Mattot and Masei
The double portion this week emphasizes the importance of names and how one learns life lessons from them. Each of the tribes has a name that represents the essence of what part it serves in congregation of Israel. Each camp in the journeys of Israel is named, and each one represent a spiritual purification along the way, a spiritual purification that produced such heroes as the daughters of Zelophechad, who knew the chukkah and mishpat of Torah, the proper outcome and application of their judgment even before Moses.
Mattot (tribes) is from mateh. Mattot can be interpreted a number of ways. It can mean a staff, such as the rods of Moses and Aaron, a tribe, a leader or branch of a tribe. It means:
to stretch out, extend the reach,
to stretch out a tent or curtain for new growth, especially that of the community of faith, spreading wings,
to bend under a load, beneath something, a branch or offshoot of the greater group,
a support for traveling or for a warrior,
the shaft of an arrow,
Mattot is leadership and authority, and all its definitions point back in some way to the principles of leadership. Precepts of the Torah were to be taught to the leaders, the mattot. Deuteronomy 1:5 says that Moses undertook to teach the leaders the Torah, the teaching and instructions of life. The text uses two key words: hoil, from yaal, which means to be pleased to do it, to determine one's own responsibility, to resolve within one's self and to be persistent.
a bed or couch where one stretches out.
The other word is baar, which means to explain plainly, not in concepts; to break it down distinctly or to literally spell it out. The word be'er means a well of water, symbolic of the Holy Spirit. The picture of what it takes to teach the Torah is that of a person cheerfully resolved and determined to draw out the useful applications of the spiritual Torah in small portions.
"Therefore with joy shall you draw water out of the well of Salvation."
Names in Scripture, whether of the tribes or the camps on the journey, are small portions of water that teach lessons. This week I was treated to three small portions of water from the Torah by Eli, a Persian Jewish Torah scribe (sofer) who works near the Western Wall. In addition to drawing me examples of the difference between Ashkenazi and Sephardic scripts, he elaborated on three topics that emphasized the importance of names and words in Hebrew.
1. Why was Isaac's name not changed?
Avraam became Avraham. Sarai became Sarah. Jacob became Israel. So why was Isaac's name not changed like the other patriarchs'? The text tells us:
And the LORD said to Abraham, "Why did Sarah laugh, saying, 'Shall I indeed bear a child, when I am so old?' Is anything too difficult for the LORD? At the appointed time I will return to you, at this time next year, and Sarah will have a son." (Ge 18:13-14)
Sarah (and Abraham) laughed, past tense. Adonai inquires as to why they find this funny, for in one year, future tense, Sarah will have a son. The Holy One connects a future event to a past one, and the laughter ties the two events together. Adonai Himself designates the theme (laughter), and therefore the name. The name is established (past) and prophetic (future). There was no need to realign Isaac's name Yitzchak (He will laugh), for he was so designated prophetically before his conception. Since Adonai named Yitzchak, there was no need to change it. Both Abraham and Jacob needed name changes to realign their past nature to their future and prophetic one with a new name.
2. What is the difference between Mizmor L'David and L'David Mizmor in the Psalms? Why differentiate between "A Psalm to David" and "To David, a Psalm"?
It's a great grammar lesson as well as spiritual lesson. The preposition lamed (l') in Hebrew denotes ownership, like the English word "to." A Mizmor "to" David originates from Adonai, Who transmits it directly to David. In this case, it is Mizmor (from Adonai) to David, a direct, spontaneous revelation.
In L'David Mizmor, however, it is a different process. David "discovers" the words and tune to the Psalm, so it is David's. In a sense, it originates from within David. The beautiful thing, however, said Eli, is that even though David feels as though he's "discovered" a new Psalm, he only discovers the Psalm because HaShem WANTED him to discover it. It's not new, for it originated from Heaven. Because David works to discover it, though, in that sense David owns it, for he owns the work of discovery. This is different from the direct revelation, however, in which he invested no work.
Eli says that we study Torah the same way. Sometimes HaShem reveals His Word to us in a flash of unveiling. We didn't work for it, it is a Divine gift. On the other hand, most of the time we work for it. We study, we learn from teachers, we learn Hebrew, and one day, boom! We discover something in the text for ourselves. We only discover it, however, because the Father WANTED us to discover it. All we own is the study and effort we invested to "prime" ourselves to receive it. It's not our original work, it's his, but it's ours because of the work we invested to prepare the soil in which discovery could grow.
Whichever way you acquire a flash of understanding, whether as a Divine gift or one in which you work with Adonai to uncover what He's left for you to find, it is because He WANTED you to receive and discover.
So what's in well #3? Stay tuned! Words mean things.
Creation Gospel Beginner Online Seminar
I will be holding an eight-hour intensive Creation Gospel Workbook One online seminar (via WebEx) either in late August or September. I will look at the emails and facebook responses to see how much interest there is for either two four-hour Sunday classes
four two-hour weekday evening classes. If you are interested, the textbook is
Creation Gospel Workbook One: The Creation Foundation
, which is available through
Hebraic Roots Network
There is no charge for the seminar, although donations can be made on our website. If you have a serious interest, respond to email@example.com and indicate whether you'd prefer two four-hour classes on consecutive Sundays or four two-hour evening classes.
I will continue to update details in this newsletter once the dates and times are selected.
Women of Valor in November
Women of Valor now has a new website!
Please check it out and consider registering for the conference this November.
LaMalah Children's Centre
Thank you to all who shipped a copy of the International Children's Bible to the orphanage in Kenya. There were enough donors that each child can have his or her own copy, and a few left over for newcomers.
Special thanks to our regular donors and our new donors. Click on this Dropbox link for a special Powerpoint presentation giving the history of LaMalah Children's Centre.
If you have children's clothes or children's books (in English) to send, you can mail them to:
Peter W Ndungu
If you can help toward this goal, as always, we welcome your assistance. For those of you who send monthly support to the orphanage, we can't thank you enough for fulfilling Messiah's commission.
Another way to help...
Want to help The Creation Gospel every time you purchase something on Amazon? Our ministry is part of our local congregation, The Olive Branch, in East Bernstadt, Kentucky. If you reset your amazon home page to
and select The Olive Branch Messianic Congregation Inc. as your charity, Amazon donates a small percentage of each sale. Every penny helps, and our congregation is a great help in meeting special needs at the orphanage and other outreaches.