Numbers 8:1-26

Numbers 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 27 28 29 30 31 32 33 34 35 36


Sedra 3, BE-HA’ALOTECHA

Numbers 8:1 – 12:16

Chapter 8


8:1 VA YEDABER YHVH EL MOSHEH LEMOR

וַיְדַבֵּר יְהוָה אֶל מֹשֶׁה לֵּאמֹר

KJ (King James translation): And the LORD spake unto Moses, saying,

BN (BibleNet translation): Then YHVH spoke to Mosheh, saying:


8:2 DABER EL AHARON VE AMARTA ELAV BE HA'ALOTECHA ET HA NEROT EL MUL PENEY HA MENORAH YA'IYRU SHIVAT HA NEROT

דַּבֵּר אֶל אַהֲרֹן וְאָמַרְתָּ אֵלָיו בְּהַעֲלֹתְךָ אֶת הַנֵּרֹת אֶל מוּל פְּנֵי הַמְּנוֹרָה יָאִירוּ שִׁבְעַת הַנֵּרוֹת

KJ: Speak unto Aaron, and say unto him, When thou lightest the lamps, the seven lamps shall give light over against the candlestick.

BN: Speak to Aharon, and tell him, When you light the lamps, the seven lamps must create light in front of the Menorah


I have also retained Menorah, both with a capital M, and in preference to "candlestick", which most translators give; it rather demeans this sacred object to call it a mere candlestick, don't you think?

The meaning of this is not obvious from the Yehudit, let alone the translations. I think that the thought behind it is that they are using candles, which project from the holders, rather than a wick at the summit of a candle inside the holder; and as we all know, candles wobble, and the light goes with the wobble; so make sure the wobble is to the front, the congregation-side.


8:3 VA YA'AS KEN AHARON EL MUL HA MENORAH HA ELAH NEROTEYHA KA ASHER TSIVAH YHVH ET MOSHEH

וַיַּעַשׂ כֵּן אַהֲרֹן אֶל מוּל פְּנֵי הַמְּנוֹרָה הֶעֱלָה נֵרֹתֶיהָ כַּאֲשֶׁר צִוָּה יְהוָה אֶת מֹשֶׁה

KJ: And Aaron did so; he lighted the lamps thereof over against the candlestick, as the LORD commanded Moses.

BN: And Aharon did so: he lit its lamps so that they created light in front of the Menorah, as YHVH instructed Mosheh.



8:4 VE ZEH MA'ASEH HA MENORAH MIKSHAH ZAHAV AD YERECHA AD PIRCHAH MIKSHAH HI KA MAR'EH ASHER HER'AH YHVH ET MOSHEH KEN ASAH ET HA MENORAH

וְזֶה מַעֲשֵׂה הַמְּנֹרָה מִקְשָׁה זָהָב עַד יְרֵכָהּ עַד פִּרְחָהּ מִקְשָׁה הִוא  כַּמַּרְאֶה אֲשֶׁר הֶרְאָה יְהוָה אֶת מֹשֶׁה כֵּן עָשָׂה אֶת הַמְּנֹרָה

KJ: And this work of the candlestick was of beaten gold, unto the shaft thereof, unto the flowers thereof, was beaten work: according unto the pattern which the LORD had shewed Moses, so he made the candlestick.

BN: And this is how the Menorah was made: beaten work of gold, as far as its base, and its flowers were of beaten work; according to the design which YHVH had shown Mosheh, so he made the Menorah

I do rather like the idea of the cave on Mount Sinai suddenly transformed into Taliesin or Perry Green, and YHVH and Mosheh sitting over a cup of tea and a set of drawings. All artists have models, influences, sources - I wonder if YHVH, being omniscient, thought Fabergé rather than Cartier.



8:5 VA YEDABER YHVH EL MOSHEH LEMOR

וַיְדַבֵּר יְהוָה אֶלמֹשֶׁה לֵּאמֹר

KJ: And the LORD spake unto Moses, saying,

BN: Then YHVH spoke to Mosheh, saying:


8:6 KACH ET HA LEVIYIM MI TOCH BENEY YISRA-EL VE TIHARTA OTAM

קַח אֶת הַלְוִיִּם מִתּוֹךְ בְּנֵי יִשְׂרָאֵל וְטִהַרְתָּ אֹתָם

KJ: Take the Levites from among the children of Israel, and cleanse them.

