This is Chapter 6 of the book titled The Destiny of Israel and the Twilight of Christianity: In Quest of the Meaning and Significance of the Hebrew and Greek Scriptures, by John Saggio.






Table of Contents

     The Sacrifices
          The Law of Sin and Death
          The Sin and Guilt Offerings
          The Potency of Repentence
          Impurity in Childbirth
          Impurity and Skin Diseases
          The Nation as One Man
          The Desperation of Moses
          The Judgment of Yahweh
          The Last Appointment of Joshua
          The Song of Yahweh
          The Powerful Torah
          The Farewell Blessing of Moses

List of Structures







The restoration of the covenant and the return of Yahweh’s glory into the midst of the people reestablishes the holiness of the nation. The Book of Leviticus takes up this theme of holiness. It is the central theme of Leviticus, “Holy shall you become, for I am holy, Yahweh your Elohim” (Lev. 19:2 CV). The nation, as a result of its covenantal relationship to Yahweh, is already holy, that is, separated from the nations for the purpose of being Yahweh’s peculiar, special people. As Yahweh is holy, that is, having separated Himself apart from the nations in order to be the Elohim only of Israel, so Israel is holy, separated to the worship and service of Yahweh.

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Holiness is not to be equated with moral purity or perfection. It is essentially being separated. Separation for the worship and service of Yahweh meant separation away from the idolatrous worship and service of the gods of the nations and separation to the Law of Yahweh, separation to obey that which is right in the eyes of Yahweh.

Israel, being separated to Yahweh, is given access to Yahweh’s determination of Good and Evil. Israel’s behavior is thus to conform to the standard revealed in Yahweh’s Ten Words, Yahweh’s judgments and statutes, and His instructions given through His oracles, His words spoken through the ordained prophets. Thus, Israel is to be continually in the process of being holy by continually conforming herself to the Law of Yahweh her Elohim. As a result, she would be a light to the nations. For the nations had been given up to their disqualified minds and were walking in the darkness of their idolatrous worship and service of the gods. They had been given over to astrological worship: “Guard yourselves lest you should lift up your eyes toward the heavens, and you see the sun and the moon and the stars, all the host of the heavens, and be induced to bow yourself down to them and serve them, which Yahweh your Elohim has apportioned to all other peoples beneath the entire heavens” (Deut. 4:19 CV).

Israel is set apart, made holy, even though a stiff-necked people. She is then to make herself holy, separated to the worship and service of Yahweh her Elohim, by obeying His voice, keeping the terms of the mutually agreed upon covenant. Israel chose to enter into a contract with Yahweh. Yahweh initiated the proposal, but Israel voluntarily agreed to perform the terms of the contract, the covenant. Thus, because she is holy, separated unto Yahweh, she is bound to conform herself to Yahweh’s Law.

As Yahweh loves Israel, “For you are a people holy to Yahweh your Elohim; Yahweh your Elohim has chosen you to become His, a special people from all the peoples who are on the surface of the ground. It was not because your multitude was more than all the other peoples that Yahweh was attached to you and chose you, for you were the fewest of all the peoples. But it was because of the love of Yahweh . . .” (Deut. 7:6-8a CV), so also Israel is to love Yahweh, Hear, Israel! Yahweh is our Elohim; Yahweh the only One. So you will love Yahweh your Elohim with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your intensity” (Deut. 6:4-5 CV). It was Yahweh’s love of Israel that motivated Him to become “holy, Yahweh your Elohim,” that is, to set Himself apart as the Elohim only of Israel. Israel, having been set apart by Yahweh for Himself, that is, having been made holy, should have motivated this nation to worship and serve Yahweh out of love, “with all your heart.”

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Yahweh’s Instruction Manual

Leviticus is, thus, Yahweh’s instruction manual for attaining the goal of Exodus 19:5-6a: “Now, if you shall hearken, yea hearken to My voice and observe My covenant then you will become Mine, a special possession, above all the peoples, for Mine is all the earth. As for you, you shall become Mine, a kingdom of priests and a holy nation” (CV). As Yahweh’s holy nation, Israel is to function as a priest between Yahweh and the nations. Israel is to manifest the light of Yahweh’s Law and Yahweh’s glory among the nations walking in the darkness of their own distorted thinking. The grace shown Israel is, indirectly, grace to the nations. The purpose for making Israel holy unto Yahweh is to use this elect nation as an instrument by which Yahweh will rescue the nations from their disqualified mind. The nations would be delivered out of the darkness of their ignorant ways. Thus, the ultimate goal of Israel’s holiness is the deliverance of the nations from the worship and service of the gods and the redemption of humanity from the death brought into the race by Adam’s sin.

Israel’s government is a theocracy. The nation’s religious system, consisting of laws, statutes and judgments, and instructions composed and organized by Yahweh, imposed its rule over the people’s religious life, economic life, social life, and political life. Yahweh, as a result of the covenant entered into by both parties, became King in Israel: “So He became King in Yeshurun . . .” (Deut. 33:5a CV). His augustness became the nation’s augustness:


There is none like the El of Yeshurun:

Riding the heavens as your Helper

And in His augustness,

The skies,

The habitation of Elohim aforetime. . . .

Happy are you, Israel!

Who is like you?

A people saved by Yahweh,

The Shield of your Helper,

Who is also the Sword of your augustness!” (Deuteronomy 33:26-29a CV).


As Yahweh Elohim had “aforetime” rode the heavens in relation to the nations, now He rode the heavens as Israel’s exclusive helper. Israel is thus royally exalted over the nations. As such, this nation is to reflect the light of Yahweh’s Law upon the nations. This, however, does not mean the nations were under the law or were held accountable to the law. The nations could benefit from this gracious light, but no legal requirement is made of them.

But such benefit to the nations is only possible if Israel remains faithful to Yahweh. The blessing of the nations is dependent upon the blessing of Israel. Ultimately, Israel would have to be redeemed from the curse of the law in order for the nations to receive the blessings promised them in the covenant made with Abram.

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The Tabernacle as the Center of Worship and Service

All worship and service in Israel is centered in the Tabernacle where Yahweh meets with His people. The Aaronic and Levitical priesthoods serve as the heart and blood of the Mosaic system of worship and service. The Aaronic Priesthood draws closest to Yahweh, since its service is directly concerned with the Tabernacle and the Holy of Holies. As the heart pumps blood and the blood delivers the nutrients of life to the members of the body, so the Aaronic Priesthood mediates the nutrients of covenantal life through the service of the Levitical Priesthood on behalf of the individual members of the nation.

The covenantal health of the nation depended upon the faithful support of the Aaronic and Levitical priesthoods by the other tribes. The breakdown of the proper worship rituals associated with the Tabernacle would directly affect the covenantal health of the nation. The corruption of the Aaronic Priesthood would lead to the corruption of the Levitical Priesthood which would lead to the corruption of the nation’s covenantal status.

As the lungs of the body breathe the oxygen of life, so the nation breathes the oxygen of the Ten Words of covenantal life. In these Ten Words reside the vital breath of Israel’s covenantal life. As contaminated air breathed in by the lungs deteriorates the health of the body, so also the contamination of the Ten Words breathed in by the nation results in the deterioration of the worship and service of the Aaronic and Levitical priesthoods and the breakdown of the nation’s covenantal health. Thus, though the nation continues to be holy, such covenantal corruption can result in the profanation of the holy, which then will necessitate the purifying of the holy by means of the implementation of curse in place of blessing. In the Mosaic system the profanation of the holy makes the holy unclean and in need of purification in order to become holy once again. This would become the fate of the nation throughout its history.

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Worship and Service Under the Elements of the World

Leviticus describes worship and service “under the elements of the world” (Gal. 4:3 CV). It describes a system designed by Yahweh Elohim for Israel residing in the ancient world. Such a system could be understood by the nations. It is intended to graciously affect the nations. For the nations worshiped and served their gods under the elements of the world. These elements consisted of air, water, earth, and fire. Israel’s system is designed to be free from the misconceptions of the nations. The nations understood the gods, the spirits, to inhabit the elements. The elements became objects of worship. The elements were alive and powerful. They were to be feared and appeased. Thus, the nations had corrupted their original relationship to the One True and Living Elohim. They worshiped and served the creation (the elements of the world) rather than the Creator (Rom. 1:25).

Israel is to worship and serve the Creator, Yahweh Elohim, using the elements of the world, but demythifying those elements. The elements are understood to be created by Yahweh Elohim. They are not understood to be inhabited by gods, spirits, powers wielding animosity against humans and thus needing to be appeased. Israel had to be weaned away from the ancient perceptions of the nations concerning the elements of the world. She had to be liberated from this mythopoeic perception of the world.

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The Sacrifices

Leviticus begins this process of liberation by revealing Yahweh’s sacrificial requirements. These sacrifices are not intended to appease the wrath or disfavor of Yahweh. For Yahweh, according to the stipulations of the covenant contract, is committed to bless Israel if she obeys His voice, keeps His laws, His judgments and statutes. He has initiated the relationship, and His motive is love, concern, care. He has revealed Himself as a compassionate, merciful, patient Elohim. He, unlike the gods of the nations, is not capricious. His word, His law is consistent and faithful. He is a just Elohim. Israel can trust Yahweh her Elohim. He will not prove unfaithful. He will always keep His word, His promises.

The author of Leviticus describes five kinds of sacrifices. The first three are common to the nations who offered these sacrifices to appease the anger of their gods or to gain favors from their gods. Israel’s offering of these sacrifices is not intended to appease Yahweh’s anger or gain special favors. For Yahweh’s anger comes only as a result of her abandoning His law as a whole system. Infractions of various laws are provided for within the system of sacrifices and judgments. Such infractions did not result in Yahweh’s anger. It is the total attitude of lawlessness which angers Yahweh.

The first three sacrifices described in Leviticus are the burnt offering, the grain offering, and the peace offering. These three offerings allowed access to Yahweh’s presence in the Tabernacle. They were not concerned with sins but with the contaminated or polluted condition of all humanity due to the death Adam brought into the race. This contamination or pollution is labeled “The Law of Sin and Death” by Paul (Rom. 8:1-3). This law operates in the members of each individual human body. Thus, the body is referred to as the flesh.

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The Law of Sin and Death

Paul describes this law as follows:

For, when we were in the flesh, the passions of sins, which were through this law [the law of Adam and the law of Moses], operated in our members to be bearing fruit to the death [the death that Adam brought in, Rom. 5:12]. . . . For we are aware that the law [Mosaic Law] is spiritual, yet I am fleshly, having been disposed of under the sin [the sin of Adam which brought in death]. . . . Yet now it is no longer I who am effecting it [the death that Adam brought in], but The Sin [The Law of Sin and Death brought in by Adam] making its home in me. . . . For I am gratified with the law of God [the Mosaic Law] as to the man within [the mind, the heart, the spirit], yet I am observing a different law in my members [The Law of Sin and Death, Rom. 8:2], warring with the law of my mind [the Mosaic Law, the Law of Yahweh], and leading me into captivity to The Law of Sin [which Adam brought in] which is in my members. What will rescue me out of this body of this Death?! Grace! I thank God, through Jesus Christ, our Lord. Consequently, then, I myself with the mind, indeed, am slaving for Yahweh’s law, yet with the flesh for Sin’s law [The Law of Sin and Death brought in by Adam]. Nothing, consequently, is now condemnation to those in Christ Jesus. Not according to flesh are they walking, but according to spirit, for the spirit’s Law of Life in Christ Jesus frees you from The Law of Sin and Death. For without power [disabled] is this law [The Law of Sin and Death]. In the sphere of the interest of this: It began to be weak through the flesh; Yahweh His own Son sending, in the likeness of sinful flesh, and concerning sin, condemned The Sin [The Law of The Sin and The Death brought in by Adam] in the sphere of the flesh, in order that the just requirement [life] of The Law [the spirit’s Law of Life in Christ Jesus] may be fulfilled in us, the ones who are not walking in accord with flesh, but in accord with spirit. (Romans 7:5, 14, 17; 7:22-8:4 my translation)

The flesh refers to the body under the influence of an alien power, force, law—The Law of Sin and Death which is the source of the inclination, the propensity to produce sins, the distortion of the five senses of the soul. Thus, the origination of man’s problem is traced back to Adam, not Moses. The Mosaic Law makes Israel aware of The Law of Sin and Death; for The Law of Sin becomes stimulated by the Mosaic Law, agitating The Law of Sin so as to make its presence and character known.

He who loves Yahweh’s Law and writes it in his heart serves Yahweh and His law with his mind, actively choosing to suppress the inclination, the propensity of the alien law within his members, while committing the members of his body to the Law of Yahweh. Thus, a war between two laws, The Law of Sin and Death and the Law of Yahweh, results. Only Israel profoundly experiences this war, since only Israel has access to The Law of Yahweh (the Law of Moses). Only Israel is placed under the Law of Yahweh (the Sinatic Covenant). Only Israelites are constituted sinners, because only within Israelites is The Law of Sin agitated in the members of the body by the Law of Yahweh, thus revealing the culprit’s alien influence and encouraging Israelites to suppress its distorted activity. Only Israel has her sins counted up. The accounting of sins by Yahweh constitutes Israelites sinners (see Rom. 5:13, 19).

This, however, does not mean the nations could not have a similar experience. As the nations codified laws of proper moral behavior for themselves, it became possible to experience a similar struggle. But the nations did not have their sins counted up by Yahweh, since they were not placed under the Law of Yahweh. Only under the Law of Yahweh could a person commit transgression and become accountable to Yahweh for that transgression. Since Yahweh had not placed the nations under His law (the Mosaic Covenant, the Mosaic contract between Yahweh and Israel), the nations were not capable of committing transgressions against Yahweh. Thus, only Israelites were covenantally capable of sinning after the likeness of Adam’s transgression (Rom. 5:14). Only Israelites were constituted sinners by Yahweh, since only Israelites could commit sins designated as transgressions (Rom. 5:19, the many are constituted sinners, not the all).

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The Sin and Guilt Offerings

Because of this awareness of The Law of Sin by Israelites and the counting up of sin as transgression, the Mosaic Covenant, the Mosaic system, adds two original sacrificial offerings—the Sin Offering and the Guilt Offering. The purpose of the Sin Offering is to make a propitiatory-shelter for unintentional sins against the commandments, the statutes, the judgments, the instructions, and the testimonies of Yahweh (Lev. 4:1-31). The purpose of the Guilt Offering is to make reparation or restitution for an intentional or unintentional sin against man or Yahweh. This offering also requires a Sin Offering to provide a propitiatory-shelter for the sin committed. Reparation is based upon a determination of proper value plus an added fifth of the proper value. Thus, the Sin Offering and the Guilt Offering are clearly related. Both are provisions for dealing with transgressions which must continually be accounted for.

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The Potency of Repentance

Under the Mosaic system, Yahweh’s compassion, mercy, and kindness are revealed in the potency attributed to repentance. Yahweh continually calls for Israel to repent: “Return and turn away from all your transgressions, And your depravity shall not become a stumbling block to you” (Ezk. 18:30b CV). The word “depravity” makes clear these transgressions are intentional. The Sin and Guilt offerings provide for unintentional sins. What, however, provided a propitiatory shelter for intentional sin? The doctrine of repentance answers this question. Jacob Milgram (1991) writes, “A resolution of this question is now possible. I submit that the repentance of the sinner, through his remorse (asam) and confession (hitwadda), reduces his intentional sin to an inadvertence, thereby rendering it eligible for sacrificial expiation” (p. 373).


Yahweh declares of the wicked,

And when the wicked turns back from

his wickedness which he does

And is executing judgment and justice,

He [the wicked one] shall be keeping alive his soul.

And he is seeing and turning back from all his

transgressions which he did,

Verily he shall live. He shall not die. (Ezekiel 18:27-28 CV)


Repentance has the potency to deliver the wicked, the lawless, from covenantal death, covenantal curse. Repentance, consisting of turning back from one’s wickedness (remorse and confession) and executing judgment and justice (lawful behavior, making restitution), restores the lawless one to covenantal life, covenantal blessing, covenantal righteousness before Yahweh.

But the righteous one is also in danger. Yahweh declares,


Yet when the righteous turns back from his righteousness

And does iniquity according to all the abhorrences

which the wicked does,

Shall he do so and live?

All his righteous acts which he did

                shall not be remembered;

In his offense with which he offends,

And in his sin with which he sins,

In them shall he die. (Ezekiel 18:24 CV)


This is what it means to keep the whole law! To keep the whole law one must be committed to lawfulness with all one’s heart, all one’s soul, and all one’s intensity, to the end. Keeping the whole law means being faithful to the end. It is not a matter of weighing one’s righteous acts against one’s wicked acts. One can fall short at any time, even at the end of one’s life or just prior to a warning of judgment and call to repentance by a prophet.

If one turns to lawless acts intentionally, one’s covenant relationship to Yahweh is threatened. Repentance with the whole heart, soul, and intensity is required to receive restoration to covenantal righteousness. Those whose hearts are circumcised will repent when confronted by Yahweh’s Law in the mouth of Yahweh’s priests, prophets, and faithful sons of Israel. The righteous can turn away and harden their hearts, becoming lawless and wicked. The wicked can turn from their wickedness by changing, renewing, their hearts and spirits and returning to Yahweh’s covenant, to lawful behavior, thereby glorifying Yahweh’s name and honor. For Yahweh declares, “I am not delighting in the death of him who dies . . . Hence reverse yourselves and live!” (Ezk. 18:32 CV).

Keeping the law is not only possible, but also expectable. It could and should be kept! Yahweh’s compassion, mercy, and kindness through the potency of repentance make it most probable! There is no excuse for failure! To fail to keep the law is to have chosen to fail, to have hardened one’s heart to Yahweh’s compassionate, merciful, kind pleadings. Failure to keep the law is hatred of Yahweh, disrespect toward His love, His honor, and His glory.

Milgram (1991) further states,

I now have discovered that this principle was already known by the rabbis. ‘R. Simeon b. Lakish said: Great is repentance, which converts intentional sins into unintentional ones’ (B. Yoma 86b). The early rabbis show awareness of this principle in another context: the ritual of the Day of Atonement. They raise the question of how the high priest’s bull is capable of atoning for his deliberate sins, and they reply, ‘Because he has confessed his brazen and rebellious deeds it is as if they became as unintentional ones before him’ (Sipra, Ahare par. 2:4,6; cf. t. Yoma 2:1). Thus it is clear that the Tannaites attribute to repentance—strikingly, in a sacrificial ritual—the power to transform a presumptuous sin against God, punishable by death, into an act of inadvertence, expiable by sacrifice. (p. 373)

An example of the potency of repentance to transform an intentional sin against Yahweh, punishable by death, into an act of inadvertence is found in 2 Samuel 12:1-13. David has sinned intentionally against Yahweh by committing adultery with Bathsheba, the wife of Uriah, and by murdering Uriah. Nathan the prophet confronts David with these sins. David remorsefully repents, confessing, “I have sinned against Yahweh” (2 Sam. 12:13a CV). Nathan then reveals Yahweh’s judgment, “Now Yahweh, He has remitted your sin, you shall not die” (2 Sam. 12:13b CV).

In this case, Yahweh does not even require the Guilt Offering. It thus takes the potency of repentance one notch higher. This is later referred to as “the sure mercies of David” (Isa. 55:3; 2 Chr. 6:42; Ps. 89:24; Acts 13:34; Rom. 4:5-8; Ps. 32:1-2; 2 Sam. 7:15; 1 Chr. 17:13). John the Baptist is commissioned to proclaim that the basis of the sure mercies of David is “a baptism of repentance for the pardon of sins” (Lk. 3:3 CV) which gave those sons of Israel who received his baptism “the authority to be making themselves children of Yahweh . . .” (Jn. 1:12b my translation), that is, to be restoring themselves to covenantal life by turning back to Yahweh and their covenantal obligations. Those repenting “were baptized in the Jordan River by him [John the Baptist], confessing their sins” (Matt. 3:6 CV). Thus, the potency of repentance transformed intentional sin against Yahweh, punishable by the covenantal death about to be exacted by “the impending indignation” (Matt. 3:7; Lk. 3:7), into unintentional sin pardonable by repentant confession.

The Guilt Offering would be made by Jesus on behalf of all those believing in Him. He would become their Guilt Offering. As a result, the Apostles of Jesus would be authorized to proclaim, “Repent and be baptized each of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the pardon of your sins, and you shall be obtaining the gratuity of the holy spirit” (Acts 2:38 CV).

