Haftarah Portion Emor אמר

This week’s Haftarah portion Emor אמר  is found in Ezekiel 44:15-31.

It deals with the Levite Priests the sons of Zadok זדכ (meaning Righteous).

This is a quite an interesting passage of text to be found in the book of the Prophets. It was a time after Israel had gone astray from Adonai, and Adonai wanted to ensure they maintained the standard of holiness attributed to the priesthood especially that of the sons of the righteous priest. It is commonly believed that instructions in Ezekiel are for the priests of the 3rd Temple related to the end times.

We will be dealing with priests ministering to Adonai and conduct of the priests (especially marriage requirements).

Right off in verse 15 we see 6 times the word me or my speaking of Adonai. This speaks volumes of who the priests were ministering to. The passage goes on to include direct references to Adonai and is possessions being whom and what they serve. Obviously we know that the one whom they serve is Adonai. Verse 44:16 is definitely not discreet about who they will be serving.

“”So, the Levitical kohanim, the son’s of Zadok who kept charge of My Sanctuary when Bnei-Yisrael wandered from Me, will draw near to Me to minister to Me. They will stand before Me to offer Me the fat and the blood”- it is a declaration of Adonai. They are the ones who enter My Sanctuary, and draw near to My table to minister to Me”. Ez. 44:16

In the above quoted scripture you will notice the capitalization of the words “my and Me”. This capitalization is found in the text. It is very intentional of the scribes to ensure these stayed capitalized. It expresses complete ownership and distinction of who they will be serving.

The conduct of priests listed in Ezekiel 44 is parallel to Leviticus 21-24 which is the Torah Portion for this week as well.

They are to wear linen garments and no wool while in the gates of the inner court and within. Head turbans of linen, underclothes, and clothing that is not to cause sweat. This may seem like very practical teaching, however the reason for this is because the clothing they wore was considered holy enough to be contagious (so to speak) and Adonai did not wish for this to find a place in commonality. They were to take off the holy garments before leaving (in common clothing) the place of service and leave them in the holy chambers. Grooming is also of importance. They should not let their hair grow long, nor shave their heads. In addition they should not drink wine before entering the inner court.

Now the next part of the text is where it gets tricky. What may seem like an apparent contradiction, can be distinguished by several small details.

In the Torah portion we can read about who the priests can marry. It plainly states in verses Leviticus 21:13-14 that:

“And he shall take a wife in her virginity. A widow. or divorced woman, or profane, or an harlot, these shall he not take: but he shall take a virgin of his own people to wife.”

Just looking at these verses, it is not clear who he is speaking to. So we must take you back to the beginning of this passage which can be found in verse Lev. 21:10 in which we see that he is speaking to the high priest:

“And he that is the high priest among his brethren….”

So, you see in Leviticus that the prohibition to marry a widow is expressly listed for the High Priest. Further we also see that the prohibition is for the priesthood of Aharon and his sons.

“And Adonai said unto Moshe, Speak unto the priests the sons of Aharon….” Lev. 21:1

Now in the haftarah portion we see clear distinctions between the families in charge of the Priestly duties. In Leviticus we see Aharon and his Sons and in Ezekiel we have the Sons of Zadok.

Ezekiel 44:15 “but the priests the Levites, the sons of Zadok…. ”

Further, we see that the widow that is permissible to marry in Ezekiel has to be a widow of a priest.

Ezekiel 44:22 “Neither shall they take for their wives a widow, nor her that is put away: but they shall take maidens of the seed of of the house of Yisrael, {or a widow that had a priest before}.”

You may be asking why this is important. First every word of Hashem is important. Next, there what is called counter-missionaries that often times try take text that is seemingly contradictory such as the passage about the widow, and use it to explain that the bible isn’t accurately translated or originated. Which in turn (especially for the unlearned or un-studied can cause a lot of grief and confusion. So, we study these things out to prepare us for those supposed contradictory questions you might get.

 

 

 

 

 

Parasha Emor Torah Portion

This week’s Torah Portion Emor ֶֶֶֶֶֶאמר is found in Leviticus 21-24.

This post will be covering this weeks Torah Portion in summary. We will cover:

  1. The Commands to Aharon and his son’s (throughout entire portion)
  2. The Appointed Times of Adonai

The Word Emor means “speak or say”. In this Parasha we learn that Adonai (the Lord) commands Moshe to speak to the Kohanim (priests) the things He says.

Right off the get go, it must be stated that it is evident that these laws in chapter 21 are specifically for the priest (the sons of Aharon). Later in 1 Peters 2:9 we learn that we too are a Holy Priesthood as believers in the Messiah. Now it is sometimes hard information to digest in the modern world we live in, however Adonai’s words were nonetheless given to Moshe in those days. Let’s just keep it simple and consider these commandments applicable to the descendants of Aharon.

Prohibitions:

  1. To become ritually defiled by way of a dead body except those of his immediate family.
  2. To make baldness on their head, or mar the corner of their beard, or cut their flesh.
  3. To desecrate the name of יהוה . Adonai.
  4. No blemished, or diseased descendant shall approach to do service.
  5. To take a whore/prostitute as a wife

The Cohen Gadol (High Priest), because he is elevated among his brethren is to behave in a manner that is above all.

Prohibitions:

  1. To stop grooming his hair
  2. To tear his clothes
  3. To defile himself by way of dead body (even if his mother or father dies)..
  4. Not to leave or profane the sanctuary in grief.
  5. To marry a widow , divorcee, profaned woman or prostitute.