BN: Take the Leviyim from among the Beney Yisra-El, and purify them.


Why is it necessary to cleanse-purify them? Laws have already been given to deal with both physical uncleanliness (blood, semen, leprosy, eczema, et al) and moral uncleanlinness (incest, adultery, theft, murder); so this has to be something very specific. If they have come here on pilgrimage, rather than in flight, we would expect a cleansing ceremony (see my previous notes on wudhu and ghusl); ditto if they have come for a covenant renewal ceremony. Is this then an equivalent for the commoners of the special rites we have witnessed for the priests?


8:7 VE CHOH TA'ASEH LAHEM LE TAHARAM HA ZEH ALEYHEM MEY CHATAT VE HE'EVIYRU TA'AR AL KOL BESARAM VE CHIBSU VIGDEYHEM VE HITEHARU

וְכֹה תַעֲשֶׂה לָהֶם לְטַהֲרָם הַזֵּה עֲלֵיהֶם מֵי חַטָּאת וְהֶעֱבִירוּ תַעַר עַל כָּלבְּשָׂרָם וְכִבְּסוּ בִגְדֵיהֶם וְהִטֶּהָרוּ

KJ: And thus shalt thou do unto them, to cleanse them: Sprinkle water of purifying upon them, and let them shave all their flesh, and let them wash their clothes, and somake themselves clean.

BN: And thus you shall do to them, to cleanse them: sprinkle the water of purification on them, and let them cause a razor to pass over all their flesh, and let them wash their clothes, and cleanse themselves.


A total shaving, full-body. And yet, did we not have a sense from the laws of Nazirut that the hair has sacred value, and a person dedicated in that manner does not shave any part of the body? So a distinction has been made between the ritual purity of a Kohen, and the specific dedicated-purity of a Nazir; so, now, a distinction is being made between the ritual purity of a Levi and a Kohen.


8:8 VE LAK'CHU PAR BEN BAKAR U MINCHATO SOLET BE LULAH VA SHAMEN U PHAR SHENI VEN BAKAR TIKACH LE CHATAT

וְלָקְחוּ פַּר בֶּן בָּקָר וּמִנְחָתוֹ סֹלֶת בְּלוּלָה בַשָּׁמֶן וּפַר שֵׁנִי בֶן בָּקָר תִּקַּח לְחַטָּאת

KJ: Then let them take a young bullock with his meat offering, even fine flour mingled with oil, and another young bullock shalt thou take for a sin offering.

BN: Then let them take a young bullock, with its meal-offering of fine flour mingled with oil, and a second young bullock for a sin-offering.


8:9 VE HIKRAVTA ET HA LEVIYIM LIPHNEY OHEL MO'ED VE HIKHALTA ET KOL ADAT BENEY YISRA-EL

וְהִקְרַבְתָּ אֶת הַלְוִיִּם לִפְנֵי אֹהֶל מוֹעֵד וְהִקְהַלְתָּ אֶת כָּל עֲדַת  בְּנֵי יִשְׂרָאֵל

KJ: And thou shalt bring the Levites before the tabernacle of the congregation: and thou shalt gather the whole assembly of the children of Israel together:

BN: And you shall present the Leviyim before the tent of meeting; and you shall assemble the entire congregation of the Beney Yisra-El.


We are not told that the congregation also needs to be clean, so that they are in a fit state to sanctify the Leviyim, but as this has already been made clear, right down to the blemishes, we can understand it as implicit. In today's world it would be a simple blessing: "Baruch atah Adonai, Eloheynu Melech Ha-Olam, asher kidshanu bemitsvotav ve tsivanu al netilat yadayim - blessed are you, YHVH our god, who set us apart through his commandments, and instructed us to wash our hands". 


8:10 VE HIKRAVTA ET HA LEVIYIM LIPHNEY YHVH VE SAM'CHU VENEY YISRA-EL ET YEDEYHEM AL HA LEVIYIM

וְהִקְרַבְתָּ אֶת הַלְוִיִּם לִפְנֵי יְהוָה וְסָמְכוּ בְנֵי יִשְׂרָאֵל אֶת יְדֵיהֶם עַל הַלְוִיִּם

KJ: And thou shalt bring the Levites before the LORD: and the children of Israel shall put their hands upon the Levites:

BN: And you shall present the Leviyim before YHVH; and the Beney Yisra-El shall lay their hands upon the Leviyim.