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The Mosaic Law and the Impossibility of Not Sinning

This sacrificial system is necessary since the Mosaic system of law made it impossible not to sin. This is the meaning of Paul’s statement concerning the law in Gal. 3:19: “On behalf of the transgressions was it added, . . .” (CV). The law was added to the promise with the precise function of providing a knowledge of sin. It was to agitate The Law of Sin and Death brought in by Adam, thus revealing the contaminated condition of humanity and making the sons of Israel aware of its distortions. Thus, the obscured operation of The Law of Sin and Death necessitated the accounting of sin, thereby revealing the deceptive operation of The Law of Sin and compelling The Law of Sin to reign (see Chapter 24, section titled "The Reign of Sin") unobscured as a servant of Yahweh’s Law. The Mosaic Law as a system organizing the society of Israel set up regulations which caused even certain natural circumstances to constitute Israelites unclean, thereby making them sinners, missing the mark of cleanness. Such sin is counted up. As a result, The Law of Sin reigns. It can no longer deceive, since its character and activity, its presence, are perceived and accurately indicated as alien, as an enemy within.

Any Israelite coming in contact with the carcass of those animals designated unclean becomes defiled: “Also you are defiling yourselves with these: (Everyone touching their carcass shall be unclean until the evening; everyone carrying some of their carcass shall rinse his garments and will be unclean until the evening.)” (Lev. 11:24-25 CV). Touching the carcass of a clean animal also makes one unclean (Lev. 11:39). To become unclean is sin, missing the mark of cleanness. Cleansing is thus necessitated, even if the contact is accidental. However, though sin is counted up, the law provides a way to deal with it so that one’s covenantal relationship with Yahweh is not broken. In the cases here mentioned, cleansing with water becomes the remedy for such uncleanness.

All such uncleanness excluded the unclean one from the worshiping community, since anyone unclean is restricted from worship, being denied access to the Tabernacle. Impurity, however, is not understood as mystic taboo. It is meant to make clear the contaminated condition of humanity (the operation of death within each person) before Yahweh. By restricting the participation of the unclean from worship of Yahweh in the community assembly, Israel is humbly reminded of her contaminated condition as children of Adam.

This is Yahweh’s doing. Yahweh constitutes this nation a nation of sinners. The Law of Sin is increased (Rom. 5:20), multiplied by the law. But the law not only constitutes, makes, appoints the “many” sinners, it is a guardian garrisoning the “many” sinners within the beneficial confines of Yahweh’s covenant, guiding the “many” in the art of doing what is right in the eyes of Yahweh, thereby becoming, in the long run, Yahweh’s escort to the Christ (Gal. 3:23-24). In the short run, the “many” are taught what it means to be holy; they are taught to walk in the righteous way of Yahweh. Yahweh’s commandments, statutes, and judgments provide Israel access to Yahweh’s knowledge of Good and Evil. As such, the law gives access to Yahweh’s terrestrial blessings, denied to the nations.

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Impurity in Childbirth

That the foregoing is the case with impurity is illustrated by the next example of impurity—purification relating to childbirth (Lev. 12:1-8). When a woman gives birth to a child, she becomes unclean:

When a woman conceives seed and bears a male then she will become unclean seven days; as the days of her menstrual period shall she be unclean. On the eighth day the flesh of his foreskin shall be circumcised. Then she shall dwell thirty-three days more in her cleansing bloodflows. She shall not touch anything holy, and she shall not come to the sanctuary until the days of her cleansing be full. And if she should bear a female, then she will be unclean two weeks, as during her period, and she shall dwell sixty-six days more in her cleansing bloodflows. (Leviticus 12:1b-5 CV)

Thus, a woman after bearing a child is automatically contagiously unclean for one or two weeks. Anyone or anything she touches during this period becomes unclean as well. After this initial period, the woman remains unclean in herself, but no longer an agent of pollution to other people. However, she continues to be contagious in relation to holy things. As such, she has to refrain from touching anything holy. Thus, for example, she cannot partake of meat from a peace offering, and she is restricted from participating in an assembly gathered for worship.

Even a woman’s menstrual blood makes her unclean seven days, and anyone touching her is unclean until the evening. Everything upon which she lies or sits during this period is unclean, and anyone who touches these unclean items becomes unclean until evening and must go through the cleansing ritual (Lev. 15:19-24).

Such uncleanness is sin, missing the mark. It becomes counted up, one becomes accountable for it, responsible for it, and so must go through the cleansing ritual to remain a faithful member of the covenantal community. Refusal to obey the required cleansing process is to become cut off from the community of faithful ones, one’s people. This meant being cut off from the promises, including the promises made to Abraham.

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Impurity and Skin Diseases

Skin diseases blotching the skin make the victim unclean. The defining factor is wholeness. If a skin disease covers the skin completely, resulting in no blotches, no mixture, the disease is not considered unclean. Clothes coming to have a mold become contagiously unclean. The same is true for houses. The Mosaic Law provided no means for curing or cleansing skin diseases. If one became unclean as a result of skin disease, one was placed outside the camp or apart from the clean until the skin disease either cleared up or was healed by Yahweh. Community exclusion in these cases did not cut one off from the future Abrahamic promise related to the Celestial Realm associated with the Celestial Jerusalem.

All such sin associated with uncleanness, pollution, contamination, and mixture is a continual reminder to the sons of Israel of the contamination of the human race brought about by the entrance of death as a result of Adam’s sin. It thus implies clearly the necessity of another covenant which would be able to solve the Adamic problem. The Sinatic Covenant was not designed to solve the contamination of the death brought in by Adam. It was designed to increase sin by taking account of it and to discipline, guide, guard the sons of Israel by means of instruction and correction, maintaining behavior which is acceptable in the eyes of Yahweh.

Covenantal exclusion due to skin disease is not to be associated with the victim’s ultimate destiny. Such misfortune is not to be understood as the result of personal sin. It is not to be explained in terms of moral guilt. Such uncleanness is sin, but not moral guilt. Such a person is charged with cultic guilt due to the fact that he/she is responsible for bringing pollution within the covenant community. When the skin disease is removed, a Guilt Offering is required.

Such uncleanness results in loss of social and religious covenantal relationship and blessing, but does not lead to being cut off from one’s people. Such a person becomes unclean and removed from intimate community relationship, but is not excluded from community care. Such people become the required responsibility of the clean on behalf of the unclean. Here is an opportunity to manifest one’s love for one’s neighbor suffering innocent misfortune.

However, it must be emphasized that contact with the unclean causes contamination to the clean person making the contact. Such is sin, but not moral sin. Such sin did not cause exclusion from the covenant. One remains a member in righteous standing, as long as one remains obedient to the instructions of the law.

These samples establish the fact that the Mosaic Law increased sin, taking it into account, and holding the sons of Israel responsible for such sin, thereby initiating the reign of Sin. The Law, therefore, is the power of The Law of Sin which had been activated by Adam’s initial sin (1 Cor. 15:56). The Law of Sin and Death brought in by Adam is enabled to reign because its activity is perceived, accounted, and judged. Judgment, however, includes the means to deal with it—obtain pardon for it or achieve cleansing from it. So, where Sin reigns, Grace abounds. Thus, Israel lives daily with a very conscious awareness of sin. But this conscious awareness of sin is not detrimental or overbearing, due to Yahweh’s grace. It is a blessing which enables every Israelite to have a close relationship with Yahweh his/her Elohim and with his/her neighbor.

In Leviticus, chapter 15, uncleanness due to various discharges of the body is described with instructions concerning the ritual process for cleansing. Genital diseases cause long-term uncleanness, while emission of semen by the male or menstrual flow by the female cause short-term uncleanness. The Hebrew word for body in this text is basar, meaning flesh. Discharges of the flesh cause uncleanness, impurity. Paul’s use of the term flesh to describe the body under the influence of the alien Law of Sin and Death most likely has its source in this Leviticus text.

Uncleanness, impurity comes from the discharges of the flesh. Such uncleanness defiles the Tabernacle of Yahweh: “You will warn the sons of Israel against their uncleanness so that they may not die in their uncleanness when they defile My tabernacle which is in their midst” (Lev. 15:31 CV). To defile the abode of Yahweh in the midst of Israel and disregard the necessity of the cleansing process is to expose oneself to death by the hand of Yahweh. Even those types of uncleanness requiring only a short period of waiting and a simple washing are given solemn warning concerning the consequences of ignoring the required ritual: “Yet if he should not rinse his garments and not bathe his flesh then he will bear his depravity” (Lev. 17:16 CV). Thus, it is vital that Israelites know when they are unclean. The severity of the penalty for failure to perform the vital cleansing ritual affects not only the individual, but also the entire nation.

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The Day of Propitiatory-Shelter

Chapter 16 of Leviticus connects the theme of defilement, uncleanness, impurity with the instructions concerning the Day of Propitiatory-Shelter by first making reference to the uncommon deaths of Aaron’s two sons (Nadab and Abihu). These two sons attempted to approach Yahweh with alien fire, that is, unauthorized fire, thereby defiling themselves as well as the Sanctuary of Yahweh. The judgment of Yahweh was instantaneous: “Hence fire came forth from before Yahweh and devoured them, and they died before Yahweh” (Lev. 10:2 CV). Their burnt bodies were taken from the presence of the Holy Place and placed outside the camp. Aaron and his remaining two sons were forbidden to mourn for them. This reference at the beginning of chapter 16 is meant to be a vivid reminder of the importance of maintaining one’s cleanness, one’s purity before Yahweh. The intentional, presumptuous sin of Nadab and Abihu contaminated the Sanctuary and the whole nation. This necessitated the cleansing made possible by the ceremonial Day of Propitiatory-Shelter.

Once a year, on the tenth day of the seventh month, a sabbath is proclaimed and a propitiatory-shelter is made for the sins of the nation as a collective whole. This propitiatory-shelter provided cleansing for the Holy Place made unclean by the people’s sins of uncleanness and their transgressions. This annual ceremony made possible Yahweh’s continued presence in the midst of His people for another year.

Only the Chief or High Priest (in this case, Aaron) could enter the Holy of Holies with the cleansing blood of the Sin Offering. The High Priest first makes a propitiatory-shelter for himself and his house. This meant a Sin Offering of a young bull. He then casts lots to determine which of the two goats would be sacrificed as a Sin Offering for the covenantal community and which would be sent into the wilderness, symbolically carrying the sins of the nation away from the presence of Yahweh. The blood of the Sin Offering is then sprinkled on and before the mercy seat (the seat of propitiatory-shelter covering the Ark of the Covenant within the Holy of Holies), on the tent of appointment, and the altar of burnt offering in the main courtyard. Finally,

When he has finished making a propitiatory shelter for the holy place and the tent of appointment and the altar, he will bring near the live hairy goat. Aaron will support his two hands on the head of the live hairy goat, confess over it all the depravities of the sons of Israel and all their transgressions in all their sins and put them on the head of the hairy goat and send it away by the hand of a ready man to the wilderness. Thus the hairy goat will bear on it all their depravities to an inaccessible land, and he will send the hairy goat free into the wilderness. (Leviticus 16:20-22 CV)

Again, the purpose of these blood rituals is stated clearly in verse 16: “Thus he will make a propitiatory-shelter over the holy place because of the uncleannesses of the sons of Israel and because of their transgressions, for all their sins” (Lev. 16:16 CV). Uncleanness and transgression are categorized as sin. Thus, it is inevitable that the sons of Israel will sin, the Sanctuary will be polluted, and the Day of Propitiatory-Shelter implemented for the cleansing of the Sanctuary and the people as a collective whole.

The Day of Propitiatory-Shelter is declared to be

an eonian statute: in the seventh month on the tenth day of the month you shall humble your souls, and no work at all shall you do . . . For on this day shall one make a propitiatory shelter over you to cleanse you from all your sins. Before Yahweh shall you be clean . . . This will come to be for you as an eonian statute to make a propitiatory shelter over the sons of Israel because of all their sins, once a year. (Leviticus 16:29a, 30, 34 CV)

The duration of this statute is limited to the Mosaic Eon. The day is to be a solemn day in which the people “humble” their souls. This assembly of the nation will not be a joyous occasion. It will be an annual reminder of the contamination of both the nation and the human race as a result of the death brought in by Adam, upon which death all sinned, all missed the mark of uncontaminated life, all biologically inherited the alien Law of Sin and Death encoded in the members of the body of flesh.

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The Tabernacle as the Only Place for Sacrificial Offerings

In chapter 17 of Leviticus, Yahweh speaks to Moses concerning the one place for sacrificial offerings. Yahweh instructs Moses to speak to Aaron, his sons, and to all the sons of Israel about the slaughtering of sacrificial animals. All sacrificial animals will be slaughtered and sacrificed in the Tabernacle: “Any man from the house of Israel who slays a bull or a sheep or a goat in the camp, or who slays it outside the camp, and does not bring it to the opening of the tent of appointment so as to bring it near as an approach present to Yahweh before the tabernacle of Yahweh, bloodshed shall be accounted to that man. He has shed blood; hence that man will be cut off from among his people” (Lev. 17:3-4 CV).

The purpose of this statute is to avoid any possible sacrifice to other elohim, other gods, “hairy goat demons.” The sons of Israel had been guilty of such prostitution:

This is in order that the sons of Israel may bring their sacrifices which they have been sacrificing on the surface of the field—that they bring them before Yahweh, to the priest at the opening of the tent of appointment, and sacrifice them as sacrifices of peace offerings to Yahweh. . . . No longer shall they sacrifice their sacrifices to hairy goat-demons after whom they have been prostituting. An eonian statute shall this become for them throughout their generations. (Leviticus 17:5-7 CV)

The wilderness had been associated with demons, and sacrifices made in the wilderness had been made to these “hairy goat-demons.” Israel now worships and serves only Yahweh her Elohim. Therefore, all sacrifices will be brought to His dwelling place in the midst of His people and will be received and sacrificed at the hands of Yahweh’s chosen priests and in the presence of Yahweh Himself.

This statute is declared to be an “eonian statute” throughout their generations. It is not limited to Israel’s sojourn in the wilderness prior to entering the Promised Land. It is to be in effect for the entire duration of the Mosaic Eon. However, as Israel’s history will soon reveal, the nation takes relatively little time in abandoning this statute. For by the time of the judges and kings, sacrifice is being made away from the Tabernacle, eventually being conducted in the high places associated with the worship of other gods. This is precisely why Yahweh establishes this eonian statute. Thus, it is vital that all sacrifices take place in the Tabernacle if Israel is to avoid worshiping and serving other elohim. The importance of this statute is affirmed by Yahweh’s stating the penalty twice: “that man will be cut off from among his people” (Lev. 17:4), “that man will be cut off from his kinsmen” (Lev. 17:9).

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Prohibition Against Eating Blood

Closely related to the theme of sacrifice in relation to the worship and service of other elohim is the statute prohibiting the eating of blood. Again, the penalty for disobedience is being “cut off” (Lev. 17:14). Yahweh declares, “I will set My face against the soul eating blood, and I will cut him off from among his people, for the soul of the flesh, it is in the blood, and I Myself have assigned it to you to make a propitiatory shelter over your souls on the altar; for the blood, in the soul it makes a propitiatory shelter” (Lev. 17:10b-11 CV). Blood becomes holy because Yahweh assigns it the role of covering over sin.

The Hebrew text uses the word nephesh, meaning soul, to refer to the life of each Israelite. The author of Leviticus quotes Yahweh as stating the soul is in the blood. The word nephesh in Hebrew is always associated with the five senses. A concordant study of the usage of this word throughout the Hebrew Scriptures will support this conclusion.

In Genesis 2:7, Yahweh breathes into Adam’s nostrils the breath of life, and the Hebrew text concludes Adam became “a living soul [nephesh].” In 1 Corinthians 15:45, Paul declares, “The first man, Adam, became a living soul” (CV), quoting from Genesis 2:7 and using the Greek word psuche, soul, as the equivalent of the Hebrew nephesh. In the very next verse (1 Cor. 15:46), Paul refers to the first humanity associated with Adam as soulish in contrast with the second humanity associated with Christ, which he designates as spiritual.

Adam at his creation, his formation, becomes soulish. The breath, the spirit breathed into his nostrils makes him a living soul. He now becomes a sentient being, the blood delivering the spirit to the members of his body making them sentient—see, hear, touch, taste, smell. The soulish man can die. For the soul is in the blood. The shedding of blood can result in death.

After Adam sins, The Law of Death is activated within him. He can now die without the shedding of his blood. Yahweh declares of Adam after his sin, “soil you are, and to soil are you returning” (Gen. 3:19 CV). In Leviticus 17:13b, Yahweh commands the hunter of game to “pour out its blood and cover it with soil” (CV), a reminder of the Sin and Death brought in by Adam.

The Law of Death operates within humans and results in a return to the soil out of which Adam was formed. The Law of Sin operates within the members of the body of humans, inciting the senses to commit sin (pushing the senses beyond their healthy application), including the taking of another person’s life (soul) by the shedding of that person’s blood. Thus, in the world in which The Law of Sin and Death operates, the threat of murder by means of the shedding of blood is in the hands of each individual human.

The Levitical law reminds all Israelites of the holiness of life by assigning the blood as the means of providing a propitiatory-shelter (a covering) over sin. It is thus a constant reminder of man’s contamination by death and by sin. Man cannot affect The Law of Death, but he can affect, control, repress, war against the input of the operation of The Law of Sin. This is precisely the function of the Law of Yahweh given to Israel.

Thus, the blood is associated with both life and death. Within the living body it is life. Outside the body it is death. As a result, the blood outside the body can be contaminating when contact is made with it, as indicated in the case of menstrual blood. But it can also be an agent of cleansing, as indicated in the usage of blood to ratify the Sinatic Covenant as well as its usage to ceremonially cleanse the Tabernacle, the land, and the people of Israel from sin as defined by the Mosaic Law.

The blood of a sacrificed animal also provides a propitiatory-shelter, a covering, over the sin or sins of the offerer. The animal is not a substitute for the offerer. The offerer, by laying his hands on the animal, identifies with the animal in order for the blood of the animal to be identified by Yahweh as on behalf of the offerer. The offerer remains under the verdict of death (that is, he is still dying as a result of The Law of Death operating in him), and his sin or sins are not removed, but covered, so that Yahweh can maintain a close relationship with the sinner; for sin (as well as death) makes one an enemy of Yahweh. As long as sin is covered over by sacrificial blood, the offerer is not counted, and, thus, not treated as an enemy, but a covenantal friend of Yahweh.

This applies to the sacrificial death of Jesus. His shed blood provides forgiveness of sins, but does not eradicate sins. His death is not substitutionary, for those believing in Him still die the death that they received from Adam. If Christ is their substitute, they would not have to die. Christ is not a substitute. He was the last (eschatos, 1 Cor. 15:45) Adam because His death satisfied the verdict of Yahweh over Adam’s sin, and, becoming the second Adam (1 Cor. 15:47), His life initiated a superseding verdict on behalf of all human beings—Death is no longer the last word; justification of Life is Yahweh’s new verdict on behalf of all human beings; all human beings will be raised out of the Death Adam brought in, into the Life Jesus Christ brought in (Rom. 5:12, 18); The Law of Sin and Death is in the process of being eradicated, replaced by The Law of the Spirit of Life in Christ Jesus. This new law has already rejuvenated the Ecclesia of Christ residing in the Celestial Realm with her Lord for the past 2,000 years and has been and will be rejuvenating the rest of humanity, excluding none, by the end of this (our own) present age.

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The Central Theme of Holiness

As shown in Structure 10, which forms a simple introversion, the central member of the structure of the Book of Leviticus consists of chapters 18 to 20. The theme and the title can be set forth as “Yahweh’s Covenant—The Central Theme of Holiness: Be Ye holy For I Am Holy.”


Structure 10: Yahweh’s Covenant—The Central Theme of Holiness: Be Ye holy For I Am Holy (Leviticus 18:1-20:27)


A1 18:1-30 The Sons of Israel: Walk by My Statutes and Judgments


      B   19:1-37 The Whole Congregation: Holy Shall You Become. For I Am Holy (Observe All My                                    Statutes And All My Judgments)


A2 20:1-27 The Sons of Israel: Walk Not by the Statutes of the Nations


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The A members direct instruction to the sons of Israel. These sons refer to the high officials ruling over the higher courts in the land. The sons of Israel represent all individual Israelites and are responsible to maintain Yahweh’s statutes and judgments in their own lives as well as the lives of the people. They are instructed to walk according to Yahweh’s statutes and judgments and not walk according to the statutes of the nations. Thus, they are to maintain their distinction from the nations. They have been made separate, and such separation will be manifest in behavior conforming to Yahweh’s statutes and judgments.

They are specifically instructed, “According to the deeds of the land of Egypt in which you dwelt, you shall not behave. And according to the deeds of the land of Canaan where I am bringing you, you shall not behave; and by their statutes you shall not walk” (Lev. 18:3 CV). The nations have been rejected by Yahweh as a result of decadent behavior based upon decadent statutes. Thus, these nations are walking in the darkness of their own ways, their own determination of good and evil. Israel has been made holy, separated from the nations, and has been given Yahweh’s statutes and judgments based upon Yahweh’s determination of Good and Evil. Israel, thus, has been given access to Yahweh’s Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil. No other nation has been given this advantage.

