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Behaalotecha, Beha’alotecha, Beha’alothekha, or Behaaloscha (בהעלותך — Hebrew for "when you step up,” the 11th word, and the first distinctive word, in the parshah) is the 36th weekly Torah portion (parshah) in the annual Jewish cycle of Torah reading and the third in the book of Numbers. It constitutes Numbers 8:1–12:16. Jews generally read it in late May or in June.

The parshah tells of the lampstand in the Tabernacle, the consecration of the Levites, the Second Passover, how a cloud and fire led the Israelites, the silver trumpets, how the Israelites set out on their journeys, complaining by the Israelites, and how Miriam and Aaron questioned Moses.

Holman Blowing the Trumpet at the Feast of the New Moon (crop)
Blowing the Trumpet at the Feast of the New Moon (illustration from the 1890 Holman Bible)

Summary Edit

Menora Titus
the lampstand, or menorah portrayed on the Arch of Titus

The lampstandEdit

God told Moses to tell Aaron to mount the seven lamps so as to give light to the front of the lampstand in the Tabernacle, and Aaron did so. (Numbers 8:1–3.)

Consecration of the LevitesEdit

God told Moses to cleanse the Levites by sprinkling on them water of purification, and making them shave their whole bodies and wash their clothes. (Numbers 8:5–7.) Moses was to assemble the Israelites around the Levites and cause the Israelites to lay their hands upon the Levites. (Numbers 8:9–10.) Aaron was to designate the Levites as an elevation offering from the Israelites. (Numbers 8:11.) The Levites were then to lay their hands in turn upon the heads of two bulls, one as a sin offering and the other as a burnt offering, to make expiation for the Levites. (Numbers 8:12.) Thereafter, the Levites were qualified for the service of the Tent of Meeting, in place of the firstborn of the Israelites. (Numbers 8:15–16.) God told Moses that Levites aged 25 to 50 were to work in the service of the Tent of Meeting, but after age 50 they were to retire and could stand guard but not perform labor. (Numbers 8:23–26.)

Second PassoverEdit

At the beginning of the second year following the Exodus from Egypt, God told Moses to have the Israelites celebrate Passover at its set time. (Numbers 9:1–3.) But some men were unclean because they had had contact with a corpse and could not offer the Passover sacrifice on the set day. (Numbers 9:6.) They asked Moses and Aaron how they could participate in Passover, and Moses told them to stand by while he listened for God’s instructions. (Numbers 9:7–8.) God told Moses that whenever Israelites were defiled by a corpse or on a long journey on Passover, they were to offer the Passover offering on the 14th day of the second month — a month after Passover — otherwise in strict accord with the law of the Passover sacrifice. (Numbers 9:9–12.) But if a man who was clean and not on a journey refrained from offering the Passover sacrifice, he was to be cut off from his kin. (Numbers 9:13.)

Northrop Feast of Trumpets
Feast of Trumpets (illustration from the 1894 Treasures of the Bible)

Cloud and fireEdit

Starting the day that the Tabernacle was set up, a cloud covered the Tabernacle by day, and a fire rested on it by night. (Numbers 9:15–16.) Whenever the cloud lifted from the Tent, the Israelites would follow it until the cloud settled, and there the Israelites would make camp and stay as long as the cloud lingered. (Numbers 9:17–23.)

Holman Trumpets
Trumpets (illustration from the 1890 Holman Bible)

Silver trumpetsEdit

God told Moses to have two silver trumpets made to summon the community and to set it in motion. (Numbers 10:1–2.) Upon long blasts of the two horns, the whole community was to assemble before the entrance of the Tent of Meeting. (Numbers 10:3.) Upon the blast of one, the chieftains were to assemble. (Numbers 10:4.) Short blasts directed the divisions encamped on the east to move forward, and a second set of short blasts directed those on the south to move forward. (Numbers 10:5–6.) As well, short blasts were to be sounded when the Israelites were at war against an aggressor who attacked them, and the trumpets were to be sounded on joyous occasions, festivals, new moons, burnt offerings, and sacrifices of well-being. (Numbers 10:9–10.)

JourneysEdit

In the second month of the second year, the cloud lifted from the Tabernacle and the Israelites set out on their journeys from the wilderness of Sinai to the wilderness of Paran. (Numbers 10:11–12.) Moses asked his father-in-law (here called Hobab son of Reuel the Midianite) to come with the Israelites, promising to be generous with him, but he replied that he would return to his native land. (Numbers 10:29–30.) Moses pressed him again, noting that he could serve as the Israelites’ guide. (Numbers 10:31–32.)

