I am very eager to dive into this parsha reading with you. It is a rather short reading, Numbers 30:2 - 32:42 (with Haftorah Jeremiah 1:1 -2:3 and Brit Chadashah Matthew 5:33-37). I am so excited over this parsha because it contains something I have greatly pondered over for the past year, in which I believe I came to understand its meaning in this week's reading. There are ordinances, like that of the red heifer, that are a mystery, but then other commandments that just plainly make sense for very obvious reasons in their foreshadowing. We come to read of a list of commandments that state a difference in gender and responsibility with gender at this time when the uni-gender influence has made its way into many conversations I've held recently. This parsha also contains something pertinent to the situation Israel has recently found herself in, and our response to it. Don't you just love how the parsha readings are always pertinent to what is going on at that time?
And YHWH spoke to Mosheh, saying, "Take vengeance for the children of Yisra'el on the Midyanites. After that you are to be gathered to your people." ... And they fought the Midyanites, as YHWH commanded Mosheh, and slew all the males. And they slew the sovereigns of Midyan with the rest of those who were pierced: Ewi, and Reqem, and Tsur, and Hur, and Reba, the five sovereigns of Midyan. And they slew Bil'am son of Be'or with the sword. -- Numbers 31:1-2, 7-8
Last time we heard of Bil'am, he was blessing Israel when he was asked to curse them (Numbers 22 - 24). This was a good thing for him, because according to the Abrahamic Covenant that YHWH was clearly honoring through Israel, any cursing against Israel would be a cursing against the curser. Yet, Bil'am, who blessed Israel, seems to have been without a blessing for his blessing, but instead is found in a curse of death. Why did he die even though he didn't curse them?
And Mosheh said to them, "Have you kept all the women alive? Look, they are the ones who caused the children of Yisra'el, through the word of Bil'am, to trespass against YHWH in the matter of Pe'or, and there was a plague among the congregation of YHWH." -- Numbers 31:16
Bil'am did curse the people, without actually cursing the people. The passage above tells us how he did so. The situation Moses is referencing (and the reason why God calls this war a 'vengeance') goes back to Numbers 25, when an Israelite man entered the camp with the Midyanite woman and the people went whoring against God in their persuasion to mix Him and Midyan's Ba'al Peor through these women. A plague came of this and was not subsided until Pinchas slew the Israelite and the Midyanite. The passage above tells us that these women were the voices of Bil'am in this persuasion. His word caused them to lure Israel into this matter that was very much against the Lord. By this, he found a way to curse the people without cursing the people.
Leadership has to be very careful on how we persuade Israel in such a sensitive time as this. We quickly want to remember to openly bless them, but let this be a reminder that there are still ways to curse without cursing, there are still ways to persuade a people to their death without open cursing.
The matter I am most excited to share goes back to the first chapter of this parsha. Chapter 30 speaks of vows and oaths made by men and those made by women. Those made by man will stand, and those made by women can either stand or be annulled in the day that they are heard. If the woman in question is in her youth, not yet married, her father can annul her words. If the woman is married, then her husband can annul her words. This is very important -- the Torah says the male can establish/confirm or annul her words in the day that she made them, the day that he first heard them. If the woman's vows or oath have been annulled, then the Lord will pardon her. What is the pardon? The pardon is that of the vow or oath, because as Deuteronomy 23:21 tells us, if we make a vow or oath we had better pay it, and pay it in haste -- it would be a sin to not. So then, the Lord will forgive her of the words, that she may not be held to them and therefore not be found in sin by failure to uphold. There is a difference between genders that I gladly embrace as a woman. We women are very emotional creatures. We tend to bond ourselves to many things, simply by our feelings; and we have our men with their strong egos (that can work for great advantage for a family) to protect us from such things. This is the order of genders, and if it weren't so, then Messiah Himself as Husband couldn't claim right to annul any silly vow or oath His bride makes.
In the last paragraph, I said it was very important to read the Torah speak of annulling and pardon, or establishment, in the day the vow or oath is made. I say this because at the end of the chapter, it appears as if this same statute is repeated...or is it?
"But if he shall any ways make them void after that he hath heard them; then he shall bear her iniquity." -- Numbers 30:15 KJV
Actually, this is not a repeat. This is the matter I have pondered over the past year. The torah was an annulment and a pardon of having to pay the bonding vow or oath on the day the vow or oath was made. We must remember and submit to the fact that all vows and oaths are binding, whether in part or in whole, of the soul. This pardon works out to our understanding of Messiah annulling our soul ties and bonds if he annulled them all on the day we made them. However, we made most of those before we even knew Him. By the time we come to Him, our soul ties are many and our bonds are from days of old. So what of these most binding of all? This last verse uses the word "after", which in the Hebrew means just as it says. Just a simple looking into the original tongue led me to believe that this specific verse is referring to annulment after it was said, after the day it was made. Yet, there is a stipulation in this verse as well. So then soul-binding vows and oaths can be made void after they are made; howbeit, when the Husband makes them void thereafter the day they were made, He must pay a cost of iniquity to void them. He has paid that cost. Behold, old things are done away, a man becomes a new and free creature.
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