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The Nation as One Man

Those high officials responsible for the monitoring of Israel’s behavior are further instructed, “You will observe My statutes and My judgments, for the human who does them will also live by them: I am Yahweh” (Lev. 18:5 CV my emphasis). The term “the human” refers to the nation metaphorically as a man. The nation is thus related covenantally to Yahweh as a collective whole, a collective man. Each individual Israelite is a member of the metaphorical national body. This analogy will also be applied to the Ecclesia, Christ’s body. The nation will live covenantally in the presence of Yahweh and be blessed with terrestrial success socially, politically, economically, agriculturally, hygienically, and religiously by doing, keeping Yahweh’s statutes and judgments.

This is why the faithfulness of the sons of Israel (the High Officials) is vital. The nation, as one man, must obey, must walk in conformity to Yahweh’s statutes and judgments. We have already observed the failure of the nation as one man at Sinai when he (Jacob/Israel) worshiped the golden calf. Though many individual Israelites were innocent in this affair, they still were affected by the verdict of Yahweh—covenantal death was activated in the nation as one man and predetermined its ultimate telos, the death of the Mosaic Covenant, and thus, the covenantal death of the nation.

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Justice in the Higher and Lower Courts

The central member of the structure of chapters 18-20 (Structure 10, B 19:1-37) is directed to “the whole congregation of the sons of Israel (v. 1). The whole congregation refers to the lower officials responsible for the carrying out of Yahweh’s justice in the lower courts of the land. These rulers are under the jurisdiction of the higher officials (the sons of Israel). Again, what applies to these individuals applies to all Israelites. They, like the higher officials, are to lead by setting the example. Thus, they are Yahweh’s servants attending the welfare of the nation. They are to administer Yahweh’s judgments in order to maintain the covenantal health, life of the nation.

It is vital that these officials remain holy by faithfully observing all Yahweh’s statutes and judgments. For if their personal faithfulness is jeopardized, their judicial role is jeopardized. Personal unfaithfulness results in administrational unfaithfulness—judicial injustice. Such injustice will lead to national sickness, national disobedience leading to Yahweh’s implementation of covenantal curse, national judgment.

Thus, the importance of judicial justice in the higher and lower courts in the land can be appreciated. Chapter 18 takes up the theme of judicial justice in the higher courts, emphasizing Yahweh’s statutes. Chapter 20 takes up the theme of judicial justice in the higher courts, emphasizing Yahweh’s judgments. Chapter 19 treats the theme of judicial justice in the lower courts, emphasizing the essence of holiness: separation and wholeness.

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Justice in the Higher Courts: A Holy Land and a Holy People

Chapters 18 and 20 can be divided into three corresponding sections as presented in Structure 11.


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Structure 11: Instructions and Purpose of Statutes and Judgments Concerning Sexual Unions and Resulting Seed (Leviticus 18:1-30; 20:1-27)

C1 18:1-5      Instruction Directed to the Sons of Israel



        D1 18:6-25         Statutes Concerning Sexual Unions and Resulting Seed


                E1 18:26-30      Purpose of the Statutes—A Holy Land



C2 20:1-2a    Instruction Directed to the Sons of Israel



        D2 20:2b-22      Judgments Concerning Sexual Unions and Resulting Seed


                E2 20:23-27      Purpose of Judgments—A Holy People



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Both chapters are directed to the sons of Israel, the high judicial officials (C1 and C2). The second section of chapter 18 (D1) consists of Yahweh’s statutes concerning unacceptable sexual unions and the resulting seed from acceptable unions. Such seed will not be sacrificed to Moloch, for such sacrifice would be idolatry, a profanation of the name of Yahweh, and a breaking of the first of the Ten Words spoken by Yahweh at Sinai. It would also be a refutation of the holiness of life. The corresponding second section of chapter 20 (D2) consists of Yahweh’s judgments (penalties) concerning unacceptable sexual unions and His judgment of death upon any man who sacrifices his seed to Moloch.

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The Purpose of Yahweh’s Statutes: A Holy Land

The third section of Leviticus, chapter 18 (E1 of Structure 11), establishes the purpose of Yahweh’s statutes. His statutes make possible a holy land. The statutes of the nations polluted the land. Yahweh plans to remove these nations from the land. The text describes this as the land vomiting the people out due to their defilement (18:28). Keeping Yahweh’s statutes results in a clean land. A clean land is a holy land, a land separated from the unclean, unholy lands of the nations, a land suitable for the dwelling of the presence of Yahweh.

The corresponding third section of Leviticus, chapter 20 (E2 of Structure 11), establishes the purpose of Yahweh’s judgments. His judgments make possible a holy people. The judgments of the nations, based upon their own statutes, polluted the people, making them unclean in Yahweh’s eyes and causing them to become an irritation to Him (20:23 CV). A holy land is dependent on a holy people. A holy people is dependent on holy statutes and holy judgments.

Thus, Leviticus 18:26 consists of a command directed to Israelites and sojourners. The positive side of the command is to “observe My statutes and My judgments.” The negative side of the command is not to do “any of these abhorrences” of the men of the land. Chapter 18, verses 27-28, declare the purpose of the command: purification of the land. The men of the land, soon to be vomited out, committed abhorrences and made the land unclean. By observing Yahweh’s statutes and judgments, the sons of Israel are to avoid defilement of the land so that the land shall not vomit them out. Yahweh’s judgment on those Israelites who commit such abhorrences is stated in 18:29b: “the souls doing them will be cut off from among their people.” These lawless offenders will be excluded from the covenant. They will no longer have access to Yahweh or His people. They will forfeit any right to the Abrahamic promise concerning the age to come—the celestial citizenship. Thus, they are ostracized, ex-communicated, alienated religiously, socially, economically, and politically.

The command of Leviticus 18:26 is then restated in 18:30. Again, it consists of a positive and a negative side. The sons of Israel are to “Keep My charge.” The charge refers to the covenant terms and, thus, the central theme of this central section and the book as a whole—“Be ye holy for I am holy” (Lev. 11:44). Yahweh has separated Himself from the nations and has become the exclusive Elohim of Israel. As a result, Israel has been separated from the nations to become exclusively Yahweh’s people, Yahweh’s nation. Israel is to be distinguished from the nations by observing only the statutes and judgments designed by Yahweh for Israel. By obeying Yahweh’s statutes and judgments, Israel will maintain her holiness, her distinction among the nations. Under these conditions, Israel is to be a light to the nations. Negatively, Israel is not to practice the abhorrent statutes practiced by the people of the land Israel is to inhabit shortly. The chapter closes with a reference to Yahweh’s holiness on behalf of Israel: “I, Yahweh, am your Elohim” (18:30b CV).

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The Purpose of Yahweh’s Judgments: A Holy People

Returning to the corresponding third section of chapter 20 (E2 of Structure 11, 20:23-27), a presentation of its literary structure (Structure 12) will prove beneficial to its exegesis.


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Structure 12: Purpose of the Judgments—A Holy People (Expansion of the E2 Member of Structure 11, Leviticus 20:23-27)

E2 20:23-27 Purpose of the Judgments—A Holy People




c 20:23    Command: You shall not walk by the habitual statutes of the nations I am casting out.







d 20:24    Promise: You shall tenant their ground

                                                      I give it to you

                                                          I separate you from the peoples






e 20:25    Obligation: Make a separation between the clean and the unclean







d 20:26    Promise: You will become holy to me

                                                      I Yahweh am holy

                                                          I am separating you from the peoples to become Mine



c 20:27    Judgment: Death by stoning to any medium or wizard



Structure 12 begins with a command and ends with a judgment. The sons of Israel are not to walk by the statutes of the nations Yahweh is about to cast out of the land of Canaan. They are not to base their behavior (religious worship, social, political, and economic customs) on the statutes developed by the nations. For these statutes are related to the worship and service of their gods. Israel is to worship and serve only Yahweh her Elohim. Thus, the judgment of Leviticus 20:27 against sorcery is to maintain Israel’s separation from the worship and service of other gods, elohim. Mediums and wizards were associated with the worship and service of the gods of the nations. Any medium or wizard is to be put to death by stoning. Such occupation in Israel is religious adultery, religious prostitution, and would lead to defilement of Israel and pollution of the land. They would signify a return to myth and superstition, a return to the mythopoeic conception of the natural world.

Yahweh then promises Israel the tenancy of the land of Canaan (Lev. 20:24). The land belongs to Yahweh. Israel is to be given the right, the privilege, and the responsibility to tenant, occupy, utilize this rich land, paying Yahweh His due as land owner. The land is a gift from Yahweh to Israel. This is one feature of Israel’s holiness. Yahweh declares this feature of holiness by His authorization for tenancy: “I, Yahweh, am your Elohim, Who separates you from the peoples.” Such separation is an act of making this nation holy. This corresponds to the promise of verse 26. As Yahweh has made the nation holy by authorizing its tenancy of the land, so also is Israel to become holy to Yahweh by dwelling in the land and observing all His statutes and judgments. Yahweh promised that, in spite of her failures, Israel “will become holy to Me.” This is both a command and a promise. Yahweh’s purpose for separating Israel from the peoples will not fail to be fulfilled. Israel will become Yahweh’s holy people. She will become faithfully holy to Yahweh.

The central member, e 20:25 of Structure 12, presents Israel’s obligation (which is to become holy), by means of an example representing the principle of holiness. The nation is to obey Yahweh’s statutes concerning clean and unclean animals. The text states, “You will make a separation . . .” The essence of the principle of holiness is separation. By Israel honoring Yahweh’s statutes of separation, clean and unclean, she will become holy to Yahweh, thus, a holy people dwelling in a holy land.

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The Essence of Holiness: Separation and Wholeness

The center of the entire Book of Leviticus has now been reached. Structure 13 presents the literary structure of chapter 19, emphasizing judicial justice in the lower courts:


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Structure 13: Judicial Justice in the Lower Courts (Leviticus 19:1-37)


B 19:1-37      The Whole Congregation: Holy Shall You Become. For I Am Holy (Observe All My

                        Statutes And All My Judgments)




f1 19:1-2      To the Whole Congregation: Holy Shall You Become. For I Am Holy.





g1 19:3-10       Love Yahweh Your Elohim and Your Neighbor as Yourself





h1 19:11-18        Examples of Loving Yahweh and Neighbor







i 19:19   The Essence of Holiness: Separation and Wholeness





h2 19:20-31        Examples of Loving Yahweh and Neighbor





g2 19:32-36     Love Yahweh your Elohim and the Sojourner in the Land as Yourself



f2 19:37        To the Whole Congregation: You Will Observe and Do All My Judgments


Leviticus, chapter 19, as presented in Structure 13, is addressed to the whole congregation of the sons of Israel, all those men appointed to judgeships in the lower courts throughout the land. All these would be under the jurisdiction of the sons of Israel, those men appointed to judgeships in the higher courts throughout the land. The Aaronic Priesthood represented the Supreme Court of the land. The Levitical Priesthood was responsible for religious instruction and guidance throughout the land.

The whole congregation is to become holy, separated, and committed to observing the laws of Elohim in its conduct and official judgments (f1 19:1-2, Structure 13). This is confirmed and emphasized in the corresponding closing member of Structure 13: “Hence you will observe all My statutes and all My judgments and do them: I am Yahweh” (f2 19:37 CV). Thus, they are to be holy because “I am holy, Yahweh your Elohim” (19:2 CV), and they are to observe faithfully all Yahweh’s statutes and judgments because Yahweh is supreme Ruler, King. Yahweh is sovereign. His statutes and judgments are the absolute standard by which justice shall prevail throughout the whole land.

The next member (g1 19:3-10) of Structure 13 reiterates the royal law: Love Yahweh your Elohim and your neighbor as yourself. These judges are to exemplify in their conduct and legal judgments the love of Yahweh and love of their neighbor, their fellow men. Thus, each is to fear, respect, honor his mother and father (v. 3), which is the fifth commandment of the Ten Words spoken to all Israel at Mount Sinai. Each is to observe Yahweh’s sabbaths (v. 3), commandment number four. Each is to refrain from idolatry (v. 4). Each is to follow the prescribed procedure for a peace offering offered on his own behalf to Yahweh (vs. 5‑8). Each will follow the procedure prescribed for the reaping of the field and vineyard (vs. 9-10). The prescribed procedure is meant to generate just treatment and concern for the poor and the sojourner in the land who have been humbled by unfortunate circumstances. These judges are to uphold these statutes and judgments in their legal decisions. They are to penalize justly those disregarding these laws of Yahweh. By doing so, they will be assuring the nation of Yahweh’s promised blessings in the land.

The corresponding member (g2 19:32-36) of Structure 13 concerns itself with this same royal law, emphasizing the just treatment of the sojourner in the land. He also is to be considered a neighbor and, so, extended the same love as granted to an Israelite. These judges and the nation are called upon to remember their own experience as sojourners in the land of Egypt. They are not to tyrannize over the sojourner as the Egyptians had tyrannized over Israel. All this will be obeyed out of fear, respect, love of Yahweh their righteous Elohim. Not to be forgotten, and thus mistreated, are the aged in the land. The aged are to be respected, honored, revered. This means proper, dignified physical, psychological, social, economic, and religious care of the elderly. Yahweh their Elohim is concerned with the welfare of all the people in the land: the weak, the strong; the poor, the rich; the good, the evil; the lawful, the lawless; the wise, the foolish; the beautiful, the ugly; the healthy, the sick. Love, and thus justice, must be extended to all.

The third member (h1 19:11-18) of Structure 13 provides examples of loving Yahweh and neighbor. Members of the whole congregation of the sons of Israel are not to steal, commandment number 8. They are to respect the property of others and render just decisions in relation to those who violate this respect for the property of others. These judges are to abhor lying. They are not to deceive themselves or others to the detriment of themselves or others. They are to be concerned with the detection of such deception in judging cases brought before them. Such deceptions could be inflicted upon the people by the taking of false oaths. This would be a breaking of the third commandment.

Another example of loving Yahweh and neighbor is the refraining from extortion and pillage. Immediate payment of wages for work contracted also exemplifies love of Yahweh and neighbor. Wages withheld would be an injustice against the welfare of the laborer. It could be used to tyrannize, to enslave, to humble, to dishonor the worker. The blind and the deaf are not to be abused by taking advantage of their defect. Love of neighbor means honest, just treatment of those whose defects make them vulnerable to mistreatment and abuse. All judges are to render fair judgments. They are not to show favor to the rich and powerful, to those of reputation or high standing in the community: “In righteousness shall you judge your companion” (Lev. 19:15b CV). This also means not favoring unjustly the poor, the weak, the humble because of pity on the part of the judge. Slander against his neighbor leading to an unwarranted sentence of death (thus, murder, commandment number 6) is a sign of hatred of the neighbor. Thus, the opposite of loving one’s neighbor with all your heart, mind, and soul is hating “your brother in your heart” (19:17). Hence, this section concludes with the royal law, “You will love your associate as yourself: I am Yahweh” (19:18 CV). To be holy means to act, think, behave, judge in conformity with the character of Yahweh, which His statutes and judgments reveal.

The corresponding member (h2 19:20-31) of Structure 13 provides examples emphasizing the love of Yahweh. In this section Yahweh prohibits divination (eating on the mountain), sorcery (consulting clouds), worship of other elohim (body grooming, laceration, or tattooing connected with false worship), the prostituting of one’s daughter (cult prostitution). Against these idolatrous acts, Yahweh commands, “My sabbaths shall you observe, and My sanctuary shall you fear: I am Yahweh” (Num. 19:30 CV). Yahweh and only Yahweh will be worshiped and served. Only Yahweh’s sabbaths shall be observed. Only Yahweh’s sanctuary, the Tabernacle, will be the place where Yahweh will dwell in the midst of the people and where the people will offer sacrifices to Yahweh.

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The Heart of the Book of Leviticus: No Mixture

At the very heart of the Book of Leviticus, the central literary member (19:19, Structure 13) of the central literary member (19:1-37, Structure 10) of the central literary member of the book as a whole (18:1‑20:27, Structure 10) is verse 19 of chapter 19.

My statutes shall you observe: your beast you shall not cause to copulate dissimilarly; your field you shall not sow dissimilarly, and a garment dissimilarly made of lindsey-woolsey shall not come up on you. (CV)

This single verse contains and illustrates the essence of holiness: Separation and Wholeness. Only Israel has been given Yahweh’s statutes. This distinguishes Israel from all other nations. By observing these statutes, Israel will actualize her separation from all other nations and from the worship and service of all other elohim, gods. As such, she will be a light to the nations, a beacon in the night pointing the way back to the correct demythified conception of the natural world, to the only living and true Elohim, the haven of rest for all nations.

The second part of Leviticus 19:19 illustrates what Yahweh means by separation, holiness. To be holy is to be separated to the worship and service of only Yahweh. Such separation demands wholeness, no mixture, thus purity. This is illustrated in verse 19 by the prohibiting of mixed breeding, mixed sowing, and mixed weaving. Israel is not to become mixed with the nations. She is not to mix Yahweh’s statutes and judgments, Yahweh’s Ten Words with the statutes, judgments, and words of the nations. She is to walk in wholeness, purity, observing unmixed, observing uncontaminatedly the stipulations of the covenant entered into at Sinai through the mediation of Moses. This does not imply perfection in terms of carrying out Yahweh’s Laws flawlessly. Israel would miss the mark (sin) often. However, holiness is accounted on the basis of Israel’s intention of aiming for Yahweh’s target. The intention of the heart and mind must be unmixed, pure, uncontaminated, singularly committed to Yahweh and His statutes and judgments, and His Ten Words. Such wholeness, purity, singularity, accounts the nation lawful, obedient, lover of Yahweh and neighbor (all other nations). Such is also applicable to all individual Israelites.

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The first generation coming out of Egypt fails to become holy. As a holy people this generation contaminates itself, behaving as the nations, walking according to what is right in its own eyes rather than walking faithfully in accord with what is right in the eyes of Yahweh. As a result, this evil generation defiling its holiness is sentenced by Yahweh to die in the wilderness. Thus, the Book of Numbers is a record of two numberings of the nation. The first numbering provides an account of the failure of the first generation after journeying from Sinai. The second numbering is an account of the success of the second generation. This is clearly set forth in the literary structure of the book as a whole as presented in Structure 14.


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Structure 14: The Book of Numbers (Numbers 1:1-36:13)


A1 1:1-19   Introduction—Yahweh’s Command to Number the Sons of Israel:

                                To Moses

                                Concerning the sons of Israel

                                In the wilderness of Sinai

                                In the tent of appointment

                                1st day, 2nd month, 2nd year


                      B1 1:20- 25:18   The Numbering of the First Generation coming out of Egypt

                                                          and preparation for entering the promised land—



                      B2 26:1-36:12    The Numbering of the Second Generation coming out of Egypt

                                                          and preparation for entering the promised land—



A2 36:13     Conclusion—Yahweh’s Instruction and Judgments:

                                By means of Moses

                                To the sons of Israel

                                In the plains of Moab

                                In the tent of appointment

                                End of the 40th year of wandering


As presented in Structure 14, the introduction of the Book of Numbers (A1 1:1-19) records Yahweh’s command to Moses to number the whole congregation of the sons of Israel. This command is given to Moses in the tent of appointment (the Tabernacle) in the wilderness of Sinai on the first day of the second month of the second year of the departure of the people from Egypt. Those to be numbered consisted of all males from the age of 20 and up. The second section of the book (B1 1:20-25:18) gives an accounting of the first numbering and preparation of the nation for the journey to the Promised Land. It then records the various rebellions and judgments of this first generation in the course of its journey to the Promised Land, stressing the rebellious failure to enter the land and the 40 years of wandering, during which the judgment of Yahweh against this generation is carried out—death in the wilderness.

As shown in Structure 14, the third section of the Book of Numbers (B2 26:1-36:12), in literary correspondence to the second section, gives an accounting of the second numbering and preparation of the nation for entrance into the Promised Land. The journeying is over. The first generation is dead. The second generation is camped in Moab along the Jordan River across from Jericho, a city within the boundaries of the Promised Land. This generation is not rebellious. This generation eagerly awaits the command of Yahweh to cross over the Jordan into the Land of Promise. The conclusion of the Book of Numbers as shown in Structure 14 (A2 36:13) confirms Yahweh’s instructions and judgments given to Moses on behalf of the second generation camped in the plains of Moab. The nation is now prepared to enter the Land of Promise.

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The Rebellion at Taberah and Kibroth Hattaavah

The journey from Mount Sinai begins as the cloud of Yahweh signals the people to follow in accord with Yahweh’s design (see Numbers, chapter 2). As the cloud rises above the Tabernacle and begins to move, the tribes in predesignated order follow the cloud. The Ark of the Covenant goes before the people. Before long, the people begin to complain, “The people became like complainers, evil in the ears of Yahweh” (Num. 11:1a CV).

