June 13, 2015 Shabbat Midrash
©2015 Mark Pitrone and Fulfilling Torah Ministries
Year 3 Sabbath 14
B’Midbar 23:2 – 25:9 – Yehoshua 17:1-18 – Tehellim 112 – Ya’acov 3:1 – 4:17
B’midbar 23.2-30 – Bila’am had Balak build 7 altars and prepare 7 sacrifices, which THEY offered. I infer that Bila’am offered the oxen and Balak the rams, just from their respective positions in the sentence, but that could be wrong – I wasn’t there. But that the Moabite king offered at least some part of the sacrifices is clear from the sentence structure. Stone’s notes say that one killed the animal while the other caught the blood and sprinkled/threw it on the altar. The xlation indicates that Eloha only appeared to Bila’am on occasion, as if by happenstance. Rashi seems to indicate that once in a while El would communicate with Bila’am when it suited Eloha. The idea of 7 new altars and 7 offerings on each of these 3 occasions seems to allude to the significance of the number in relation to the offering. Schottenstein’s Chumash speaks of 7 instances of Israel’s patriarchs erecting altars – Adam, Abel, Noach, Avraham, Yitzhak, Ya’acov and Moshe, and that Bila’am may have been trying to insinuate himself among them by alluding to them and offering the eighth – perhaps suggesting a ‘new beginning’ (?).
Each time Bila’am blessed Israel, Balak moved to another hilltop from which he showed Bila’am Israel from another angle or aspect. The aspect change and continuingly greater blessing Y’hovah gave Bila’am spoke to Bila’am. He was not going to be able to denounce Yisrael w/a curse. So he devised another means to trip Israel up – the ‘way or doctrine of Bila’am’. The ‘way of Bila’am’ (2Kefa 2) or the ‘doctrine of Bila’am’ (Rev.2) is what he suggested to the Moabites and Midianites – entice Israel to adultery and idolatry. The ‘error of Bila’am’ is to go your own way; either for financial gain or power and/or influence (Jude) among men. Let’s look briefly at the 3 attempted curses.
When Y’hovah eventually gets around to speaking through Bila’am, he speaks by parable. He says that noone can count Israel, they are as the dust, and in his blessing on Israel, Y’hovah says that they shall live alone, that they will always be a singular people – set apart by him and unto him. This speaks by parable of those who will be after Y’hovah’s heart, and it is seen walked out by b’nei Israel in history, for they HAVE maintained themselves separate from the world (no doubt through the hand of Y’hovah, even when they are trying to assimilate), even when they are in rebellion against him. Look at the Orthodox today. They usually live in communities, do business within their communities whenever possible, live within a close walk to shul, marry within the community, and so forth. This was seen in the orthodox Xian community, as well, in the lifestyles of the Puritan founders of America and is still generally practiced among the Amish and Mennonites, who also seem to live lifestyles closely approximating the Orthodox Jews and even share some family names with them. There are some spiritual blessings that come with such physical separation, even when done for purely traditional reasons – unity of religious practice being one, and material prosperity and physical familial multiplicity being another. The Amish may not live with the modern ‘conveniences’ but they are NOT financially poor.
Then Y’hovah says (through Bila’am) that one can’t see the 1/4th part of Israel. What Balak and ALL the princes of Moab had shown him was a single ‘camp’ of Israel, the outer edge of one of the major camps, like Reuven’s camp which included the tribes of Shimon and Gad; or Yehudah’s camp, which included Issachar and Zevulon. What Bila’am could see of this 1/4th part of Israel could not be numbered and stretched beyond the horizon. I don’t know why I get this impression, but I think Balak took Bila’am to Reuven’s camp first, then Ephraim’s and then Dan’s. I don’t think Balak wanted to think about dealing with Yehudah, the ‘lion’, and his ‘whelps’; who knew the times of Y’hovah, and the art of war;
And of the children of Issachar, which were men that had understanding of the times, to know what Israel ought to do; the heads of them were two hundred; and all their brethren were at their commandment. 33 Of Zebulun, such as went forth to battle, expert in war, with all instruments of war, fifty thousand, which could keep rank: not of double heart (I Chronicles 12:32-33),
for when it came time to show Bila’am the 4th ¼ of Israel, Balak left with an outward display of disdain for Bila’am that I think was born of Balak’s fear. The last sentence of Y’hovah’s blessing was Bila’am wishing upon himself the death of the righteous and to be like Israel in his death, which I think was a prophecy of his ignominious death. Y’hovah let him know that he would not experience eternal life.
