Torah Pearls #39 – Chukat (Numbers 19:1-22:1)

Image of red heifer for Torah Pearls Chukat.In this episode of the The Original Torah Pearls, Chukat (Numbers 19:1-22:1), we discuss, is there a red heifer in Israel? What is the water of menstruation for cleansing? Does a corrupt priesthood invalidate the water of purification and are we cut off without it? Is the site of the Temple off limits today? What exactly did Moses do wrong when Yehovah brought water from the rock? How did the snake on the pole cross the line into idolatry?

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20 thoughts on “Torah Pearls #39 – Chukat (Numbers 19:1-22:1)

  1. As for me, I misunderstood the scriptures of purification since my youth, and I’m also glad that I didn’t go up on the Temple Mount to wander onto the Holiest spot on the planet, which would have really messed things up for myself. Thanks for clearing things up. If I ever get a chance to go back to Jerusalem there’s a lot I want to see and do, with a better understanding next time around.

  2. I have spent most of the entirety of my last four Sabbaths listening to Torah Pearls while I rest. This has been a blessing to me as I am eagerly trying to learn to live by YAHOVA’S wonderful Torah!

    Thank you Nehemiah and Keith and that Australian guy 🙂

  3. We tend to see Moses’ death as a punishment from God for not being obedient. But is it a punishment to be allowed to go into The Kingdom and BE WITH God? Yes, he was ‘punished’ by not getting to go into the Promised Land, but he had spent most of his life serving The Living God… is it wrong to think his spirit was allowed to continue his relationship with Yehovah after his physical burial, a relationship not bound by a physical body?

  4. Thank you Nehemia for the point you brought out about going up on the Temple Mount. As I was reading this Torah portion, I was concerned about the lack of being able to receive the this cleansing today. During your discussion, you made it clear that our being cut off from Israel today due to coming in contact with a dead body and not being sprinkled with the Waters of Purification on the 3rd and seventh days, would only take place if we went up on the Temple Mount to the area of the Temple and defiled it. That cleared up a Hugh question for me. I have never been blessed to go to Israel, but if I ever do get there, you can believe I will not go any further than the Kotel!!

  5. I think the real reason Moses struck the rock instead of speaking to it is obvious, based on what he said first and how he said it: “Hear now, you rebels; must we fetch you water out of this rock?” Moses had a meltdown. He was angry and gave place to his wrath; because of that, he did not follow the instructions of Yehovah exactly. I believe Yehovah had very significant reasons for telling him to speak to the rock instead of striking it, and Moses messed that up by allowing his wrath to speak for him.

  6. ” Strike vs Speak ”

    The act of striking the Rock continued the display of authority represented by or in the staff – tangible focal point of power. We forget that the typical sojourner of that day was very superstitious and would attribute magical powers where none existed. However, when Moshe is told to SPEAK to the Rock it reveals a different and more intimate source of this “magical power”. This event appears at a time when Moshe and Aaron’s authority seem to be under continual assault, yes ? So, when Moshe is told to speak to the Rock, it is an opportunity to show Israel that not only is Moshe’s staff loaded with Yehovah’s power ( perceived ) but that Moshe himself has this power in his breath – words. Words are power and words matter. If Moshe would have obeyed and spoke to the Rock, he would have proven beyond any shadow of a doubt that not only did he wield authority in his staff but he also had this authority in himself – his ruach – his spoken WORDS. Again, the superstitious Israelite would have witnessed it this way; ” The power of everything we have witnessed since leaving Egypt is actually coming out of Moshe’s ( breath – words ) MOUTH. I other words, Deuteronomy 30:10-14. Moshe’s true authority was an arm’s length away from his staff – in his heart.

  7. Moses was a leader of the people, leaders are held to a higher account, so that no matter why Moses errored, he had to be held to account, there was no one to mediate punishment for Moses like Moses did for the Children at the Golden Calf; so the highest punishment was meeted out. So as leaders or teachers; we must be very clear what we instruct our people or what we teach them.

