Note: The Shabbos Torah Reading is divided into 7 sections. Each section is called an Aliya [literally: Go up] since for each Aliya, one person “goes up” to make a bracha [blessing] on the Torah Reading.
1st Aliya: Moshe sends the Spies on their mission.
2nd Aliya: The Spies return carrying the massive fruits of the land. They deliver their negative report and the nation loses its faith in G-d and Moshe.
3rd Aliya: Moshe successfully argues for the life of the nation, and Hashem issues the 40 year decree of wandering and dying.
4th Aliya: The Spies die, and the nation is informed of their own punishment.
5th Aliya: The laws of the Mincha – meal offering are stated.
6th Aliya: The laws of separating Challah – the dough offering, and the communal sin offering are stated.
7th Aliya: The individual sin offering; the incident with the man who transgressed Shabbos by gathering sticks; his punishment; and the Mitzvah of Tzitzit, conclude the Parsha.
NUMBERS 13 (ONKELOS) — 1 And the Lord spake with Mosheh, saying: 2 Send thou men, that they may explore the land of Kenaan, which I will give to the children of Israel: one man for each tribe of their fathers shall you send, each one a ruler among them. 3 And Mosheh sent them from the wilderness of Pharan, according to the Word of the Lord. All those men were heads of the children of Israel; 4 and these are their names: Tor the tribe of Reuben, Shamua bar Zakur; 5 for the tribe of Shemeon, Shaphat bar Hori; 6 for the tribe of Jehudah, Kaleb bar Jephuneh; 7 for the tribe of Issakar, Igal bar Joseph; 8 for the tribe of Ephraim, Hoshea bar Nun; 9 for the tribe of Benyamin, Phalti bar Raphu; 10 for the tribe of Zebulon, Gediel bar Sodi; 11 for the tribe of Joseph, the tribe of Menasheh, Gaddi bar Susi; 12 for the tribe of Dan, Ammiel bar Gemali; 13 for the tribe of Asher, Sethor bar Mikael; 14 for the tribe of Naphtali, Nachbi bar Yapsi; 15 for the tribe of Gad, Geuel bar Machi: 16 These are the names of the men whom Mosheh sent to explore the land.
17 And Mosheh called Hoshea bar Nun Jehoshua. And Mosheh sent them away to explore the land of Kenaan. And he said to them, Go up hither by the south, and ascend to the mountain, 18 and see the country what it is, and the people who dwell upon it, whether they be strong or weak, few or many; 19 and what the land is in which they dwell, whether good or bad; and what the cities they inhabit, whether open, or walled in; 20 and whether the land is rich or poor; whether it hath trees or not: and you, be of good courage, and bring of the fruits of the land. And the days were the days of the first grapes.
21 And they went up, and explored the country, from the wilderness of Zin unto Rechob, to come unto Hamath. 22 And they went up by the south, and came to Hebron; and there were Achiman, Sheshai, and Talmai, sons of the giants; (and Hebron was built seven years before Tanis of Mizraim). 23 And they came to the Stream of Grapes, and cut down there a branch, with one cluster of grapes, and carried it on a staff between two; and (they took also) of the pomegranates, and of the figs. 24 That place was called the Stream of Grapes, on account of the grapes (athkela) which the sons of Israel cut down from thence. 25 And they returned from the exploration of the country at the end of forty days.
26 And they went and came to Mosheh, and to Aharon, and to all the congregation of the children of Israel at the wilderness of Pharan, at Rekam,and returned the word to them, and to all the congregation, and showed them the fruit of the land. 27 And they recounted to him, and said: We came to the land whither thou didst send us,and truly it doth produce milk and honey, and this is the fruit of it. 28 But very mighty are the people who inhabit the land, and the cities are fortified and very great; and we saw, also, the sons of the giants there. 29 The Amalkaah dwell in the land of the south, and the Hittaah and Jebusaah and Amoraah dwell in the mountain, and the Kenaanaah dwell by the sea, and upon the bank of the Jordan.
30 And Kaleb quieted the people for Mosheh, and said: Going, let us go up and possess it, for we are able to (do) it: 31 but the men who had gone up with him said, We are not able to go up against the people, for they are stronger than we. 32 And they gave forth an evil report (name) about the land which they had explored to the children of Israel, saying: The country which we have passed through to search it, is a land that killeth its inhabitants; and all the people whom we saw in it are men of stature; 33 and there we saw the giants, the sons of Anak, which are of the giants; and we looked, in our own sight, as locusts, and so were we in their eyes.