Balak was ticked that Bila’am blessed Israel instead of cursing him, but Bila’am objected that he had told Balak that he could not say anything except what Y’hovah had told him to say. So Balak took him to the next vantage point, which I think was Ephraim’s camp. Now, what Balak thought a change of aspect on the camp of Israel would do for Bila’am’s denunciation of Israel is beyond me. He’d seen the southern camp (if my impression is correct) and was now looking at the Western camp. At no time did Bila’am see to the camp of Levi or the Mishkan. Balak, not Bila’am, built 7 altars and offered 7 offerings on each.
Ephraim’s camp is the smallest of the 4 camps, and was the rear guard of the nation. He said, Eloha is not a man, that he should lie or a son of man that he should repent, which was Balak’s final warning from Y’hovah to repent of the evil he wished on Israel due the lies he’d told himself about Israel. In v.21, Yhwh, his El = יהוה אלוהיו. He then tells Balak that he is bathed in iniquity and his way is perverted, and he does so by saying that he has seen no such thing in Yakov and Israel. Now, I have to wonder at this point if Y’hovah was there 38 years ago when the nation wanted to stone Yehoshua and Kalev at Kadesh, or just a few days or weeks ago when they wanted to stone Moshe and Aharon at Meribah, because I think there may have been some iniquity there. What I think he was saying is that Israel is righteous in Yhwh and in Moshiach as his chosen people, if not in comparison to the heathen. Now, this blessing of Y’hovah COULD be the source of Bila’am’s counsel to Balak, for he says Y’hovah has not seen perversion in Israel, and the next thing we’ll see them do is to pervert their ways before Y’hovah by lying with the heathen women and bowing before their idols, or using those idols in a form of sexual perversity. We’ll see that a little later in the first verses of ch.25, and I will attempt to circumlocute the best I can – no promises.
The ‘shout’ of the King [v.21] is actually the word ‘teruah’ which is the short staccato blasts of the silver trumpets that signals Israel to ‘execute’ the command of Y’hovah.
5 Elohim is gone up with a shout, Y’hovah with the sound of a trumpet. 6 Sing praises to Elohim, sing praises: sing praises unto our King, sing praises. 7 For Elohim is the King of all the earth: sing ye praises with understanding. Ps.47.5-7
In the military, when moving in formation, there are two parts of every command; 1) Ready and 2) Execute, as in “Right, FACE!”, or “Forward, MARCH!” or “Company, HALT!” Israel was ALWAYS in formation, so the same applied to the silver trumpet blasts. The “Ready” command is the long, loud, tekiah that meant ‘prepare to break camp’, and “Execute” was the staccato teruah that meant “Break CAMP!” So after giving Balak his final warning that he is full of iniquity and is perverse before Y’hovah, he then – in the same breath – says that Y’hovah, the Elohim of Avraham, Yitzhak and Ya’acov is with Israel and that a King is among them – the very king of whom Balak does not want to even think, if my impression is correct. Elohim brought them out of Egypt, from which the formerly great military power is still reeling and attempting without a lot of success to recover. Now, the Chumash says that Balak was a sorcerer, even as was Bila’am, so the next blessing is also pointed right at Balak as a back-handed curse. There is no enchantment or sorcery in Israel. They do not call on impish shadim for their deliverance, but are protected by the Creator of all there is, including the impish shadim that are the source of Balak’s power. Everyone will know that Balak was overcome by the Elohim of Israel, not some wicked spirit.