Yahweh’s anger is aroused, and He sends fire among them in judgment. The text indicates this fire “consumed some among them and devoured the outmost part of the camp” (Num. 11:1b CV). The “outmost part of the camp” consisted of the mixed multitude described in Exodus 12:38: “Moreover a mixed multitude ascended with them [Israel] . . .” (CV). The essence of holiness, as defined and illustrated in Leviticus 19:1-37, is separation and wholeness. The threat to wholeness is mixture. Thus, the first rebellion is instigated by this mixed multitude residing at the outskirts of the camp. It takes place at Taberah (Heb. = the burning place) and contaminates some of the Israelites, causing them to complain. Yahweh’s judgment consumes some among the Israelites (the contaminated ones) but devours the outmost part of the camp described in Leviticus 11:4 as “the rabble which was among them . . .” (CV). This rabble, mixed multitude, is also described as “your sojourner who is within your camps, from the chopper of your timbers to the bailer of your waters” (Deut. 29:11b CV, cf. Josh. 8:35). The people then cry to Moses who intercedes on their behalf. Yahweh cuts short the judgment.

Other members of this mixed multitude, this rabble residing in the midst of the people, “lusted after yearning; and again the sons of Israel lamented also and said: Who shall give us flesh to eat?” (Num. 11:4b CV). The complaint is against the manna of Yahweh. Some of the sons of Israel follow the example of those rebellious members of the mixed multitude and become mixed with the attitude of the rabble. These lose their wholeness, their separation. Thus, these holy ones become contaminated, polluted, and as such, contagious, making their destruction necessary for the welfare of the nation.

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The Desperation of Moses

It is in the midst of this situation that Moses in desperation cries out to Yahweh,

Why have You dealt evil to your servant? And why have I not found grace in Your eyes that You placed the load of all this people on me? Was I myself pregnant with all this people, or did I generate it, that You should say to me: Carry it in your bosom just as a foster-father carries a suckling child, to the ground about which You had sworn to their fathers? From where would I find flesh to give to all this people? For they are lamenting to me, saying: Do give us flesh and let us eat. I am not able, by myself alone, to bear all this people, for it is too heavy for me. So if thus You are doing to me, kill me, I pray, yea kill me. If I have found grace in Your eyes then do not let me see Your evil. (Numbers 11:11-15 CV)

Just prior to this outcry, in verse 10, “Moses heard the people lamenting . . . And the anger of Yahweh grew exceedingly hot, and in the eyes of Moses it was evil” (CV). Moses understood Yahweh’s anger meant the application of evil. Those contaminated by this rebellious lust must be destroyed. The people as a whole were affected by this disloyal attitude. They began to lament their departure from Egypt, “Who shall give us flesh to eat? We remember the fish which we ate in Egypt gratuitously, the cucumbers and the melons, the leeks, the onions and the garlic!” (Num. 11:4b CV). This typical nostalgic remembrance of the past deceitfully ignores the harshness of the nation’s enslavement to Egyptian cruelty. Moses is overwhelmed with the impossibility of providing this people with substantial food in the midst of a wilderness. The only way to accomplish this would be to slaughter the herds of the people. But this meant destroying the very purpose of the exodus.

Thus, Moses concludes he is a failure as a leader. The burden is too heavy to be borne by one man. He requests that Yahweh kill him rather than that he should see Yahweh’s evil against the people. In his distress, Moses fails to consider Yahweh’s capacity to provide and Yahweh’s compassionate and merciful use of evil.

Moses is fully aware of the injustice and ingratitude of the people’s lament. On the other hand, he can understand their desire for meat. The desire is not evil. The evil is their lustful attitude issuing into a lament revealing a lack of trust in Yahweh’s faithfulness and a lack of confidence in Yahweh’s love for them. Again, Yahweh is indirectly being accused of capriciousness, the essential characteristic of the gods of the nations.

However, the solution to the problem is essentially understood by Moses. The overwhelming stress of the situation has clouded his perception and conception due to his false, and thus evil, conclusion that he is to blame. Moses has not failed. He is not to be blamed for the people’s lament. Within his complaint to Yahweh, he reveals a knowledge which should have avoided the response emanating from his great distress. He declares, “Was I myself pregnant with all this people, or did I generate it . . .?” (Num. 11:12a CV). The obvious answer is No. Yahweh is responsible for this nation. This is no secret to Moses. He took upon himself that which belonged only to Yahweh—ultimate responsibility for the success of the mission. Having perceived the impossibility of one man bearing the overwhelming burden of the nation, Moses should have consulted with Yahweh, making the necessary request for help.

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The Diverting of the Spirit of Moses

As it turns out, Yahweh’s response to Moses’ distressful complaint provides the necessary relief to his overwhelming burden. Yahweh commands Moses to choose 70 elders of Israel upon whom “I will divert some of the spirit which is on you and place it on them. They will bear the load of the people with you so that you are not bearing it by yourself alone” (Num. 11:17 CV). Moses then gathers 70 men of the elders, and Yahweh descends in a cloud, causing some of the spirit on Moses to be placed upon these 70 elders. As the spirit rested on each man, each prophesied, signifying the shared reception of the spirit upon Moses. Each was never to experience such prophetic utterance again.

Two men of the 70, however, had remained in the camp. Yet, upon them also the spirit came to rest, and they also prophesied. Joshua challenges the right of these two men to share in the authority of Moses, supposedly because they had not appeared at the tent of appointment as the other 68 had obediently done. The response of Moses is most significant: “Art thou jealous for me? Oh would that all the people of Yahweh were prophets! Yea, let Yahweh put his spirit upon them!” (Num. 11:29 EB). He now realizes the full implication of Yahweh’s solution to the present problem. Truly, Yahweh alone is ultimately responsible for the nation and its purpose. The covenant made at Sinai (and its reestablishment after the failure committed with the golden calf) is temporary. It is not the ultimate means of fulfilling the promises made to Abram. It is a penultimate means.

The later prophets of Israel perceived this truth. Jeremiah speaks of a new covenant which Yahweh will make with the house of Israel and the house of Judah (Jer. 31:31); he declares Yahweh will put His law within them and write it upon their hearts (Jer. 31:33); Ezekiel declares Yahweh will give Israel a new heart and a new spirit (Ezk. 36:26); Joel prophesied Yahweh would pour out His spirit upon Israel and her sons and daughters would prophesy (Joel 2:28). Peter, speaking to Israel in Acts, chapter 2, quotes this very same prophecy of Joel, claiming its fulfillment at that present time with the pouring out of the spirit at Pentecost. He proclaims that Jesus has been resurrected from the dead and is presently seated on the throne of David having obtained and poured out the promise of the holy spirit as predicted by the Law and the Prophets. Thus, the diverting of the spirit of Yahweh on Moses to the 70 elders is a type of the diverting of Yahweh’s spirit on Christ to all those believing into Him. The diverting of the spirit on Moses is penultimate in contrast to the pouring out of the spirit on Christ which is the ultimate fulfillment of the Law and the Prophets. Moses’ response to Joshua’s zealousness on his behalf is a prophetic utterance pointing to Jesus the Christ.

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The Judgment of Yahweh

Yahweh’s application of evil in judgment of the people is not without compassion and mercy. He does provide food. A wind (Heb. = ruah, spirit, breath) from Yahweh drives an exceedingly large number of quails from the sea to the wilderness and deposits them at a distance around two sides of the camp. As the people have lamented contrary to the spirit (ruah) of Yahweh on Moses, so the wind (ruah) of Yahweh supplies the quails which will both destroy the evil ones (the one’s lusting after yearning, Num. 11:4), and mercifully compensate the ones deceptively seduced by the rabble and the ones who had remained faithful.

Gatherers are appointed to collect and prepare the quails for consumption. Yahweh had declared, “Unto a month of days shall you eat until it comes forth from your nostrils and becomes odious to you because you rejected Yahweh Who is among you and lamented before Him, . . .” (Num. 11:20 CV). The preparers spread the quails out to dry. However, those described as lusting after yearning (11:4) that is, craving impatiently, probably could not and did not take the time to preserve the quails by salting. These are the ones destroyed, killed by Yahweh, most likely as a result of food poisoning. These are the ones after whom the place is named, Kibroth Hattaavah, the grave of the craving, “for there they entombed the people, the lusters” (Num. 11:34 CV). The remainder of the people continued eating quail for a month, during which time quail became odious in their nostrils. Yahweh’s merciful judgment in their case is intended to correct and discipline.

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The Unique Stature of Moses

Following the rebellion at Kibroth Hattaavah, Miriam and Aaron challenge the authority of Moses, saying, “Is it but only through Moses that Yahweh speaks? Does He not also speak through us?” (Num. 12:2a CV). After all, Yahweh had just recently diverted the spirit of Moses to be shared by the 70 elders. Has this not diminished his status? The answer is an emphatic No! The text immediately records, “And Yahweh heard” (Num. 12:2b). Yahweh Himself comes to the defense of Moses.

The writer then comments, “Now the man Moses was exceedingly humble, more than any human who was on the surface of the ground” (Num. 12:3 CV). The word “humble” in Hebrew refers to one who has achieved a mastery over himself. One who has harnessed his soul, his spirit, and his body. Moses had achieved this discipline, this meekness, “exceedingly,” more than any other living human being at that time. This mastery, this self-discipline, and control had been harnessed in the worship and service of Yahweh.

Moses is unique. His stature is unequaled in Israel until the coming of Jesus the Christ. He alone is the mediator of the Sinatic Covenant. This covenant came to be known as the Covenant of Moses, the Mosaic Covenant, the Law of Moses. His name was often used as a synonym for the Law of Yahweh. Yahweh had declared, concerning him, “in you shall they believe for the eon” (Ex. 19:9b CV).

As a result of the audacity of Miriam and Aaron, Yahweh orders, “Come forth, you three, to the tent of appointment” (Num. 12:4 CV). There, Yahweh humiliated them, castigatingly proclaiming,

If there were a prophet among you, I, Yahweh, in an appearance shall make Myself known to Him; in a dream shall I speak to him. Not so with My servant Moses. In My whole house he is faithful. Mouth to mouth am I speaking with him, and manifestly, not in enigmas, so that he looks at a representation of Yahweh. (Numbers 12:6-8a CV)

Yahweh speaks to Moses “mouth to mouth,” personally, not in enigmas, that is, not in puzzles, not cryptically, not in riddles, not obscurely, not ambiguously, not in dreams and visions. This allows Moses to speak authoritatively and intelligibly. Thus, the law is communicable. It can be taught and passed on from one generation to another. It is intelligible and obeyable.

The greatness of Moses is exceeded only by Jesus the Christ, as the writer of the Book of Hebrews contends. This writer, alluding to Numbers 12:7, argues that Jesus the Christ is worthy of more glory than Moses because a faithful son is greater than a faithful servant. Moses as an attendant was faithful in Yahweh’s house, but Jesus as a son was in the process of faithfully building, constructing the House of Yahweh (Heb. 3:1-6). Moses mediates Yahweh’s covenant with the blood of animals; Christ consecrates Yahweh’s New Covenant with His own blood. To believe into Moses for the eon unequivocably meant believing into Jesus the Christ. To believe Moses one must properly understand the teachings of Moses. To properly understand the teachings of Moses is to believe into Jesus. This is what John meant when he declared, “Because the law through Moses was given, the grace and the truth came through Jesus Christ” (Jn. 1:17 my translation). The Mosaic Covenant necessitated the New Covenant established by Jesus Christ. Therefore, to believe Moses is to understand the necessity of a new covenant and, at the appointed time, to recognize Jesus as the Christ. The Mosaic Law was to become an escort to Christ (Gal. 3:24).

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Rebellion in the Wilderness of Paran

As the nation is encamped in the wilderness of Paran, Yahweh commands Moses, “Send some men [enosh = mortals = men of renown] ahead of you that they may explore the land of Canaan . . . One man, one each for the stock of his fathers, shall you send and everyone a prince among them” (Num. 13:2 CV). When the twelve chosen princes, one from each of the twelve tribes, return from this exploration, they report, “We came to the land to which you sent us, and indeed it is gushing with milk and honey, . . . Only that the people dwelling in the land are strong and the cities are defended and exceedingly great” (Num. 13:27-28 CV). Hearing this report, the people begin muttering against Moses. Caleb, one of the twelve princes sent out, then “quelled the muttering of the people against Moses and said: We should go up, yea up and tenant it, for we are able to prevail against it” (Num. 13:30 CV). Joshua, another of the twelve princes sent out, agrees with Caleb. However, the remaining ten princes disagree, arguing, “We are not able to go up against the people, for they are more courageous than we. . . . the land through which we passed to explore it, it is a land that is devouring its dwellers; it and all the people whom we saw in its midst were men [enosh = mortals = men of renown] of great measure. . . . And we became, in our eyes, like grasshoppers; so we became in their eyes” (Num. 13:31-33 CV).

This disparaging interpretation is the conclusion drawn by ten faithless men of renown, princes, and leaders among the sons of Israel. To these ten, the men of renown among the inhabitants of the land are by far superior to the men of Israel. Their recommendation causes the people to lament and the sons of Israel (the leaders) to grumble against Moses and Aaron. The whole congregation of leaders complains to Moses and Aaron, “O that we had died in the land of Egypt or in this wilderness! O that we had died! Why is Yahweh bringing us to this land to fall by the sword? Our wives and our little ones shall be taken as plunder. Is it not better for us to return to Egypt?” (Num. 14:2b-3 CV).

In response, Moses and Aaron prostrate themselves to Yahweh before the whole assembly of the congregation of the sons of Israel. Both realize the seriousness of the present offense against Yahweh. The verdict of death is not far off. The sword of Yahweh is being drawn from its sheath. Joshua and Caleb immediately tear their garments, in ancient times a mark of distress, and together testify, “The land through which we passed to explore it is a very, very good land. If Yahweh delights in us then He will bring us into this land, and He will give it to us. . . . Only against Yahweh do not revolt, and you, do not fear the people of the land, for they are our bread. Their protective shadow has withdrawn from over them, and Yahweh is with us. Do not fear them” (Num. 14:7b-9 CV).

They exhort the whole congregation to trust Yahweh. He is not capricious. What He began doing on their behalf in Egypt, He will continue to do in the land of Canaan. As He testified, the land is very fertile, very rich. As Yahweh defeated the Egyptians, He would defeat the enemy in Canaan. Their gods are powerless to help them. Yahweh Himself has been protecting the Canaanites from destruction. He has now withdrawn His protective shadow from over them. To return to Egypt is to revolt against Yahweh. To fear the Canaanites is to worship and serve their inferior gods, thus dishonoring Yahweh the Only Living Elohim.

Yahweh will delight in Israel if Israel remains faithful, if Israel delights in His voice, His word, His law. Trust Yahweh! He will deliver the enemy into Israel’s hands. Yahweh will cause the men of renown among the Canaanites to perceive themselves as grasshoppers in contrast to Yahweh’s holy host of warriors. Israel need not fear these foreign men of renown, for Yahweh will put the fear of Israel into their hearts. As Yahweh has removed the shadow of protection from over the Canaanites, so might He remove the protective shadow from over those within Israel who rebel against Him. In response to this testimony, the whole congregation with one voice cries out “pelt them with stones” (Num. 14:10 CV).

Yahweh responds, “How long shall this people spurn Me? And how long shall you not believe in Me despite all the signs which I have done among them? I shall smite them with the plague and evict them, and I shall make you [Moses] into a greater and more substantial nation than they” (Num. 14:11-12 CV). Here is the same response Moses had heard on Mount Sinai in relation to Israel’s worship of the golden calf. Once again Moses intercedes on behalf of the nation. Once again he reminds Yahweh of His honor and glory. He advocates Yahweh’s own declaration concerning Himself. This very advocation demonstrates the exceeding humbleness, meekness of Moses recorded earlier in Numbers 12:3. Moses has harnessed all his faculties in the worship and service of Yahweh. He is a faithful servant in Yahweh’s house. He argues,

The Egyptians have heard that You brought up this people by Your vigor, from among them; and they have spoken to the dwellers of this land; . . . If You put this people to death as one man, then the nations who heard the report of You will say, saying: Because Yahweh was unable to bring this people to the land which He had sworn to them, He slew them in the wilderness. So now let, I pray, the vigor of Yahweh be great just as You have spoken, saying: Yahweh, slow to anger and with much kindness and truth, bearing with depravity and transgression and sin, yet He is not immediately making innocent in order to make innocent, but is visiting the depravity of the fathers on the sons, on the third and on the fourth generation. Pardon, I pray, the depravity of this people according to the greatness of Your kindness just as You bore with this people from Egypt and hitherto. (Numbers 14:13-19 CV)

As Pharaoh and the Egyptians had spurned Yahweh’s signs, so, Yahweh declares, Israel has been spurning His signs. Moses acknowledges the depravity of the people. However, he points out how Yahweh is slow to anger, showing kindness and acting in accord with truth and justice. He will visit His anger only after three or four generations have continued to behave unfaithfully. The present generation consisting of those 20 years of age or older represents such a third or fourth generation residing in Egypt, conforming themselves to the ways of the Egyptians. The people as one corporate man, one nation, should not be put to death. This would bring dishonor to Yahweh. Only the guilty should be put to death.

This wise counsel given by Moses as advisor to Yahweh, King of Israel, is proudly honored. And again Moses has been put to the test by Yahweh the King, and his faithful counsel highly esteemed in the eyes of Yahweh. Is it any wonder that Yahweh would confidently, proudly declare of His servant Moses, “In my whole house he is faithful. Mouth to mouth am I speaking with him, and manifestly, not in enigmas, so that he looks at a representation of Yahweh” (Num. 12:7b-8a)?!

Yahweh announces to Moses, “I have pardoned them according to your word. Howbeit, as I am the living One, and as all the earth shall be filled with the glory of Yahweh, all the men [enosh = mortals = men of renown] who were seeing My glory and My signs which I did in Egypt and in the wilderness, . . . and they did not hearken to My voice, they assuredly shall not see the land about which I had sworn to their fathers! All who are spurning Me shall not see it” (Num. 14:20-23 CV). Caleb and Joshua are declared exceptions (Num. 14:38). Yahweh characterizes Caleb as possessing “another spirit . . . he is following fully after Me” (Num. 14:24 CV). Thus, Caleb demonstrates what it means to walk in spirit, walk in obedience—to love Yahweh with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your intensity (Deut. 6:5 CV). To Moses and Aaron, Yahweh further declares, “How long shall I bear with this evil congregation, . . .? Say to them: As I am the living One . . . just as you have spoken into My ears so shall I assuredly do to you. In this wilderness your corpses shall fall: all your mustered ones, all of your number, from twenty years old and upward, you who have murmured against Me, . . . save Caleb son of Jephunneh and Joshua son of Nun. As for your little ones of whom you have said: They shall be taken as plunder, I will also bring them in, and they will know the land which you have rejected. As for you, your corpses shall fall in this wilderness, and your sons shall be shepherds in the wilderness for forty years, and they will bear your prostitutions until your corpses are spent in the wilderness” (Num. 14:26-33 CV). This evil congregation consisted of all those counted up under the first numbering, all those 20 years old and upward, all those who murmured against Yahweh. Rejecting the land, they rejected Yahweh. Rejecting Yahweh, they rejected the promise sworn to their fathers. They would die in the wilderness over a period of 40 years.

As they had concluded Yahweh unable to protect the lives of their little ones, Yahweh announces these same little ones would triumphantly enter the land. However, because of the prostitutions (the various acts of unholiness) of the fathers, the sons would not enter the land until the end of the 40 years of judgment. During this period, their sons would occupy themselves as shepherds under the harsh conditions of the wilderness. Though the sons are not held responsible for the acts of their fathers, they will not escape the affect of the behavior of their fathers. The consequence of sin (missing the mark) affects the guilty and the innocent. Thus, the text alludes to Cain and Abel, “Am I my brother’s keeper?” The Mosaic Law responds with an emphatic YES!

The failure of the first generation coming out of Egypt to remain faithful to Yahweh in the wilderness of Paran and during the 40 years of wandering becomes a typological warning for the members of the last generation of the Mosaic Age. This last generation also will begin an exodus, under Jesus the Christ, the mediator of a new covenant, a deliverer of His people. They, too, will come under a similar testimony to that of Joshua and Caleb—a testimony of encouragement and warning.

Such is the testimony of the Apostle Paul in his first letter to the Corinthians. In chapter 10, verse 11, Paul warns, “Now all these things befell them typically. Yet it was written for our admonition, to whom the consummations of the ages have attained” (my translation). If one is not faithful to the end, he will be disqualified to participate in the promise to Abraham concerning citizenship in the Celestial Jerusalem.

