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Monday, March 1, 2021

Bible in One Year Day 60 (Numbers 10, Deuteronomy 9, Psalm 10)

 You may subscribe yourself at the Ascension site here and receive notifications in your email, or just follow along on my blog.  Bible in One Year Readings Index 

Day 60:  Intercessory Prayer 

Chapter 10: The Beginning of the Wilderness Journey


Numbers Chapter 10 is divided into four parts:

  1. The instructions for making and using the silver trumpets (Num 10:1-9). 
  2. The beginning of the march away from Mt. Sinai, with the first stop in the wilderness of Paran (Num 10:11-28).
  3. The appeal to Hobab to guide the Israelites (Num 10:29-32).
  4. The details of the departure (already summarized in 10:12) and Moses' morning and afternoon/evening prayers (Num 10:33-36).

The Israelites prepared to leave Sinai in the second month of the second year after leaving Egypt.  The alternate Passover was celebrated on the 14th day of the second month.  Unleavened Bread should have continued for the next seven days from the 15th to the 21st (Lev 23:6-8), but on the day before the final Sacred Assembly, on the 20th, the Israelites were commanded to break camp.  Like the first Passover in the Exodus out of Egypt, the Israelites began their journey after the Passover but before the end of Unleavened Bread.

Israelites in the Wilderness (Jacopo Bassano)


Numbers 10:1-10 The Trumpets

The blowing of the silver trumpets is Israel's response to the divine command given by the lifting of the Glory Cloud.

Prior to this event, the sound of a trumpet together with the sound of a voice and the pillar of cloud were the signs that accompanied a manifestation of God, but now the human voice, the sound of the trumpet and the manifestation of the Glory Cloud became the sign that announced God's plan for the orderly movement of the camp. 

Before the giving of the Law at Sinai, the Israelite camp was in chaos in the disorderly exodus out of Egypt and in way the people were shouting and disorderly in the sin of the Golden Calf.  At Mt. Sinai, the Law of God brought order and justice to the Israelites.  The arrangement for the encampment, the duties of the priests and Levites, and the orderly movement from the encampment to the march illustrate the order God's Divine Law brought to the newly formed nation of the children of Israel.

In the Septuagint translation this line is followed by "At the third blast of the trumpet accompanied by a battle cry, the camps on the west side will set out.  At the fourth blast of the trumpet accompanied by a battle cry, the camps on the north side will set out."

Question: Who had the responsibility for giving the trumpet signals?  How were the silver trumpets used to maintain order?
Answer: The chief priests blew the silver trumpets:

  • Two trumpets blown called for the assembly of the community at the entrance to the Sanctuary.
  • One trumpet signaled the gathering of the tribal leaders.
  • A first trumpet blast which was accompanied by a battle cry signaled that those tribes encamped on the east under the leadership of the tribe of Judah were to begin the march.
  • Each succeeding trumpet blast and war cry was the signal for the next quadrant of tribes to the south to begin the march, and so on.
  • The trumpets will be blown at liturgical festivals to assemble the people.
  • When the Israelites take possession of the Promised Land, the trumpets blown with an accompanying battle cry will summon the tribes to war.

The silver trumpets could only be blown by the priests (Num 10:831:6) and are not the same as the trumpets blown on the Feast of Trumpets/Acclamations in Leviticus 23:23-25 and Numbers 29:1-6 or the Feast of Jubilee trumpets in Leviticus 25:9Those trumpets were the ram's horn (shofar) trumpets. 

Numbers 10:11-28: The Order of the March

   MARCHING ORDER OF THE TRIBES OF ISRAEL: Numbers 10:11-33
(the rear guard)

THE TRIBE OF NAPHTALI
53,400 fighting men
THE TRIBE OF ASHER
41,500 fighting men
THE TRIBE OF DAN
62,700 fighting men
THE TRIBE OF BENJAMIN
35,400 fighting men
THE TRIBE OF MANASSEH
32,200 fighting men
THE TRIBE OF EPHRAIM
40,500 fighting men

 THE PRIESTS WITH THEIR TRUMPETS
THE KOHATHITES CARRYING
THE SACRED FURNISHINGS, ALTARS, & VESSELS

THE TRIBE OF GAD
45,650 fighting men
THE TRIBE OF SIMEON
59,300 fighting men
THE TRIBE OF RUBEN
46,500 fighting men

 THE GERSHONITES AND MERARITES
CARRYING THE SANCTUARY & TABERNACLE ENCLOSURES

THE TRIBE OF ZEBULUN
57,400 fighting men
THE TRIBE OF ISSACHAR
54,400 fighting men
THE TRIBE OF JUDAH
74,600 fighting men
(leading tribe)

The Ark of the Covenant led the way
three days ahead of the Israelites (Num 10:33Dt 1:33).
Sometimes the Levites carried the Ark (Num 3:314:15Dt 10:831:925),
while at other times the chief priests carried the Ark (Josh 3:611-17)

Question: Why would the Tabernacle be set up by the time the Kohathites arrived at the stopping point in each part of the journey?