Then, Y’hovah, through Bila’am, tells Balak what he most fears. Israel will rise up as a great lion to destroy his adversaries, devour their flesh and lick up their blood, which I take as a metaphor for Israel’s complete assimilation of his enemies’ possessions and source of political and economic life. Balak understood and was not pleased. The princes of Moav that were left with him also understood and I think they departed the pattern for a more inviting scene. In v.6, Balak had ‘ALL the princes of Moav’ with him. In v.17 it was just ‘the princes of Moav’, not ALL the princes. By the time we get into ch. 24, there is no mention of any princes at all. Q&C
24.1-25.9 – Vv.1-16 All the while that Bila’am has been going to get his instructions from Y’hovah, he has been using some kind of enchantments over Israel to bring Eloha to meet him. The sages seem to think he was trying to divine the moment Elohim would be in a ‘cursing mood’. NOW, he decides to try a new tack. Schottenstein’s Chumash has an interesting note to 24.1-9, first paragraph and last sentence of the 2nd [pg.169]. Ahijah’s curse is pretty harsh. Also look at the note on v.2 and the camp of Israel. The blessing begins in v.5. In vv.3-4 Bila’am says in 5 different ways that he is experiencing this prophecy of Y’hovah as nothing he’d ever experienced before. His eyes are OPEN to the majesty of Y’hovah and he is finally convinced that no curse from him and the familiar spirits he was used to dealing with would have any effect. He describes the order of the Israelite camps, the combination of tight tribal relationships and the respect for each family’s dignity and honor. The ‘tabernacles’ of v.5 are the Hebrew word mishkanothecha – your (singular) mishkans, or private places of worship, or maybe to their personal tallitoth, or perhaps the future synagogues in and out of haAretz, or just a place where the family could gather for family meals or Shabbat. Vv.5-7 is taken by Ramban to be a blessing that includes their present situation in the camps of Israel (tents Ohalecha) and their future blessings in the land (mishkanothecha). In v.6, 4 similes are used that I take in the remez to refer to the 4 camps of 3 tribes each. The sages see many hints to kings and sages in Israel. I think the waters refer to Tanakh and the apostolic writings that give refreshing to our spirits.
1 Blessed is the man that walketh not in the counsel of the ungodly, nor standeth in the way of sinners, nor sitteth in the seat of the scornful. 2But his delight is in the law of the Lord; and in his law doth he meditate day and night. 3 And he shall be like a tree planted by the rivers of water, that bringeth forth his fruit in his season; his leaf also shall not wither; and whatsoever he doeth shall prosper. Ps.1.1-3
V.7 speaks of Agag, the Amalekite king. Agag is the ancestor of Gog, chief prince of Magog. Here’s an interesting tidbit: Agag and Agog are the same word with slightly different vowel pointing, so it is possible that the sarrosh, or chief prince of Magog is referring to Gog, chief prince ‘from Agag’ (the mem prefix being a shortened form of min, meaning ‘from’). IOW, Gog is an Amalekite and ‘from Agag’. Amalek had LOTS of ‘giants’, as the 10 tourists made note of in Num.13.28-29a, when they showed their souvenirs and told Israel that they couldn’t defeat the people of the land, for there were sons of Anak – Amalekites there.
28 Nevertheless the people strong that dwell in the land, and the cities walled, very great: and moreover we saw the children of Anak there. 29 The Amalekites dwell in the land of the south: (Num.13.28-29a)
What’s REALLY interesting is that Agag is the Amalekite king over whose living presence with Sha’ul (along with all the sheep bleating in the background of a victorious battlefield), got Sha’ul in deep kimchee with Y’hovah, as pronounced through Sh’muel. Bila’am saw him in his vision about 400 years before his birth and NAMED him in advance, like Koresh the Persian, a Moshiach of Yehudah, was named in advance by YeshaYahu in 44.28 and 45.1.
Balak was ticked. 3 times he’d offered 14 animals (42 in all – significant?) at Bila’am’s direction, and 3 times now Bila’am had blessed Israel instead of cursing him, like Bila’am was being paid to do. But Y’hovah has the greatest blessing yet to come to Israel. Bila’am opened his mouth one more time under the direction of Y’hovah’s Ruach. I think that Balak didn’t wait to hear it all.