Paul testifies, “Now all am I doing because of the evangel, that I may be becoming a joint participant of it. Are you not aware that those racing in a stadium are, indeed, all racing, yet one is obtaining the prize? Thus be racing that you may be grasping it. . . . thus I am racing, . . . not as punching the air, but I am belaboring my body and leading it unto slavery, lest somehow, when heralding to others, I myself may become disqualified” (1 Cor. 9:23-27 CV). All these faithful ones are journeying as participants in an exodus out of the old covenant into the new covenant—out of the Jerusalem below into the Jerusalem Above. Typically, they are in the wilderness between Egypt and the land of Canaan. As all Israel has been baptized into Moses, so all the present faithful ones are baptized into Christ.

However, “But not in the majority of them does God [Yahweh] delight, for they were strewn along in the wilderness. Now these things became types of us, for us not to be lusters after evil things, according as they also lusted” (1 Cor. 10:5-6 CV). Not all entered the Promised Land. Not all were faithful to the end. Failure to remain faithful to the end would result in failure to enter into the promised Celestial City above. The Gospel of Christ demanded walking in spirit, as exemplified by Caleb and Joshua. Yahweh had destroyed the ten explorers who had delivered the disparaging report. Their “evil mutterings” (Num. 14:37 CV) manifested their unfaithfulness, their revolt against Yahweh Who executed them by means of a divine stroke. They became disqualified, as did also the majority of those included in the first census, the first numbering commanded by Yahweh.

Paul and all the faithful saints (Messianic Jews) of the first century were members of the last generation of the string of generations living through the Mosaic Eon. This is why Paul could refer to members of his generation as those “to whom the consummations of the eons have attained” (1 Cor. 10:11 CV). The Law and the Prophets find their fulfillment, their completion, their telos in the generation of Jesus. This includes the consummation, end, telos (goal) of each of the ages prior to Moses, that is, the age of Adam, the age of Noah, the age of the Patriarchs.

Paul’s warning was to be taken seriously, because the time for faithfulness and the opportunity for repentance were limited. This is typified in the reaction of all the sons of Israel to Yahweh’s verdict against “this evil congregation” (Num. 14:27 CV). The people mourned and vowed, “now we will go up to the place of which Yahweh spoke, for we have sinned” (Num. 14:41b-42a CV). Moses responds, “You are trespassing the bidding [oracle] of Yahweh, so this shall not prosper. Do not go up since Yahweh is not among you . . .” (Num. 14:41 CV). But the people refuse to obey Moses’ voice. They presumptuously proceed against the warriors of the land of Canaan without Yahweh or the Ark of the Covenant going before them. The text concludes, “The Amalekite and the Canaanite . . . smote them and pounded them as far as Hormah” (Num. 14:45 CV).

Thus, Paul in his second letter to the Corinthians, quoting Isaiah 49:8, “In a season acceptable I reply to you, And in a day of salvation I help you,” concludes, “Lo! Now is a most acceptable era! Lo! Now is a day of salvation” (2 Cor. 6:2 CV). The Mosaic Eon was ending. Its consummation was near. The faithful ones were very close to entering into the Celestial Jerusalem above. Their salvation was drawing near: “This, also, do, being aware of the era, that it is already the hour for us to be roused out of sleep, for now is our salvation nearer than when we believed. The night progresses, yet the day is near” (Rom. 13:11-12a CV). What Jesus had begun was nearing its fulfillment, its telos, its goal: “And handed to Him [Jesus] was a scroll of the prophet Isaiah, and, opening the scroll, He found the place where it was written, ‘The spirit of the Lord is on Me, . . . He anoints Me to bring the evangel to the poor. . . . To herald an acceptable year of the Lord . . .’ And furling the scroll, . . . He is seated. . . . Now He begins to be saying to them that ‘Today this scripture is fulfilled in your ears’” (Lk. 4:17-21 CV).

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The Rebellion of Korah

The character of the people of the first generation coming out of Egypt as rebellious, proud, obstinate, and foolish continues to manifest itself to the amazement of both the editor of the Book of Numbers and the modern day reader. Korah, a son of Kohath, a son of Levi, being fully aware of the rebellion at Paran and its outcome, organizes an insurrection against the authority of Moses and Aaron. He succeeds in gaining the allegiance of three princes of the tribe of Reuben: Dathan, Abiram, and On. As a result of their enticement, 250 princes from among the twelve tribes of Israel are persuaded to commit themselves to this opposing camp.

It appears that On, son of Peleth, soon withdraws from this evil coalition. It may be due to the erection of a competing tabernacle. Korah appears to be seeking the High Priesthood of Aaron (Num. 16:10). The erection of another tabernacle directly confronting the Tabernacle designed and constructed under the instruction of Moses is a physical representation signifying the seriousness of the challenge. This group represents an alternative cultic community. The text of chapter 16 refers to the “tabernacle of Korah, Dathan and Abiram” (Num. 16:24, Heb. Text = tabernacle, singular, not tent). On is no longer mentioned. Dathan and Abiram associate themselves with the challenging high priest and the challenging tabernacle. They seek the civil authority represented by Moses.

Korah, Dathan, Abiram, On, and the 250 princes initiate a confrontation with Moses and Aaron. They argue that Yahweh is in the midst of the whole congregation; therefore, all the members of the congregation are holy. They accuse Moses and Aaron of exalting themselves over the assembly of Yahweh. The people have had enough of their leadership. A change is warranted. Moses instructs Korah and his whole congregation to prepare firepans with incense on them and be ready to present them before Yahweh on the following day. This was a basic and an exclusive prerogative of priests. If Korah’s congregation is holy, its offerings will be accepted. They will not experience the destruction that came upon Aaron’s two evil sons. Aaron also is instructed to provide from Yahweh’s Tabernacle a firepan to be set before Yahweh. The challenge would be settled by Yahweh. The outcome is already implied in the final words of Moses to Korah and his congregation, “Enough of you,” throwing in their faces the very charge they made against Moses and Aaron (Num. 16:7 CV).

Moses then rebukes Korah and his plan to obtain more privileges for the Levites. He reminds Korah, a Levite, of the honor given to the Levites by Yahweh. Yahweh separated them (made them holy) from the congregation of Israel in order for them to serve the Tabernacle of Yahweh and to minister to the entire congregation of Israel. He accuses Korah of being greedy on behalf of himself and the Levites, “Yet now you seek even the priesthood!” (Num. 16:10 CV). He refers here to the Aaronic Priesthood. Such greed sets Korah and his entire congregation against Yahweh.

Later, Moses summons Dathan and Abiram to appear before him at the tent of appointment. Both men refuse to obey Moses. They accuse Moses of being a tyrant and a failure: “Is it a little thing that you brought us up from a land gushing with milk and honey to put us to death in the wilderness, and that you are making yourself a chief, yea a chief over us? Indeed, into a land gushing with milk and honey you did not bring us that you might give to us an allotment of field and vineyard. Are you picking out the eyes of these men? We shall not come up!” (Num. 16:13-14 CV). The accusation is that Moses made himself chief and had been successful in maintaining his position of power by blinding the people to his deceptive activities which have resulted in the ruin of the people. No longer would this be tolerated.

Moses becomes exceedingly angry. He knows he has not deceived the people; he has not personally prospered by indulging in bribes; he has not committed any evil against any man. He requests that Yahweh reject any approach present Dathan and Abiram may attempt to offer Yahweh. In effect, he is requesting they be cut off from among Yahweh’s people.

Following this refusal of the summons of Moses, Korah, Dathan, and Abiram erect an opposing tabernacle directly confronting the Mosaic Tabernacle. This will allow the opposing cult to meet Moses and Aaron at the tent of appointment without submitting to the authority of Moses and Aaron. In the morning, the two cultic assemblies gather before the tent of appointment as Moses had ordered, with an additional group supporting Korah, Dathan, and Abiram and representing other revolutionaries from among the tribes. The glory of Yahweh appears to this whole congregation. Yahweh commands Moses and Aaron saying, “Separate yourselves from the midst of this congregation so that I may finish them in a moment” (Num. 16:21 CV).

Moses and Aaron immediately fall on their faces, pleading with Yahweh, “El, Elohim of the spirits for all flesh, as for the one man [enosh = mortal = man of renown], he is sinning; but shall You be wrathful over the whole congregation?” (Num. 16:22 CV). Moses and Aaron address Yahweh as “El, Elohim of the spirits for all flesh,” acknowledging Yahweh as El, the Elohim responsible for the spirit of life energizing all human beings. He gives life (spirit), and He has the sovereign right of life and death over each human being. Thus, to walk in spirit is to walk in accord with El’s universal laws of life. This is possible and beneficial for all human beings. In this text, the word “flesh,” representing mankind, indicates the condition of all men as a result of Adam’s sin—the activation of The Law of Death now operating in all men. In verse 29 of this chapter, Moses refers to the operation of this law as “the common death of all humanity.”

Moses and Aaron acknowledge the right of Yahweh to take away life as He pleases. However, they request that He take only the life of the one man who is the originator of the sin which has deceived others into jeopardizing their own spirits. They intercede on behalf of those who have been seduced by those men whose hearts are in rebellion against Yahweh. Again, Yahweh harkens to Moses, “Speak to the congregation, saying: Move away from around the tabernacle of Korah, Dathan and Abiram” (Num. 16:23 CV).

Notice the word “tabernacle,” singular, is used, not tent. This tabernacle is designated as belonging to Korah, Dathan, and Abiram—the chief revolutionaries. Korah stands before this tabernacle, for he is challenging Aaron for the High Priesthood. Dathan and Abiram have removed their tents (along with their families) from the camp of the Reubenites, located south of the Mosaic Tabernacle, to the east side of the Mosaic Tabernacle (as is suitable for civic chiefs) directly behind the alternate cultic tabernacle before which Korah now stands. Behind the tents of Dathan and Abiram stand the additional supporting group, completing the number of this congregation. In front of Korah, at a short distance, are the 250 men prepared to offer incense to Yahweh in opposition to Moses and Aaron.

Moses and the 70 elders of Israel, on behalf of the majority of the revolutionary congregation of Korah, Dathan, and Abiram, go to Dathan and Abiram, each standing before his tent, and proclaim to the congregation, “Withdraw, I pray, from the tents of these wicked men! Do not touch anything which belongs to them lest you be swept up in all their sins” (Num. 16:26 CV). The congregation, obeying the warning of Moses, “moved away from the tabernacle of Korah, Dathan and Abiram, away from around them” (Num. 16:27 CV modified). Moses then declares, “By this shall you know that Yahweh has sent me to perform all these deeds, that they are not from my own heart. Should these die the common death of all humanity, and should the visitation of all humanity be visited on them, then Yahweh has not sent me. Yet should Yahweh create an unprecedented creation so that the ground opens wide its mouth, swallows them up with all that belongs to them, and they descend alive to the unseen [sheol], then you will know that these mortals [enosh = men of renown] have spurned Yahweh” (Num. 16:28-30 CV). At the completion of this declaration, Moses is immediately vindicated. A quake opens wide the mouth of the earth. Korah, his tabernacle, Dathan, Abiram, and their tents and families are swallowed alive. Immediately following this quake, fire descends from Yahweh devouring the 250 men attempting to offer incense to Yahweh.

The intercession of Moses and Aaron on behalf of the majority of the rebellious congregation of Korah had avoided Yahweh’s intention of destroying them all. Yahweh, however, knows the character of this evil generation of faithless ones. He has known its character from the beginning. They are a stiffed-necked and rebellious people (Deut. 9:6-7). They had adapted themselves to many of the ways of the Egyptians. They had come to fear the capriciousness of the gods. As a result, they continually doubted the sincerity of Yahweh’s intentions and the integrity and meekness of Moses. This doubt, this stiff-neckedness, this rebellious character coiled up snake-like the following day in preparation for a second strike at Moses and Aaron.

The whole congregation of the sons of Israel, void of gratitude toward Moses and Aaron for their intercession, grumbled against the two intercessors, charging, “You yourselves put the people of Yahweh to death” (Num. 16:41b CV). Moses and Aaron are accused of being sorcerers. Before the snake is able to strike, the glory of Yahweh appears covering the tent of appointment. Yahweh orders Moses, “Get away from the midst of this congregation so that I may finish them in a moment” (Num. 16:45 CV). Yahweh’s death verdict against this generation due to their rebellion inspired by the ten explorers was to occur over a period of years. The present threat is immediate destruction after the fashion of Korah, Dathan, and Abiram. Yahweh immediately initiates a stroke among the people. Before Aaron is able to make a propitiatory-shelter over the people in order to restrain the progress of the stroke, 14,700 people are struck down dead.

Yahweh once again manifests His compassion, kindness, mercy, and the patience of His justified anger against a stiffed-necked, rebellious, unbelieving, evil generation of ingrates. This people clearly has not been chosen by Yahweh because of its own righteousness or merit. It has continually demonstrated a character no better than the nation from which it had been graciously delivered. In spite of this, Yahweh has a purpose, and that purpose will be fulfilled in the history of this nation.

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The Significance of Balak and Balaam

Though Yahweh has rejected the first generation of the nation Israel and has implemented a curse (this first generation shall not enter the land, it shall die in the wilderness), He has not placed the nation under this curse. The nation will be blessed in accordance with the promise made to Abraham. In fact, no person, no people, no nation will be allowed to cast a curse upon Israel: “and I will bless them that bless thee, and curse him that curseth thee” (Gen. 12:3a KJV). The narratives revolving around the activities of Balak and Balaam confirm the faithfulness of Yahweh in maintaining this promise given to Abram. Though the first generation has rejected Yahweh, He has not rejected the nation. Though He has cursed (as a result of the golden calf) this nation, He will not allow another nation to curse His people, the elect seed of Abraham.

Balak, dreading the evil potential of this people, attempts to hire Balaam to curse it. Israel is now encamped in the plains of Moab along the Jordan River across from Jericho. The nation has already defeated Sihon king of the Amorites and Og king of Bashan. It is preparing to enter the land of Canaan. Thus, the nation is now encamped in the place which becomes their location throughout the Book of Deuteronomy.

Balaam is a renowned seer famous for his gift of blessing and cursing: “I know that whomever you bless is being blessed and whomever you curse is accursed” (Num. 22:6b CV), acknowledges Balak. Thus, he first sends a group consisting of elders from both Moab and Midian. They offer Balaam payment for his services. Balaam seeks the word of Yahweh. That night, Elohim comes to him and announces, “You shall not go with them; you shall not curse the people, for it is blessed” (Num. 22:12 CV).

Balaam claims to have a working relationship with Yahweh. This should not be a surprise, for Melchizedek is said to be a priest of the Supreme El owner of the heavens and the earth (Gen. 14:18-19). Abram equates this Supreme El with Yahweh in his response to Melchizedek (Gen. 14:22 CV). Thus, the name, Yahweh, has been known in the ancient world of Abram.

The name, however, has not been associated with a covenant relationship by any nation other than Israel. At one time all the nations were familiar with Yahweh the Supreme El owner of the heavens and earth. But their knowledge of Him had been corrupted, and He had given them up to a disqualified mind. They, thus, began worshiping and serving the creation rather than the Creator (Rom. 1:24-25).

Yahweh had then turned to Abram and promised to bless the nations through his seed. Israel is that seed. Yahweh chose Jacob as His people. He has entered into a covenant with this people and only this people. As a result, Yahweh has become the Elohim of Israel and only Israel until the fulfillment of the Law and the Prophets. His success with Israel would restore the nations to the worship and service of the One Living Elohim. The ancient world of the gods would be terminated. Animal and human sacrifices would be eliminated. As one today can readily see, Yahweh has been successful with Israel!

Balak sends another group more numerous and illustrious than the first to persuade Balaam to curse Israel. Balaam answers, “If Balak were giving to me the fullness of his house in silver and gold I could not cross the bidding [oracle] of Yahweh my Elohim to do what is small or great” (Num. 22:18b CV). The text is clear concerning the claim of Balaam. His Elohim is Yahweh. However, when Yahweh visits Balaam in the night, the text consistently reads that Elohim speaks to him. This second group, however, is invited to spend the night. Balaam will seek the counsel of Yahweh, for He might have changed His mind. This time Elohim counsels him to go with the emissaries from Balak. He is to speak only the words Elohim gives him to speak.

Apparently, Balaam’s heart is wavering in his commitment to speak only Yahweh’s words. For as he journeys upon his donkey to Moab, a messenger of Yahweh is sent to kill him. Three times the donkey, seeing the messenger with his drawn sword, turns aside to avoid the death blow. Three times Balaam smites the donkey. This third time the text records, “Balaam’s anger grew hot, and he smote the jenny with a stick. Then Yahweh opened the mouth of the Jenny, and she said to Balaam: What have I done to you that you have smitten me these three times? And Balaam said to the jenny: Because you abused me! O that there were sword in my hand, for I would kill you right now. The jenny said to Balaam: Am I not your jenny on which you have ridden from your youth until this day? Have I been accustomed, yea accustomed to do this to you? And he said: No” (Num. 22:27b-30 CV). When Balaam had risen that morning to go with the chiefs of Moab, the text records, “Elohim’s anger grew hot” (Num. 22:22 CV). Thus, Balaam’s anger in relation to the erratic behavior of his donkey is contrasted with Elohim’s anger in relation to Balaam’s behavior.

Balaam’s eyes are opened, and he sees the messenger of Yahweh with his drawn sword. The messenger asks Balaam, “On what grounds did you smite your jenny these three times?” (Num. 22:32a CV). He learns from the messenger how his donkey has acted on his behalf. In his ignorance, his blindness, he has unjustly mistreated his loyal servant. The heat of his anger had been unjustified, unlike the heat of Yahweh’s anger against Balaam. Yahweh, unlike Balaam, is neither ignorant nor blind. Yahweh sees through outward appearance into the heart. Balaam would have attempted to disobey Yahweh his Elohim, unlike his own donkey servant. He would have attempted disloyal behavior (see Isaiah 1:3).

Having now understood the behavior of his donkey, Balaam admits he is at fault in relation to the donkey and asks to be allowed to return home. At this point, he still has not understood the significance of the situation. He believes the thoughts of his heart have not been detected. He acts as though the only problem has been his going to Balak. He concludes that Yahweh must once again have changed His mind.

But the messenger of Yahweh commands, “Go with the men, yet only the word which I speak to you may you speak to him” (Num. 22:35a CV). The problem is not that Yahweh has changed His mind. The problem is the intent of Balaam’s heart! As Yahweh’s servant, he has to remain loyal to Yahweh’s voice. He is to obey Yahweh in executing His counsel. To disobey is to be slain by the sword of Yahweh. Balaam will not be allowed to curse this nation under any circumstances.

Balak will attempt to apply the stick to his back, but Balaam will faithfully bless Israel in obedience to his Master, Yahweh his Elohim. Balaam is not the beast of burden, the servant of Balak. Balaam will be caught between Yahweh his Elohim and Balak king of Moab. He faces Yahweh’s sword or Balak’s stick. He chooses to obey Yahweh and bear the anger of Balak.

For Israel, this becomes a warning. The nation encamped on the plains of Moab perceives this account as instruction. The nation, like Balaam, is the servant of Yahweh Elohim. It is to obey His voice at all times and in all situations. The nation is to be a blessing to all the nations precisely by remaining loyal to Yahweh. The nation, in spite of its evil heart (its stiffed-necked character), will not be allowed to be a cursing to all nations. The nation will accomplish Yahweh’s purpose, even if that means coming under the blow of Yahweh’s sword. The first generation representing the nation was in the process of being slain in the wilderness by Yahweh’s sword. The nation as a whole at Sinai had come under the verdict of death. That death would be consummated in the days of the last generation of the Mosaic Age. That last generation would come under the final death-stroke of Yahweh. But it would not fail to fulfill Yahweh’s purpose.

Over the centuries of the Mosaic Age, Israel would outwardly serve Yahweh out of fear. But like Balaam (see Num. 31:8), in the end, it would come under the drawn sword of Yahweh. Though Balaam blesses Israel three times, incurring the anger of Balak, he nevertheless, in the end, becomes the mastermind of a plan to bring Israel under a curse from Yahweh. He never does pronounce a curse over Israel. But he does advise Moab and Midian of a strategy whereby they can destroy Israel: “Behold, they, by the word of Balaam, came to be for the sons of Israel the reason for a withdrawal from and an offense against Yahweh in the matter of Peor, so that the stroke came to be in the congregation of Yahweh” (Num. 31:16 CV).

Balaam’s plan calls for the seductive use of the Midianite women. The women are to seduce the men of Israel, thereby inducing them to sacrifice to the gods of Moab and Midian. Acting upon this plan, the seduction does take place. While Israel is dwelling in the land of Moab, a short time after the blessings pronounced by Balaam, the text records, “The people started to commit prostitution with the daughters of Moab, who called the people to the sacrifices of their elohim. The people ate their sacrifices and bowed themselves down to their elohim. Thus Israel was paired with Baal-Peor, and the anger of Yahweh grew hot against Israel (Num. 25:1-3-CV). Yahweh commands Moses to hang the ringleaders in the sun before Him in order to cut short the heat of His anger. This carried out, Moses then commands each of the judges to execute each man under his jurisdiction who had offered sacrifice to the foreign elohim.