NUMBERS 14 (ONKELOS) — 1 And all the congregation lifted up and gave (forth) their voice; and all the people wept that night. 2 And all the children of Israel murmured against Mosheh and Aharon; and the whole congregation said to them, that we had died in the land of Mizraim, or that we had died in this wilderness! 3 And why is the Lord bringing us to this land, that we may fall by the sword, and our wives and our children become a prey? Would it not be better for us to return into Mizraim? 4 And they said, a man to his brother, Let us appoint a chieftain, and go back into Mizraim.
5 And Mosheh and Aharon fell upon their faces before all the assembly of the sons of Israel. 6 And Jehoshua bar Nun, and Kaleb bar Jephuneh, who were of the explorers of the land, rent their clothes. 7 And they spake to all the congregation of the sons of Israel, saying: The land, which we passed through to explore it, is a good land, most exceedingly. 8 If the Lord hath pleasure in us, even He will bring us into this land, and give us the land which produceth milk and honey. 9 Only be not rebellious against the Word of the Lord, nor be afraid of the people of the land, for they are delivered into our hand; their strength is departed from them, and the Word of the Lord is our helper: fear them not. 10 But all the congregation said that they would stone them with stones.
And the Glory of the Lord was revealed at the tabernacle of ordinance, unto ail the children of Israel. 11 And the Lord said to Mosheh, How long will this people provoke Me, and how long will they disbelieve in My Word, for all the signs which I have wrought among them? 12 I will smite them with the pestilence and consume them; and will make of thee a people greater and stronger than they. 13 But Mosheh said before the Lord, And the Mizraee will hear of it;—for Thou didst bring up by Thy power this people from among them, 14 and they will tell unto the inhabitants of this land; for they have heard that Thou, Lord, dost dwell in Thy Shekinah among this people, whose eyes behold the glorious Shekinah of the Lord, and that Thy Cloud overshadoweth them, and that in the pillar of the Cloud Thou conductest them in the day, and in the pillar of Fire by night. 15 Now if Thou shalt kill this people as one man, the nations who have heard the fame of Thy power will speak, saying: 16 Because there was not strength (enough) before the Lord to bring this people into the land which He covenanted to them, He hath killed them in the desert. 17 And now I beseech, let power be magnified from before the Lord, as Thou hast thus spoken, saying: 18 The Lord is far from anger, and great in performing goodness and truth: forgiving iniquity and rebellion and sins, pardoning them who return unto His law: but acquitting not them who will not turn, (but) visiting the sins of the fathers upon the rebellious children unto the third and unto the fourth generation. 19 Pardon, I beseech, the sins of this people according to the amplitude of Thy goodness, and as Thou hast forgiven this people from Mizraim until now.
20 And the Lord said, I have pardoned according to thy word. 21 Yet, as I live, with the glory of the Lord shall all the earth be filled. 22 Because all these men who have seen My glory, and the signs I wrought in Mizraim and in the desert, but have tempted before Me these ten times, and have not been obedient to My Word,—23 if they shall see the land which I covenanted to their fathers, nor shall any see it who have provoked before Me. 24 But My servant Kaleb, for that there was in him another spirit, and that he hath wholly followed (in) My fear, him will I bring into the land whither he went, and his children shall possess it.—25 Now the Amalkaah and the Kenaanaah dwelt in the valley.—Tomorrow, turn you and get you to the wilderness by the way of the Sea of Suph.
26 And the Lord spake with Mosheh and unto Aharon, saving: 27 How long shall this evil congregation be murmuring against Me? The murmuring of the sons of Israel which they murmur against Me is heard before Me. 28 Say to them, As I live, saith the Lord, even as ye have spoken before Me, so will I do to you. 29 In this wilderness shall your carcases fall, and all who are numbered of you, of all your numbers, from one of twenty years and upward who have murmured against me—30 if you shall come into the land in which I covenanted in My Word to cause you to dwell, except Kaleb bar Jephuneh, and Jehoshua bar Nun. 31 But your children, of whom you said they were for a prey, will I bring in, and they shall know the land which you have abhorred. 32 But your carcases shall fall in this wilderness; 33 and your children shall go about in the wilderness forty years, and shall bear your iniquities until your carcases be laid in the wilderness. 34 According to the number of the days in which you explored the land, forty days, a day for a year, a day for a year, you shall receive for your sins, even forty years, and you shall know (the consequence of) your murmuring against me. 35 I, the Lord, have made the decree in My Word,—if I will not do unto all this evil congregation who have gathered together against Me; in this wilderness shall they find their end, and here shall they die.