Vv.17-19 – He prophesies of Moshiach and his ultimate destruction of Moav’s power. He says that he shall see the Almighty in a vision, hear the Words of Eloha and know the knowledge of the Most High. His next words speak of the Star coming from Yakov, the Scepter out of Israel that will destroy Moav and Seth, who, as progenitor of all the righteous seed, represents the nations of the earth (see Chumash note to v.17 on pp.172-73). Rashi sees David as the fulfillment and Ramban sees Messiah. I say, “YES!” Most prophecies of end time and Messianic events have multiple fulfillments; one more or less immediate, at least one intermediate, and the final, ultimate fulfillment that will be done in Moshiach’s return and reign.
V.20-24 – Eventually, Amalek will be utterly wiped out, as Y’hovah wanted Israel to do when he led them into his land. But it will be Moshiach, the ultimate King of Yisrael, who will do that deed. In vv.21-22, he gives a similar warning to the Kenites, who seem to rule Petra and who were carried away by Asshur (Assyria) along with 10-Israel. Assyria will be difficult to defeat in battle. If current events unfold into the fulfillment of this prophecy many seem to think it may, Asshur may be what we are calling ISIS or the Moslem Bro-hood, who was ISIS’ precursor.
In v.24 I think we may have a prophecy of the soon to occur battle between the Western world (elsewhere kings of the north?) and those Moslem nations of the Middle East (kings of the south?) – perhaps Syria next, followed by Jordan and Saudi Arabia before turning their attention on Israel (Eber?). The West (Chittim, KoN) will bring it against the Middle East primarily by their navies. From the article “Chittim” in the online “Bible Encyclopedia”, christiananswers.net/dictionary/chittim.html
…while the name originally designated the Phoenicians only, it came to be laterally used of all the islands and seacoasts which they [Phoenicians] had occupied…
Phoenicia, which is what modern archaeologists call the original alliance between David and Solomon’s Israel and Hiram’s Lebanon, colonized and/or explored the whole world for more than 2 centuries, even trading in or colonizing the Americas. The most likely nation to fulfill this prophecy (v.24) is the US with its naval/Marine aviation and Marine forces, perhaps with the help of NATO/NWO. If this happens this way, I don’t see the American/NATO/NWO forces leaving the area any time soon. There’s too much oil there for that to happen. Remember that even Israel has oil and natural gas reserves, now. I expect this soon, probably around Sukkoth, perhaps this year. (I COULD be wrong … but I DOUBT it!) Those same Chittim (ships from beyond Gibraltar) will take out Eber. Eber is from beyond The River, Euphrates, so the entire Middle East will be involved, eventually. US carriers can send aircraft on missions against defending forces from the Med, the Gulfs of Suez and Aqaba, and the PG in a sort of pincer attack.
Bila’am went his way (v.25) and Balak ALSO went Bila’am’s way. This looks to me like they were going somewhere to commiserate.
Warning! If you have young children listening, you may wish to turn down your sound or remove them from the vicinity. The allusions I am about to make may not be for their ears. I will try to circumlocute as I can, but you may not be aware of your kids intelligence and ability to reason.
25.1-9 – When Bila’am commiserated with Balak, he gave him some wicked advice (it was ‘good’ advice toward Balak’s end of cursing Israel), “If you want to defeat Israel, you have to attack their sexual purity.” And what better way than to send in some beautiful, but not-so-upright, women to entice Israel’s men to adultery/idolatry, which are things that are different only in the eyes of the perpetrators. Bila’am had Balak send beautiful, but less than pure, women of Moav to entice Israel. Schottenstein’s Chumash has an interesting, speculative note on this on pg.174-75 (both prefatory for 1-6 and for v.2).
If it’s true that the Moabite women were carrying idols small enough to hide in their clothing, it is also possible that they also used them in other defiling ways during the acts that would defile the Hebrew men (and perhaps women, as well). I think that these idols can be found in about any ‘Adult book/toy store’ today. I think they are talking about small-enough–to-be-carried-in-the-clothing ‘graven images’ of Ba’al. I think that I’ve circumlocuted as closely as I can in a G-rated room. Rav Sha’ul made allusion to what I am saying in Rom.1.24-27. I don’t think it would be a good idea to read that at this time, for the sake of your young-uns.