They marched three days distance from Mount Sinai, with the Ark of the Covenant in front of them, and God’s cloud above them by day. (Numbers 10:33–34.) When the Ark was to set out, Moses would say: “Advance, O Lord! May Your enemies be scattered, and may Your foes flee before You!” (Numbers 10:35.) And when it halted, he would say: “Return, O Lord, You who are Israel’s myriads of thousands!” (Numbers 10:36.)

Figures A Plague Inflicted on Israel While Eating the Quails
A Plague Inflicted on Israel While Eating the Quail (illustration from the 1728 Figures de la Bible)

ComplainingEdit

The people took to complaining bitterly before God, and God ravaging the outskirts of the camp with fire until Moses prayed to God, and then the fire died down. (Numbers 11:1–2.)

The riffraff in their midst (Hebrew “asafsuf” — compare the “mixed multitude,” Hebrew “erev rav” of Ex. 12:38) felt a gluttonous craving and the Israelites complained, “If only we had meat to eat! (Numbers 11:4.) Moses in turn complained to God, “Why have You . . . laid the burden of all this people upon me? (Numbers 11:11.) God told Moses to gather 70 elders, so that God could come down and put some of the spirit that rested on Moses upon them, so that they might share the burden of the people. (Numbers 11:16–17.) And God told Moses to tell the people to purify themselves, for the next day they would eat meat. (Numbers 11:18.) But Moses questioned how enough flocks, herds, or fish could be found to feed 600,000. (Numbers 11:21–22.) God answered: “Is there a limit to the Lord’s power?” (Numbers 11:23.)

Moses gathered the 70 elders, and God came down in a cloud, spoke to Moses, and drew upon the spirit that was on Moses and put it upon the elders. (Numbers 11:24–25.) When the spirit rested upon them, they spoke in ecstasy, but did not continue. (Numbers 11:25.) Eldad and Medad had remained in camp, yet the spirit rested upon them, and they spoke in ecstasy in the camp. (Numbers 11:26.) When a youth reported to Moses that Eldad and Medad were acting the prophet in the camp, Joshua called on Moses to restrain them. (Numbers 11:27–28.) But Moses told Joshua: “Would that all the Lord’s people were prophets, that the Lord put His spirit upon them!” (Numbers 11:29.)

A wind from God then swept quail from the sea and strewed them all around the camp, and the people gathered quail for two days. (Numbers 11:31–32.) While the meat was still between their teeth, God struck the people with a plague. (Numbers 11:33.)

Miriam and Aaron question MosesEdit

Miriam and Aaron spoke against Moses, saying: “He married a Cushite woman!” and “Has the Lord spoken only through Moses? Has He not spoken through us as well?” (Numbers 12:1–2.) God heard and called Moses, Aaron, and Miriam to come to the Tent of Meeting. (Numbers 12:2–4.) God came down in cloud and called out to Aaron and Miriam: “When a prophet of the Lord arises among you, I make Myself known to him in a vision, I speak with him in a dream. Not so with My servant Moses; he is trusted throughout My household. With him I speak mouth to mouth, plainly and not in riddles, and he beholds the likeness of the Lord. How then did you not shrink from speaking against My servant Moses!” (Numbers 12:5–8.) As the cloud withdrew, Miriam was stricken with snow-white scales. (Numbers 12:10.) Moses cried out to God, “O God, pray heal her!” (Numbers 12:13.) But God said to Moses, “If her father spat in her face, would she not bear her shame for seven days? Let her be shut out of camp for seven days.” (Numbers 12:14.) And the people waited until she rejoined the camp. (Numbers 12:15.)

In classical rabbinic interpretationEdit

Menorah7a
the menorah

Numbers chapter 8Edit

A Baraita interpreted the expression “beaten work of gold” in Numbers 8:4 to require that if the craftsmen made the menorah out of gold, then they had to beat it out of one single piece of gold. The Gemara then reasoned that Numbers 8:4 used the expression “beaten work” a second time to differentiate the requirements for crafting the menorah from the requirements for crafting the trumpets in Numbers 10:2, which used the expression “beaten work” only once. The Gemara concluded that the verse required the craftsmen to beat the menorah from a single piece of metal, but not so the trumpets. (Babylonian Talmud Menachot 28a.)

A midrash deduced from Numbers 8:4 that the work of the candlestick was one of four things that God had to show Moses with God’s finger because Moses was puzzled by them. (Exodus Rabbah 15:28.)

