In last week’s Torah portion, Parasha Bamidbar (In the Desert), God commanded that a census be taken of Israel.
This week’s Torah portion continues with the numbering of the Levitical families, detailing their duties. Each man was to be given a specific task, ensuring an equitable distribution of the work.
“At the Lord’s command through Moses, each was assigned his work and told what to carry.” (Numbers 4:49)
A Model for Community Living
“Count the Merarites by their clans and families. Count all the men from thirty to fifty years of age who come to serve in the work at the tent of meeting.” (Numbers 4:29–30)
This Parasha models community living, especially in regard to serving the Lord.
When we live and work together in community, and everyone has their own assigned tasks so that each carries part of the load, burdens do not fall too heavily on a few key individuals.
This is the idea behind the communal lifestyle of the Israeli kibbutz movement. It’s also the lifestyle of the early kehillah—the early community of Believers in Yeshua HaMashiach (Jesus the Messiah).
“Now all who believed were together, and had all things in common, and sold their possessions and goods, and divided them among all, as anyone had need.” (Acts 2:44–45)
We are called to fulfill the Torah of loving one another by helping bear one other’s burdens.
We can accomplish this in practical ways for those overloaded with responsibilities, and also through the act of encouraging and comforting those who are carrying heavy emotional burdens.
The Lord, however, did not leave us relying totally on one another. Yeshua (Jesus) gives us rest when we are tired and burdened.
“Come to me, all you who are weary and heavy burdened, and I will give you rest.”(Matthew 11:28)
But to experience that rest, we must be willing to go to Him, laying aside our self-sufficiency, and trust Him with our worries, cares and anxieties.
“Cast all your anxieties on Him because He cares for you.” (1 Peter 5:7)
Jealousy and Trust
“If feelings of jealousy come over her husband and he suspects his wife and she is impure—or if he is jealous and suspects her even though she is not impure—then he is to take his wife to the priest.” (Numbers 5:14–15)
This Parasha also deals with the law of jealousy.
God gave Israel a way to manage jealousy and suspicion in marriage.
Interestingly enough, the Hebrew word for marriage is nissuin, which is plural for naso (lift up), the name of this week’s Parasha. God’s intention for marriage is to lift us up.
Sometimes, however, the green-eyed monster of jealousy drags a relationship down. According to this Parasha, if a husband became jealous and suspected his spouse of unfaithfulness, his suspicions might be valid or invalid.
Thus, to resolve this issue of trust, which is necessary for the success of any relationship, the Cohen (priest) would bring the woman in question before the Lord and administer a test to determine her guilt or innocence.
The Cohen (priest) would utter an oath that would protect her from certain curses if she were innocent; however, if she were guilty, she would come under the curses that were written on a scroll and then dissolved into bitter waters.
The woman would commit to this oath by responding, “Amen. Amen.” (Numbers 5:22)
Once the woman took the oath, she would then drink the waters of bitterness that the priest had prepared. Either the curses would come true and expose her guilt or nothing would happen to her and she would be declared innocent.
When people respond “amen” to a vow or oath, they are coming into agreement with it as if they swear the oath themselves.
Although the word amen is traditionally considered an acronym for “Eli Melech, Ne’eman” (God, Faithful King), the Hebrew word amen comes from the root that means believe, confirm, and support.
Amen is also related to the Hebrew word emunah (faith), which is derived from the same root.
It’s evident from Numbers 5:30 that a spirit of jealousy (ruach kinah) can come upon a person.
“When the spirit [ruach] of jealousy [kinah] comes upon a man…” (Numbers 5:30)
Jealousy, when it is suspicious, overbearing, possessive and demanding, is ugly and sinful.