Zimri brought a Midianite woman right to the tent of meeting and lay with her IN THE TENT! When Pinchas stayed the plague of Y’hovah, he did so by sticking them both thru with a spear and pinning them to the floor of the tent. They HAD to be INSIDE the tent of meeting for this to happen! Let me quote from my study on March 10, 2012;
Num.4.38 – On the front, or east side of the Mishkan, before the entrance veil of the Tent of Meeting, was the camp of the Kohanim: the prophet Moshe, and the Priests Aharon and his sons. Moshe did not have a sukkah of his own, but actually dwelt in the Tent of Meeting, in the presence of Y’hovah. It was the Kohanim’s job to guard the Mishkan from all interlopers who got passed the 2 wheels (ophanim) of defense. As we will see in a couple of months (today), even though he had not been anointed Priest, Pinchas took his charge of guarding the sanctity of the Mishkan seriously and, using his trusty javelin, stayed the plague that Y’hovah unleashed upon Israel in Num.25.
The definition of ‘stranger’ is different in different places. The word here is H2114 zur, which Stone’s Tanakh translates as alien. In this case, it means anyone who is NOT a Kohen. If a non-Kohen Kohathite tried to get into the Mishkan, Aharon or one of his sons, or even Moshe was to stop him by whatever means was necessary. If a Danite, even if it was the elder of Dan, tried to get into the Levite wheel, it was Merari’s job to stop him from going any further, and so on around the camp. The last defense in the outer wheel was the elder of the Camp – Nachshon, in Yehudah’s case. If the non-Levite got passed the zachan of the outer camp, it was the Levite’s job to stop him from going further.
In Num.25, when Zimri took Cozbi into the ToM, he not only attempted to defile it with his own non-priestly presence, but with a complete alien who didn’t even belong in the Camp of Israel, much less the Court or the Mishkan itself. IOW, noone in the camp tried to stop the desecration of the Sanctuary. Now you might get an idea of why Y’hovah had sent a plague that killed over 24,000 Israelites in a few minutes. He was about to wipe out the entire camp. Pinchas LITERALLY saved Israel from annihilation, IMHO. Q&C
Yehoshua 17.1-18 – Yehoshua describes the inheritances of Menashe, which are substantial. Menashe has the largest tribe in number and also the largest inheritance in area. At https://www.jewishvirtuallibrary.org/jsource/Judaism/tribes.html you will find a pretty good approximation of the inheritances of the tribes. See how much land Menashe inherited, especially in comparison to all the rest of the tribes? And they complained that they didn’t have enough. Only Yehudah had even CLOSE to as much, and Yehudah’s population was nearly as large as Menashe’s AND they had to share their land with Shimon. You can almost understand the attitude Yehoshua seems to have since HIS tribe’s inheritance is less than ½ of West Menashe. Were I him, I’d have told them to “go have their nanny change their poopy diaper and apply some Desitin, take their thumbs from their mouths, quit their kvetching and GO TAKE THE HILL, you CRY BABY!” Yehoshua was a bit more diplomatic. He told Menashe to enlist Ephraim’s help in driving out the Canaanites. Who was the elder of Ephraim? Wasn’t Yehoshua the elder of Ephraim? Do you think he could get his tribe to help their full brother Menashe? I think so. Mount Gerizim was pretty much on the border of Menashe and Ephraim, so I think that was the disputed area, and Joshua gave it to Menashe, I think just to shut the cry-babies mouths.
Tehellim 112 – I think that Ps.111 and 112 are meant to be read together since they are both acrostic poetry and 112 picks up where 111 left off – the fear of Y’hovah is shown in obedience to his commandments which is the beginning of wisdom. Is this Psalm about Tzadikim, the believers who will enter the Messianic Kingdom? I think so. Let’s look at Rev.12&14
And the dragon was wroth with the woman, and went to make war with the remnant of her seed, which keep the commandments of Elohim, and have the testimony of Yeshua Moshiach. (Revelation of John 12:17)
Here is the patience of the saints: here are they that keep the commandments of Elohim, and the faith of Yeshua. (Revelation of John 14:12)
Now juxtapose those verses with Ps.112.1, and then see what happens to and for the tzadik who does ‘delight greatly in his commandments’. His progeny will be mighty, and blessed of Y’hovah. In v.3, they will have great wealth who live in tzedikah. Now, I think the riches are a result of the righteousness and not the other way round. Can Eloha trust you with riches? What would you do with it if you had it? Are you a tzadik? If you are, he can trust you with wealth. If not, he cannot. And he tries the hearts of men and knows who can handle it and who can’t. The upright in v.4 is speaking about Moshiach, the Tzadik Rebbe, and his overcoming Bride. Moshiach is the only one who can be both righteous and full of compassion, because he has suffered everything we do and knows experientially what we go through in the war that rages in our members, sin or obedience. But in Moshiach, light arises in the darkness by his gracious compassion and tzedikah.