36 And the men whom Mosheh sent to search the land, and who returned to make all the congregation murmur against him, by bringing forth an evil name upon the land; 37 those men who brought out the evil name upon the land died by the plague before the Lord. 38 But Jehoshua bar Nun and Kaleb bar Jephuneh lived, of those men who went to explore the land. 39 And Mosheh told these words to all the children of Israel, and the people bewailed greatly. 40 And they arose in the morning to go up to the top of the mountain, saying: Behold, we will go up to the place of which the Lord hath spoken; for we have sinned. 41 But Mosheh said, Wherefore do you transgress against the decree of the Word of the Lord? But it will not prosper. 42 Go not up, for the Shekinah of the Lord is not among you, and be not broken before your enemies. 43 For the Amalkaah and the Kenaanaah are there before you, and you will fall by the sword; for, because you have turned away from the service of the Lord, the Word of the Lord will not be your helper. 44 Yet they would commit the wickedness of going up to the summit of the mountain, though the ark of the Lord’s covenant, and Mosheh, removed not from the midst of the camp. 45 And the Amalkaah and the Kenaanaah who dwelt in the mountain came down and smote them, and pursued them unto Hormah.
NUMBERS 15 (ONKELOS) — 1 And the Lord spake with Mosheh, saying: 2 Speak with the children of Israel, and say to them: When you shall (at last) have come into the land which I will give you, 3 and you will make an oblation before the Lord, a burnt offering, or a consecrated sacrifice for the release of a vow, or in a free will offering, or in your solemnities to render an acceptable service before the Lord, from the herd or from the flock; 4 let him who offereth his oblation before the Lord bring for a mincha a tenth of flour sprinkled with the fourth of a hina of oil. 5 And wine for a libation the fourth of a hina shall he make upon the burnt offering, or hallowed sacrifice, for one lamb: 6 or for a ram he shall make a mincha of two tenths of flour sprinkled with the third of a hina of oil; 7 and wine for the libation thou shalt bring the third of a hina, to be received with acceptance before the Lord. 8 And when thou makest a bullock a burnt offering, or a hallowed sacrifice for the release of a vow, or hallowed sacrifices before the Lord, 9 let him bring with the bullock a mincha of three tenths of flour sprinkled with a half hina of oil; 10 and wine shalt thou bring for the libation the half of a hina, an oblation to be received with acceptance before the Lord. 11 So shalt thou do for one bullock, or one ram, or one lamb from the lambs, or from the kids. 12 According to the number that you perform so shall you do with each, according to their number. 13 All native born (Hebrews) shall do these things to offer an oblation to be received with favour before the Lord. 14 And if a sojourner who sojourneth with you, or whoever among you in your generations will make an oblation to be received with favour before the Lord, as you do, so shall he do. 15 One congregation and one rite shall be for you and for the sojourners who sojourn; it is an everlasting statute; as you are, so shall the sojourner be before the Lord: 16 one law and one judgment shall be for you and for the sojourners who dwell with you.
17 And the Lord spake with Mosheh, saying: 18 Speak with the sons of Israel, and say to them, When you have come into the land into which I will bring you, 19 and when you eat of the bread of the land, you shall set apart a separation before the Lord. 20 Of the first of your food you shall set apart a cake for a separation; as the separation of the threshing-floor, so shall you set it apart; 21 of the first of your bread (dough) you shall give the separation before the Lord in your generations.
22 And should you be in ignorance, and not do all these commandments of which the Lord hath spoken with Mosheh, 23 even all which the Lord commanded you by the hand of Mosheh from the day that the Lord commanded and thenceforward in your generations, 24 it shall be that if anything be hid from the eyes of the congregation and you do ignorantly, then all the congregation shall make a burnt offering of one young bullock, to be received with acceptance before the Lord, with his mincha and his libation, according to the proper manner, and one kid of the goats for a sin offering: 25 and the priest shall make atonement for all the congregation of the sons of Israel, and it shall be forgiven them, for it was ignorance; but they shall bring their oblation before the Lord on account of their ignorance. 26 And it shall be forgiven to all the congregation of the children of Israel, and to the sojourners who sojourn among them; for all the people (were) in ignorance. 27 And if one sin ignorantly, he shall bring a female kid of the year for a sin offering; 28 and the priest shall make atonement for the man who hath erred in his sin through ignorance before the Lord, to atone for him, and it shall be forgiven him. 29 For the native born of the sons of Israel, and for the sojourner who sojourneth among you, one law shall there be for you, for him who acteth in ignorance. 30 But the man who doeth presumptuously, whether of the native born, or of the sojourners, he provoketh the Lord to anger, and that man shall perish from among his people: 31 because he hath despised the word of the Lord, and hath made His commandment vain, that man shall be utterly destroyed, his sin is upon him.
