Moving Day
Leviticus 25:1-27:34
shofar - jewish traditional ram horns for rosh hashana

The double portion this week is Behar (On the mountain) and Bechukotai (In my statutes).  With so much rich teaching from which to choose, it is difficult to focus on just one nugget, so let's pick three!  We have three old friends who are constant in the Scriptures:  The Land, the Covenant, and the People. 
Pulling together the two portions is both encouraging and sobering news: when one of the parties to those three components is dysfunctional, it affects the other two.  Embedded in the trio of faith, however, is a promise extended both to "pedigreed" Israelites and those who choose to join themselves to them.  Let's start with the shofar on Yom Kippur, the day on which the year of freedom is proclaimed.

The Push and the Pull of the Shofar

The shofar is blown on Yom HaKippurim.  In Hebrew, the Scriptures catch the ear of the reader with a familiar verb, avar, which means to move or cross.
The Hebrew verb translated into English as "sound" is from the root avar, the same root as Ivrit, or Hebrew.  When someone asks, "What is a Hebrew?", we usually say, "One who crossed over."  

A Hebrew is a mover.  In Modern Hebrew, if someone moves from one location to the next within the Land, the verb avar is used.  Moving TO Israel is Aliyah, or alah,"going up."  So one goes UP to Israel and Jerusalem, but one MOVES within Israel to his or her inheritance.  Even the five daughters of Zelophechad merited an inheritance when they moved across the Jordan. 

The shofar "moves" something in the seventh month, tenth day, "throughout the Land":

The shofar is sounded on the tenth day of the month, Yom HaKippurim, "throughout your Land."  It was sounded ten days before at the Feast of Trumpets to signal "remembrance," and it began to move things.  The friends of Adonai begin to draw near to Him, but His enemies scatter.  One group is pulled into the Land and People, and one is driven away.  One day it will signal the gathering of the greater resurrection of the Body of Messiah.  In other words, the trumpets and shofars move things!  In fact, on the Fifth Day of Creation, which aligns with the Fifth Feast, the Feast of Trumpets, the birds and fish began moving as seed prophecies of the ingathering.

Why is so little information given about the Feast of Trumpets other than it was a day of remembrance?  Remembrance is no casual thing, for it is associated with remembering the Land, the Covenant, and the People of Adonai.   The instructions of both Behar and Bechukotai revolve around the Land and its People.  Bechukotai adds a reminder of the Covenant as the guiding document: "I will remember My Covenant..."

Notice the poor translation in the NASB version above, and most other English translations also try to help the Hebrew text, which needs no help. When words are omitted, it is for a reason.  It draws attention to something in context.  The Hebrew text does not say "I will remember also My covenant with Isaac..."  While it may be implied or inferred, it is not there.  Verb forms for Abraham and Jacob are used (zakarti and ezkor), but not Isaac.  

The rabbis say that the word "remember" is not used in reference to Isaac because of the ashes of the ram offered in place of Isaac.  Because Isaac was offered as an  olah (same root as alah and aliyah, going up) offering as a symbol of resurrection, this is significant.  The missing word of the text highlights the resurrection of Isaac, and therefore Yeshua, as the vital component of "remembering" the exiles and the Land.  This is the only instance of the patriarchs being mentioned in reverse order, signifying a return.

In Isaac is the prophecy of the resurrecting Messiah Yeshua; in Abraham is our father in faith; in Jacob is the tribes.
The S hmittah (Seventh year of release) year and Yovel (Jubilee) is marked by the sound ( move) of the shofar across the Eretz, the Land of Israel.  What exactly is "Eretz"?  Not just land, but designated land for a designated people, Hebrews.  

A Hebrew hears the shofar and 
  • is moved in his or her heart for the Land, the Eretz, or
  • goes up to Jerusalem to gather with his or her People Israel  
In context, when the Hebrew hears the shofar at the Yovel, he or she will move back to 1) his ancestral home and 2) his ancestral people.  In Behar, these are people with KNOWN pedigrees to trace.  In Bechukotai, resident aliens and those attached to the Covenant without a pedigree or ancestral claim are included.

A clue is dropped in the instructions not to let an Israelite countryman fall into poverty so that he will not have to sell the years of his tribal land and lose it until the Jubilee.  Study the turn of phrase:

That's pretty exciting.  The Torah assumes that the stranger and sojourner will be treated well in the Land and not allowed to fall into poverty.  In a "light and heavy" example, the Holy One says a native-born Israelite should be sustained in the same manner as the stranger.  A stranger is a gur, one who is in the process of attaching to the Covenant, the Land, and the People of Israel.  He's moving in, not out!  The sojourner is a toshav, or "one who remains."  

Now examine the apportioning of the Land in the millennial reign:

'The south side toward the south shall extend from Tamar as far as the waters of Meribath-kadesh, to the brook of Egypt and to the Great Sea. This is the south side toward the south...
So you shall divide this land among yourselves according to the tribes of Israel. You shall divide it by lot for an inheritance among yourselves and among the aliens who stay in your midst, who bring forth sons in your midst. And they shall be to you as the native-born among the sons of Israel; they shall be allotted an inheritance with you among the tribes of Israel. And in the tribe with which the alien stays, there you shall give him his inheritance,' declares the Lord GOD. (Ezekiel 47:19-23)
In Ezekiel, the "ger" remains to inherit the Land with the native born.  It is apportioned by lot, the same method as the selection of the two goats on Yom HaKippurim, The Day on which the Jubilee is proclaimed and starts moving Israelites and those joined to them back to the Eretz.

What happens in your heart when you hear a shofar?  Are you moved?  If so, it sounds to me as though the Torah of the Land, Covenant, and People is written on your heart.  The Spirit of Adonai sends a message through the moving sounds of the shofar from the Feast of Trumpets to Yom Kippur.  If you have ears to hear, start moving!  You're a Hebrew!

Torah Study Workbooks

Ready for the Bamidbar workbook?  It's now on amazon.  Just click the graphic below:

Orphanage and Outreach Update
(Scroll down to see Passover pictures from LaMalah Children's Centre) 

We sent a large box of clothes and children's books to the Children's Centre this week, and we will send another box of children's books next week.  The postage is high, but thanks to you, our supporters with true kindness, we have the funds.
Special thanks to our  regular donors and our new donors.  You keep the food in the pantry, the staff paid, the clothes on their backs, and school fees paid at LaMalah Children's Centre and, when the blessing is abundant, other Torah-observant children's homes such as the ones in Peru and India.  

Click on if you are new to our orphanage effort and want more info.

If you have children's clothes or children's books (in English) to send, you can mail them to:   
Peter W Ndungu
P.O.Box 724
Limuru 00217
East Africa

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.