Shemini / Eighth
Purifying Power of the Mikveh
Shemini begins with the instruction, ‘It came to pass on the eighth day that Moses called Aaron and his sons and the elders of Israel…’ The number eight is an important factor in Torah and all of Scripture. It represents ‘new beginning’ and is used over 73 times in the Bible. This understanding of numbers is the practice of gematria, or the spiritual interpretation of numbers.
Eight is the significant number in God’s moadim, the Holy Days as this is the Last Great Day or the Eighth Day of the Feasts of God as referenced in Leviticus 23 and John 7: 37. Chanukah is also an eight day celebration. The Tabernacle was dedicated in an eight-day ceremony. Male children are circumcised on the eighth day, specifically Genesis 17:10 instructs that circumcision is part of the covenant ‘…and it shall be a token of the covenant…’and Luke 2:21 where Yeshua was circumcised.
Shemini also includes the strange fire and death of Nadab and Abihu: ‘Then Nadab and Abihu, the sons of Aaron, each took his censer and put fire in it, put incense on it, and offered profane fire before the Lord, which He had not commanded them. So fire went out from the Lord and devoured them, and they died before the Lord. And Moses said to Aaron, “This is what the Lord spoke, saying: ‘By those who come near Me I must be regarded as holy; And before all the people I must be glorified.’ ”
Interesting that right after God devours them He mentions that those that go near to Him must regard Him as holy. Was that a reference to Nadab and Abihu? Were they so arrogant in their offering, that their reverence to God was negated?
Leviticus 10:8-10 commands us to be sober when entering into the Holiness of God. In this way we remain clean; our thoughts, our prayers, and our speech as we come before Elohim. ‘Then the Lord spoke to Aaron, saying: “Do not drink wine or intoxicating drink, you, nor your sons with you, when you go into the tabernacle of meeting, lest you die. It shall be a statute forever throughout your generations that you may distinguish between holy and unholy, and between unclean and clean…’ This is referenced in 1 Peter 5:8 ‘Be sober, (self-controlled) be vigilant (watchful); because your adversary the devil walks about like a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour.’
In Leviticus 11:32 the reference to water is made to clean the unclean, ‘Anything on which any of them falls, when they are dead shall be unclean, whether it is any item of wood or clothing or skin or sack, whatever item it is, in which any work is done, it must be put in water.’
Mikveh is an ancient ritual practice of water immersion, traditionally used for cleansing, purification and transformation. Water also signifies the transformative movement from slavery in Egypt, through the parted Red Sea, and into freedom. The topic of ritual impurity is a difficult one. This impurity is not a tangible quality that may be seen or felt for it is a spiritual contamination, the result of association with the unclean as stated in Leviticus. We immerse ourselves in a natural spring or a ritual bath, the mikveh to purify ourselves spiritually.
The Sages teach that the results of Torah study are likened to that of a purifying spring: “Why did Balaam in Numbers 24:6 compare the tents of Israel to streams? This teaches us that just as a spring raises one from impurity to purity, so too; the tents [of Torah learning] raise one from a state of culpability to a state of merit.”
Yeshua is referred to as the Living Word, the Torah; John 1:1-5. He is also the Living Water in John 4:4-26 and 7:37-39. The verses in Jeremiah and Zechariah reference God as the fountain of Living Water. Jeremiah 17:13 ‘O LORD, the hope of Israel, all who forsake You will be put to shame. Those who turn away on earth will be written down, because they have forsaken the fountain of living water, even the LORD. ‘ And in Zechariah 14:8-9 ‘And in that day living waters will flow out of Jerusalem, half of them toward the eastern sea and the other half toward the western sea; it will be in summer as well as in winter. And the LORD will be king over all the earth; in that day the LORD will be the only one, and His name the only one.’
We are spiritually clean by the immersion of Yeshua, the Living Water, in our lives. We are commanded to not touch the unclean, but remain clean, sober and vigilant. We immerse in the Fountain of Living Water, Elohim and His Word.
Shemini is complete with instructions for our walk with Elohim today. May you be blessed as you study this Torah portion.
Tzav / Command
The Eternal Light
This Torah portion continues with the instructions of the five offerings. Within the first set of instructions regarding the law of the burnt offering are the instructions regarding the fire on the altar.
Leviticus 6:12-13 ‘And the fire on the altar shall be kept burning on it; it shall not be put out. And the priest shall burn wood on it every morning, and lay the burnt offering in order on it; and he shall burn on it the fat of the peace offerings. A fire shall always be burning on the altar; it shall never go out.’
In Hebrew this is called the Ner Tamid, which translates ‘Eternal Light’. Today it is the lamp that burns perpetually in synagogues before or near the ark of the Law (aron ha-qodesh). ... The ner tamid also represents the pillar of fire that guided the Hebrew people on their early journey.
This is the perpetual fire burning on the altar, the Ner Tamid shining perpetually above the Torah Scrolls and the Light of the world with shines perpetually for us and within us. It is the light of Yeshua who represents the Living Word, the Torah, which is the light unto all men.
This is the perpetual light that began with God, through Him, through the Torah, through Yeshua and now through us. This is a light that divides us from the darkness, that separates good from evil through the Living Word and the Living Light. We understand as we walk through these Scriptures how the Eternal Light connects us to the Light of the world.
Genesis 1:3’ Then God said, “Let there be light”; and there was light.’
Genesis 1:4 ‘And God saw the light that it was good; and God divided the light from the darkness.’
Exodus 13:21 ‘ And the Lord went before them by day in a pillar of cloud to lead the way, and by night in a pillar of fire to give them light, so as to go by day and night.’
Exodus 25:37 ‘You shall make seven lamps for it, and they shall arrange its lamps so that they give light in front of it.’
Exodus 27:20 ‘And you shall command the children of Israel that they bring you pure oil of pressed olives for the light, to cause the lamp to burn continually.’
Psalm 4:6 ‘There are many who say, “Who will show us any good?” Lord, lift up the light of Your countenance upon us.’
Psalm 18:28 ‘For You will light my lamp; The Lord my God will enlighten my darkness.’
Psalm 27:1 ‘The Lord is my light and my salvation; Whom shall I fear? The Lord is the strength of my life; of whom shall I be afraid?’
Psalm 36:9 ‘For with You is the fountain of life; In Your light we see light.’
Psalm 43:3 ‘Oh, send out Your light and Your truth! Let them lead me; Let them bring me to Your holy hill and to Your tabernacle.’
Psalm 89:15 ‘Blessed are the people who know the joyful sound! They walk, O Lord, in the light of Your countenance.’
Psalm 118:27 ‘God is the Lord, And He has given us light; Bind the sacrifice with cords to the horns of the altar.’
Psalm 119:105 ‘Your word is a lamp to my feet And a light to my path.’
Matthew 4:16 ‘The people who sat in darkness have seen a great light, And upon those who sat in the region and shadow of death Light has dawned.’
Matthew 5:14-16 ‘You are the light of the world. A city that is set on a hill cannot be hidden. Nor do they light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on a lampstand, and it gives light to all who are in the house. Matthew Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and glorify your Father in heaven.’
John 1:4 ‘In Him was life, and the life was the light of men.’
John 8:12 ‘Then Jesus spoke to them again, saying, “I am the light of the world. He who follows Me shall not walk in darkness, but have the light of life.”
John 9:5 “As long as I am in the world, I am the light of the world.”
Romans 13:12 ‘The night is far spent, the day is at hand. Therefore let us cast off the works of darkness, and let us put on the armor of light.’
2 Corinthians 4:6 ‘For it is the God who commanded light to shine out of darkness, who has shone in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ.’
Philippians 2:15 ‘…that you may become blameless and harmless, children of God without fault in the midst of a crooked and perverse generation, among whom you shine as lights in the world…’
1 Peter 2:9 ‘But you are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, His own special people, that you may proclaim the praises of Him who called you out of darkness into His marvelous light.’
Revelation 22:5 ‘There shall be no night there: They need no lamp nor light of the sun, for the Lord God gives them light. And they shall reign forever and ever.’
If we don’t acknowledge that Yeshua is the Light of the World, which comes from the Living Word, John 1:1, which comes from God, then what light do we have?
Vayikra / And He Called
This Sabbath begins the book of Leviticus / Vayikra, the third book of the Torah. It begins with God calling to Moshe, 'Now the Lord called to Moses, and spoke to him from the tabernacle of meeting, saying, “Speak to the children of Israel, and say to them: ‘When any one of you brings an offering to the Lord, you shall bring your offering of the livestock of the herd and of the flock.' Leviticus 1:1-2.
It continues with the different types of offerings and their qualifications; the ascending offering (olah), the grain offering (minchah), the peace offering (shelamim), the sin offering (chatat) and the trespass offering (asham).
Last Shabbat we saw how intertwined the tabernacle, the temple and the temple of the Living God were and are. They are all one, echad, as we are now one with Yeshua and He is one with the Father. Concentrating on the very first sentence; we see from where God called to Moshe. He called from the tabernacle, not from the sky or the clouds or Moshe’s heart or thoughts, but from the tabernacle. Now if we connect that with the knowledge that we are now the temple of the Living God, we see that God calls to us from the temple within. It is the Holy Spirit, the Ruach HaKodesh that calls us, that summons us, that moves and convicts us.
It is through the Ruach HaKodesh that each offering connects us to The Living God, Yeshua. The ascending offering, which has been translated to the burnt offering, offers the sacrifice of an animal as a sweet aroma ascending to the LORD. Our prayers and praise are offerings ascending unto the LORD. Hebrews 13:15 ‘Through Yeshua, therefore, let us continually offer to God a sacrifice of praise—the fruit of lips that openly profess His name.’
The grain offerings could be of the type that included fine flour, oil and frankincense offered up in smoke, described as a soothing aroma to the Lord. It could also be an offering of baked items like cakes, or cooked in a pan. But they all had something in common: salt. Salt was to season every grain offering. They also lacked something in common: leaven. Leaven was to be excluded from all grain offerings. It’s easy to understand – leaven is a symbol for sin; especially the sin of pride. We are to be seasoned with salt, Colossians 4:6 and we are the salt of the earth, Matthew 5:13-20 and 1 Corinthians 5:7 instructs us to come before God without leaven.
The peace offering forbids consumption of fat and blood, which are the vital ingredients of this offering. We already know from Genesis chapter nine that God prohibited the consumption of blood because of its sacredness, containing in it the very substance of our life. It is for that same reason that there can be no atonement for sin without the shedding of blood as with our Savior, Colossians 1:20, Ephesians 1:7, and Hebrews 9:14-22.
The sin offering in chapter four can relate to a single person or the entire community. The word ‘unintentionally’ is listed after every incident. It is a fault that was not premeditated.
Chapter five is the offering for the Trespass. These chapters make it clear that unintentional sins are no less demanding of atonement than willful, high-handed sins. God is holy; His righteous requirements are not options. We cannot afford to lie to ourselves and presume that our good intentions render sin acceptable. We must still confess our sins to God and bring blood for atonement through the Messiah. Proverbs 28:13 reminds us of the instructions in the sin and trespass offerings of Leviticus 5:5 ‘And it shall be, when he is guilty in any of these matters, that he shall confess that he has sinned in that thing…’
‘Whoever conceals their sins does not prosper, but the one who confesses and renounces them finds mercy.’ Proverbs 28:13.
May you find favor as you begin your study of Vayikra~