32 And while the children of Israel were in the wilderness, they found a man stealing wood on the day of the Sabbath; 33 and they who had found him stealing wood brought him to Mosheh and Aharon, and to all the congregation. 34 And they bound him in the house of custody; for it had not been explained to them what they should do to him. 35 And the Lord said unto Mosheh, The man shall be surely put to death; all the congregation shall stone him with stones without the camp. 36 And all the congregation brought him forth without the camp, and stoned him with stones, and he died; as the Lord commanded Mosheh.
37 And the Lord spake to Mosheh, saying: 38 Speak with the children of Israel, and bid them that they make them fringes upon the borders of their garments throughout their generations, and that upon the fringes on the borders they put a ribbon of hyacinth. 39 And they shall be to you for fringes, that you may look upon it, and remember all the commandments of the Lord, and do them, and not wander after the imagination of your heart, or after the sight of your eyes, after which you have gone astray. 40 That you may remember and do all My precepts, and be saints before your God. 41 I am the Lord your God who brought you forth from the land of Mizraim to be to you Eloha: I am the Lord your God.
Matiytyahu It Is a Didactic or Teaching Gospel. While giving the account of a number of miracles, the book is marked by several discourses of considerable length, as The Sermon on the Mount, chapters 3-7, the denunciation of the *Pharisees not the school of Hillel, chapter 23, the prophecy of the destruction of Jerusalem and the end of the world, chapters 24-25, the address to the apostles, chapter 10; and the doctrines of the kingdom, 17:24-20:16. These portions and the parables noted above will indicate how large a portion of the book is taken up in discourses. The student can make lists of other and shorter sections of teaching.
* On one occasion an expert in the law stood up to test Yeshua. “ Teacher,” he asked, “what must I do to inherit eternal life?”
“What is written in the Law?” he replied. “How do you read it?”
He answered: ” ‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind’; and, ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’”
“You have answered correctly,” Yeshua replied. “Do this and you will live.”
But he wanted to justify himself, so he asked Yeshua, “And who is my neighbor?”
Yeshua as Rabbi:
Part 1: What is a Rabbi?
Part 2: Was Yeshua a Rabbi?
Part 3: Yeshua’ Miracles
Yeshua, as an integral member of the culture he lived in, was not only a rabbi with s’mikah, but he also took part in the rabbinic culture of his day, interacting with others in that culture. As such, he was called on to answer a number of questions and to weigh in with his opinions on issues of import to that culture.
Within his culture of early first-century Israel, there were seven primary rabbinic ’schools’ of thought, with followers – talmidim – in each school. These schools were named after the founding rabbi, even if that rabbi was no longer alive. Much like the discussion that goes on in these schools of thought within Judaism would debate key questions of theology and practice, often quite heatedly.
At the poles of thought within these schools, the most lenient (or liberal, though not in a modern sense) of the rabbinical schools was the School of Hillel. One of Hillel’s key teachings, recorded in the Talmud, is this:
That which is hateful to you, do not do to your fellow. That is the whole Torah; the rest is the explanation; go and learn.
About ten years after Hillel’s death, Yeshua took this concept, building onto it in a positive fashion:
So in everything, do to others what you would have them do to you, for this sums up the Law and the Prophets.
At the other end of the spectrum, the School of Shammai was the most strict in its interpretations. The remaining five schools of rabbinic thought ranged between these two, Hillel and Shammai, with key nuances – emphases or de-emphases – from the other schools. When Yeshua began his ministry near the age of 30, he entered into this context, and as one might expect, he was asked to weigh in on the great debates of the day.
Question and Answer
Within the rabbinic schools, the primary means of debate was ask-assertive conversation rather than the highly expository method in Western/Greek culture. The reason for this is based on the theory that ‘if I tell you what you should believe, the answer you have is my answer. If, however, I ask you questions that lead to the answer, when you arrive at it, the answer will be your answer. As such, if you come into contact with alternative alternative answers, you will be much less likely to abandon the one I taught you.’
