual curse in the midst of the people.

    That was God’s instrument to detect if the man’s wife sinned. We don’t use this anymore, but the “spirit of jealousy” still lives. Thank God that we have “living water” today that brings all to light.

    In chapter 6, we read about the laws of a Nazirite, one who has made a vow to dedicate himself to God. We can read there three criteria of separation:

  • He must abstain from any product that is mad from grapes, like wine, vinegar, raisins or even seeds and skins.
  • No razor may be used on his head, as with Samson and John the Baptist, until the period of his dedication to the LORD is over.
  • He must not go near a dead body.

    In the passage of the prophets this week, we read Judges 13 about the Nazirite Samson who was dedicated to God from the time he was in his mother’s womb.

    Numbers 6 ends with the well-known priestly blessing (6:25-26): “The LORD bless you and keep you the LORD make his face shine on you and be gracious to you the LORD turn his face toward you and give you peace.”

    by Michael Schneider

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