Permissions:

  1. Marry a virgin
  2. Not to disqualify his descendants

I definitely do not claim that these lists are conclusive. Please take your time to read the passages of scripture and feel free to comment additions or subtractions where needed.

We find the entire chapter Lev. 23 dedicated to the appointed times (Moedim מדימ) .  If you ever wondered what holidays messianic believers are trying to follow or observe through commemoration, this chapter is a must resource. In addition you could find and purchase an easy resource for this as well by clicking here.

But let us cover the Moedim in short.

  1. Shabbat שאבת aka Sabbath Found in verse 23:3 Weekly rest. 6 days we work but the 7th we rest.
  2. Pesach פצה aka Passover Found in verse 23:5
  3. Hag HaMaztah הַג הַמַתזה aka Feast of Unleavened Bread. Found in verse Lev. 23:6 Often this holiday is consider the same as Pesach, however they are two distinct holidays.
  4. Sfirat HaOmer ַהעומר‎‎ ספירת aka the Early First Fruits/Counting of the Omer found in verse 23:10-11 and verse 23:16
  5. Shavuot שות aka Pentecost found in verse 23:21
  6. Yom Turuah ימ תורואה aka Day of Trumpets/Shofar found in verse Lev. 23:24
  7. Yom Kippur ימ כיפר aka Day of Atonement Found in Verse Lev. 23:27
  8. Sukkot סהת aka Tabernacles found in verse Lev. 23:34-39

 

I hope this blog post blesses you and helps you during your devotion.

 

 

Parasha Acharei

Shalom שלמ!

This week’s Torah Portion Acherei אכארע  is found in Leviticus  chapter 16-18.

Some complex writing is found in this week’s portion. That being said we will cover the following topics found in the portion:

  1. Aaron’s responsibility for the nation at Yom Kippur
  2. The Blood of the Sacrifice
  3. Sexual Immorality

We are starting off with what Aaron had to do in fulfillment of atoning for the whole nation of Israel and Aaron’s family directly.

The portion makes assumption that Aaron is the called high priest by way of what responsibility he is given by Hashem. He (Aaron) was required to wear a certain kind of clothing, pick out a certain kind of animal for sacrificial use, and enter the holy places only at certain times when Hashem would make it know to him.

Aaron was instructed to take several animals to be used later in a ritual of sacrifice or setting free into the wilderness. On a personal note he had to come yielding a young bull for a sin offering, and a ram for an elevation offering. These two offerings were for different reasons by design. One was to send a pleasing aroma to “elevate” to Hashem, and the other to make atonement for sin of the person bringing it to the tabernacle. It is later in the chapter we find the animals needed for the nation. Before he could perform any ritual Aaron was to wash himself entirely and don his fine linen tunic.

Now from the assembly of the children of Israel Aaron was to bring the same two offerings. A ram for elevation and a bull for a sin offering. These were to be used for the whole nation of Israel. These two goats had a significant difference, they were to be “tagged” in way that one was for Hashem and one was for Azazel לעזאזל. Sages in times past say that Azazel is a word that is beyond human comprehension.

This is where the portion gets exciting. Because we know the miracle that happens through the atonement process. A Sinful nation, takes a sinless animal and that sinless animal atones for their sins, every year this was to be done as an everlasting ordinance.

The one animal for Hashem was to be brought to the tabernacle and sacrificed while the other was set out into uninhabited land and set free. As the portions says, it would carry all the iniquities and sins of the nation of Israel into the wilderness, never caring if it ever made it back to the tent of meeting.

Let’s fast forward to the blood of the sacrifice now. Following the incense the priest would also sprinkle the blood within the curtain of the Holy of Holies. So in order for them to sprinkle the blood as prescribed, the High Priest (Kohen Gadol) כוהענ גאדול would carry a bowl of some sort or just dip straight into spilled blood so that sprinkle the blood from on his forefinger. Sprinkling the Holy place was to mean that the place was also sanctified once again. This was also done in the outer courtyard including the altar seven times he was to sprinkle the altar.

Remember, this was for the entire nation of Israel. So, those involved had to maintain utmost purity. So it is not any surprise that we see laws concerning not consuming/touching blood like the nations all around them. They were told not to consume the blood because the blood was the atonement and was sacred not only to the creature but to Hashem.

I find it interesting that this particular commandment includes proselytes. Proselytes include gentiles that come to know Hashem (such as Christians that claim to be Jewish [even spiritually]).

To sum up the portion lets go to the text that speaks about sexual immorality. I find it very interesting that the portion of text related to atonement for sins is so closely found next to sexual immorality.

In chapter 18 we find an immediate (after atonement) declaration of things Hashem requires of us. Predominately we find sexual immorality in the list of things we should follow. The things we must or must not do are preceded by the words “Do not perform the practice of the land of Egypt”.  So, obviously the Israelites were exposed these sins.

When reading the text you may find yourself reading the words “the nakedness of your” and wonder what does that mean to me today. Well, it is modernly believed to mean have sexual intercourse. In ancient times it meant as little as living in the same house as, whereas to see their nakedness. Eitherway, here in the text is is considered a very gross sin.

Finally, Hashem declares that a man should not lie with a man like a man would lie with a woman. This is without doubt speaking of homesexual intercourse/foreplay etc.