  8. I believe Numbers 33 gives us the chronology for determining if Miriam in the 1st month, died in the 40th year.
    .
    Nu 33:36-39
    36 And they journeyed from Ezion-geber, and camped in the wilderness of Zin, that is, Kadesh. (Miriam?)
    37 And they journeyed from Kadesh, and camped at Mount Hor, at the edge of the land of Edom.
    38 Then Aaron the priest went up to Mount Hor at the command of the Lord, and died there, in the fortieth year after the sons of Israel had come from the land of Egypt on the first day in the fifth month.
    39 And Aaron was one hundred twenty-three years old when he died on Mount Hor.
    .
    Otherwise you have MANY YEARS camped at Kadesh, where the chapters that follow are in Chronological order on the way to Jericho?

  9. Thanks gents. Listening again, I was helped by your observations about “perfection” of the red heifer. I think I am going to have to discuss this issue with one of our associate pastors (Baptist) who taught us that the “old covenant” failed because no animal sacrificed for sin was perfect. (that’s a crude summary). Apart from the fact that Yehovah surely did not institute a covenant that could never work, I feel this misuses the phrase translated “without defect”. Surely what is required is not perfection down to the last hair, but like Micah challenged the people about; not offering blind or crippled animals. Does the Hebrew translated as “without blemish” clarify this? Bless you guys in what you are doing. Michael @ wildolive

  10. There is a red heifer in Lakewood New York and it is being guarded and not being worked. Rabbis have inspected it and declared it is kosher and meets the requirements.

  11. Another interpretation of Moses’ sin: Num 20:10 says, “…”Now listen, you rebels, can WE draw water for you from this rock.” Here, the “we” refers to Moses and Aaron, in other words, Moses is saying they are bringing water from the rock.
    Then in verse 12 God says, “…”Since you did not have faith in Me to sanctify Me in the eyes of the children of Israel…” In other words, Moses should have given credit to God, that is, Moses should have said in verse 10, “God will draw water…”

  12. Re. the matter of cleanness/uncleanness after an encounter with a dead body, I don’t understand why Nehemia says that he or anyone else who has had such an encounter would then be ritually unclean until, well, “forever” until the temple is rebuilt and the waters of purification reconstituted. Num. 19 says that you would only be unclean for 7 days.

    On the other hand, if the state of impurity only exists for 7 days, I don’t really see why you would benefit from undergoing a 7-day ritual of purification; your uncleanness will be over in 7 days in any case, right?

    • The uncleanness is for 7 days IF one is undergoing the purification with the ashes of the red heifer, i.e., sprinkling on the 3rd and 7th days and immersion in a mikveh. Without the ashes, the impurity remains.

      • The Torah demands to wash one’s entire body rather than simply dunk in a body of standing water. The demand for a Miqweh is Rabbinic and totally non-Scriptural.

  13. Hang on! Number refers to these snakes as seraphim, the same term used in Isaiah and other ancient texts. How is this possible?
    Christianity sees the serpent on the pole as type of Jesus. This is an interesting interpretation because Jesus has literally become an idol. As the Messiah he is not recognisable to Jews and Islamists. They see a church-made abomination. Was this a prophetic symbol?

  14. I was taught bronze/copper represent judgement. Gold-Deity, silver-redemption. As per Temple Instuite. As we studied the Temple in the wilderness, the outside couplings-bronze, copper, represent judgement, the second layer silver was used, redemption, then the inner court, Holy of Holies, gold is used.

  15. What if Moses disobeyed on purpose in order to bring YHVH’s wrath on himself rather than on the people for complaining yet again? His history is to always obey YHVH to the letter, so this is completely out of character for him. He also has a history of volunteering himself on behalf of the people. Makes a lot of sense to me. (you may have heard this one before–I just listened to Yoel’s torah round table)

  16. Cross focus and cross worship is endemic in Christianity. Yeshua was crucified on a ‘stake / stauros, not a cross. The bronze/copper serpent was put on a ‘pole’ and as you point out it ‘became’ an idolatrous object in Israel. The ‘barber’ poles in America with the ‘entwined’ red stripes – are they a replica of Nehushtan? Great program !

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