Answer: The men of the Gershonites and Merarites clans who carried the textiles and framework for the Sanctuary and its Tabernacle were ahead of the Kohathites in the line of the march.  The three tribes commanded by Nahshon would be the first to receive the signal from the Glory Cloud that a place to camp had been selected.  When the Gershonites and Merarites caught up with them, they immediately began to assemble the Sanctuary and the Tabernacle.  Next came the three tribes lead by Elizur of Reuben and after those tribes the Kohathites.  Therefore, when they came up to the stopping point, the Sanctuary was already erected and ready to receive the sacred furniture. 

Numbers 10:29-32 The Invitation Extended to Hobab

Moses made two appeals to Hobab:

  1. The first invitation was refused (Num 10:29).
  2. Moses then made a second invitation (Num 10:31).

Question: Why did Moses ask Hobab to guide them when Yahweh's Glory Cloud was their guide?

Answer: Perhaps Moses asked Hobab to accompany them not so much because he knew the best watering holes, but because the Israelites would have assurance that the Midianites would not be inclined to attack then as they traveled through Midianite territory so long as a Midianite priest/chieftain was traveling with them.  The Midianites were fierce warriors and later battled with the Israelites in the wilderness journey and during the period of the Judges (Num 25:16-1831:3-12Josh 13:21Judg 6:1-6). 

Numbers 10:33-36 The Departure and Moses' Morning and Evening/Afternoon Prayers

Question: Do you see any significance to the Ark progressing three days in advance of the march of the Israelites?
Answer: It recalls the three day journey Abraham made to Mt. Moriah when he was commanded to sacrifice Isaac in Genesis 22:1 and the request to Pharaoh to make a three day journey into the wilderness to worship Yahweh in Exodus 5:3.

Three is the number of importance and completeness in Scripture.  It is one of the four "perfect numbers" which also include seven, ten, and twelve.  Three of anything points to something important in the progress of God's plan for man's salvation.  

Question: If Hobab did accompany the Israelites, by what three sources were the Israelites guided on their march?
Answer: By the Glory Cloud, by Hobab and by the Ark. 

The Ark would have been first (three days ahead), either accompanied by or followed by Hobab, and finally the Glory Cloud within sight of the tribes in the head of the line of march.

Question: When did Moses offer up these prayers?

Answer: In the morning when the set out on the march and in the late afternoon/evening before sunset when they camped.

Question: What two petitions does Moses make to Yahweh in his morning and afternoon/evening prayers?
Answer: Moses asks for:

  1. Divine protection by day
  2. Divine presence by night

Agape Bible Commentary 

Deuteronomy Chapter 9 

Chapter 9: Teaching the New Generation Using Illustrations from Israel's Past

In this part of his second homily, Moses will use examples of past historical events to support the main theme of his address that the Israelites must be vigilant in their obedience to Yahweh and their allegiance to His covenant to avoid the kinds of rebellion they were guilty of in the past:

The reference to Massah (Ex 17:107) probably also includes the later rebellion at Meribah (Num 20:2-11).  The references to rebellions are in chronological order except the rebellion at Massah/Meribah. 

In contrast to the five negative historical events, Moses will conclude this section of his second homily by reflecting on five positive historical events, beginning and ending with Moses' second forty day period on Mt. Sinai after the sin of the Golden Calf and the breaking of the first set of stone tablets of the Decalogue (these events not in consecutive order):

  • The second forty days on Mt. Sinai and the two new tablets of the renewed covenant (Ex 34:1-228-29)
  • The succession of the office of high priest from Aaron to Eleazar (Num 20:24-26)
  • The dedication of the Levites as the lesser ministerial priesthood (Num 8:5-22)
  • The second forty days on the mountain and the command to depart from Sinai (Ex 34:1-228-29)

Deuteronomy 9:1-6 Yahweh is the Source of Israel's Victories

In verses 1-2 Moses' refers to the same fears of the Exodus generations after the reconnaissance of Canaan in Numbers 13:33.  The Anakim were the descendants of their legendary ancestor Anak.  They were very tall people like the Rephidim who had once inhabited the Transjordan.

Question: What is Moses' warning to the Israelites in this passage?  It is a warning that has been repeated previously.
Answer: Israel's possession of he Promised Land was not a reward because of Israel's righteousness.

Question: For what two reasons does Moses say that God is driving out the residents of Canaan?  According the verse 6, what is God's gift of the Promised Land based?  To whom is this message directed?
Answer: The residents of the land of Canaan will be dispossessed of the land because of their wickedness and because of God's promise to the Patriarchs.  In verse 6 Moses gives the people (and the reader) the clear understanding that the gift of the Promised Land is based on God's grace and not on the righteousness of the Israelites.

It is God's plan to drive out the other nations from Canaan, but His ultimate plan is to fulfill His promise to the Patriarchs to provide a world-wide blessing, a blessing that will extend to all the nations of the earth (Gen 12:3b).  Therefore, dispossessing the inhabitants of Canaan is part of that plan so that their descendants will become the beneficiaries of the future world-wide blessing in the Advent of the Messiah (see Gal 3:8-9).

Deuteronomy 9:7-14
A Reminder of Israel's Failure in the sin of the Golden Calf
In his first example of Israel's past rebellions, Moses lists for the new generation a summary of the events of Israel's sin in making the idol of the Golden Calf.  It is an event that took place in Exodus chapter 32

Question: What is Moses purpose in retelling the story of the Golden Calf?
Answer: The purpose in retelling the story is to emphasize the necessity of constant vigilance, using the example of Israel's covenant failure at Sinai in the event of the Golden Calf as an illustration of how quickly the people can be seduced into the sin of idol worship. 

If they could sin so quickly at Mt. Sinai, after witnessing the great visual and acoustical display of Yahweh's divine glory, what will happen when they enter the land of Canaan if they fail to remain vigilant and adopt the practices of their pagan neighbors?

Deuteronomy 9:15-21
Moses Reminds the Israelites of His Intersession at Sinai

Moses recounts the events that took place in Exodus 32:15-20.


Deuteronomy 9:22-29 A Review of Some of Israel's Other Failures

Moses mentions three past rebellions without going into the details of Israel's failures in those events except for the failure to advance the conquest at Kadesh-Barnea.  Then he returns to his intercession for Israel after the sin of the Golden Calf.  His prayer of intercession is very much like his intercessory prayer recorded in Exodus 32:11-14.

Question: What arguments did Moses make in pleading for Yahweh's mercy?  What was the focus of his petition?
Answer: Moses did not stress Israel's righteousness (9:6b); instead he focused his petition upon God's righteousness, pointing out:

  1. God's promises to the Patriarchs.
  2. The importance of God's witness to the Gentile nations who heard about His mighty acts to liberate the Israelites.
  3. He emphasized that Israelites are God's "heritage"; through them God will redeem mankind.

Moses described Israel as Yahweh's "heritage" in Deuteronomy 9:26 and 29.

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A Daily Defense 
Day 60 "Why Have You Forsaken Me?" 

CHALLENGE: “How could Jesus be the Son of God if he prayed, ‘My God, my God, why have you forsaken me’? An all-good God couldn’t forsake Jesus, so either Jesus made a mistake by thinking his Father had forsaken him or his Father made a mistake by actually doing so.” 

DEFENSE: Abandonment can be understood in different senses. Jesus knew he would be vindicated, and his words prove it. First, abandonment can be understood in a relative sense—as allowing a person to experience a particular bad thing. The Father certainly allowed his Son to experience suffering on the cross, so he could be said to have abandoned him to that suffering, but not abandoned him in any more fundamental sense.

God did no wrong in this, for it was suffering with a purpose (namely, the redemption of mankind). Jesus’ prayer was not a literal request for information. He already knew why he was going to the cross (John 3:16, 6:51, 10:18). Instead, it was merely an expression of the anguish he was feeling as the suffering was transpiring. Jesus also knew that this suffering would be temporary, for he had already predicted his crucifixion, death, and resurrection (Matt. 16:21, 17:22–23, 20:18). 

His awareness of the vindication that the Resurrection would bring shows that he knew he was not abandoned in any fundamental sense but was experiencing only temporary suffering. This is proved by the words he spoke from the cross: “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” (Matt. 27:46; Mark 15:34).

This is the opening line of Psalm 22, which Jesus is applying to his current situation. In this psalm, the psalmist is suffering, and aspects of the psalm closely reflect Jesus’ situation on the cross, including being mocked by those around him (Ps. 22:7; Matt. 27:39; Mark 15:29), having his hands and feet pierced (Ps. 22:16), and having lots cast for his garments (Ps. 22:18; Matt. 27:35; Mark 15:24). The psalmist goes on to express confidence that God will deliver him from his present situation (Ps. 22:22–26) and that this will lead to all the nations worshipping God (Ps. 22:27). By quoting the first line of the psalm, Jesus invoked the whole, including God’s deliverance of the suffering one, who is only seemingly abandoned and will actually be delivered. 

Jimmy Akin, A Daily Defense: 365 Days (Plus One) to Becoming a Better Apologist

Sunday, February 28, 2021

Bible in One Year Day 59 (Numbers 8-9, Deuteronomy 8, Psalm 93)

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Day 59: Obligations to God 

Agape Bible Commentary 

Chapter 8:5-26: The Dedication of the Levites

The Levites have replaced the first-born sons of the Israelites as the lesser ministers of the Sanctuary (Num 3:11-1340-51).  They are now responsible for guarding, dismantling, moving, and re-assembling the Sanctuary on the march to Canaan as well as assisting the chief priests in the Sanctuary courtyard (Num 3:14-39).   However, before those Levites who have been numbered in the census as fit for service can assume their duties, they must be qualified by a three-fold ritual of purification and sacrifice.

The instructions for the dedication of the Levites in Numbers 8:5-22 are divided into three parts:

  1. Yahweh's divine commands (Num 8:5-13).
  2. The historical reasons for the dedication of the Levites (Num 8:14-19).
  3. An obedience formula and summary (Num 8:20-22).


Numbers 8:5-13: Divine Instruction for the Purification of the Levites: The purification and laying on of hands
 

The Sanctuary was not big enough to accommodate the entire assembly of Israel; therefore, any ceremony that the entire community was to witness had to take place at the entrance to the Sanctuary.  The first part of the ceremony for the dedication of the adult male Levites began at the entrance and then moved to within the Sanctuary.

Moses was commanded to purify the Levites who were fit for service that had been numbered in the second census of the Levites.

Question: What does the "wave gesture" coupled with the elders laying hands upon the Levites suggest?

Answer: In this case the gesture, coupled with the laying on of hands by the community representatives, indicates that the Levites are transferred from the community of Israel to become the possession of Yahweh.  They are given into God who in turn gives the Levites into the service of His chief priests in the holy Sanctuary.

The entire ceremony of the ordination of the high priest and the chief priests was conducted by Moses in Leviticus chapter 8

A new section begins with in verses 14-19, in which Yahweh gives the historic rationale for the service of the Levites in the Sanctuary. These verses are linked to the previous section by the arrangement of a chiastic pattern in Numbers 8:12-19:

A. To make expiation for the Levites (Num 8:12)

            B. To do the work of the Sanctuary (Num 8:15)

                        C. The Levites are given to God (Num 8:16a)

                                    D. Dedicated in place of the first-born sons (Num 8:16b)

                                                E. Recalling the events of the first Passover (Num 8:17)

                                    D*. Dedicated in place of the first-born sons (Num 8:18)

                        C*. The Levites are given to Aaron (Num 8:19a)

            B*. To do the work of the Sanctuary (Num 8:19b)

A*. To make expiation for Israel (Num 8:19c)


Numbers 8:14-19 Instruction of the Offering of the Levite's Sacrifices

Question: How is this passage the key to understanding the Levities as a substitutionary sacrifice for their brother Israelites?
Answer: This passage establishes the substitutionary nature of the Levites' mission in serving God in the Sanctuary.  Verse 19 is the key verse.  The Levites are a living sacrifice offered on behalf of their people who will be protected from disaster in profaning the Sanctuary by touching "holy things" or by trespassing and incurring God's wrath by the ministry of the Levites.  The Levites now risk their lives by guarding and carrying the holy things on the march.

Numbers 8:20-22 The Commands for the Dedication of the Levites are fulfilled

Once again we see the obedience formula that has been repeated in various ways since the narrative began: Moses, Aaron and the whole community of Israelites dealt with the Levites exactly as Yahweh had ordered Moses concerning them ... Unfortunately, the Israelites' perfect expressions of obedience will not last.

Numbers 8:23-26 Age Limits for Levitical Duties

Question: What are the Levites two kinds of work/service?
Answer:

  1. The physical labor in dismantling, carrying and reassembling the Sanctuary.
  2. The guard duty around the Sanctuary.
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Chapter 9 is divided to two unrelated sections:

  1. Commands concerning the observance of the commemorative Passover (verses 1-14).
  2. The function of the Glory Cloud in the march out of Sinai (verses 15-23).

The events in the first part of Chapter 9 take place in the first month (Abib) of the second year. Section I of Numbers 9 is divided into three parts:

  1. Instructions for observing the first Passover in the wilderness (verses 1-5).
  2. The complaint by those who were unable to keep the commemorative feast because of ritual uncleanness through corpse contamination and Moses' submission of their petition to Yahweh (verses 6-8).
  3. God's divine decision concerning the celebration of Passover a month later and designating those who are eligible for the exception (verses 9-14).

Numbers 9:1-5 The Date of the Passover

In this passage, the time frame is still the early spring in the month of Abib, in the second year after leaving Egypt, as it was in Chapters 7 and 8. 

Question: What was God's warning to Moses?
Answer: The Israelites needed to be prepared to celebrate the commemorative celebration of the event of the sacrifice of the Passover lambs and kids that first took place in Egypt in association with the last Egyptian plague.  The commemorative feast was to take place on the fourteenth day of the month of Abib as it did in the first Passover.


List of other Passovers Mentioned in the BibleScriptures Passages
1. The observance of the Passover at Sinai before beginning the journey to Canaan.Numbers 9:1-5
2. The observance of Passover and Unleavened Bread after crossing the Jordan River and entering the Promised Land.Joshua 5:10-12
3. The Passover and Unleavened Bread feasts after King Hezekiah of Judah instituted religious reforms.2 Chronicles 30:1-27
4. The Passover and Unleavened Bread feasts after the religious reforms of King Josiah of Judah.2 Kings 23:21-23;
2 Chronicles 35:118-19
5. The celebration of the Passover and the feast of Unleavened Bread after Israel's return from the Babylonian exile.Ezra 6:19-22
6. The Passover when Jesus began His public ministry and cleansed the Jerusalem Temple.John 2:13-22
7. The Passover in the second year of Jesus' ministry when He fed the 5 thousand men traveling to Jerusalem for Passover.John 6:1-15
8. The Passover in the third year of Jesus' ministry when Jesus instituted the Eucharist during the Last Supper on the night of the sacred feast of the Passover victim, which was the first night of Unleavened Bread.Matthew 26:17-29
Mark 14:12-25
Luke 22:7-20
Michal Hunt, Copyright © 2010 Agape Bible Study. Permissions All Rights Reserved.

Numbers 9:6-8: A Complaint within the Community
This passage gives a better idea of the time frame of the command to keep the Passover.  Milgrom suggests that there were Israelites who may also have been defiled by coming in close proximity to a dead person.  

Question: According to the Law, what was the purification ritual for becoming contaminated by close contact with a corpse? How does the Law concerning the length of the period of defilement help to define the time of the month the complaint was taken to Moses and Aaron?  See Lev 7:20/10-21/1121:1-4Num 5:2-319:14-16.
Answer: According to the Law, someone contaminated by a corpse had to submit to a seven day ritual of purification before being declared ritually cleansed and able to attend liturgical worship on the eighth day.  It is apparently less that a week before the 14th of Abib.

Question: What complaint did the men make to Moses?
Answer: They wanted to keep the Passover/Unleavened Bread remembrance celebrations but their ritual contamination prevented them for participating.  They felt it was unfair that they should be excluded.

In their exclusion from celebrating with the community of Israel, they would have been classified like the uncircumcised foreigners who were not members of the community and were barred from participating in the liturgy of the Passover sacrifice.  Resident aliens (men) who had submitted to circumcision and joined the covenant were allowed to participate in the liturgical celebrations with their families, but visiting foreigners and all men who were not circumcised were forbidden to attend (Ex 12:43-51).

Question: What did Moses propose?
Answer: He promised to take their petition to be allowed to keep the Passover despite the problem of ritual impurities to Yahweh.

Numbers 9:9-14 Yahweh permits an Alternated Date for Passover

Question: What does God's gracious acceptance of the people's petition illustrate?
Answer: It illustrates that God's Law is meant to benefit the people and not to be an unreasonable burden.  It is the spirit of the Law that is more important than rigid, blind obedience without compassion.

Question: What instructions for the remembrance celebration of the Passover and Unleavened Bread from Exodus 12:46 are repeated?

Answer:

  1. The Israelites are to eat the meal of the Passover victim with unleavened bread and bitter herbs.
  2. Nothing of it must be left over until morning.
  3. They must not break any of the bones of the Passover victim.

Question: How does St. John record that the final command was fulfilled in Jesus' death?  See Jn 19:31-36.
Answer: The Roman soldier broke the bones of the other two men crucified with Jesus, but he did not break Jesus' legs, fulfilling, as St. John wrote, the words of Scripture in Exodus 12:46 and Numbers 9:12.


Joshua Passing the River Jordan with the Ark (Benjamin West) 


The Glory Cloud

Section II of Chapter 9 prepares the reader for Numbers 10:11 when the Glory Cloud will arise from the Tabernacle on the 20th day of the second month in the second year after leaving Egypt.  The Israelites will then set out on their march away from Mt. Sinai and toward the Promised Land. 

Numbers 9:15-23 The Glory Cloud

Numbers 9:15 reminds the reader of the events in Exodus chapter 40:34-38 when the Sanctuary was erected on the first day of the first month of the second year after leaving Egypt and when Yahweh, in the visible form of the the Glory Cloud, filled His Dwelling/Tabernacle.  Two sets of key Hebrew words/phrases are repeated seven times in Numbers 9:15-23:

Question: These repeated words/phrases point to what main theme in this passage?

Answer: The Tabernacle where God dwelled moved when God decided it should move and came to rest when God decided and not when the people wanted to move or to camp.

Question: By what appointed sign did God lead Israel on the march?  In what way was the sign manifested, and what was was the understood signal to the people?
Answer: God led Israel on the wilderness march not by His voice but by His appointed sign-the Glory Cloud:

  1. The Glory Cloud appears as a cloud-filled pillar by day
  2. The Glory Cloud appears as a fiery pillar by night
  3. When the Glory Cloud arose from the Tabernacle and moved to the head of the camp, the Israelites broke camp and prepared for the march.  Whenever the Glory Cloud stopped, the people stopped, and whenever the Tabernacle was reassembled, the Glory Cloud descended to envelop the Tabernacle.

Agape Bible Commentary 

Deuteronomy 8 

Chapter 8: The Warning to Remember the Ordeal of the Wilderness Years and to Avoid the Temptations of the Promised Land

In chapter 8 Moses continues to address the challenges to their faith, their loyalty to Yahweh and to His covenant that the Israelites will face after they take possession of the Promised Land.  He returns to the theme that he first opened in 6:10-15 that prosperity in Canaan might lead the Israelites to believe that they are self-sufficient, that they no longer need to depend on Yahweh, and will be seduced into worshipping the false gods of neighboring peoples.  In his call to "remember" and to "not forget" (vs. 211141819), Moses bases his appeal in this section on the memory of God's provisions for Israel in the ordeal of the wilderness years, when He provided their food in the manna and water from the Rock.  The plea to "remember" and "not forget" when they take possession of the Promised Land is made at the beginning and the end of this section, and the word "land" in the Hebrew text is repeated seven times between verses 1 and 10.  This section can be outlined in a reverse chiastic pattern:

A. Keep the Law so you will live and prosper; remember God (verses 1-2)
     B. The wilderness and the manna (verses 3-4)
          C. Keep the commandments and prosper in the land (verses 5-10)
          C* Do not forget God in your prosperity in the land (verses 11-14)
     B* The wilderness and the manna (verses 15-16)
A* Remember and do not forget God or you will perish (verses 17-20)

Deuteronomy 8:1-6 Remembering the Ordeal in the Wilderness

Moses presents the years spent in the wilderness as a test of Israel's faith and trust in God (Dt 8:216) as Yahweh disciplined His people in the hardships they experienced like a father disciplines his children (Dt 8:5).  God's discipline is always meant for spiritual profit (see Prov 3:11-121 Cor 11:31-32Heb 12:5-13).  The wilderness experience taught the new generation of Israelites to have faith and trust in God and to develop the virtue of perseverance, a virtue New Covenant believers will need on their journey to salvation (Eph 6:18-20Heb 12:7Rev 3:10).  The prophets wrote of the wilderness years as a golden age and a time of Israel the Bride's complete dependence upon her Yahweh her Bridegroom who provided for her every need (i.e., see Ez 16:8-14Hosea 2:16).

Deuteronomy 8:7-10 The Blessings of the Promised Land

In this passage, the word "land" is repeated seven times (see the underlined words above).  The seventh repetition is verse 10 in the phrase "the good land," which echoes the same phrase in the beginning of this passage in verse 7.  The phrase "the good land" is repeated ten times in Deuteronomy (Dt 1:25353:254:21226:188:7109:611:17) and is a reminder of the goodness God has promised Israel when they inhabit the land of Canaan.  What Moses tells the Israelites in verses 8-10 is a graphic description of that promised goodness.

As already mentioned, Moses' description of the Promised Land is similar to the description of Eden in Genesis chapter two.  The Promised Land is a new Eden and Yahweh's holy Sanctuary is the new garden Sanctuary where man and God fellowshipped together. 

Deuteronomy 8:11-20 Warnings not to forget God's Mighty Acts
Moses addresses the dangers to faith that might confront the Israelites in the Promised Land.

For the Israelites, the Law of God gives life, but disobedience to the Law produces death.  In verse 20 Moses warned the Israelites if they failed in their vow of covenant obedience to the Law, they would suffer the same fate as the sinful people who were cast out of the Promised Land; they would be exiled from the land like Adam and Eve were exiled from Eden. 

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A Daily Defense 
Day 59 Praying Directly to God

CHALLENGE: “Catholics should not ask the saints for intercession. Why do that when you can pray directly to God?” 

DEFENSE: If this proved anything, it would prove too much. It would wipe out much of Christian prayer. We can and should pray directly to God—the source of all gifts (James 1:17). However, it does not follow that you should pray only to God. This is a “both/and” situation, not an “either/or” one.

We naturally sense that it is helpful to have others praying for us, and down through the ages Christians have asked one another for their prayers. But this would be impossible if God wanted us to make requests only of him. The objection thus would prove too much.

In truth, God desires that we pray for each other. This is illustrated by the Lord’s Prayer, in which we pray for ourselves and others (“Give us this day our daily bread,” “Forgive us our debts,” “Lead us not into temptation”; Matt. 6:11–13); by Jesus’ exhortation to pray even for our enemies (Matt. 5:44); and by Paul’s exhortation, “I urge that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and thanksgivings be made for all men” (1 Tim. 2:1). 

God also desires that we ask others for their intercession, as illustrated by Paul’s requests for his readers to pray for him (Rom. 15:30; 2 Cor. 1:11; Eph. 6:18–19; 1 Thess. 5:25; 2 Thess. 3:1–2 —a request also made by the author of Hebrews (13:18). Asking the saints for their intercession merely extends the principle. 

We may ask Christians in heaven for their intercession for the same reason we ask Christians on earth: It helps to have others praying for you, to not be alone in prayer. This is particularly the case when one’s prayer partners are righteous, for “the prayer of a righteous man has great power in its effects” (James 5:16b). None are more righteous than those with God in heaven. 

Jimmy Akin, A Daily Defense: 365 Days (Plus One) to Becoming a Better Apologist

Saturday, February 27, 2021

Bible in One Year Day 58 (Numbers 7, Deuteronomy 7, Psalm 92)

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Day 58:  A Chosen People 


Chapter 7: The Offerings of the Leaders of the Tribes

Having covered the organization (Num 2:1-4:20) and the purification (Num 5:1-6:27) of the wilderness camp on the first day of the second month, this part of the narrative takes us back a month earlier, to the first of the first month (Abib), when the Sanctuary was erected and consecrated (Ex 40:117).  The focus of this section is on those details that made the function of the Sanctuary operative.  The section includes the list of gifts of that included silver and gold sacrificial vessels and the ingredients that accompanied the sacrifices (i.e., incense), instruction in the proper mounting of the seven Menorah lamps in the Holy Place, and the dedication ceremony for the Levites as Yahweh's lesser ministers. 

Chronological time line for events in Numbers Chapters 1-10:

Numbers 7:1Numbers 9:1Numbers 1:1Numbers 10:11
1st month 1st day
2nd year
1st month 14th – 21st
2nd year
2nd month 1st day
2nd year
2nd month 20th day
2nd year
-Sanctuary dedicated
(Ex 40:17-35)

-Gifts of the tribal leaders after Sanctuary dedication in 12 day ceremony
(Num 7:1-310-11)

-Priests Dedicated in 7 day ceremony (Ex Lev 8), assuming their duties on the 8th day (Lev 9:1-24)

-Levites dedicated after priests in 2nd week
(Num 8)*
Passover/Unleavened Bread celebrated at Sinai
(Num 9:1-5)
-Census of the
12 tribes of Israel
(Num 1:1-2:34)

-Census of the Levites
(Num 3:1-4:49)
Departure from Mt. Sinai
Michal Hunt, Copyright © 2010 Agape Bible Study. Permissions All Rights Reserved.

* The time frame announced in Num 7:1 is at the time when the Sanctuary was dedicated.

Numbers 7:1-9 The Offering of the Wagons

These gifts were not the first contributions made by the chieftains. 

Question: What other costly gifts had they provided when the materials to construct the Sanctuary were being collected?  See Ex 28:15-3035:27-28.
Answer: The tribal leaders donated the precious gem stones that were needed to create the "Breastplate of Judgment" worn by the high priest.

Question: What was the combined gift of the twelve chieftains?

Answer: Together the chieftains brought six wagons and twelve oxen.

Numbers 7:10-88 The Dedicated Offerings of the Leaders

In addition to the combined gift of the wagons and oxen, the chieftains of the twelve tribes (counting the tribes of Ephraim and Manasseh as separate tribes) also brought individual gifts.

Question: Why did God command that the individual offerings of the chieftains be spread out over a twelve day period?
Answer: Probably so that the generosity of each man, representing his tribe, could be observed and acknowledged separately by the people.

The offerings of the chieftains are given in a formula that is repeated twelve times representing each of the twelve days the gifts were offered by individual tribal chieftains.  

Numbers 7:11-17 The Offering of Nahshon of Judah 
Numbers 7:18-23 The Offering of Nethanel of Issachar 
Numbers 7:24-29 The Offering of Eliab of Zebulun
Numbers 7:30-35 The Offering of Elizur of Reuben
Numbers 7:36-41 Shelumiel of Simeon
Numbers 7:42-47 Eliasaph of Gad
Numbers 7:48-53 Elishama of Ephraim
Numbers 7:54-59 Gamaliel of Manasseh
Numbers 7:60-65 Abidan of Benjamin
Numbers 7:66-71 Ahiezer of Dan
Numbers 7:72-77 Pagiel of Asher
Numbers 7:78-83 Ahira of Naphtali

Question: What did each chieftain bring?
Answer: The gifts of the chieftains fall into three categories: vessels, commodities that fill the vessels, and sacrificial animals:

  • One large silver bowl filled with fine flour mixed with oil
  • One medium sized silver [basin] sprinkling bowl filled with fine flour mixed with oil
  • One small golden bowl [ladle] filled with incense
  • One young bull calf for a burnt offering
  • One ram for a burnt offering
  • One male yearling lamb for a burnt offering
  • One he-goat as a sin sacrifice
  • Two bulls for a communion sacrifice
  • Five rams for a communion sacrifice
  • Five he-goats for a communion sacrifice
  • Five male yearling lambs as a communion sacrifice

Numbers 7:84-88 Conclusion

In all twelve of the formula passages and in verse 84 the Hebrew word translated "offering" is the Hebrew word korban.  It is one of the key words in the study of Leviticus and literally means "to draw near" [to God].  The term korban applies to both the filled vessels and the animals listed among the gifts.

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Agape Bible Commentary 

Deuteronomy Chapter 7 

Chapter 7
The Uniqueness of Israel's Divine Election, Israel's War Policy and the Hazards Associated with Occupying the Land of Canaan

In this part of his homily, Moses turns to the dangers to faith and obedience the Israelites will face during and after the conquest of Canaan.  Dangers include fear of a more powerful enemy, the seduction of the Canaanite's idolatry (chapter 7), the sense of self-sufficiency that might arise from the prosperity they will experience in possessing the land that might cause Israel to forget her dependency on God (chapter 8), and a mistaken belief that the success of the conquest is proof of Israel's righteousness (chapters 9-10).

Deuteronomy 7:1-6
Israel's Divine Election and Her Obligations after her Victories over her Enemies

In Genesis 15:19-20, God named ten nations that inhabit Canaan, but in this passage Moses only names seven. Seven is one of the "perfect" numbers; therefore, the seven nations listed represent the total of the nations/city-states who will be dispossessed of the Promised Land according to the will of God.

Question: How is Israel commanded to treat the nations living in Canaan?
Answer: Israel must:

  • Put them under the curse of destruction
  • Make no treaty with them
  • No alliances through intermarriage
  • Burn their idols, destroy their altars, other cult objects and religious artifacts

The restriction to intermarriage did not apply to converts, as in the case of Rahab the Canaanite heroine of Jericho and Ruth the Moabitess, both of whom were ancestors of King David and Jesus.

Question: Why must the Israelites avoid becoming contaminated by the sins of the inhabitants of the land they are going to conquer?  See Ex 19:6Lev 11:43-4519:220:7Num 15:40Dt 7:614:22126:1928:9.
Answer: The Israelites must not be contaminated by the sinful inhabitants of the land because they have been sanctified and divinely elected to be Yahweh's possession-the holy people of a holy God.

Deuteronomy 7:6 For you are a people consecrated to Yahweh your God; of all the peoples on earth, you have been chosen by Yahweh your God to be his own people.

Moses declares Israel's divine election to be dedicated as a people who belong to God.  It was a divine election Yahweh Himself announced to Moses in Exodus 19:4-6 and which Moses will repeat in 14:2.  Israel's divine election will also be repeated by the prophets (i.e., Is 62:12; Am 3:2 and Jer 2:3), and in St. Paul's letter to the Romans, he will list Israel's eight privileges of divine election, including identifying the Israelites as the people from whom the Messiah came to redeem mankind (see Rom 9:4-5 and the list of "Israel's Divine Prerogatives" in the Charts/New Testament/Epistles of St. Paul section).

Question: Are Christians also divinely election to be dedicated to Christ?  See Rom 8:14-16.
Answer: Yes, through the Sacrament of Christian baptism Christians die to sin and are resurrection with Christ, becoming sanctified and re-born into the family of God as adopted children of the divine Father. In our divine election, we become joint-heirs with Christ and willing partners in His mission-sharing His suffering in the conquest against sin so that we may also share in His glory in receiving the eternal blessings of heaven.

Deuteronomy 7:7-11 The Reason for Israel's Divine Election
Question: What was Yahweh's one reason for reveling Himself to Israel?  See Dt 4:377:810:15 and CCC 218.

Answer: God's one reason for reveling Himself to Israel and choosing them to be His holy people was because of love.  Despite their many failures in the course of their history, God never abandoned them nor did He abandon His plan that the promised Redeemer-Messiah and His mother should come from the people of Israel.

Deuteronomy 7:12-16 An Exhortation to Remain Faithful and Promised Blessings for Obedience

All other gods are rivals for Yahweh's affection and potential challengers to His role as Israel's divine Suzerain.  Yahweh's jealousy is both the jealousy of a husband who demands His covenant bride's affection is only for Him and the King who demands that His vassal gives his allegiance to no other ruler.  In Hittite covenant treaties the vassal was require to report any member of the community who offered his service to another lord (Levenson, Sinai & Zion, page 66).  Such an action was not only a covenant breach but a traitorous act and possibly the beginnings of an insurrection.  In Deuteronomy 13:7/6-19/18, Israelites will also be held accountable for reporting such actions in the community or in their own families.

Question: What blessings does Moses tell the people are theirs if they are loyal to Yahweh's covenant and His commands concerning the Promised Land?
Answer:

  • Yahweh will love Israel
  • The Israelites will have many children, increasing the numbers of the nation
  • Their land will be fertile
  • Their herds and flocks will be fertile
  • They will be healthy and free from sicknesses and plagues

Deuteronomy 7:17-26 Israel's Power is in Yahweh


Twice Moses urges the people "do not be afraid" (verses 18 and 21).  The reasons they might be afraid are the same reasons their father's gave when they refused to invade Canaan thirty-eight years earlier at Kadesh-Barnea (Num 13:27-2931-33).

Question: Why doesn't it matter that the nations that inhabit Canaan are more powerful than the Israelites?
Answer: God will be fighting for them.

Question: Is the victory to be accomplished quickly? Why?
Answer: No, the victory will be a process.  If too many of the inhabitants and their cities are destroyed at once, the wild animal population will increase at a significant rate and become a problem for the Israelites.

After the Assyrians depopulated the Northern Kingdom of Israel in 722 BC they brought in five other groups of peoples from their eastern provinces to inhabit the land of Israel.  These people became the Samaritans.  The first problem the newly settled populations faced was that they were being ravaged by wild animals (2 Kng 17:5-624-26).

Deuteronomy 7:26: You must not bring any detestable thing into your house: or you, like it, will come under the curse of destruction.  You must regard them as unclean and loathsome, for they are under the curse of destruction.' 

Question: Why did God command that nothing associated with the sinful pagan peoples of Canaan be brought into Israelite houses?  See Lev 27:28.
Answer: Everything associated with the pagan peoples was to be put under the curse of destruction and belonged to Yahweh.  To possess any object belonging to the pagans could become a trap for the Israelites to follow their pagan practices.  The Israelites were to completely destroy the people of Canaan and their religion.


Madonna and Child with the Book (Raphael) 


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A Daily Defense 
Day 58 Madonna and Child Images 


CHALLENGE: “The pagan roots of Christianity are shown by the popular Madonna-and-Child images depicting Mary and the baby Jesus. Similar images depicting a goddess and her child are found in pagan religions all over the world.” 

DEFENSE: Images of the Madonna and Child neither date from the origin of Christianity nor prove it has a pagan origin.

Images of Mary and the baby Jesus did not become common in Christian art until the fifth century. There are a few possible examples of them from the second to the fourth centuries, but none from the first. These images do not go back to the founding of Christianity and thus cannot show it to have pagan origins. 


Solly Madonna (Raphael) 


The most they could show is that at some point Christian artists drew on themes that were already present in pagan art, but there is nothing sinister or surprising about mother and child images. They appear in every culture because of a simple fact: There are mothers with children in every culture! What’s more, you don’t have to be a goddess to be represented in such images. Today, every mother has photos of herself holding each baby she has had, and before the invention of photography, families could have drawings or paintings of such scenes. 

The depiction of mothers with children is a natural expression of mankind’s artistic impulse. Motherhood is a profound aspect of the human experience, and it is naturally reflected in a culture’s art. In cultures that believed in goddesses, it was natural to depict some of them with their children, but that is not what is happening in Madonna and Child images. 


The Holy Family (Raphael)


Although Jesus is God, Mary is a human being—not a goddess. She is a noteworthy biblical figure who is mentioned in multiple books of the New Testament, and it is natural that she would find a place in Christian art. One of the easiest ways to indicate her identity in a work of art is to depict her with her even more famous Son. The fact that two Gospels have infancy narratives in which people visit Mary and the child Jesus (Matt. 2:11; Luke 2:16) made it certain that such images would be depicted in Christian art.

Jimmy Akin, A Daily Defense: 365 Days (Plus One) to Becoming a Better Apologist