A midrash explained why the consecration of the Levites in Numbers 8:5–26 followed the lighting of the menorah in Numbers 8:1–4 The midrash noted that while the twelve tribes presented offerings at the dedication of the altar, the tribe of Levi did not offer anything. The Levites thus complained that they had been held back from bringing an offering for the dedication of the altar. The midrash compared this to the case of a king who held a feast and invited various craftsmen, but did not invite a friend of whom the king was quite fond. The friend was distressed, thinking that perhaps the king harbored some grievance against him. But when the feast was over, the king called the friend and told him that while the king had made a feast for all the citizens of the province, the king would make a special feast with the friend alone, because of his friendship. So it was with God, who accepted the offerings of the twelve tribes in Numbers 7:5, and then turned to the tribe of Levi, addressing Aaron in Numbers 8:2 and directing the consecration of the Levites in Numbers 8:6 and after. (Numbers Rabbah 15:3.)

The Mishnah interpreted Numbers 8:7 to command the Levites to cut off all their hair with a razor, and not leave so much as two hairs remaining. (Mishnah Negaim 14:4.)

Rabbi Jose the Galilean cited the use of “second” in Numbers 8:8 to rule that bulls brought for sacrifices had to be no more than two years old. But the Sages ruled that bulls could be as many as three years old, and Rabbi Meir ruled that even those that are four or five years old were valid, but old animals were not brought out of respect. (Mishnah Parah 1:2.)

A midrash interpreted God’s words “the Levites shall be Mine” in Numbers 8:14 to indicate a relationship that will never cease, either in this world or in the World to Come. (Leviticus Rabbah 2:2.)

The Mishnah deduced from Numbers 8:16 that before Moses set up the Tabernacle, the firstborn performed sacrifices, but after Moses set up the Tabernacle, priests performed the sacrifices. (Mishnah Zevachim 14:4; Babylonian Talmud Zevachim 112b.)

Rabbi Judan considered God’s five mentions of “Israel” in Numbers 8:19 to demonstrate how much God loves Israel. (Leviticus Rabbah 2:4.)

A midrash noted that Numbers 8:24 says, “from 25 years old and upward they shall go in to perform the service in the work of the tent of meeting,” while Numbers 4:3, 23, 30, 35, 39, 43, and 47 say that Levites “30 years old and upward” did service in the tent of meeting. The midrash deduced that the difference teaches that all those five years, from the age of 25 to the age of 30, Levites served apprenticeships, and from that time onward they were allowed to draw near to do service. The midrash concluded that a Levite could not enter the Temple courtyard to do service unless he had served an apprenticeship of five years. And the midrash inferred from this that students who see no sign of success in their studies within a period of five years will never see any. Rabbi Jose said that students had to see success within three years, basing his position on the words “that they should be nourished three years” in Daniel 1:5. (Numbers Rabbah 6:3.)

Numbers chapter 9Edit

The Gemara noted that the events beginning in Numbers 9:1, set "in the first month of the second year", occurred before the events at the beginning of the book of Numbers, which Numbers 1:1 reports began in "the second month, in the second year". Rav Menasia bar Tahlifa said in Rab's name that this proved that there is no chronological order in the Torah. (Babylonian Talmud Pesachim 6b.)

The Sifre concluded that Numbers 9:1–5 records the disgrace of the Israelites, as Numbers 9:1–5 reports the only Passover that the Israelites observed in the wilderness. (Sifre 67:1.)

Rav Nahman bar Isaac noted that both Numbers 1:1 and Numbers 9:1 begin, "And the Lord spoke to Moses in the wilderness of Sinai", and deduced that just as Numbers 1:1 happened (in the words of that verse) "on the first day of the second month", so too Numbers 9:1 happened at the beginning of the month. And as Numbers 9:1 addressed the Passover offering, which the Israelites were to bring on the 14th of the month, the Gemara concluded that one should expound the laws of a holiday two weeks before the holiday. (Babylonian Talmud Pesachim 6b.)

Chapter 9 of Tractate Pesachim in the Mishnah and Babylonian Talmud and chapter 8 of Tractate Pisha (Pesachim) in the Tosefta interpreted the laws of the second Passover in Numbers 9:1–14. (Mishnah Pesachim 9:1–4; Tosefta Pisha (Pesachim) 8:1–10; Babylonian Talmud Pesachim 92b–96b.) And tractate Pesachim in the Mishnah, Tosefta, Jerusalem Talmud, and Babylonian Talmud interpreted the laws of the Passover generally in Exodus 12:3–27, 43–49; 13:6–10; 34:25; Leviticus 23:4–8; Numbers 9:1–14; 28:16-25; and Deuteronomy 16:1–8. (Mishnah Pesachim 1:1–10:9; Tosefta Pisha 1:1–10:13; Jerusalem Talmud Pesachim 1a–; Babylonian Talmud Pesachim 2a–121b.)