In Deut.28 we are told what will happen to us if we guard his commandments,
10 And all people of the earth shall see that thou art called by the name of Y’hovah; and they shall be afraid of thee. 12 Y’hovah shall open unto thee his good treasure, the heaven to give the rain unto thy land in his season, and to bless all the work of thine hand: and thou shalt lend unto many nations, and thou shalt not borrow.
V.5 illustrates this promise being delivered. Now, here’s what I find interesting. In both Dt.28.12 and Ps.112.5, the word translated as ‘lend’ is H3867, lavan, which is a primitive root that means “to twine, by implication to unite.” To lend, biblically, is to supply something of yourself for the benefit of another – it is a form of loving your neighbor. Remember that lending to a brother is to be done w/o interest or usury. An upright man lends and doesn’t borrow because Y’hovah provides for the upright man so that he has no need to borrow and so that he has the ability to lend with the intent of helping a brother get on his feet. He doesn’t lend indiscriminately, but uses good judgment, which is what the Psalmist means by discretion. V.6 may be a support for the idea of perseverance of saints, not as in OSAS, where all you have to do is say a prayer and there are no more worries. But the righteous man continues in his faithfulness and cannot be moved from it. He will not be worried about bad news for the economy or for the political situation because “he knows whom he has believed and is persuaded that HE is able to guard that which” the righteous man “had committed unto him against that day” of deliverance (2Tim.1.12). The Tzadik has provided for the poor among the household of faith, and even for those who come to his attention from outside the camp. He gives with the same motive with which he lends – to assist his fellow in becoming self-sufficient, for THAT is righteous giving. In the Kingdom, Moshiach and his deputies (the Tzadikim) will deliver quick and sure retributive justice to the wicked. Q&C
Ya’acov 3.1-18 – ‘Masters’ in v.1 is literally ‘teachers’. Teachers are more accountable before Avinu than are those they teach. Many people take on the mantle of ‘teacher’ that ought not, and many do not who ought to because of this passage. The difference is like that of a sheepdog and a wolf. The teacher who can lead is like a sheepdog, directing, watching over, and protecting the sheep under the headship of the shepherd. The sheepdog will do everything he can to protect the sheep, including fighting off the wolf. The false teacher is like the wolf in sheepdog’s clothing that would devour the sheep one at a time while they graze calmly, thinking they are protected under the watchful eye of a sheepdog. The wolves in sheepdog clothing are in line for a major judgment and condemnation from Avinu. See www.mwkworks.com/onsheepwolvesandsheepdogs.html for an excellent article on the subject by LTC (Ret) Dave Grossman. If you’d rather, I have a .PDF that I would be happy to email to anyone who is interested. Just send me an email to firstname.lastname@example.org and I will send it to you. The legitimate purpose of the police and armed forces is to act as sheepdogs, protecting the flock. LTC Grossman doesn’t pull punches and he may offend you (hurt your feelings). If he does, you need to do some re-evaluation of your premises, because the world is getting more dangerous all the time.
We NEED sheepdogs, even when their personalities make us uncomfortable. Sheepdogs sometimes offend the sheep. Oh, well! Better they have their feelings hurt than they be eaten. ‘Hurt feelings’ is not the ‘offense’ that Yacov is talking about here. The word is G4417, ptaio, and means to trip or cause to stumble, not to “hout someone’s wittow feewings”. If I have to hurt your feelings to get you off the siding and onto the main track, stand by; you’re going to experience some discomfort. That discomfort will have as its purpose to awaken you to danger, not to bring division but to bring you into the fold and under the protection of the Shepherd. Remember that he who sows discord among brethren is an abomination to Y’hovah’s soul (Prov.6.16, 19). The pile of Kimchee that guy is in is deep, sticky and stinky. May he not be any of us.