I saw this type of ˜questioning in action in Sefat, Israel in 2006 in a small photography shop run by an elderly Rabbi. The artwork in this shop was literally amazing, and one of the men in our group asked the rabbi which of the pieces was his favorite. The conversation then went like this:
Rabbi: May I ask you a question?
Rabbi: Are you married?
Jon: Yes, why?
Rabbi: Do you have children?
Jon: Yes. (pause) Why?
Rabbi: Which of them is your favorite?
And thus, he had his answer. To a westerner like me, it seems that it would have been simpler to say ‘I can’t pick one, because each has something I love’ (or something similar), but that answer would not have been nearly as personal as the one given by the elderly rabbi.
In a similar fashion, much of Yeshua’ teaching was in the form of questions and stories rather than simple exposition. On the occasions when we see him interacting with students/adherents to other schools, he uses this technique to point to an answer before giving exposition on the subject, as the answer to his questions often contain the answer he is giving. Also, in many cases where Yeshua is being questioned, it is out of an honest attempt to learn his teaching on a subject, not always to trap him.
When Hillel died in 10 A.D., the Shammites took over the Pharisee role within the Sanhedrin and became the primary religious influence in Judea, whereas in the Galilee region, where Yeshua lived and was raised, the teachings of Hillel held sway. With this in mind, the pharisees that opposed Yeshua we often identified as Judeans (or were located in Jerusalem in Judea), whereas the ones sympathetic to Yeshua or his followers (like Gamaliel, Hillel’s grandson) were Gallilean.
According to Josephus and other Jewish records, there were a number of key debates being waged between the rabbinical schools. These included divorce, who is my neighbor, hand-washing, marriage in the afterlife, the greatest commandment, healing on the Sabbath (Shammai taught you shouldn’t even pray for the sick on the Sabbath, let alone heal them!), the purpose of the Sabbath and whether Gentiles could be saved. The animosity shown between the Shammites and the Hillelites are hard to understate, with comparisons to the classic Calvinist/Arminian debate holding similarities, with the Shammites holding to a strict fundamentalist view of scripture and practice and the Hillelites holding to a much more lenient, contextual view which emphasized the balance between love for God and love for your neighbor.
As such, it is interesting that in the eight key debates that Yeshua entered, he sided with the School of Hillel – or went even farther than Hillel – in seven and only sided with Shammai in one case (that of when divorce is acceptable).
For instance, in the debate of “who is my neighbor?”, Shammai taught that only God-fearing, observant Jews were ‘neighbors’ (thus, the only ones worthy of love). Hillel, on the other hand, taught that everyone – including one’s enemies – were ‘neighbors’, with the exception of the hated, apostate Samaritans. And so, when Yeshua was asked (in the scripture above), “Who is my neighbor?” he entered this debate:
In reply Yeshua said: “A man was going down from Jerusalem to Jericho, when he fell into the hands of robbers. They stripped him of his clothes, beat him and went away, leaving him half dead. A priest happened to be going down the same road, and when he saw the man, he passed by on the other side. So too, a Levite, when he came to the place and saw him, passed by on the other side.”
It should be noted that the priest and the Levite were both obeying Torah by not touching a dead or nearly-dead body and becoming unclean, so they were following the law, as interpreted by Shammai and other strict rabbinic schools of thought. According to Pharisee teaching, though, all life was sacred and the proper thing to do would have been to stop and help the man or bury him (thus becoming unclean for a time) if he died. A number of commentators suggest that the expert in the Torah was likely expecting Yeshua to make the “good guy” a pharisee, thus siding with Hillel on the issue of the importance of life above ritual cleanliness.
Instead, though, Yeshua said:
“But a Samaritan, as he traveled, came where the man was; and when he saw him, he took pity on him. He went to him and bandaged his wounds, pouring on oil and wine. Then he put the man on his own donkey, took him to an inn and took care of him. The next day he took out two silver coins and gave them to the innkeeper. ‘Look after him,’ he said, ‘and when I return, I will reimburse you for any extra expense you may have.’
“Which of these three do you think was a neighbor to the man who fell into the hands of robbers?”
The expert in the law replied, “The one who had mercy on him.” [Note: he couldn’t even SAY the word ‘Samaritan’]
Yeshua told him, “Go and do likewise.”
And so, Yeshua’ answer to the question “Who is my neighbor?” was everybody, including the most despised apostate you can think of, going further to the ‘left’ of Hillel.
So, when viewed within the context of his world, this is just one more example where we can get a view into why Yeshua was asked certain questions, how he interacted with his world, and some of the political/religious backdrop that ultimately led to his death, burial and resurrection.