While the whole congregation at the opening of the tent of appointment is still lamenting this rebellious act of prostitution, and while Yahweh’s stroke continues (though less heatedly), a man of renown from among the sons of Israel brings near to this holy assembly a Midianite woman. Phineas, son of Eleazar chief priest, upon seeing this pollution of the holy assembly and this potential threat to the Tabernacle itself, without hesitation takes up a spear and slays the offending couple, making a propitiatory-shelter over the sins of Israel. This act terminates the stroke which began with the prostitution and sacrifice to alien gods.

Phineas had acted jealously in accord with the charge placed upon the Levites shortly after the rebellion of Korah: “Yahweh said to Aaron: You and your sons and your father’s house with you shall bear any depravity committed against the sanctuary, . . .” (Num. 18:1a CV). After Phineas’ faithful act, Yahweh declares to Moses, “Phineas . . . reversed My fury from the sons of Israel in his zeal for My jealousy in their midst, so I did not finish the sons of Israel in My jealousy” (Num. 25:10-11 CV). Phineas had defended the holy presence of Yahweh in the midst of the people by maintaining the sanctity of the Tabernacle. Its pollution had been avoided and Yahweh’s glory and honor zealously defended on behalf of the nation. As a reward for such faithfulness, Yahweh grants Phineas and his seed after him “the covenant of an eonian priesthood” (Num. 25:13 CV). Note once again the limitation of this priesthood. It is to last through the duration of the Mosaic Eon.

Twenty-four thousand people had been struck down by this stroke sent by Yahweh. Shortly thereafter, the population of the first generation still living had dwindled down to one, Moses. Miriam and Aaron had already died. The chief priesthood had been transferred to Aaron’s son Eleazar. The transference of the authority and position of Moses and his death are now on the horizon.

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The Second Numbering of the People

The reversal of Yahweh’s fury by Phineas’ propitiatory-shelter over the nation and the death of 24,000 people are immediately followed by the account of Yahweh’s command for a second numbering of the people. This second generation is old enough to remember the events in Egypt and to have learned from the events occurring over the 40-year wilderness period. It has been weaned away from the influence of Egyptian culture and has perceived the rebellious character and the consequences borne of such rebellion by their elders. This second generation is prepared to enter the land. It will not cower before the mighty warriors inhabiting the land. Under Moses, Yahweh commands these Israelite warriors, “Avenge the sons of Israel with vengeance on the Midianites; . . .” (Num. 31:2a CV). This is in response to the Midianite involvement in the seduction of Israel advised by Balaam. Yahweh instructs them to slay all the males in battle, including, for his rebellion against Yahweh, Balaam.

These warriors of Yahweh “rallied against Midian just as Yahweh had instructed Moses, and they killed every male. . . . Also Balaam son of Beor they killed with the sword” (Num. 31:7-8 CV). However, among the loot they bring back to Moses and Eleazar are the women and their children. When Moses beholds these captives, his wrath is directed at the officers of the army. He reprimands them saying, “You have kept every female alive? Behold, they, by the word of Balaam, came to be for the sons of Israel the reason for a withdrawal from and an offense against Yahweh in the matter of Peor, so that the stroke came to be in the congregation of Yahweh” (Num. 31:15-16 CV). These women, in effect, had cursed Abraham’s seed. Yahweh’s curse is thus upon them. These officers, unlike their predecessors among the first generation, immediately respond to Moses’ rebuke by obeying his order. They had made a mistake, but not in rebellion against Yahweh. It was not a presumptuous mistake, but one due to ignorance. In response to the command of Moses, all the women having had intercourse with men are slain. All the male children are slain. The remaining females are kept as slaves. The second generation has been tried and proven faithful to Yahweh.

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The Last Acts of Moses

Towards the end of the fortieth year of wandering in the wilderness, Moses is the last of his generation to remain alive. He and Aaron had been disqualified from entering into the Land of Promise. In the fifth month of this fortieth year, Aaron had died and had been buried on Mount Hor (Num. 33:38). The disqualification of Moses and Aaron occurred shortly after the death of Miriam in the first month of this fortieth year, at what came to be known as “The waters of Meribah” (Num. 20:13). Again, the people contend with Moses over the lack of water (Num. 20:2-5). They complain, “O that we had expired when our brothers expired before Yahweh! Why did you bring the assembly of Yahweh to this wilderness to die . . .?” (Num. 20:4 CV).

Moses is told by Yahweh to take the budding rod of Aaron which is in the Tabernacle and within the Ark of the Covenant. This rod represented the authority of the Levites. After the rebellion of Korah, Yahweh had instructed Moses to take twelve rods, one from each tribe. They had then been placed before Yahweh who had declared, “So it will come to be that the man whom I choose, his rod shall bud. Thus I will cause the grumblings of the sons of Israel to subside from over Me which they were grumbling against you [plural, Moses and Aaron] (Num. 17:5 CV). On the following day, the rod of Aaron had budded.

Having taken the budding rod of Aaron, Moses is commanded to “Take the rod and assemble the congregation, you and Aaron your brother; speak to the crag [cliff, not rock] before their eyes, and it will give its water” (Num. 20:8a CV). Moses and Aaron assemble the people, but the spirit of Moses is provoked. He cries out, “Hear, I pray, you rebels! From this crag shall we bring forth water for you?” (Num. 20:10b CV). The extent of the obstinacy of his generation causes the meekest of men to lose his self-control, his mastery over himself. His patience has been exhausted. Forgetting the instruction of Yahweh, he smites the crag twice with the holy rod of Aaron. Water bursts forth, but Yahweh is displeased with both Moses and Aaron. Yahweh declares, “Because you did not believe in Me to sanctify Me before the eyes of the sons of Israel, therefore you shall not bring this assembly into the land which I will give to them” (Num. 20:12 CV).

The nation has been identified with Moses. Because of its sin against Yahweh’s covenant as a result of its worshiping the golden calf, it had been sentenced to death. The Sinatic Covenant, now becoming the Sinatic/Mosaic Covenant, then became a ministry of death for all the generations that were to follow. Moses, having interceded successfully on its behalf, is then identified with the destiny of this nation as represented by this first stiff-necked and rebellious generation. His spirit had been constantly tried by this generation. Through it all, he had remained faithful to Yahweh and the nation, interceding numerous times on its behalf and personally bearing the brunt of its rebellion on many occasions.

While encamped on the plains of Moab in the fortieth year of wandering, Moses testifies concerning this first evil generation: “When Yahweh heard the sound of your words, He was wrathful; and He swore saying: Assuredly no one among these mortals [men of renown], this evil generation, shall see the good land about which I had sworn to give to your fathers, . . . Moreover Yahweh showed Himself angered with me owing to you [this evil generation], saying: Not even you shall enter there” (Deut. 1:34-37 CV). Prior to the death of Moses, Yahweh explains, “you rebelled against My bidding [oracle] in the wilderness of Zin to sanctify Me at the waters before their eyes” (Num. 27:14b CV). The Psalmist declares concerning this failure of Moses,


They prompted wrath at the waters of Meribah,

And it was evil for Moses for their sake

Because they provoked his spirit,

And he talked rashly with his lips. (Psalms 106:32-33 CV)


Though Moses is faithful in all Yahweh’s house, this single failure is held against him by Yahweh, a failure provoked, caused, brought on, induced, produced, effected by the very people he has loved with all his heart, all his soul, all his intensity. It is this very love for his people which frustrates Moses into committing this failure. Moses (in accordance with Yahweh’s design) is to be a type of Christ as the obedient servant of Yahweh Who loves His Elohim and His people by bearing on His own shoulders the sin of His people and leading their exodus out from the old covenant into the new. Joshua is to be a type of Christ the faithful servant leading his people into the promised Celestial Jerusalem after conquering the enemy.

Prior to his ordered departure, Moses pleads with Yahweh to allow him to enter the Land of Promise. He supplicates, “My Lord Yahweh, You Yourself have started to show Your servant Your greatness and Your steadfast hand, and Your outstanding arm. For what el is in the heavens or on the earth who could do according to Your deeds and according to Your mastery? Let me cross over, I pray so I may see the good land that is across the Jordan, . . . Yet Yahweh was enraged with me on account of you and did not hearken to me. Yahweh said to me: Let it be enough for you! Do not continue to speak to Me further on this matter. Ascend to the summit of the Pisgah ridge, and lift up your eyes westward and northward and southward and eastward and see with your eyes, for you shall not cross over this Jordan” (Deut. 3:24-27 CV). In all Moses’ intercessions on behalf of the people, Yahweh had hearkened to him. The one time he attempts to intercede on his own behalf, Yahweh refuses to hearken. Moses testifies that Yahweh was “enraged” with him on account of the people. Moses has come to be identified with this sinful, evil, rebellious, stiff-necked generation. So also Jesus would come to be identified with this sinful, evil, rebellious, stiff-necked nation as represented by all the generations contributing to its lamentable history. Under no circumstances is Moses to be allowed entrance into the Promised Land. Moses, as a national symbol, is to be associated with a ministry of death, the failure of Israel as a nation, and the need of the nation for redemption.

As an individual, however, no greater prophet than Moses arose in Israel, and no Israelite was more faithful in all Yahweh’s house until the arrival of Jesus. Though Moses cannot enter the land, Joshua and Caleb, representing the elect of the first generation, will cross over into the Land of Promise, allowing each generation coming out of Egypt and the generation born in the wilderness to participate in the faithfulness of Yahweh’s promise to the entire nation.

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The Appointment of Joshua

The ineligibility of Moses to enter the land necessitates the appointment of someone to replace him. Moses approaches Yahweh concerning the choice of such a replacement: “May Yahweh Elohim of the spirits for all flesh give supervision over the congregation to a man who may go forth before them and enter before them, and who may bring them forth and bring them in so that the congregation of Yahweh shall not become like a flock for whom there is no shepherd” (Num. 27:16-17 CV). Yahweh answers Moses’ concern by choosing Joshua “a man in whom there is spirit” (Num. 27:18 CV), indicating Joshua is a man whose heart is committed to the laws of Yahweh. He will continue to walk in spirit, faithfully obeying the voice of Yahweh from his heart to the end of his days. Moses is commanded to “support your hands on him” (Num. 27:18 CV) in the presence of Eleazar the Chief Priest and the whole congregation. This symbolic act transferred the prestige and authority of Moses to Joshua, sanctifying his leadership and requiring the obedience of the whole congregation. As Moses placed his hands upon Joshua, the spirit of wisdom filled Joshua (Deut. 34:9). Yahweh had established His choice of Joshua. The whole congregation of the sons of Israel understood they were to obey Joshua as they had obeyed Moses. As obeying Moses meant obeying Yahweh, so obeying Joshua meant obeying Yahweh.

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The Final Instructions—Blessings and Cursings

The final instructions of Moses at Moab to the second generation about to enter the Land of Promise concern blessings and cursings. If Israel obeys the voice of Yahweh, He will give her supremacy over all the nations (Deut. 28:1). He will make Israel the head and not the tail. Israel will be placed above the nations, not below them (Deut. 28:13). He will increase abundantly her population. He will bless Israel’s cities and her agricultural endeavors. He will bless her herds and her flocks. He will secure her safety at home and abroad. Her enemies will fear her and be defeated in battle if they attack. He will provide the nation with a surplus of goods to be sold at a profit to other nations. Israel will not be a debtor nation but a creditor nation. He will send rain to irrigate her crops in the proper season (Deut. 28:1-14). In summation, “all the peoples of the earth will see that the name of Yahweh is proclaimed over you, and they will fear you” (Deut. 28:10 CV).

However, if Israel does not obey the voice of Yahweh, He will give the nations supremacy over her. He will make Israel the tail rather than the head. He will send her into foreign captivity and her land will be ruled by a foreign nation. He will curse her cities and her agricultural endeavors. He will decrease her population and curse her herds and flocks. He will remove His protective cloud securing her safety from enemies within and without. Her enemies will no longer fear her and will defeat her in warfare. Instead of a surplus of goods, she will experience famine. Instead of a creditor nation, she will become a debtor nation. Her heavens will become like copper and her soil will become like iron (Deut. 28:15-48). In summation, “He will put an iron yoke on your neck until He has exterminated you” (Deut. 28:48b CV). No other nation before or since has been guaranteed such fortunate treatment for so little in return.

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The Final Prophetic Declarations: Latter Days

Having reminded Israel of the potential blessings or cursings dependent upon obedience or disobedience to the voice of Yahweh, Moses is instructed by Yahweh to contract another covenant with the sons of Israel encamped in the country of Moab. This covenant is in addition to the covenant made at Sinai which had been broken and, through the intercession of Moses, had been renewed. The covenant now being entered into at Moab is made with the present generation encamped in Moab and with all the generations to follow (Deut. 29:10-15). This covenant is added, along with the renewed covenant at Sinai, because of the transgressions committed at Sinai and in the wilderness during the preceding 40 years (Gal. 3:19).

Moses first addresses the members of those generations who personally saw the great trials, signs, and miracles performed by Yahweh in Egypt. These Israelites are witnesses of the great redemptive activities of Yahweh on behalf of His people. These Israelites will be responsible for the instruction of those Israelites either born in the wilderness or too young while in Egypt to remember the significant events. Moses declares, “Yet until this day Yahweh has not given to you a heart to realize and eyes to see and ears to hear” (Deut. 29:4 CV). Yahweh has not given them His spirit, as He has given that spirit to Moses and the 70 elders. Therefore, they do not have access to the things Yahweh has concealed. They are even ignorant of the full significance of the breaking of the original covenant at Sinai and the renewing of that covenant. These covenants are terrestrial covenants and belong to a terrestrial people possessing promises: both blessings and cursings. The contents of these covenants are revealed, understandable, and obeyable:


The things being concealed are Yahweh our Elohim’s, yet the things being revealed are ours and our sons’ until the eon, so that we might keep all the words of this law. (Deuteronomy 29:29 CV)


For this instruction that I am enjoining on you today, it is neither too difficult for you, nor is it too far off. . . . For the word is exceedingly near to you, in your mouth and in your heart, to obey it. (Deuteronomy 30:11-14 CV)


What has been concealed from the unfaithful and weak is the telos, the goal of the Mosaic Law as a ministry of death. A mature understanding of the Law and the Prophets would reveal this secret. Those possessing the spirit of Yahweh have access to this concealed truth. For the nation as a whole, the Law of Moses, the covenant at Sinai, and the covenant contracted in Moab are covenants of life (terrestrial life, blessing) if obeyed. Due to the rebellious and stiff-necked character of the nation, a veil conceals the essence of the Mosaic Law as a ministration of death necessitating the death of a coming prophet in the likeness of Moses. This veil also conceals the necessity of a new, celestial covenant necessary to create a celestial people qualified to receive the celestial promise of celestial life consisting of celestial promises and blessings.

During the course of Israel’s history, Yahweh reveals more to His people through His judges and prophets. The nation is only held responsible for that which is revealed. In the first century, with the arrival of John the Baptist and Jesus, Yahweh reveals even more. With the commissioning of Paul, Yahweh reveals the last of the secrets concealed during the previous ages.

Moses proceeds to prophetically warn the nation, “Beware lest there may be among you a man or woman or family or tribe whose heart today is turning around from being with Yahweh our Elohim to go to serve the elohim of those nations; beware lest there may be among you a root, being fruitful with poison and wormwood” (Deut. 29:18 CV). Though such individuals or groups be few in number, their potential for spreading disastrous contamination is great. These individuals and groups must be eliminated as early as possible. The metaphor “a root being fruitful with poison” conveys the rapid permeation of contaminating evil throughout the covenantal body of Israel. The nation is a covenanted community. Yahweh deals with it corporately, as well as individually. Thus, since Yahweh will bless the nation as a corporate whole, an individual or group believing he or they can disregard Yahweh’s Laws to his or their advantage is a threat to the nation. For such an individual or group can become a devastating cancer spreading death throughout the members of the covenantal body of Israel if not dealt with swiftly.

Moses declares, “Yahweh shall not be willing to pardon him, because then Yahweh’s anger and His jealousy shall smoke against that man, . . . Yahweh will wipe out his name from under the heavens; . . .” (Deut. 29:20 CV). Yahweh’s judgment against such an individual or group is to remove from the covenant the name of such individuals, depriving them of the celestial life promised to Abraham and to those faithful to the end. This meant being cut off from the people, cut off from the hope of Israel—national resurrection. In the long run, such individuals will reap the consequences of their evil hearts. But the nation will be held responsible for removing such individuals before they can contaminate the holy community.

Thus, the covenantal health and spiritual vitality of the nation is dependent on the health and vitality of each individual; “the satiated may be swept up with the thirsty” (Deut. 29:19b CV) is a metaphor meaning the green tree (the faithful members of the community as a whole) is in immediate danger of Yahweh’s judgment as a result of the evil heart and activity of the dry or parched tree (the unfaithful, rebellious individual or group).

This principle had been demonstrated during the 40 years in the wilderness. The rebellion of Korah, Dathan, and Abiram threatened the entire covenantal community. The rebellious act of a leading member of the nation (the bringing of a Midianite woman into the vicinity of a holy assembly) increased the devastating stroke of Yahweh against the people. The stroke coming upon the nation had been caused by a group of men among the nation committing prostitution with Moabite women and sacrificing to their gods. The covenantal community as a whole is responsible to perform the necessary act or actions to remove the evil individual or individuals and his or their effect upon the community before the judgment of Yahweh destroys the whole nation.

It is this principle and metaphor that Jesus alludes to on his way to crucifixion. Following Him is a multitude of people, including a group of grieving women wailing over Him. Hearing them, Jesus turns toward them, forewarning, “Daughters of Jerusalem! Do not lament over Me! However, over yourselves lament, and over your children, for lo! coming are days in which they will be declaring, ‘Happy are the barren, and the wombs which bear not, and the breasts which do not nourish!’ Then shall they begin to say to the mountains, ‘Fall on us!’ and to the hills, ‘Cover us!’ For if they are doing these things in the wet wood, what may be occurring in the withered?” (Lk. 23:28b-31 CV). Jesus is the wet wood. The chief priests and the elders of the people (Matt. 26:3) are the withered wood. The evil heart of these withered ones had sought His death. They succeeded in forcing the hand of Pilate the Roman governor of Judea to execute Him by means of crucifixion.

If these withered ones did this to a green, moist, healthy tree, what will they be bringing upon themselves and the nation as a result of their rebellious hearts?! Surely, Jesus foresaw the destruction of the city, the temple, and the nation by the Romans as a result of the poisonous hearts of these evil shepherds of Yahweh’s people. These withered branches would defy the foreign Roman Empire in the name of Yahweh, only to bring upon themselves and the people the judgment of Yahweh carried out by this foreign power. As such, Rome acted as a servant of Yahweh while the Jewish nation acted as Yahweh’s enemy.

Moses also foresaw the unfaithfulness of a latter generation of Israel. This latter generation would experience Yahweh’s judgment against the people and the land as a consequence of its forsaking “the covenant of Yahweh Elohim of their fathers, . . . for they went off and served other elohim and bowed themselves down to them, elohim whom they had neither known, nor had He apportioned for them” (Deut. 29:25b-26 CV). This prophetic statement concludes with the following holy principle already referred to:

The things being concealed are Yahweh our Elohim’s, yet the things being revealed are ours and our sons’ until the eon, so that we might keep all the words of this law. (Deuteronomy 29:29 CV)

The failure of a latter generation is revealed to Israel. The nation is not to delude itself into believing it is superior to the nations. Those whose hearts are faithful will be encouraged to continually obey Yahweh’s Law as a result of this revelation. They will represent the faithful remnant throughout the unfaithful generations of the nation.

Moses immediately follows this prophetic revelation with words of hope: “It will come to be, when all these things come on you, . . . which I put before you, that you will recall them to your heart among all the nations where Yahweh your Elohim will have expelled you and that you will return again to Yahweh your Elohim and hearken to His voice . . . Then Yahweh your Elohim will turn back your captivity and show compassion to you; . . .” (Deut. 30:1-3a CV). He has foreseen the captivity of Israel at the hands of the Assyrians and the captivity of Judah at the hands of the Babylonians. Yahweh also reveals to him the return of the nation to the land “from all the peoples where Yahweh your Elohim will have scattered you” (Deut. 30:3b CV) as a result of Yahweh’s compassion for Israel. The character of the nation as rebellious and stiff-necked will continue throughout its history. But there will always be a faithful remnant whom Yahweh will protect and bless. Through this faithful remnant will come the seed who will bring about the fulfillment of the Law and the Prophets.