The tongue that Ya’acov is speaking about is not what we assume in our modern way of thinking. It is the one that leads the sheep astray so they are more easily taken and devoured, not one that merely offends someone’s sensibilities. Now, giving offense for offense’s sake is foolish, but I don’t even think THAT is what this passage is primarily about. That guy is just an anal sphincter. Yacov likens a lot of relatively small things to the tongue of the false teacher. 1st is the bit in a horse’s mouth. It’s uncomfortable for the horse, but the discomfort brings the animal under the control of a relatively small human. 2nd is the rudder of a ship. The rudder exerts a ‘G’ force contrary to the inertial motion of the ship, and can cause some ‘discomfort’ for the ship and/or crew as it changes course. As the bit and the rudder bring much larger things under control, so the tongue can do. He then likens the tongue to a ‘hatful’ of fire.
The word ‘matter’ in v.5 is G5208, hule’, which literally means ‘forest’. A Mark paraphrase is “Look how great a forest a hatful of fire can consume.” When Yacov talks of the body in v.6, it isn’t the body of the false teacher, but the Body of Messiah that he means. One wolf can take the whole unsuspecting flock and turn them away from the True Shepherd. Look at the false teachings, like the ‘flat earth’ and ‘Paul is a false-prophet’ types, that are dividing the Messie movement. When is the Shabbat? When does the day begin? When does the year begin? What books are scripture? Which should we remove from the Bibles we have? Watch out for false teachers.
It isn’t naturally in us to keep control of our tongues, but it IS in Ruach haKodesh to whom we CAN submit and allow to be our rudder or the bit in our mouths. Under our control, the same mouth can utter cursings and blessings, life and death. Only by submission to Ruach haKodesh can we remove the cursing and death from our tongues.
Vv.1-12 showed the problem and the solution. Vv.13-18 make application of what we’ve learned. If you would be wise in the biblical sense of the term, walk in obedience to Torah, for THAT is the best way to show a good ‘conversation’, which is KJV speak for a lifestyle. It ought to be plain that we are after Y’hovah’s heart in the way we live our lives.
Vv.14-18 then shows the same application by way of contrast. If you want to prove that you care not a whit for what Y’hovah speaks, walk contrary to his instructions and everyone will know that you are a person not to be trusted. This is an application of the ‘tongue’ analogy in that if your walk doesn’t reflect your talk, Yochanan would say that you are a liar and the truth is not in you.
He that saith, I know him, and keepeth not his commandments, is a liar, and the truth is not in him. (I John 2:4)
Yacov fully agrees with Yochanan on this, as he tells us in v.15, because that man is after the flesh, which is at war with Ruach haKodesh (Rom.7.14-8.4, specifically 7.23). Envying and strife is earthly, sensual, devilish, because all evil comes from our lust, which refers to covetousness. And covetousness is idolatry. The wisdom from Y’hovah in v.16 is also called the fruit of righteousness in v.18. FoR = FoS
8 For ye were sometimes darkness, but now light in Y’hovah: walk as children of light: 9 (For the fruit of the Spirit is in all goodness and righteousness and truth;) 10 Proving what is acceptable unto Y’hovah. (Gal.5.8-9)
22 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, 23 Meekness, temperance: against such there is no law. (Eph.5.22-23)
Do you see any likeness between Yacov’s list in v.17 and Sha’ul’s in 22-23? I do. And, BTW, the fruit of righteousness is exactly the opposite of Midian – contention, brawling. Cozbi, Zimri’s Midianite squeeze in Num.25 today was a major source of contention for Yhwh. Q&C