SAMCHU: Not SAMU. Two very similar words, but two subtly different meanings. The point here is not the hand on the head so much as the blessing; cf Genesis 48:14.



The masses are sacrificing the Leviyim - "making them sacred".


8:11 VE HENIYPH AHARON ET HA LEVIYIM TENUPHAH LIPHNEY YHVH ME ET BENEY YISRA-EL VE HAYU LA'AVOD ET AVODAT YHVH

וְהֵנִיף אַהֲרֹן אֶת הַלְוִיִּם תְּנוּפָה לִפְנֵי יְהוָה מֵאֵת בְּנֵי יִשְׂרָאֵל וְהָיוּ לַעֲבֹד אֶת עֲבֹדַת יְהוָה

KJ: And Aaron shall offer the Levites before the LORD for an offering of the children of Israel, that they may execute the service of the LORD.

BN: And Aharon shall offer the Leviyim before YHVH for a wave-offering from the Beney Yisra-El, that they may undertake the service of YHVH.


Given that a wave-offering literally meant an offering that was held up, and waved about like a flag so that YHVH could see it, it makes for a rather comic imagining to think of the Leviyim as a wave-offering! Does anyone have any idea how they might have done this?


8:12 VE HA LEVIYIM YISMECHU ET YADEYHEM AL ROSH HA PARIM VA ASEH ET HA ECHAD CHATAT VE ET HA ECHAD OLAH LA YHVH LECHAPER AL HA LEVIYIM

וְהַלְוִיִּם יִסְמְכוּ אֶת יְדֵיהֶם עַל רֹאשׁ הַפָּרִים וַעֲשֵׂה אֶת הָאֶחָד חַטָּאת וְאֶת הָאֶחָד עֹלָה לַיהוָה לְכַפֵּר עַל הַלְוִיִּם

KJ: And the Levites shall lay their hands upon the heads of the bullocks: and thou shalt offer the one for a sin offering, and the other for a burnt offering, unto the LORD, to make an atonement for the Levites.

BN: And the Leviyim shall lay their hands upon the heads of the bullocks; and offer the one for a sin-offering, and the other for a burnt-offering, to YHVH, to make atonement for the Leviyim.


Atonement for what? Once again we see the act of sacrifice in the Latin meaning of the word: it is not about giving something up, it is about sacre-ficere: making sacred. Atonement thus means pure, clean, untainted, indefiled, whole. It is not necessarily about the sin; much more about the cleanliness, about being At-One.


8:13 VE HA'AMADETA ET HA LEVIYIM LIPHNEY AHARON VE LIPHNEY VANAV VE HENAPHTA OTAM TENUPHAH LA YHVH

וְהַעֲמַדְתָּ אֶת הַלְוִיִּם לִפְנֵי אַהֲרֹן וְלִפְנֵי בָנָיו וְהֵנַפְתָּ אֹתָם תְּנוּפָה לַיהוָה

KJ: And thou shalt set the Levites before Aaron, and before his sons, and offer them for an offering unto the LORD.

BN: And you shall set the Leviyim before Aharon, and before his sons, and offer them for a wave-offering to YHVH.


Given that there are over two million in the crowd, and the ones at the back won't be able to see much, the Leviyim doing their own waving may resolve the issue.


8:14 VE HIVDALTA ET HA LEVIYIM MI TOCH BENEY YISRA-EL VA HAYU LI HA LEVIYIM

וְהִבְדַּלְתָּ אֶת הַלְוִיִּם מִתּוֹךְ בְּנֵי יִשְׂרָאֵל וְהָיוּ לִי הַלְוִיִּם

KJ: Thus shalt thou separate the Levites from among the children of Israel: and the Levites shall be mine.

BN: Thus you shall separate the Leviyim from among the Beney Yisra-El; and the Leviyim shall be mine.