Moses, continuing his prophetic address to the nation, calls the heavens and the earth to testify against her. This metaphor of the heavens and earth is meant to convey the covenantal commitment between Yahweh and Israel. It is an allusion to the covenant entered into at Sinai when Yahweh spoke from the heavens and Israel heard on the earth. Moses reminds Israel of her contractual obligation to obey Yahweh’s voice, His Ten Words, and His statutes and judgments. Israel’s obedience is to spring from her love of Yahweh. To lovingly obey Yahweh guarantees covenantal life, terrestrial blessings in the land flowing with milk and honey. To turn her heart away from obeying Yahweh guarantees covenantal judgment, terrestrial cursings in a devastated land. Refusal of repentance over a gracious period of time will culminate in expulsion from the land and captivity among the nations (Deut. 30:15-20). This expulsion, as Moses has already revealed, will happen.

After assuring the nation that Yahweh, going before her, will exterminate the nations in the land, he encourages all Israel to “Be steadfast, and be resolute! Do not fear, and do not be terrified because of their presence, for Yahweh your Elohim, He is the One going with you; He shall neither neglect you nor forsake you” (Deut. 31:6 CV). Calling Joshua to his side before the eyes of Israel, Moses confirmingly exalts him as Yahweh’s designated shepherd of the flock and commander of the army, exhorting him to “Be steadfast and be resolute, for you shall bring this people into the land about which Yahweh had sworn to their fathers to give to them, and you shall allot it to them. As for Yahweh, He is the one going before you; He Himself shall come to be with you. He shall neither neglect you nor forsake you. You shall neither fear nor be dismayed” (Deut. 31:7b-8-CV).

Having encouraged his people and having confirmed the leadership of Joshua, Moses “wrote this law and gave it to the priests, the sons of Levi, the carriers of the coffer of the covenant of Yahweh, and to all the elders of Israel (Deut. 31:9 CV). The Levitical priests and the elders are to be responsible for teaching the law to the people. Thus, a written record of the Law is provided by the hand of Moses himself. Moses instructs the Levitical priests and the elders to publicly read this Law once every seven years in the sabbatical year, during the Feast of Tabernacles. They are, at this reading, to assemble “the people, the men, the women, the little ones and your sojourner who is within your gates” (Deut. 31:12a CV). The purpose is “that they may hear and that they may learn: they must fear Yahweh your Elohim and must observe to keep all the words of this law” (Deut. 31:12b CV).

Yahweh Himself then confirms the prophetic declarations of Moses. He informs Moses that the day of his death is near and instructs him to call Joshua to the tent of appointment in order for Yahweh to instruct Joshua concerning his imminent role as shepherd and commander. At the tent of appointment, Yahweh testifies to Moses in the presence of Joshua, “Behold, you are about to lie with your fathers. Yet this people will rise and prostitute after the elohim of the foreigners of the land where they are entering to be among them; and they will forsake me and annul My covenant that I contracted with them. . . . I will forsake them and conceal My face from them, then they will come to be devoured, and many evils and distresses will find them. . . . for they will have turned around to other elohim” (Deut. 31:16-18 CV).

Moses, just prior to this testimony, had assured the people and Joshua that Yahweh would not forsake or neglect them. Thus, Yahweh’s testimony is against a latter day generation, just as Moses had already proclaimed. This is no secret. It is clearly revealed. It is meant to highlight the importance of freely choosing to obey the Law of Yahweh from the heart. For the nation as a whole would never make that choice until the coming of the seed of Abraham, Jesus, Who would build Yahweh a New House, a New Nation. Upon every member of that New Nation, Yahweh would pour out His spirit, as Moses had previously requested in response to Joshua’s concern over the two elders who had received Yahweh’s spirit while remaining in the camp (Num. 11:26-29).

The failure of the nation, throughout its history, to keep Yahweh’s covenant is a foregone conclusion. This failure is not a result of its inability to keep Yahweh’s Law. It is due to the nation’s rebellious and stiff-necked heart. This is confirmed by the fact that there would be a faithful remnant throughout the nation’s history of disobedience. This faithful remnant keeps Yahweh’s Law and obeys Him from the heart. This faithful remnant, like David, is not perfect, but its heart is faithful to the end. As Yahweh is later to declare David a man after His own heart, so He could make the same declaration concerning the faithful remnant suffering on His behalf throughout the generations of Israel. The fact of this failure necessitated Yahweh’s compassion, mercy, forgiveness, patience, and long-suffering. It necessitated the secret concealed from the nation until revealed in the last generation.

However, Israel is not held responsible for that which is concealed, but for that which is revealed and which could have and should have been obeyed. For this reason, Yahweh commands Moses and Joshua to write down the song He would dictate to them. This song is to be taught to the sons of Israel: “Put it in their mouths so that this song may come to be for Me as a testimony against the sons of Israel (Deut. 31:19b CV). This song is necessary because “when they thus spurn Me and annul My covenant, and it comes to be that many evils and distresses find them, then this song will answer as a testimony before them (for it shall not be forgotten from the mouths of their seed) that I know the bent of their heart which they are forming today ere I bring them to the land about which I have sworn” (Deut. 31:20b-21 CV). Already this second generation harbored a seed of rebellion within its heart! How potent, how contagious had been the affect of Egyptian civic and cultic culture on the seed of Jacob. The removal of this debilitating affect of the disqualified mind of the ancient world of the gods would be slow and only finalized after Israel would be expelled from the land by Yahweh. All this, Yahweh has been in the process of revealing to this second generation about to faithfully enter the Land of Promise.

Prior to writing Yahweh’s song to Israel, Moses had written down the Law of Yahweh and had handed it over to the Levitical priests and elders. The text now records that at the conclusion of that writing project, Moses had instructed the Levites, “You are to take this scroll of the law, and you must place it by the side of the coffer [ark] of the covenant of Yahweh your Elohim, and it will come to be there as a testimony against you, . . .” (Deut. 31:26 CV). This written scroll of the Law (Torah) is to be placed alongside the Ark of the Covenant. It is to be a testimony against the nation, a standard measurement to which Israel must be committed in her heart.

This testimony is Yahweh’s confirmation of the inexcusability of the nation. The nation has been given every advantage over the nations. In spite of these advantages, Israel behaves like the nations. Having these advantages, Yahweh holds this people more responsible than the nations. Though more responsible, Israel still fails to meet her responsibilities. In spite of her irresponsibility, Yahweh remains faithful. This is significant. For if Yahweh remains faithful to the more responsible nation (even after her failure), how will he not remain faithful to the less responsible nations!

Israel had broken the original covenant at Sinai. The tablets of stone carved out by Yahweh and inscribed by His finger had been “flung” down and broken by Moses (Ex. 32:19). The intercession of Moses successfully had renewed the covenant. Moses then had carried two tablets to the heights of Mount Sinai, and Yahweh had inscribed on these tablets the Ten Words of the original covenant. These tablets are placed within the Ark of the Covenant.

The concealed significance indicates the covenant mediated by Moses’ intercession is a ministry of death. At the heart of the nation is the law of sin and death which had been activated as a result of the idolatrous worship at the foot of Sinai. It would culminate with the covenantal death of the nation at the end of the graciously extended life-span of the Mosaic Eon.

The scroll of the Law (Torah) written down by Moses is placed alongside the Ark of the Covenant. Its significance, unlike the stone tablets within the ark, is revealed, indicating directly to the nation, once again, its failure to keep Yahweh’s covenant. For the words written on this scroll had already been transgressed by the first generation, and the seed of disobedience had already been planted in the heart of the second generation as a result of its ancestral immersion in the ancient world of the gods.

Moses, upon this occasion, now testifies, “for I know your rebellion and your scruff of obstinacy. Behold in my day, while I am still with you alive, you have been rebellious against Yahweh, indeed how much more so after my death!” (Deut. 31:29). Here he is referring to the nation as a corporate whole. For even the innocent or righteous are affected by the guilty or unrighteous. The faithful also will suffer under the evil generated by the unlawful. The attitude and behavior of the first generation is accounted to the nation as a whole. Moses knows the rebellion and obstinacy displayed by the first generation will be even greater in the generations which follow after his death.

Moses continues, “For I know that after my death you shall bring ruin, yea ruin on yourselves; you will withdraw from the way that I enjoined on you, and the evil visitation will befall you in the latter days, for you shall do the thing that is evil in the eyes of Yahweh so as to provoke Him to vexation by the work of your hands” (Deut. 31:29-30 CV). While Moses is alive, his presence is beneficial in curbing the rebellious character of the nation, especially through his intercession. However, even with such curbing, the first generation continued to rebel and eventually died in the wilderness. The prestige, power, and authority of Moses could not completely contain the evil propensity of this generation.

Under Joshua’s leadership, the nation will, on the whole, remain faithful. But after Moses dies, he is aware that his influence will dwindle, and the nation will bring ruin upon itself in the “latter days.” Moses prophetically describes the nation as withdrawing from “the way.” He is referring to the law as Yahweh’s way of covenantal life for the nation. Those who walk in “the way” obey Yahweh’s Law from the heart. They are the faithful ones.

When Jesus refers to Himself as “The Way,” He is alluding to this statement of Moses (see Jn. 14:1-7). He is the personification of the law; He is the incarnation of the law; He is the law tabernacling in the midst of Yahweh’s holy nation. He is the Ark of the Covenant, for in Him are the tablets of the Ten Words. In Him are the life and the death of the Sinatic/Mosaic Covenant. Those who believe in Yahweh and believe in Him, by following Him are walking in The Way of covenantal life. The Way to the life of the New Covenant will lead through the death of the old covenant, meaning the death and resurrection of Jesus the Christ.

For Christ is the telos, the goal of the Law through which comes the new life, the righteousness of the New Covenant made available for all those believing into Him. To believe into Jesus the Christ is to be identified with both His death and His resurrection. In Christ, the believing one dies with Christ in the death of the old covenant, symbolically represented by the stone tablets within the Ark of the Covenant. The believing one, following Christ as “The Way,” lives with Christ in the life of the New Covenant, symbolically represented by the writing of the Law upon the fleshy tablet of the heart by the spirit of Yahweh/Christ.

The Law, the Ten Words, is no longer objectified on tablets of stone, but subjectified on the living tablet of the heart. Thus, the believing one, after the resurrection, knows intimately the meaning of the words of Jesus to His disciples shortly before His crucifixion: “I am the Way and the Truth and the Life. No one is coming to the Father except through Me” (Jn. 14:6 CV). This is not a philosophical statement. It is a covenantal statement understandable only within the context of the covenantal relationship of Yahweh with Israel.

After the death of Moses, the nation is to bring ruin upon itself in “the latter days” by withdrawing from “the Way.” From the perspective of Moses, the “latter days” refer to the expulsion of the Northern Kingdom (Israel) at the hands of the Assyrians and the expulsion of the Southern Kingdom (Judah) at the hands of the Babylonians. When the writing prophets speak of the latter or last days, they are referring to a time in their own future. In the words of Moses, however, the reader is to discover the use of prophetic double entendre.

The writing prophets call the nation to repentance condemning the nation for being actively involved in doing what Moses had described as “evil in the eyes of Yahweh.” These prophets prophetically declare the fulfillment of “the evil visitation” which Moses announced would “befall you in the latter days.” This is confirmed by the fact that Moses knew the nation would be guilty of worshiping and serving foreign elohim. He had predicted the nation would provoke Yahweh’s anger “by the work of your hands” (Deut. 31:29b CV), a metaphor indicating the making and worshiping of idols. This would be true of Israel only before her expulsion into captivity under the Assyrians and the Babylonians. When Israel would return under Ezra and Nehemiah, she would never again worship and serve foreign elohim.

The Sinatic/Mosaic Covenant is a terrestrial covenant. During the course of its term, Israel as a nation will be characterized as rebellious, stubborn, stiff-necked, obstinate. Yahweh has not given the nation, nor would He give the nation until its last generation, “a heart to realize and eyes to see and ears to hear” (Deut. 29:4b CV). This meant He would not give the nation His spirit as He had given it to Moses and the 70 elders. This would characterize the nation “until the eon” (Deut. 29:29b CV), until the end of the Mosaic Eon, at the end of which the last generation would experience the curse of national, covenantal death. At the end of the Mosaic Eon, to those believing into Jesus the Christ, Yahweh would give a heart to realize, eyes to see, and ears to hear, as Paul wrote to the Corinthians,

Yet wisdom are we speaking among the mature, yet a wisdom not of this eon, neither of the chief men of this eon, who are being discarded, but we are speaking God’s wisdom in a secret, wisdom which has been concealed, which God designates before—before the eons, for our glory, . . . But, according as it is written, That which the eye did not perceive, and the ear did not hear, and to which the heart of man did not ascend—whatever God makes ready for those who are loving Him. Yet to us God reveals them through His spirit, for the spirit is searching all, even the depths of God. (1 Corinthians 2:6-10 CV)

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The Song of Yahweh

Yahweh had commanded Moses in the presence of Joshua to “write down for yourselves this song and teach it to the sons of Israel (Deut. 31:19 CV). Moses is not commanded to compose the song. The song is composed by Yahweh. Moses is not told to write “a” song. He is instructed to write down “this” song. “This” refers to the song Yahweh has composed which Moses must write down as a scribe recording what is dictated. This song is to be Yahweh’s “testimony against the sons of Israel (Deut. 31:19b CV).

Yahweh’s purpose is to make clear to this elect people that He has chosen them with a complete awareness of their unworthiness and of their unwillingness to obey His voice from their hearts and with their minds. They are a foolish people who proceed unintelligently in spite of the advantages Yahweh has graciously given them: “See! I have taught you statutes and judgments . . . And you must observe and obey them, for that is your wisdom and your understanding in the eyes of all the peoples who shall hear of all these statutes and will say: Surely this great nation is a people wise and understanding” (Deut. 4:5-6 CV).

Within the song, Yahweh lamentingly sings,


For they are a nation whose counsel is destructive,

And There is no understanding in them.

O that they were wise;

They would proceed intelligently in this . . .” (Deuteronomy 32:28-29a CV).


They are given access to wisdom and understanding and fail to actualize it as a nation in their behavior until after they are expelled from the land and sent into captivity among the nations. But even then they fall short of their potential!

Having written down the words of Yahweh’s song, Moses “spoke in the ears of the whole assembly of Israel the words of this song until they were finished” (Deut. 31:30 CV). The people are to learn the song so as to sing it corporately. Yahweh has composed the song incorporating Moses as a voice of personal testimony and as a voice interjecting the personal testimony of Yahweh. The song conveys Yahweh’s future vindication and vengeance. Yahweh has computed Israel’s failure, sin, iniquity, rebellion, obstinacy, and foolishness into His universal purpose: blessing the race, the nation, and the nations.

Yahweh is the Master over Good and Evil. Evil is not to be equated with sin, and good is not to be equated with righteousness. Good and evil are tools to be used effectively in accomplishing a designed goal or purpose. When Adam ate of the fruit of the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil, the problem was not “good and evil.” His sin was disobedience, and that sin activated death. Good and evil became a problem for Adam and the race because both were incapable of effectively using, applying good and evil as effective means for producing righteousness. As a result, man’s determination and application of good and evil distorted his mind and his culture. Too often man’s determination and application of good destroys instead of builds, and his determination and application of evil destroys that which should not be destroyed. Thus, good and evil operate haphazardly in man’s constructions of morality and religion. Man continues to be unable to master, to transcend, good and evil.

Good is designed to build, edify, order. Evil is designed to demolish, subvert, disorder. Each has its place, its purpose, its usefulness. To transcend good and evil is to be able to master good and evil. Yahweh masters good and evil and, in so doing, applies the use of both in the accomplishment of His purposes. Out of Israel’s failure, Yahweh will produce success. Yahweh will redeem and glorify that which has been lost and abased. Yahweh’s contrivance (see Structure 18, stanza 4, The Rock, Deut. 32:4 CV) is flawless.

Structure 15 is a poetic structure of the song of Yahweh, which consists of a simple introversion:


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Structure 15: The Song of Yahweh (Deuteronomy 32:1-43)


A1 32:1-4   Introduction—The Monition of Moses: Give Ear O’ Heavens, Hear O Earth

                    [Yahweh’s faithfulness—Lyrical Showers of Blessing]


                    B 32:5-42      Yahweh’s Lamentation on Behalf of Israel—Vengeance and Vindication:

                                            Yahweh shall Adjudicate His People and Show Himself Merciful

                                                    [I Am The Life for The Eon]


A2 32:43    Conclusion—The Monition of Moses: Jubilate O Heavens, Jubilate O Nations

                    [Yahweh’s Faithfulness—Propitiatory-shelter Provision of Salvation]


The song opens with a metaphor. The advantage of metaphors is that they increase our reach, steering us toward knowledge we do not yet have in our grasp. Metaphors overshoot the mark, giving the mark and our understanding of it room to move and grow. Thus, metaphors are able to convey more and richer cargo than definitive descriptions and definitions.

The song begins by treating “heavens” and “earth” metaphorically. Earlier, “heavens” and “earth” were used as metaphors for Yahweh speaking on Mount Sinai and Israel hearing at the foot of the mountain, thus a pictorial reference to the Sinatic Covenant. In the opening of this song, “heavens” is a metaphor representing Israel and “earth” is a metaphor representing the nations. The “heavens” metaphorically place Israel in a position of supremacy over the subjugated nations placed metaphorically on the “earth.”

The two metaphors, heavens and earth, can be poetically demonstrated by setting out the literary structural correspondence between 32:1, 43a, and 43c as set forth in Structure 16:

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Structure 16: Song of Yahweh: Heavens and Earth (Poetic Structure of Deuteronomy 32:1, 32:43a, 43c CV Modified)


a1  32:1      The Heavens and the Earth: Called As Witnesses for Yahweh

                                Give ear

                                        O Heavens and

                                                Let me speak and


                                        O Earth

                                                The sayings of my mouth

a2  32:43a The Heavens: Called to Jubilate with Yahweh


                                        O Heavens

                                                Together with Him

a3  32:43c  The Nations Called to Jubilate with Yahweh’s People


                                        O Nations

                                                With His People


In “a1” of Structure 16, the heavens are called upon to hear the sayings of Moses. In “a2”, the heavens are called upon to jubilate together with Yahweh. In “a1”, the earth is called upon to hear the sayings of Moses. However, in “a3” the nations, corresponding to the earth in “a1”, are called upon to jubilate with Yahweh’s people, Israel. The heavens metaphorically represent Israel, Yahweh’s people raised to a position of supremacy as the result of the Sinatic Covenant. The earth metaphorically represents the nations, placed in a position of subjugation under Israel. The nations, responding to the glory and honor given to Israel, are to jubilate together with Israel over the One Living Elohim. For the Elohim of Israel will bless the nations through Yahweh’s elect nation, Israel.

The introductory verses of the Song of Yahweh (vs. 1-4) form a perfect literary alternation with the concluding verse (v. 43) as set forth in Structure 17.


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Structure 17: Song of Yahweh: The Heavens and Earth Called to Jubilate (Literary Relationship of Deuteronomy 32:1-4 and 32:43)


a1  32:1        The Heavens And The Earth: Called as Witnesses for Yahweh



                      b1  32:2-4         The Monition of Moses: The Name of Yahweh I Am Proclaiming—

                                                Just And Upright Is He


a2  32:43a   The Heavens: Called to Jubilate With Yahweh



                      b2  32:43b        The Monition of Moses: Worship Him All His Messengers


a3  32:43c   The Nations: Called to Jubilate With Yahweh’s People



                      b3  32:43d        The Monition of Moses: The Blood of His Servants He Shall Avenge—

                                                A Propitiatory-Shelter Shall He Make


In “b1” 32:2-4 of Structure 17, Moses issues a monition (a legal summons). This monition corresponds to “My Saying” which corresponds to “For The Name of Yahweh I Am Proclaiming” which corresponds to “The Rock” which corresponds to “The El.” Therefore, Moses’ legal summons consists of his saying (v. 2) concerning the name of Yahweh (v. 3) Who is metaphorically described as The Rock flawless in His contrivance (v. 4a) and definitively defined as the El of faithfulness without iniquity (v. 4b). Here is presented the Elohim of Israel Who is concerned with the welfare of the nations, indicated by the use of the title “El of Faithfulness.” He is the Rock of Israel’s confidence. His flawless contrivance on their behalf will succeed in blessing both Israel and the nations, overcoming the flaws of Israel as well as the flaws of the nations. Structure 18 (see next page) is a poetic structure of the monition of Moses in Deuteronomy, chapter 32, verses 2-4 (CV modified).

Structure 18 shows the legal summons of Moses (monition) as a refreshing message (saying) of encouragement to both Israel and the nations. The agricultural imagery used to describe this message equates it with an atmosphere of plush vegetation nurtured by a trickling rain yielding a light, fragrant mist producing drizzling showers of fertility. The imagery conjures up a paradisiacal garden of peace and bountifulness. The source of this blessing being proclaimed by Moses is Yahweh. This legal summons calls Israel to “Grant Greatness to our Elohim!” For Israel’s Elohim is the Rock upon which her confidence is founded. For His creative contrivance flawlessly adapts her failures, her flaws, to fit His preconceived design for blessing. Thus, all His ways are the products of right decisions revealing His successful contrivance. Yahweh, Israel’s Elohim, is Israel’s Rock and the nations’ El of Faithfulness Who is “without iniquity,” that is, the El of balanced weights. His judgments are just and upright in relation to both Israel and the nations. Yahweh’s contrivances are successful because of His perfect application of both good and evil.