4.1-17 – Yacov is still on about strife and discord among brethren and that it comes from covetousness. It has NOTHING to do with wars of nations in its primary application, though nations generally follow the character of their people. This is not written to the nations, but to ‘the 12 tribes scattered abroad’. A clearer reference to knowledge of the whereabouts of the 12 tribes, at least to the human authors of the Ketuvim haShlichim, is hard to imagine. Human historians today haven’t a clue as to their whereabouts, but Yeshua knows and told his shlichim. These wars are among the body of Moshiach, which thing abominates Y’hovah’s soul. All the factions in the Body are due to our lusts for what is not ours by right. We saw Prov.6.16-19 earlier. All those things that abominate Y’hovah’s soul are fruits of our covetousness, as I think are ALL sins. The worst part of this approbation lust is that we are coveting the WORLD’S approval, not EVEN the kahal’s, much less Y’hovah’s. With this in mind, what do you think we’re asking for that we do not receive of Y’hovah? We ask for things WE covet, which is idolatry and he CANNOT give us that. He can let us work for it so hard that we get it, even though he isn’t WILLING that we have it. But allow it he may to teach us the lesson in a different way – one we will not like at all. We strive and fight to feed our pride, but if we will live in humility before Y’hovah, he will give us all the grace we need to overcome hardships and bickering. HaSatan inhabits our prideful bickering, but he cannot get hold of our humility before Y’hovah. When we submit to Y’hovah, which is seen in our lifestyle of obedience, we will almost certainly resist the flesh that haSatan can so easily control when we allow him to. Vv.8-10 address the Spirit of the Day of Atonement, when we afflict our souls through repentance, prayer, and fasting; humbling ourselves before Y’hovah so that he can exalt us.
We ought not utter a lashon hara against a brother. This is just another admonition against sowing discord among brethren. The wars in v.1 must be speaking of more than just back-biting and gossip, which is about as far as any teaching on James gets. Gossip is bad, but it generally is shared with one person or 2. Sowing discord among brethren is usually a much more public display aimed at causing hurt to the person generally. HaSatan LOVES it. Y’hovah is abominated by it. I think this may involve questioning a brother’s relationship with Messiah, because v.11 also speaks of his relationship to Torah. If we see a brother in sin, it is our place to point our perception out to him, as he may be unaware AND we may have misconstrued his actions. Our purpose is to bring his reconciliation to the Camp. It is NOT our place to publicly question his salvation or point out his sin to others.
Our ONE Torah giver is able to save or to destroy (Is.33.22), and he uses the same standard in his righteous judgment of the sinner’s motives and the rightness of his action. He uses the same Torah to judge the hearts of all who stand before him – and that is EVERYONE, saint or sinner, Yisraelite or Gentile. For those who trust him, Torah is the Way of Life, Derech Chaim; for those who do not, it is the way of death, derech maveth.
Behold therefore the goodness and severity of Eloha: on them which fell, severity; but toward thee, goodness, if thou continue in his goodness: otherwise thou also shalt be cut off. (Romans 11:22)
14 But the word very nigh unto thee, in thy mouth, and in thy heart, that thou mayest do it. 15 See, I have set before thee this day life and good, and death and evil; 16 In that I command thee this day to love Y’hovah Elohecha, to walk in his ways, and to keep his commandments and his statutes and his judgments, that thou mayest live and multiply: and Y’hovah Elohecha shall bless thee in the land whither thou goest to possess it. 19 I call heaven and earth to record this day against you, I have set before you life and death, blessing and cursing: therefore choose life, that both thou and thy seed may live: (Deut.30.14-16, 19)
22 For Y’hovah our judge, Y’hovah our lawgiver, Y’hovah our king; he will save us. (Is.33.22 Gevurah, chesed and tifereth seen here.)
The closing verses are not admonitions against making plans. We are certainly to make plans and goals for our lives. But to announce them as if we are the Elohim of our life is foolishness, since we are not assured of our next breath, much less the plans Yacov speaks about. We ought to be constantly aware of our standing before Y’hovah, and that our lives are bound up in HIM, not in us. We can’t truly change the color of one hair on our heads. We ultimately have no control of our lives. We are utterly dependent on Y’hovah. So we need to make our plans around his will for us, not OUR will for us. And his will is that we obey him.
8 I delight to do thy will, Elohai: yea, thy law is within my heart. (Ps.40.7-8)
We need to be circumspect, doing all in our power to obey his commandments as we trust his Ruach to empower us, to not be double minded and unstable. Especially if we are teachers. Q&C End of Shabbat Bible Study.