Tractate Beitzah in the Mishnah, Tosefta, Jerusalem Talmud, and Babylonian Talmud interpreted the laws common to all of the Festivals in Exodus 12:3–27, 43–49; 13:6–10; 23:16; 34:18–23; Leviticus 16; 23:4–43; Numbers 9:1–14; 28:16–30:1; and Deuteronomy 16:1–17; 31:10–13. (Mishnah Beitzah 1:1–5:7; Tosefta Yom Tov (Beitzah) 1:1–4:11; Jerusalem Talmud Beitzah 1a–; Babylonian Talmud Beitzah 2a–40b.)

The Gemara asked who were the “certain men” who Numbers 9:6 reported “were unclean by the dead body of a man, so that they could not keep the Passover.” Rabbi Jose the Galilean said that they were the ones who bore the coffin of Joseph (carrying out Joseph’s request of Genesis 50:24–25). Rabbi Akiba said that they were Mishael and Elzaphan who were occupied with the remains of Nadab and Abihu (as reported in Leviticus 10:1–5). Rabbi Isaac argued, however, that if they were those who bore the coffin of Joseph or if they were Mishael and Elzaphan, they would have had time to cleanse themselves before Passover. Rather, Rabbi Isaac identified the men as some who were occupied with the obligation to bury an abandoned corpse (met mitzvah). (Babylonian Talmud Sukkah 25b.)

The Mishnah counted the sin of failing to observe the Passover enumerated in Numbers 9:13 as one of 36 sins punishable by the penalty of being cut off from the Israelite people. (Mishnah Keritot 1:1; Babylonian Talmud Keritot 2a.)

Abaye deduced from the words "And on the day that the tabernacle was reared up" in Numbers 9:15 that the Israelites erected the Tabernacle only during the daytime, not at night, and thus that the building of the Temple could not take place at night. (Babylonian Talmud Shevuot 15b.)

Numbers chapter 10Edit

The Sifre deduced from the words “And the cloud of the Lord was over them by day” in Numbers 10:34 that God’s cloud hovered over the people with disabilities and illnesses — including those afflicted with emissions and skins diseases that removed them from the camp proper — protecting those with special needs. (Sifre 83:2.)

Our Rabbis taught that inverted nuns ( ] ) bracket the verses Numbers 10:35–36, about how the Ark would move, to teach that the verses are not in their proper place. But Rabbi said that the nuns do not appear there on that account, but because Numbers 10:35–36 constitute a separate book. It thus follows according to Rabbi that there are seven books of the Torah, and this accords with the interpretation that Rabbi Samuel bar Nahmani made in the name of Rabbi Jonathan of Proverbs 9:1, when it says, “She [Wisdom] has hewn out her seven pillars,” referring to seven Books of the Law. Rabban Simeon ben Gamaliel, however, taught that Numbers 10:35–36 were written where they are to provide a break between two accounts of Israel’s transgressions. The first account appears in Numbers 10:33, “they set forward from the mount of the Lord three days' journey,” which Rabbi Hama ben Hanina said meant that the Israelites turned away from following the Lord within three short days, and the second account appears in Numbers 11:1, which reports the Israelites’ murmurings. Rav Ashi taught that Numbers 10:35–36 more properly belong in Numbers 2, which reports how the Tabernacle would move. (Babylonian Talmud Shabbat 115b16a.)

Schnorr von Carolsfeld Bibel in Bildern 1860 052
Gathering Manna (woodcut by Julius Schnorr von Carolsfeld from the 1860 Bible in Pictures)

Numbers chapter 11Edit

Rab and Samuel debated how to interpret the report of Numbers 11:5 that the Israelites complained: “We remember the fish, which we ate in Egypt for free.” One read “fish” literally, while the other read “fish” to mean the illicit intercourse that they were “free” to have when they were in Egypt, before the commandments of Sinai. Rabbi Ammi and Rabbi Assi disputed the meaning of the report of Numbers 11:5 that the Israelites remembered the cucumbers, melons, leeks, onions, and garlic of Egypt. One said that manna had the taste of every kind of food except these five; while the other said that manna had both the taste and the substance of all foods except these, for which manna had only the taste without the substance. (Babylonian Talmud Yoma 75a.)