Therefore, the concluding monition (legal summons) of Moses calls for Israel (the heavens) to jubilate together with Yahweh. For Yahweh’s jubilation is over His successful blessing of Israel and the nations. The monition of Moses then calls for the messengers of Elohim to worship Yahweh (Deut. 32:43b). The messengers here referred to are faithful Israelites, faithful servants of Yahweh reflecting His glory upon the nations. This interpretation is confirmed by the corresponding literary member of the concluding verse (32:43d), as displayed in Structure 19 (see next page).


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Structure 18: Song of Yahweh: Poetic Structure of Monition of Moses (Deuteronomy 32:2-4 Modified)


                My Monition

                                Shall Trickle

                                                As Rain and

                My Saying

                                Shall Distill

                                                As Night Mist:

                                                                As Drizzle

                                                                                On Verdure, and

                                                                As Showers

                                                                                On Herbage.

                For The Name of Yahweh

                Am I Proclaiming:

                                Grant Greatness

                                                To Our Elohim!

                The Rock—

                                Flawless is His Contrivance,

                                                For All His Ways

                                                Are Righteous Judgment.

                The El

                                Of Faithfulness

                                And Without Iniquity;

                                                Just and Upright is He.



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Structure 19: Song of Yahweh: Monition of Moses (Relationship Between Deuteronomy 32:43b and 32:43d of Structure 17)


b2  32:43b   The Monition of Moses: Worship Him All His Messengers

                          Worship Him

                          All the Messengers of Elohim!


b3  32:43d   The Monition of Moses: The Blood of His Servants He Shall Avenge

                          For The Blood of His Servants

                                Shall He


                          Vengeance for His Foes

                                Shall He

                                      Return, and

                          A Propitiatory-Shelter

                                Shall He

                                      Make for the ground [land] of His People.


Yahweh shall avenge the shed blood of His faithful servants, His messengers. He will return vengeance on His enemies who had shed the blood of His messenger servants. Yahweh would, in the last days, the days of the last generation, provide a propitiatory-shelter (atonement) for the land of His people. That propitiatory-shelter would be provided by Jesus the Christ, the Son of David, the Son of Yahweh (see Matt. 23:33-36). It would secure the reception of the Abrahamic promise to all his faithful seed, both Israel and the nations.

The lament of the Song of Yahweh begins with verse 5 and concludes with verse 42 of Deuteronomy, chapter 32 (see Structure 15). This central member of the poetic structure presents its own internal poetical structure (see Structure 20). Its pattern is termed an extended alternation, five “c” members followed by five “d” members. Each of the “c” members deals with the contamination of the holy nation Israel, presenting the various blemishes of the nation. The only exception is the “c5” member which presents the blemish of Israel’s enemies, demanding Yahweh’s just judgment of vengeance. Each of the “d” members presents Yahweh’s response to the blemishes of Israel and the blemish of her enemies. Structure 20 is a presentation of this internal poetical structure:

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Structure 20: Song of Yahweh: Yahweh’s Lamentation (Expansion of B Member of Structure 15, Deuteronomy 32:5-42)


c1  32:5            The Holy Nation Contaminated—Their Blemish: Perverse and Twisted Generation




d1  32:6-14      Yahweh’s Response—Faithfulness: Jacob is Yahweh’s Portion & Allotment

                          [Egypt, The Wilderness, and The Promised Land]


c2  32:15-18      The Holy Nation Contaminated—Their Blemish: Forgetfulness/Sacrificed to other elohim




d2  32:19-20a Yahweh’s Response—Faithfulness: Let Me Conceal My Face From Them

                          [Chastisement In The Land]


c3  32:20b       The Holy Nation Contaminated—Their Blemish: Faithless & Wayward Generation




d3  32:21-27   Yahweh’s Response—Faithfulness: I Shall Cause Them Vexation With a Decadent Nation

                          [Military Defeat In The Land]


c4  32:28          The Holy Nation Contaminated—Their Blemish: Destructive Counsel & No Understanding




d4  32:29-30   Yahweh’s Response—Faithfulness: O That They Were Wise

                          [Lamentation In The Land]


c5  32:31-33    The Holy Nation Contaminated—The Blemish of Their Enemies: The Vine of Sodom and Grapes of Poison




d5  32:34-42   Yahweh’s Response—Faithfulness: Yahweh Shall Adjudicate His people

                          [Scattered Among The Nations]


                In the first “c” member of Structure 20, Yahweh places Moses in the midst of the future generation. In this position, Moses prophetically envisions the state of the nation. He now sees through the eyes of Yahweh. He laments, “They have become corrupt . . . No longer are they His sons . . .” (Deut. 32:5a CV). He characterizes the nation as “A generation perverse and twisted” (Deut. 32:5b CV). Yahweh’s response (d1 32:6-14) is placed in the mouth of Moses (Structure 21):


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Structure 21: Song of Yahweh: Yahweh’s Response (Expansion of Verse 6 d1Member of Structure 20, Deuteronomy 32:6)

                Is this what you requite Yahweh,

                                You decadent and unwise people?

                Is not He your Father

                                Who acquired you?

                He Himself

                                Made you and established you. (Deuteronomy 32:6 CV)


Yahweh, in His vexation with Israel, compares the nation to Cain. The word “acquired” in Hebrew comes from the root word for Cain. Like Cain, Israel from its inception has been a decadent and unwise people. Like Yahweh’s instruction warning Cain, Yahweh has instructed and warned this nation. Like Cain, the nation has rebelled against Yahweh, questioning His authority, His righteousness, His judgment. Like Cain, the nation has defiantly announced, Am I my brother’s keeper?

At the birth of Cain, Eve had declared she had acquired a man from Yahweh. Moses declares that Yahweh is the father of Israel whom He has “acquired.” Yahweh, at Sinai, has “acquired” a man, a nation, a Cain. Thus, the nation from the very beginning has been Cainish. But as Cain had a brother, so the Cainish nation has a brother. The Cainish nation has a rebellious and defiant heart and seeks to murder, destroy his faithful and submissive brother, the Abelite remnant.

This animosity within the nation is recognized in the Hebrew and Greek Scriptures as animosity between the seed of the Serpent/Adversary and the seed of the Woman. Yahweh, from the very beginning in Egypt, has chosen and become a father to a Cainish nation. Within the history of this nation the Hebrew Scriptures present the operation of Good and Evil. Both Cain and Abel are loved by Yahweh Elohim. Cain will not be abandoned. The Good and the Evil will both contribute to Yahweh’s end purpose, His ultimate goal for the nation and the race. Through the mind and behavior of the Abelites and through the mind and behavior of the Cainites will come the exaltation of the human race.

From Adam’s sin through Christ’s death, resurrection, and ascension, the Abelites had been Yahweh’s elect instrument. From Christ’s Parousia to the present, the Cainites have been Yahweh’s elect instrument. The Abelites have been operating in the Celestial Realm in cooperation with the Cainites who have been operating in the terrestrial realm.

In the end, the celestial and the terrestrial realms will be reconciled into one new whole. Cainite freedom, individuality, creativity, independence, determination, and ironic defiance and rebellion shall culminate in the transcendence of Good and Evil, the transcendence of all religion, and the final exaltation of humanity to the ultimate spiritual dimension intended by Yahweh Elohim from humanity’s inception in Genesis, chapter 1.

Moses, continuing to speak in response to his vision of this future generation, calls his own present generation to “Remember the days of the eon; Understand the years of generation after generation” (Deut. 32:7a CV). He refers his generation of Israelites to the past (from Adam to their own time) information and understanding available to them in the oral tradition of the past and in their Hebrew Scriptures revealed to Moses during the 40 years in the wilderness. The “days of the eon” refers to the pre-Mosaic Age. Moses suggests that the people of his generation ask their fathers and their elders about the time “When the Supreme [Elyon, Most High] gave the nations allotments” (Deut. 32:8a CV). They shall inform them that this occurred “When He parted the sons of Adam” (Deut. 32:8b CV). This, of course, is a reference to the post-flood era, the time of Noah and his three sons. During this period, Yahweh confuses the tongues of the race and divides the people into nations.

At this division, Yahweh “stationed the boundaries of the peoples according to the number of the sons of El” (Deut. 32:8c CV). He divides the peoples into nations and assigns each nation a territory and a celestial El to monitor its development. An example of such an El is given in the Book of Daniel when a celestial messenger is hindered from visiting Daniel in the terrestrial realm of Persia. The text records the celestial chief of the Kingdom of Persia withstood this messenger for 21 days. The matter is resolved when Michael, one of the highest of the celestial chiefs, intervenes on behalf of the messenger.

More important for Israel is the fact that at the very same time of the assignment of Els to monitor the nations, Yahweh chose Jacob for His Own portion. Jacob becomes Yahweh’s allotment before his existence as a person or a nation. Yahweh had predetermined His rule over this people. He had predetermined Jacob’s holiness. Jacob had been set apart even as Yahweh had set Himself apart for Jacob.

This is meant to remind this future decadent and unwise generation of the privileged position given to it by Yahweh Himself. Moses expands this privileged position by reviewing the nation’s experience in Egypt, the wilderness, Moab, and Canaan. He reminds this generation that Yahweh “found him in a wilderness country, . . . in a chaos, a howling desolation. He surrounded him; . . . made him understand; . . . preserved him as the apple of His eye” (Deut. 32:10-11 CV). Yahweh alone, apart from any foreign El, clothed and fed the people in the wilderness (32:12-14). How ungrateful had become the nation’s response to this love of Yahweh.

The c2 member of Structure 20, 32:15-18, describes another blemish contaminating the nation in the latter generation. It is when this future nation had become satiated with wealth and had enjoyed great peace and security that it “abandoned Eloah who had made him . . . disgraced the Rock of his salvation” (Deut. 32:15 CV), making Yahweh jealous by sacrificing to alien gods, to demons (32:16-17). This future generation will have forgotten the El travailing over it (32:18).

Moses reveals Yahweh’s response to this abandonment (d2 32:19-20a of Structure 20). He describes Yahweh’s lamenting vexation:


Yahweh saw and spurned them

Because of the vexation caused by His sons and daughters. (Deuteronomy 32:19 CV)


Moses then quotes Yahweh, “Let Me conceal My face from them; I shall examine what their latter days are to be” 32:20a CV). By concealing His face from them, He is removing His sheltering cloud of protection over them. He is closing His eyes to the operations of Israel’s enemies.

The d3 member of Structure 20, 32:21-27, records Yahweh’s judgment of this future nation in the first person: “As for Me, I shall make them jealous with a non-people” (Deut. 32:21b CV). As Israel made Yahweh jealous with a non-El, so Yahweh would give them up to defeat at the hands of a non-people, a people not covenantally related to Yahweh, a people ignorant and unwise, a people worshiping and serving non-elohim, foreign gods.


I shall cause evils

                to sweep over them;

I shall exhaust My arrows

                among them . . . (Deut. 32:23 CV)


Concealed from the generations of Israel encamped on the plains of Moab is the future division of the nation into two kingdoms, two nations. Yahweh’s judgment expressed above is to be executed against both the northern kingdom (Israel) and the southern kingdom (Judah). The northern kingdom would be defeated militarily by the Assyrians and scattered among the nations. Hosea would declare them Lo-Ammi, not My people. Yahweh would not go with them into their captivity among the nations. The southern kingdom (Judah) would be defeated militarily by the Babylonians, and the people would be taken to Babylon as captives of war. However, they would not be designated Lo-Ammi, not My people, as the northern kingdom would be designated. And most importantly, Yahweh would go with them into their Babylonian captivity.

In spite of this judgment, Yahweh refuses to abandon completely His people. He refuses to “eradicate their remembrance from mortals [men of renown] (Deut. 32:26b CV). His justice will not allow Him to forget or overlook the character, the condition, and the conduct of the enemy He used to execute judgment on Israel, lest the enemy say, “Our hand is high, . . . it was not Yahweh Who contrived all this” (Deut. 32:27b CV). Thus, Israel’s judgment would be mitigated as a result of Yahweh’s elective mercy, compassion, and justice.

Though the northern kingdom (Israel) is accounted Lo-Ammi and not called Ammi (My people), until the revelation of the secret deposited with Paul, the southern kingdom (Judah) maintains its relationship with Yahweh, though devoid of the heart of its cultic worship and service, the Temple. Due to this unique circumstance, Israel adapts itself to living in covenant relationship with Yahweh by developing a practical religion as strangers in a strange land—Judaism.

During the Babylonian captivity, Israel is stripped of her idolatrous propensity. When Yahweh sees the power of her hand has departed (Deut. 32:36), He prepares to return her to her own land. Israel had provoked Yahweh’s anger by the work of her hands in making idols and thus worshiping and serving other elohim. She had placed her confidence in false and foreign gods (Deut. 31:29).

In Babylon, the nation had come to understand the powerlessness of these gods. The power of her hand to make idols had departed, because she no longer placed her confidence in these impotent gods. These elohim had been proven to be lifeless rocks (32:37-38). Israel’s humiliation had turned her back to the living Rock—Yahweh Elohim. When He had seen the genuine repentance of the nation, He began to “adjudicate His people” (Deut. 32:36a CV) and “show Himself merciful over His servants” (32:36b CV). The southern Davidic Kingdom, under Ezra and Nehemiah, is restored. Jerusalem is reconstructed and inhabited by the people of the covenant. The Temple is rebuilt and cultic worship and service are restored.

The song of Yahweh is nearing its conclusion. Yahweh’s voice is raised in triumph, “I, I am He, And there is no other Elohim besides Me” (Deut. 32:39a CV). He alone puts to death and He alone keeps alive. Metaphorically, Israel had been covenantally put to death, necessitating the development of Judaism, and had been covenantally raised to life, leading to her return to the land of the covenant. “I am the life for the eon,” Yahweh roars (32:40b CV). Israel is not to forget this covenantal reality. She would never again worship and serve idols representing impotent, foreign gods. The next time she would hear the roar of these words (“I am the life for the eon”) would be when the word of Yahweh would become flesh and tabernacle among them (Jn. 1:14 CV) and proclaim, “I am the Way and the Truth and the Life. No one is coming to the Father except through Me” (Jn. 14:6 CV my emphasis).

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The Powerful Torah

Moses had made it clear to the people that the Torah is accessible. It is what Yahweh has revealed, and it is meant to be kept. The people are capable of obeying Yahweh’s Law and are being held responsible for its being kept. They are without excuse if they fail to obey Yahweh’s voice (Deut. 30:11-20). Now Moses makes it clear to the people that the Torah is also powerful. He declares that all the words of Yahweh’s Law are not an empty word for them. These words are Yahweh’s word of life. These words release and impart the life of the covenant when obeyed. Within the capsules of these words is the word, the energy of covenantal life. Moses states, concerning the power of this word, “it means your life, and by this word you may prolong your days on the ground where you are crossing over the Jordan to tenant it” (Deut. 32:47b CV). Therefore, he encourages Israel to “Set your heart on all the words which I am testifying among you today, so that you may enjoin them on your sons to observe to obey all the words of this law” (Deut. 32:46 CV). Yahweh’s Law is the word of life.

This is what the writer of the Gospel of John alludes to in verses 1-5 of chapter 1:

In a beginning [covenant at Sinai] was the word [the word of covenantal life spoken from the heights of Mount Sinai by the voice of Yahweh], and this word was toward God [it reflected Yahweh’s character, Yahweh’s will], and God [Yahweh] was the word [it revealed Yahweh to His people]. This [word of covenantal life] was in this beginning toward God. All [neuter plural] the words of this word [the Ten Words, the statutes and judgments] came into being [were generated, spoken, revealed] through it [the word, the law], and apart from it [the word of the law, the word of covenantal life] not even one word came into being [was generated, spoken, revealed] which has come into being [which has been generated, spoken, revealed]. In it [the word, the law] was life [covenantal life] and this life was the light of the men [all Israelites, members of the covenantal community]. And this light is appearing in the darkness, and the darkness grasped [overcame] it not. (John 1:1-5 my translation)

The word of the Mosaic Law is Yahweh’s word of covenantal life. This word, this life, is the light of the nation Israel which it is to reflect upon the nations. The light continues to shine even when Israel, because of disobedience, does not reflect it in her behavior.

When John the Baptist and Jesus arrive and manifest themselves to Israel, the light of Yahweh’s Law is shining, even though the nation is sitting in darkness: “The people sitting in darkness perceived a great light, And to those sitting in the province and shadow of death, light arises for them” (Matt. 4:16 CV, quoting Isa. 9:1-2). John the Baptist redirects this people, sitting in the darkness and death of their disobedience, to the Law of Moses, Yahweh’s word of life. The light is shining. The people cannot see this light because they are sitting in the shadow of darkness cast by The Adversary who has seduced the shepherds into distorting the law of covenantal life into the lie of covenantal death. Jesus is the word become flesh, the light manifesting perfectly the essence of the Law of the Mosaic Covenant and soon to be the light manifesting perfectly the essence of Yahweh revealed in the New Covenant releasing and imparting immortal life.

Israel, after the Babylonian captivity, never again worships and serves foreign elohim. However, the nation did become blind in its obstinate commitment to political and religious activity which placed its confidence in man rather than Yahweh. The law became an instrument by which the leaders enslaved and disenfranchised the poor and needy. Thus, the words of the law no longer released and implanted covenantal life. The word of covenantal life was no longer being observed. The corrupt and distorted covenantal word of the chief priests, scribes, and Pharisees was an empty word. It was a word of death.

John the Baptist, whose name in Hebrew means Yahweh is gracious, is commissioned by Yahweh to redirect the nation to the legitimate Law of Yahweh, giving John the authority to restore the repentant ones to their covenantal rights and obligations as children of Yahweh: “There came to be a man commissioned by God, his name was John . . . to his own he came, and those who are his own accepted him not. Yet whoever obtained him, to them he gave the right to be making themselves children of God, to the ones believing into his name . . .” (Jn. 1:6-12 my translation). The name into which one is to believe in order to be restored to the life of the covenant is John, meaning Yahweh is gracious. This name was given to him by Yahweh Who instructed his father to name him John.

Such is the importance and significance of the ministry of John. He is to return the people to the light of the Mosaic Law in order that they might be prepared for the arrival of the Messiah, the anointed Son of David, who would begin to build David a new house promised by Yahweh to David in 2 Samuel 7:10-17. John is to encourage the people, as Moses is presently doing in Moab just before his death, to set their hearts on all the words of Yahweh’s Law of life (Deut. 32:46-47). John is to restore the people to their proper, living relationship to Yahweh their Elohim in order that they might be properly prepared to receive and follow the coming Messiah.

Jesus the Messiah, like John the Baptist, has the authority and the power to resurrect the covenantally dead Israelites to covenantal life. This is the meaning of His declarations in John, chapter 5: “I am saying to you that he who is hearing My word and believing Him Who sends Me, has life eonian and is not coming into judging, but has proceeded out of death into life. Verily, verily, I am saying to you that coming is an hour, and now is, when the dead shall be hearing the voice of the Son of God, and those who hear shall be living. For even as the Father has life in Himself, thus to the Son also He gives to have life in Himself” (Jn. 5:24-26 CV). Jesus is speaking in the present tense. Those hearing His words and believing Yahweh Who sends Him have at that very moment “life eonian,” that is, the covenantal life of the Mosaic Covenant. Those remaining faithful to the words of Jesus to the end are escaping the impending judgment of Yahweh already proclaimed by John the Baptist. Those hearing the words of Jesus are covenantally dead, but, upon hearing and believing these words, then and there, proceed out of covenantal death into covenantal life.

Jesus cannot be referring here to the New Covenant He will establish after His death and resurrection. He can only be referring to the Mosaic Covenant. This is the context in which His words must be understood. “I am the Resurrection and the Life” is spoken in the present tense (Jn. 11:25). Lazarus is dead. Jesus tells Martha her brother will be rising. She answers that she is aware that her brother will be rising in the resurrection in the last day. To this He responds, “I am the Resurrection and the Life.” He is presently the resurrection and the life. He is presently raising the covenantally dead to covenantal life. He physically raises Lazarus from the dead in order to establish His present authority and power to raise the covenantally dead to covenantal life. Lazarus is not raised from the dead to immortal life. The life restored to him is his present mortal life.

In John 8:12 Jesus declares, “I am the Light of the world. He who is following Me should under no circumstances be walking in darkness, but will be having the light of life” (CV). He is here proclaiming Himself the light of the world-order of Israel established at Sinai when the nation entered into a covenantal relationship with Yahweh. