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Thursday, July 17, 2008

Parashat Pinchas

Parasha: Pinchas – Numbers 25:10 – 30:1
Haftara: 1Kings 18:46 19:21
Reading Date: 19th July 2008 – 16th Tamuz 5768

25:11 For his zeal – the word uses the same root (koof, nun, aleph) as the word for jealousy - Interesting comparison.
The sages interpret that had Pinchas not killed Zimri and Kozbi all of Israel would have been destroyed. (Pinchas 2:2)

25:13 And it shall be to him, and his seed after him, the covenant of an everlasting priesthood (25:13)

Although the priesthood had already been given to the descendants of Aaron, it was given only to Aaron, and his [four] sons who were anointed together with him, and to the children they would father after their anointing. Pinchas, however, who was born before that time and was not himself anointed, did not enter the priesthood until now. Thus we have learned in the Talmudic tractate of Zevachim (101b): "Pinchas did not attain the priesthood until he slew Zimri." (Rashi)

26:1-65 The census of the Nation of Israel.
Before taking vengeance upon the Midianites, as they had been commanded, the Israelites were to be mustered as the army of YHVH, by means of a new census, since the generation that was counted at Sinai (Ch.1-4) had died out in the wilderness, with the sole exception of Caleb and Joshua (Num.26:64,65). “After the plague,” YHVH issued an order for a fresh census and muster. For with the plague the last of those who came out of Egypt, and were not to enter Canaan, had been swept away, and thus the sentence had been completely executed. - The object of the fresh numbering, however, was not merely to muster Israel for the war with the Midianites, and in the approaching conquest of the promised land with the Canaanites also, but was intended to serve at the same time as a preparation for their settlement in Canaan, viz., for the division of the conquered land among the tribes and families of Israel. For this reason (Num 26) the families of the different tribes are enumerated here, which was not the case in Ch.1; and generally instructions are also given in Num.1:52-56, with reference to the division of Canaan. - The numbering was simply extended, as before, to the male population of the age of 20 years and upwards, and was no doubt carried out, like the previous census at Sinai, by Moses and the high priest (Eleazar), with the assistance of the heads of the tribes, although the latter are not expressly mentioned here. - The names of the families correspond, - with very few exceptions, - to the grandsons and great-grandsons of Jacob mentioned in Gen 46. - With regard to the total number of the people, and the number of the different tribes.

And it came to pass after the plague, that YHVH spoke to Moses... "Take the sum of all the congregation of the children of Israel..." (26:1)

To what is this comparable? To a shepherd into whose flock there entered a wolf and killed many of them, so he counts them to know how many remain.

Another explanation: It is like the case of a shepherd to whom an owner entrusted his flock by number; when the shepherd came to the end of his time, on returning them, he had to number them again. When Israel went out of Egypt G-d entrusted them to Moses by number (as per Exodus 12:37 and Numbers 1:1); now that Moses was about to depart from the world in the plain of Moab, he returned them by number. (Midrash Rabbah; Rashi)

27:1 The singular case of the daughters of Zelofchad caused an additional law to be added to the Torah. This civil code applies until today in Israel. It satisfactorily ascertains and amply secures the right of succession in cases of inheritance. The law, which is as reasonable as it is just, stands thus:
1. On the demise of the father the estate goes to the sons;
2. If there be no son, the daughters succeed;
3. If there be no daughter, the brothers of the deceased inherit;
4. If there be no brothers or paternal uncles, the estate goes to the brothers of his father;
5. If there be no grand uncles or brothers of the father of the deceased, then the nearest akin succeeds to the inheritance.

Beyond the fifth degree the law does not proceed, because as the families of the Nation of Israel were kept distinct in their respective tribes, there must always be some who could be called a kinsman, having descended without interruption from the patriarch of the tribe.

27:12 With Moses’ death foretold it is interesting to note the name of the mountain. It is called ‘Har haAvirim’ which uses the same root (ayin, bet, nun) as the word for Hebrew. I see a full circle as the word ‘ever’ means one who has crossed over. Although Moses did not get to cross over and knew that he would not, he was faithful to his calling to the end.

27:13 Although YHVH does not permit Moses to enter the Promised Land. I see his ‘seeing’ as not only a physical but more so a spiritual insight into the Land and the future of the people.

28:2 This chapter begins with the description of the ‘Tamid’ offering, the daily continual offering, then continues through chapter 29 with the description of the ‘Mussaf’, additional offerings that were brought to the Tabernacle of Shabbat, the New Moon and the Festivals.
29:35-38 ‘Shmeni Aseret’ This is the last day of the Sukkot festival which is combined with Simchat Torah. Other than the traditional celebrations this is the day when we realize that Messiah did not return in that year (as we believe that He will return at Sukkot – living outside looking toward the heavens for His return) and pray for His return in the next.

In addition I would like to add an analysis of the two counts of the Nation of Israel.
Lots and Numbers

In the opening chapters of the book of Numbers, back in the Parasha of Bamidbar, we read of the census of Israel conducted one year after the Exodus. It is now 39 years later; that entire generation (i.e., those over the age of 20 at the time) has died out, and a new generation has grown up to enter the Promised Land in their stead. In the wake of the plague which Pinchas stopped, YHVH instructs Moses and Elazar to conduct another count.
The total number of those counted -- men between the ages of 20 and 60, not counting the tribe of Levi -- was 601,730 (1,820 less than the previous census, which tallied 603,550).

The breakdown by tribes was as follows:
The tribe of Reuven, comprising the families Chanochi, Palu'i, Hetzroni and Carmi (descendent of Reuben's four sons -- Chanoch, Phalu, Hetzron and Carmi), numbered 43,730. (In the previous census, the tribe of Reuven numbered 46,500).
Shimon's sons generated the Nemueli, Yamini, Yachini, Zarchi and Shauli families, and the tribe totaled 22,200 (a loss of 37,100 from the previous count of 59,300).
The tribe of Gad (families: Zefoni, Haggi, Shuni, Ozni, Eiri, Arodi and Areli) = 40,500 (previous census, 45,650).
Judah (Sheilani, Partzi, Zarchi, Hetzroni, Chamuli) = 76,500 (previous census, 74,600).
Issachar (Tola'i, Puni, Yashuvi, Shimroni) = 64,300 (up from 54,400).
Zebulun (Sardi, Eloni, Yachle'eli) = 60,500 (previous census, 57,400).
The tribe of Menasseh included the Machiri, Giladi, E'ezri, Chelki, Asrieli, Shicmi, Shmida'i and Chefri; the verse also mentions here that, "Tzlofchad, the son of Chefer, had no sons, but only daughters; and the names of the daughters of Tzlofchad were: Machlah, Noah, Chaglah, Milkah and Tirtzah." Menasseh's population count was 52,700 (previous census, 32,200).
Ephraim (Shuthalchi, Bachri, Tachani, Eirani) = 32,500 (previous census, 40,500).
Benjamin (Bal'i, Ashbeli, Achirami, Shufami, Chufami, Ardi, Naami) = 45,600 (previous census, 35,400).
Dan (the father of the tribe, Dan, had only one son, Chushim, so that the entire tribe consisted of one family -- the Shuchami) = 64,400 (previous census, 62,700).
Asher (Yimnah, Yshvi, Bri'i, Chevri, Malkieli; "and the name of Asher's daughter was Serach") -- 53,400 (up from 41, 500).
Naphtali's descendents divided themselves into the Yachtzeli, Guni, Yitzri and Shileimi clans, and their number in this census was 45,400 (previous census, 53,400).
"Among these shall the Land be apportioned as an inheritance," said YHVH to Moses, "according to the number of names."
To the more numerous you shall increase their inheritance, and to the fewer you shall lessen their inheritance...
Nevertheless the land shall be divided by lot... according to the lot shall their inheritance be divided, whether many or few.
The tribe of Levi, which did not receive a share in the Land, was counted separately; they numbered 23,000 (in the previous census, they numbered 22,300).
The Torah concludes the census by stating:
Among these there was not a man of them whom Moses and Aaron the priest had numbered when they counted the children of Israel in the Sinai Desert. For YHVH had said of them: They shall surely die in the wilderness.
"There was not left a man of them, except for Calev the son of Yefuneh, and Joshua the son of Nun."

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