The Gemara asked how one could reconcile Numbers 11:9, which reported that manna fell “upon the camp,” with Numbers 11:8, which reported that “people went about and gathered it,” implying that they had to leave the camp to get it. The Gemara concluded that the manna fell at different places for different classes of people: For the righteous, it fell in front of their homes; for average folk, it fell just outside the camp, and they went out and gathered; and for the wicked, it fell at some distance, and they had to go about to gather it.

The Gemara asked how one could reconcile Exodus 16:4, which reported that manna fell as “bread from heaven”; with Numbers 11:8, which reported that people “made cakes of it,” implying that it required baking; with Numbers 11:8, which reported that people “ground it in mills,” implying that it required grinding. The Gemara concluded that the manna fell in different forms for different classes of people: For the righteous, it fell as bread; for average folk, it fell as cakes that required baking; and for the wicked, it fell as kernels that required grinding.

Rab Judah said in the name of Rab (or others say Rabbi Hama ben Hanina) that the words “ground it in mortars” in Numbers 11:8 taught that with the manna came down women’s cosmetics, which were also ground in mortars. Rabbi Hama interpreted the words “seethed it in pots” in Numbers 11:8 to teach that with the manna came down the ingredients or seasonings for a cooked dish. Rabbi Abbahu interpreted the words “the taste of it was as the taste of a cake (leshad) baked with oil” in Numbers 11:8 to teach that just as infants find many flavors in the milk of their mother’s breast (shad), so the Israelites found many tastes in the manna. (Babylonian Talmud Yoma 75a.) The Gemara asked how one could reconcile Numbers 11:8, which reported that “the taste of it was as the taste of a cake baked with oil,” with Exodus 16:31, which reported that “the taste of it was like wafers made with honey.” Rabbi Jose ben Hanina said that the manna tasted differently for different classes of people: It tasted like honey for infants, bread for youths, and oil for the aged. (Babylonian Talmud Yoma 75b.)

Rabbi Eleazar, on the authority of Rabbi Simlai, noted that Deuteronomy 1:16 says, “And I charged your judges at that time,” while Deuteronomy 1:18 similarly says, “I charged you [the Israelites] at that time.” Rabbi Eleazar deduced that Deuteronomy 1:18 meant to warn the Congregation to revere their judges, and Deuteronomy 1:16 meant to warn the judges to be patient with the Congregation. Rabbi Hanan (or some say Rabbi Shabatai) said that this meant that judges must be as patient as Moses, who Numbers 11:12 reports acted “as the nursing father carries the sucking child.” (Babylonian Talmud Sanhedrin 8a.)

The Mishnah deduced from Numbers 11:16 that the Great Sanhedrin consisted of 71 members, because God instructed Moses to gather 70 elders of Israel, and Moses at their head made 71. Rabbi Judah said that it consisted only of 70. (Mishnah Sanhedrin 1:6; Babylonian Talmud Sanhedrin 2a.)

The Gemara asked how one could reconcile Numbers 11:20, which reported God’s promise that the Israelites would eat meat “a whole month,” with Numbers 11:33, which reported that “while the flesh was still between their teeth, before it was chewed, . . . the Lord smote the people.” The Gemara concluded that God’s punishment came at different speeds for different classes of people: Average people died immediately; while the wicked suffered over a month before they died. (Babylonian Talmud Yoma 75b.)

The Gemara explained how Moses selected the members of the Sanhedrin in Numbers 11:24. (Babylonian Talmud Sanhedrin 17a.)

Rabbi Simeon expounded on the report in Numbers 11:26 that Eldad and Medad remained in the camp. When God ordered Moses in Numbers 11:16 to gather 70 of the elders of Israel, Eldad and Medad protested that they were not worthy of that dignity. In reward for their humility, God added yet more greatness to their greatness; so while the other elders’ prophesying ceased, Eldad’s and Medad’s prophesying continued. Rabbi Simeon taught that Eldad and Medad prophesied that Moses would die and Joshua would bring Israel into the Land of Israel. Abba Hanin taught in the name of Rabbi Eliezer that Eldad and Medad prophesied concerning the matter of the quails in Numbers 11, calling on the quail to arise. Rav Nahman read Ezekiel 38:17 to teach that they prophesied concerning Gog and Magog. The Gemara found support for Rabbi Simeon’s assertion that while the other elders’ prophesying ceased, Eldad’s and Medad’s prophesying continued in the use by Numbers 11:25 of the past tense, “and they prophesied,” to describe the other elders, whereas Numbers 11:27 uses the present tense with regard to Eldad and Medad. The Gemara taught that if Eldad and Medad prophesied that Moses would die, then that explains why Joshua in Numbers 11:28 requested Moses to forbid them. The Gemara reasoned that if Eldad and Medad prophesied about the quail or Gog and Magog, then Joshua asked Moses to forbid them because their behavior did not appear seemly, like a student who issues legal rulings in the presence of his teacher. The Gemara further reasoned that according to those who said that Eldad and Medad prophesied about the quail or Gog and Magog, Moses’ response in Numbers 11:28, “Would that all the Lord's people were prophets,” made sense. But if Eldad and Medad prophesied that Moses would die, the Gemara wondered why Moses expressed pleasure with that in Numbers 11:28. The Gemara explained that Moses must not have heard their entire prophecy. And the Gemara interpreted Joshua’s request in Numbers 11:28 for Moses to “forbid them” to mean that Moses should give Eldad and Medad public burdens that would cause them to cease their prophesying. (Babylonian Talmud Sanhedrin 17a.)

Maryam and Moses painting
Miriam waiting for the baby Moses in the Nile (illustration by Hippolyte Delaroche)
Schnorr von Carolsfeld Bibel in Bildern 1860 047
Moses at the Burning Bush (woodcut by Julius Schnorr von Carolsfeld from the 1860 Bible in Pictures)

Numbers chapter 12Edit

A Baraita taught in the name of Rabbi Joshua ben Korhah that God told Moses that when God wanted to be seen at the burning bush, Moses did not want to see God’s face; Moses hid his face in Exodus 3:6, for he was afraid to look upon God. And then in Exodus 33:18, when Moses wanted to see God, God did not want to be seen; in Exodus 33:20, God said, “You cannot see My face.” But Rabbi Samuel bar Nahmani said in the name of Rabbi Jonathan that in compensation for three pious acts that Moses did at the burning bush, he was privileged to obtain three rewards. In reward for hiding his face in Exodus 3:6, his face shone in Exodus 34:29. In reward for his fear of God in Exodus 3:6, the Israelites were afraid to come near him in Exodus 34:30. In reward for his reticence “to look upon God,” he beheld the similitude of God in Numbers 12:8. (Babylonian Talmud Berakhot 7a.)

The Mishnah cited Numbers 12:15 for the proposition that Providence treats a person measure for measure as that person treats others. And so because, as Exodus 2:4 relates, Miriam waited for the baby Moses in the Nile, so the Israelites waited seven days for Miriam in the wilderness in Numbers 12:15. (Mishnah Sotah 1:79; Babylonian Talmud Sotah 9b.)

CommandmentsEdit

According to both Maimonides and Sefer ha-Chinuch, there are 3 positive and 2 negative commandments in the parshah.

File:Rambam.jpg
Maimonides

(Maimonides. Mishneh Torah, Positive Commandments 57, 58, 59; Negative Commandments 119 & 122. Cairo, Egypt, 1170–1180. Reprinted in Maimonides. The Commandments: Sefer Ha-Mitzvoth of Maimonides. Translated by Charles B. Chavel, 1:67–71; 2:111, 113. London: Soncino Press, 1967. ISBN 0-900689-71-4. Sefer HaHinnuch: The Book of [Mitzvah] Education. Translated by Charles Wengrov, 4:79–93. Jerusalem: Feldheim Pub., 1988. ISBN 0-87306-457-7.)

Michelangelo Buonarroti 031
Zechariah (painting by Michelangelo)

HaftarahEdit

The haftarah for the parshah is Zechariah 2:14–4:7.

Connection to the ParshahEdit

Both the parshah and the haftarah discuss the lampstand (menorah). (Numbers 8:1–4; Zechariah 4:2–3). Text of Zechariah shortly after that of the haftarah explains that the lights of the lampstand symbolize God’s eyes, keeping watch on the earth. (Zechariah 4:10.) And in the haftarah, God’s angel explains the message of Zechariah’s vision of the lampstand: “Not by might, nor by power, but by My spirit, says the Lord of hosts.” (Zechariah 4:6.) Both the parshah and the haftarah also discuss the purification of priests and their clothes, the parshah in the purification of the Levites (Numbers 8:6–7) and the haftarah in the purification of the High Priest Joshua. (Zechariah 3:3–5.)

Haggadah 14th cent
A page from a 14th century German Haggadah

In the liturgyEdit

The Passover Haggadah, in the korech section of the Seder, quotes the words “they shall eat it with unleavened bread and bitter herbs” from Numbers 9:11 to support Hillel’s practice of combining matzah and maror together in a sandwich. (Menachem Davis. The Interlinear Haggadah: The Passover Haggadah, with an Interlinear Translation, Instructions and Comments, 68. Brooklyn: Mesorah Publications, 2005. ISBN 1-57819-064-9. Joseph Tabory. JPS Commentary on the Haggadah: Historical Introduction, Translation, and Commentary, 104. Philadelphia: Jewish Publication Society, 2008. ISBN 978-0-8276-0858-0.)

Jews chant the description of how the Israelites carried the Ark of the Covenant in Numbers 10:35 during the Torah service when the Ark containing the Torah is opened. And Jews chant the description of how the Israelites set the Ark of the Covenant down in Numbers 10:36 during the Torah service when the Torah is returned to the Ark. (Reuven Hammer. Or Hadash: A Commentary on Siddur Sim Shalom for Shabbat and Festivals, 139, 154. New York: The Rabbinical Assembly, 2003. ISBN 0916219208.)

In the Yigdal hymn, the eighth verse, “God gave His people a Torah of truth, by means of His prophet, the most trusted of His household,” reflects Numbers 12:7–8. (Menachem Davis. The Schottenstein Edition Siddur for Weekdays with an Interlinear Translation, 16–17. Brooklyn: Mesorah Publications, 2002. ISBN 1-57819-686-8.)

The 16th Century Safed Rabbi Eliezer Azikri quoted the words of Moses’ prayer “Please God” (El na) in Numbers 12:13 in his kabbalistic poem Yedid Nefesh (“Soul’s Beloved”), which in turn many congregations chant just before the Kabbalat Shabbat prayer service. (Hammer, at 14.)

Further readingEdit

The parshah has parallels or is discussed in these sources:

BiblicalEdit

Philon
Philo

Early nonrabbinicEdit

Josephus
Josephus

Classical rabbinicEdit

  • Mishnah: Pesachim 1:1–10:9; Beitzah 1:1–5:7; Sotah 1:79; Sanhedrin 1:6; Zevachim 14:4; Keritot 1:1; Negaim 14:4; Parah 1:2. Land of Israel, circa 200 C.E. Reprinted in, e.g., The Mishnah: A New Translation. Translated by Jacob Neusner, 246, 449, 584, 731, 836, 1010, 1013. New Haven: Yale University Press, 1988. ISBN 0-300-05022-4.
  • Tosefta: Bikkurim 1:2; Pisha (Pesachim) 4:14; 8:1, 3; Shekalim 3:26; Sotah 4:2–4; 6:7–8; 7:18; Keritot 1:1; Parah 1:1–3; Yadayim 2:10. Land of Israel, circa 300 C.E. Reprinted in, e.g., The Tosefta: Translated from the Hebrew, with a New Introduction. Translated by Jacob Neusner, 1:345, 493, 508–09, 538, 845, 857–58, 865; 2:1551, 1745–46, 1907. Peabody, Mass.: Hendrickson Pub., 2002. ISBN 1-56563-642-2.
  • Sifre to Numbers 59:1–106:3. Land of Israel, circa 250–350 C.E. Reprinted in, e.g., Sifré to Numbers: An American Translation and Explanation. Translated by Jacob Neusner, 2:1–132. Atlanta: Scholars Press, 1986. ISBN 1-55540-010-8.
  • Jerusalem Talmud: Berakhot 45a; Bikkurim 4b, 11b; Pesachim 1a–; Sukkah 31a; Beitzah 1a–. Land of Israel, circa 400 C.E. Reprinted in, e.g., Talmud Yerushalmi. Edited by Chaim Malinowitz, Yisroel Simcha Schorr, and Mordechai Marcus, vols. 1, 12, 22. Brooklyn: Mesorah Pubs., 2005–2009.
  • Mekhilta of Rabbi Simeon 5:2; 12:3; 16:2; 20:5; 22:2–23:1; 29:1; 37:1–2; 40:1–2; 43:1; 44:2; 47:2. Land of Israel, 5th Century. Reprinted in, e.g., Mekhilta de-Rabbi Shimon bar Yohai. Translated by W. David Nelson, 14, 41, 55, 85, 98, 100, 102, 131, 159, 162, 170–72, 182, 186, 209. Philadelphia: Jewish Publication Society, 2006. ISBN 0-8276-0799-7.
Talmud-Berachoth
Talmud

MedievalEdit

Rashi woodcut
Rashi
Thomas Hobbes (portrait)
Hobbes

ModernEdit

  • Thomas Hobbes. Leviathan, 3:34, 36, 40, 42. England, 1651. Reprint edited by C. B. Macpherson, 432, 460, 462, 464, 505, 595. Harmondsworth, England: Penguin Classics, 1982. ISBN 0140431950.
  • Louis Ginzberg. Legends of the Jews, 3:455–97. Philadelphia: Jewish Publication Society, 1911.
  • Joel Roth. “On the Ordination of Women as Rabbis.” New York: Rabbinical Assembly, 1984. HM 7.4.1984b. Reprinted in Responsa: 1980–1990: The Committee on Jewish Law and Standards of the Conservative Movement. Edited by David J. Fine, 736, 741–42, 764, 773 n.38, 786 n.133. New York: Rabbinical Assembly, 2005. ISBN 0-916219-27-5. (women’s observance of commandments and role as witnesses).
  • Phyllis Trible. “Bringing Miriam Out of the Shadows.” Bible Review. 5 (1) (Feb. 1989).
  • Elliot N. Dorff. “A Jewish Approach to End-Stage Medical Care.” New York: Rabbinical Assembly, 1990. YD 339:1.1990b. Reprinted in Responsa: 1980–1990: The Committee on Jewish Law and Standards of the Conservative Movement. Edited by David J. Fine, 519, 535, 567 n.23. New York: Rabbinical Assembly, 2005. ISBN 0-916219-27-5. (the prayer of Moses in Numbers 11:15 and the endurance of pain).
  • Jacob Milgrom. The JPS Torah Commentary: Numbers: The Traditional Hebrew Text with the New JPS Translation, 59–99, 367–87. Philadelphia: Jewish Publication Society, 1990. ISBN 0-8276-0329-0.
  • Baruch A. Levine. Numbers 1–20, 4:267–343. New York: Anchor Bible, 1993. ISBN 0-385-15651-0.
  • Mary Douglas. In the Wilderness: The Doctrine of Defilement in the Book of Numbers, 58–59, 80, 84, 86, 103, 107, 109–12, 120–21, 123–26, 135–38, 141, 143, 145, 147, 167, 175, 186, 188–90, 192, 195–98, 200–01, 209–10. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1993. Reprinted 2004. ISBN 0-19-924541-X.
  • Bernhard W. Anderson. “Miriam’s Challenge: Why was Miriam severely punished for challenging Moses’ authority while Aaron got off scot-free? There is no way to avoid the fact that the story presupposes a patriarchal society.” Bible Review. 10 (3) (June 1994).
  • Elliot N. Dorff. “Family Violence.” New York: Rabbinical Assembly, 1995. HM 424.1995. Reprinted in Responsa: 1991–2000: The Committee on Jewish Law and Standards of the Conservative Movement. Edited by Kassel Abelson and David J. Fine, 773, 806. New York: Rabbinical Assembly, 2002. ISBN 0-916219-19-4. (laws of slander).
  • Phyllis Trible. “Eve and Miriam: From the Margins to the Center.” In Feminist Approaches to the Bible: Symposium at the Smithsonian Institution September 24, 1994. Biblical Archaeology Society, 1995. ISBN 1880317419.
Elie Wiesel
Wiesel
  • Hershel Shanks. “Insight: Does the Bible refer to God as feminine?” Bible Review. 14 (2) (Apr. 1998).
  • Elie Wiesel. “Supporting Roles: Eldad and Medad.” Bible Review. 15 (2) (Apr. 1999).
  • Robert R. Stieglitz. “The Lowdown on the Riffraff: Do these obscure figures preserve a memory of a historical Exodus?” Bible Review. 15 (4) (Aug. 1999).
  • J. Daniel Hays. “Moses: The private man behind the public leader.” Bible Review. 16 (4) (Aug. 2000):16–26, 60–63.
  • Elie Kaplan Spitz. “Mamzerut.” New York: Rabbinical Assembly, 2000. EH 4.2000a. Reprinted in Responsa: 1991–2000: The Committee on Jewish Law and Standards of the Conservative Movement. Edited by Kassel Abelson and David J. Fine, 558, 578. New York: Rabbinical Assembly, 2002. ISBN 0-916219-19-4. (Miriam’s speaking ill and leprosy).
  • Marek Halter. Zipporah, Wife of Moses. New York: Crown, 2005. ISBN 1400052793.
  • Simeon Chavel. “The Second Passover, Pilgrimage, and the Centralized Cult.” Harvard Theological Review. 102 (1) (Jan. 2009): 1–24.

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