Shabbat is just around the corner again, mishpocah! This week’s Torah portion can be found on our website. This weekend also kicks off Shavuot (some believe it starts at sunset Saturday evening, others, on Sunday evening). Regardless as to when you choose to observe Shavuot, it is an awesome High Holy Day, depicting the giving of the Torah on Mt. Sinai, and later, the Ruach haKodesh (Holy Spirit). Please see our explanation.
Anyway, the first chapter of Numbers is one most of us would probably rather skip over, because the thought comes to mind: "Who cares how many people there were in each of the tribes and who begat whom? This is boring!"
But, mature believers ultimately come to understand that Numbers, Chapter 1 is extremely important because YHWH is about to announce His Divine "seating chart!"
Remember when you were in school and, on the first day you quickly grabbed the desk next to your best friend, or some cute guy or gal, or some "popular" kid, in hopes that they would notice you and include you in their clique? And then in came the teacher with a seating chart and rearranged everybody - and consequently you had to spend the rest of the year sitting next to the class clown or some "geek"....
Well, this is pretty much what YHWH did to the Israelites. Why? Because it was time for His people to discover exactly who they were and what He wanted them to do! You see, in Egypt they were nothing but slaves, "worker bees" for Pharaoh. They did whatever Pharaoh wanted. Their value was found in what they could produce with their labor. They were stonemasons, bricklayers, shepherds, domestic servants and nannies....whatever the Egyptian taskmasters demanded.
Consequently, in Egypt their sense of identity came not from within or who they were created to be, but from external sources - whatever they could do well enough to keep Pharaoh and his taskmasters satisfied.
They were bought and sold in the marketplace, then grouped and herded and moved from place to place according to serve whoever purchased them. They were separated from their families because family obligations and loyalties only interfered with their work.
So, over the generations as Pharaoh's slaves YHWH's people had lost their sense of lineage and family heritage. The Hebrew families were scattered all across Pharaoh's vast North African kingdom. But after 400 years in captivity, they had gotten used to this way of life, even comfortable with their situation.
For more, please click on the Torah portion link above!