8:15 VE ACHAREY CHEN YAVO'U HA LEVIYIM LA'AVOD ET OHEL MO'ED VE TIHARTA OTAM VE HENAPHTA OTAM TENUPHAH

וְאַחֲרֵי כֵן יָבֹאוּ הַלְוִיִּם לַעֲבֹד אֶת אֹהֶל מוֹעֵד וְטִהַרְתָּ אֹתָם וְהֵנַפְתָּ אֹתָם תְּנוּפָה

KJ: And after that shall the Levites go in to do the service of the tabernacle of the congregation: and thou shalt cleanse them, and offer them for an offering.

BN: And after that the Leviyim shall enter into the service of the tent of meeting; and you shall cleanse them, and offer them for a wave-offering.


Or perhaps something is waved as a substitute, an allegorical waving of the Leviyim. Given that we are - or appear to be from the previous chapters - in the fifty days of the Omer, are they in fact waving their sheaves of barley (cf Leviticus 23:9-11 "Then the Lord spoke to Mosheh, saying, 'Speak to the Beney Yisra-El and say to them, When you enter the land which I am going to give to you and reap its harvest, then you shall bring in the sheaf of the first fruits of your harvest to the Kohen. He shall wave the sheaf before the Lord for you to be accepted; on the day after the Shabat the Kohen shall wave it.")? The only problem with this being that here it is the Leviyim, there the Kohanim.


8:16 KI NETUNIM NETUNIM HEMAH LI MI TOCH BENEY YISRA-EL TACHAT PITRAT KOL RECHEM BECHOR KOL MI BENEY YISRA-EL LAKACHTI OTAM LI

כִּי נְתֻנִים נְתֻנִים הֵמָּה לִי מִתּוֹךְ בְּנֵי יִשְׂרָאֵל תַּחַת פִּטְרַת כָּל רֶחֶם בְּכוֹר כֹּל מִבְּנֵי יִשְׂרָאֵל לָקַחְתִּי אֹתָם לִי

KJ: For they are wholly given unto me from among the children of Israel; instead of such as open every womb, even instead of the firstborn of all the children of Israel, have I taken them unto me.

BN: For they are wholly given to me from among the Beney Yisra-El; rather than taking every first-born of the Beney Yisra-El who opens the womb, I have taken them to me.


NETUNIM NETUNIM:

HEMAH:

As we were told previously (Numbers 3:12), the Leviyim stand in place of the sacrifice of the first born, a substitution that began with a ram at the Akeda, and then the Pidyon ha-Ben - what I do not understand is why the Pidyon ha-Ben is still in place today, if the Leviyim became its replacement? Is it perhaps because, with the destruction of the Temple, the Leviyim could no longer serve in that role and therefore the Pidyon, which had presumably ceased, was reinstated? 


8:17 KI LI CHOL BECHOR BIVNEY YISRA-EL BA ADAM U VA BEHEMAH BE YOM HAKOTI CHOL BECHOR BE ERETS MITSRAYIM HIKDASHTI OTAM LI

כִּי לִי כָל בְּכוֹר בִּבְנֵי יִשְׂרָאֵל בָּאָדָם וּבַבְּהֵמָה בְּיוֹם הַכֹּתִי כָל בְּכוֹר בְּאֶרֶץ מִצְרַיִם הִקְדַּשְׁתִּי אֹתָם לִי

KJ: For all the firstborn of the children of Israel are mine, both man and beast: on the day that I smote every firstborn in the land of Egypt I sanctified them for myself.

BN: For all the first-born among the Beney Yisra-El are mine, both man and beast; on the day that I smote all the first-born in the land of Mitsrayim I set them apart as holy for myself.


This verse requires us to go right back to the Exodus story, and specifically to the plagues. There it was noted that the plagues appeared to be symbolisms of an existing Egyptian ritual, and that they were connected to the pilgrimage to Sinai; this verse gives considerable weight to that thesis, by making a clear connection between the sacrifice of the first-born in Mitsrayim (Egypt), not as a plague, but as an act of sanctification that would redeem all future first-born and simultaneously priestify the Leviyim as their surrogates. Even now the purpose of the pilgrimage is still being fulfilled.

Verse 19 will endorse this still further; YHVH has given the Leviyim "so that there shall be no plague among the Beney Yisra-El through the Beney Yisra-El coming near to the sanctuary".


8:18 VE EKACH ET HA LEVIYIM TACHAT KOL BECHOR BIVNEY YISRA-EL

וָאֶקַּח אֶת הַלְוִיִּם תַּחַת כָּל בְּכוֹר בִּבְנֵי יִשְׂרָאֵל

KJ: And I have taken the Levites for all the firstborn of the children of Israel.

BN: And I have taken the Leviyim instead of taking all the first-born among the Beney Yisra-El.

Repeating the words of Numbers 3:12 to which I alluded, above.


8:19 VA ETNAH ET HA LEVIYIM NETUNIM LE AHARON U LE VANAV MI TOCH BENEY YISRA-EL LA'AVOD ET AVODAT BENEY YISRA-EL BE OHEL MO'ED U LECHAPER AL BENEY YISRA-EL VE LO YIHEYEH BIVNEY YISRA-EL NEGEPH BE GESHET BENEY YISRA-EL EL HA KODESH

וָאֶתְּנָה אֶת הַלְוִיִּם נְתֻנִים לְאַהֲרֹן וּלְבָנָיו מִתּוֹךְ בְּנֵי יִשְׂרָאֵל לַעֲבֹד אֶת עֲבֹדַת בְּנֵי יִשְׂרָאֵל בְּאֹהֶל מוֹעֵד וּלְכַפֵּר עַל בְּנֵי יִשְׂרָאֵל וְלֹא יִהְיֶה בִּבְנֵי יִשְׂרָאֵל נֶגֶף בְּגֶשֶׁת בְּנֵי יִשְׂרָאֵל אֶל הַקֹּדֶשׁ

KJ: And I have given the Levites as a gift to Aaron and to his sons from among the children of Israel, to do the service of the children of Israel in the tabernacle of the congregation, and to make an atonement for the children of Israel: that there be no plague among the children of Israel, when the children of Israel come nigh unto the sanctuary.

BN: And I have given the Leviyim as a gift to Aharon and his sons from among the Beney Yisra-El, to undertake the service of the Beney Yisra-El in the tent of meeting, and to make atonement for the Beney Yisra-El, that there be no plague among the Beney Yisra-El, through the Beney Yisra-El coming near to the sanctuary.


The Yehudit text is problematic here; the seeming doubling of ETNAH with NETUNIM. The Leviyim are clearly not being given to Aharon and his sons, they are Aharon's sons; what is being given to them is the Levitical 
status; they are actually being given to the people.


8:20 VA YA'AS MOSHEH VE AHARON VE CHOL ADAT BENEY YISRA-EL LA LEVIYIM KE CHOL ASHER TSIVAH YHVH ET MOSHEH LA LEVIYIM KEN ASU LAHEM BENEY YISRA-EL

וַיַּעַשׂ מֹשֶׁה וְאַהֲרֹן וְכָל עֲדַת בְּנֵי יִשְׂרָאֵל לַלְוִיִּם כְּכֹל אֲשֶׁר צִוָּה יְהוָה אֶת מֹשֶׁה לַלְוִיִּם כֵּן עָשׂוּ לָהֶם בְּנֵי יִשְׂרָאֵל

KJ: And Moses, and Aaron, and all the congregation of the children of Israel, did to the Levites according unto all that the LORD commanded Moses concerning the Levites, so did the children of Israel unto them.

BN: Thus did Mosheh and Aharon, and all the congregation of the Beney Yisra-El to the Leviyim, according to everything that YHVH had instructed Mosheh regarding the Leviyim, so the Beney Yisra-El did to them.


Note again that throughout this chapter they are ADAT BENEY YISRA-EL - a congregation, in the religious sense of that word. 


8:21 VA YIT'CHAT'U HA LEVIYIM VA YECHABSU BIGDEYHEM VA YANEPH AHARON OTAM TENUPHAH LIPHNEY YHVH VA YECHAPER ALEYHEM AHARON LETAHARAM

וַיִּתְחַטְּאוּ הַלְוִיִּם וַיְכַבְּסוּ בִּגְדֵיהֶם וַיָּנֶף אַהֲרֹן אֹתָם תְּנוּפָה לִפְנֵי יְהוָה וַיְכַפֵּר עֲלֵיהֶם אַהֲרֹן לְטַהֲרָם

KJ: And the Levites were purified, and they washed their clothes; and Aaron offered them as an offering before the LORD; and Aaron made an atonement for them to cleanse them.

BN: And the Leviyim purified themselves, and washed their clothes; and Aharon offered them for a sacred gift before YHVH; and Aharon made atonement for them to cleanse them.


8:22 VE ACHAREY CHEN BA'U HA LEVIYIM LA'AVOD ET AVODATAM BE OHEL MO'ED LIPHNEY AHARON VE LIPHNEY VANAV KA ASHER TSIVAH YHVH ET MOSHEH AL HA LEVIYIM KEN ASU LAHEM

וְאַחֲרֵי כֵן בָּאוּ הַלְוִיִּם לַעֲבֹד אֶת עֲבֹדָתָם בְּאֹהֶל מוֹעֵד לִפְנֵי אַהֲרֹן וְלִפְנֵי בָנָיו כַּאֲשֶׁר צִוָּה יְהוָה אֶת מֹשֶׁה עַל הַלְוִיִּם כֵּן עָשׂוּ לָהֶם

KJ: And after that went the Levites in to do their service in the tabernacle of the congregation before Aaron, and before his sons: as the LORD had commanded Moses concerning the Levites, so did they unto them.

BN: And after that the Leviyim went in to undertake their service in the tent of meeting before Aharon, and before his sons; as YHVH had instructed Mosheh concerning the Leviyim, so they did to them.


samech break


8:23 VA YEDABER YHVH EL MOSHEH LEMOR

וַיְדַבֵּר יְהוָה אֶל מֹשֶׁה לֵּאמֹר

KJ: And the LORD spake unto Moses, saying,

BN: Then YHVH spoke to Mosheh, saying


8:24 ZOT ASHER LA LEVIYIM MI BEN CHAMESH VE ESRIM SHANAH VA MA'LAH YAVO LITSVO TSAVA BA AVODAT OHEL MO'ED

זֹאת אֲשֶׁר לַלְוִיִּם מִבֶּן חָמֵשׁ וְעֶשְׂרִים שָׁנָה וָמַעְלָה יָבוֹא לִצְבֹא צָבָא בַּעֲבֹדַת אֹהֶל מוֹעֵד

KJ: This is it that belongeth unto the Levites: from twenty and five years old and upward they shall go in to wait upon the service of the tabernacle of the congregation:

BN: The tasks and responsibilities of the Leviyim: from the age of twenty-five and upward they shall go in to perform the duties and responsibilities of the tent of meeting


Why 25?


8:25 U MI BEN CHAMISHIM SHANAH YASHUV MI TSEVA HA AVODAH VE LO YA'AVOD OD

וּמִבֶּן חֲמִשִּׁים שָׁנָה יָשׁוּב מִצְּבָא הָעֲבֹדָה וְלֹא יַעֲבֹד עוֹד

KJ: And from the age of fifty years they shall cease waiting upon the service thereof, and shall serve no more:

BN: And at the age of fifty they shall retire from these duties and this work, and shall serve no more


Setting priestly retirement age at 50? No, not quite; merely a down-sizing of their roles - see next verse.


8:26 VE SHERET ET ECHAV BE OHEL MO'ED LISHMOR MISHMERET VA AVODAH LO YA'AVOD KACHA TA'ASEH LA LEVIYIM BE MISHMEROTAM

וְשֵׁרֵת אֶת אֶחָיו בְּאֹהֶל מוֹעֵד לִשְׁמֹר מִשְׁמֶרֶת וַעֲבֹדָה לֹא יַעֲבֹד כָּכָה תַּעֲשֶׂה לַלְוִיִּם בְּמִשְׁמְרֹתָם

KJ: But shall minister with their brethren in the tabernacle of the congregation, to keep the charge, and shall do no service. Thus shalt thou do unto the Levites touching their charge.

BN: But they shall continue to minister with their colleagues in the tent of meeting, to ensure that everything is maintained correctly; but they shall not undertake any religious duties. Thus you shall make clear to the Leviyim regarding their duties.


pey break




Numbers 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 27 28 29 30 31 32 33 34 35 36


Copyright © 2017 David Prashker
All rights reserved
The Argaman Press

No comments:

Post a Comment