Bits of Torah Truths, פרשת מטות- מסעי, Parshiyot Mattot/Massei, The Revelation of God’s Instruction
This week we read the following, וידבר יהוה אל־משה לאמר 31:1 The LORD spoke to Moses, saying, נקם נקמת בני ישראל מאת המדינים אחר תאסף אל־עמיך 31:2 “Avenge the Israelite people on the Midianites; then you shall be gathered to your kin.” וידבר משה אל־העם לאמר החלצו מאתכם אנשים לצבא ויהיו על־מדין לתת נקמת־יהוה במדין 31:3 Moses spoke to the people, saying, “Let men be picked out from among you for a campaign, and let them fall upon Midian to wreak the LORD’s vengeance on Midian. אלף למטה אלף למטה לכל מטות ישראל תשלחו לצבא 31:4 You shall dispatch on the campaign a thousand from every one of the tribes of Israel.” וימסרו מאלפי ישראל אלף למטה שנים־עשר אלף חלוצי צבא 31:5 So a thousand from each tribe were furnished from the divisions of Israel, twelve thousand picked for the campaign. וישלח אתם משה אלף למטה לצבא אתם ואת־פינחס בן־אלעזר הכהן לצבא וכלי הקדש וחצצרות התרועה בידו 31:6 Moses dispatched them on the campaign, a thousand from each tribe, with Phinehas son of Eleazar serving as a priest on the campaign, equipped with the sacred utensils and the trumpets for sounding the blasts. ויצבאו על־מדין כאשר צוה יהוה את־משה ויהרגו כל־זכר 31:7 They took the field against Midian, as the LORD had commanded Moses, and slew every male. Here in the Torah the Lord commands the people to attach Midean. Note how there are very few people assigned to the attack, only 12,000 men. The people of Midean must not be men of war. In addition, we know that Moshe’s wife is from Midean. How did Moshe’s wife feel about this, the killing of her people? This illustrates for us how we are to choose the Lord and His people over the nations. Moshe puts the priest Pinchas in charge of the men to make war against Midean. Midrash Rabbah on Bamidbar Parashat 22 Part 4 states that Moshe had delegated this task to others, and that this Midean people were not the same to whom he fled to after fleeing Egypt. “Another interpretation suggests that the Midian of which Cosbi had been a princess was not the same Midian as that which is described in the Book of Exodus. [The Midian which Moses fled to bordered the desert of Sinai, whereas the Midian which is featured in connection with Bileam and Balak is situated in the Arabian peninsula bordering the red sea. Ed.] The reason why Moses chose Pinchas to be the leader of this expedition was that seeing he had commenced with turning away God’s wrath from the people, he should be given a chance to complete this good deed by punishing the seducers of his people.” Note something here, the rabbinic interpretation is that the wrath of God is connected to the seducers of His people, the nations who work to deceive and lead astray the people of God. Isaiah the prophet states, “And it will come to pass in that day, that the Lord will punish the house of the high heaven on high and the kings of the earth upon the earth. And they will be gathered together, as prisoners are gathered in the dungeon, and will be shut up in the prison, and after many days will they be punished. Then the moon will be confounded, and the sun ashamed; for the Lord of hosts will reign in the Mount Zion, and in Jerusalem, and before His elders will be glory” (Isaiah 24:21-23). Paul speaks in Ephesians 3 in the context of the Lord calling the Gentiles to faith in fulfillment of His promise that all the nations will give Him praise. He said that the Lord gave Him mercy allowing him to speak to the Gentile peoples in order to reveal to the Gentiles the mystery of God concerning the richness of His mercy (grace) and the wisdom of God will be made known to the rulers and authorities in the heavenly places. In Ephesians 6 Paul speaks of the spiritual forces in the “heavenly places.” It may be Isaiah is identifying the evil spiritual forces with the gods whom the nations worshiped and the stars in the heavens where all authority and power is under control of the Lord. He may be foreseeing the future expectation of the Lord God in heaven eradicating (putting and end to) the rebellion that had come from since the beginning. (see 1 Corinthians 15:25). The idea is the powers that are on high are the one’s who have swayed the nations to worship these false gods and come against the God of Israel. The source of evil for the earthly kingdoms is found in the spiritual forces that lead them to rebellion. Note, the earthly kingdoms, the rulers and peoples, choose to rebel against the Lord. Their rebellion cannot be blamed upon the spiritual forces without personal accountability on the matter. This is consistent with the Lord destroying the princes of the nations who led the people astray. These things reveal to us the power of God over all things, with Yeshua the Messiah having the victory over the spiritual forces and of the Lord protecting His people from the spiritual forces in this world. The Rabbinic commentaries state the following:
Rabbeinu Bahya, Devarim 23:10 Part 1
ונשמרת מכל דבר רע, ”you shall guard against anything evil.” This is a warning not to insult the sanctity of the Holy Ark, (which while in the Sanctuary was automatically protected against such improper behaviour by the walls of the Sanctuary). When in the camp of the soldiers during war it was not surrounded by walls shielding its sanctity (Numbers 31,6).
This speaks of something important in the idea of guarding out hearts against evil. What we are taught in the Torah is this, Devarim / Deuteronomy 1:18 וָאֲצַוֶּ֥ה אֶתְכֶ֖ם בָּעֵ֣ת הַהִ֑וא אֵ֥ת כָּל־הַדְּבָרִ֖ים אֲשֶׁ֥ר תַּעֲשֽׂוּן׃ Thus I instructed you, at that time, about the various things that you should do. (Sefaria) We are told the Lord God has delivered us, He has set us free from sin and death, and He has given us His Word instructing us in regards to what we should do. This is the point of God’s Torah for His people. We are given a picture of how through one man the entire nation was blessed. Through one man the power of God was made known to all of the world. And through one man an entire nation, consisting of a mixed multitude, was delivered from bondage and slavery, set free, raised up, and given God’s holy word to live by. In the Torah we arrive at a point in history when the Lord God raised up a man like no other man, one in whom spoke to God face to face. The Torah reveals to us this future expectation of the power of God over all, with God’s Messiah (Yeshua) bringing victory over the spiritual forces and of His blessing and protection so that we will bear much fruit and bring glory to His Name!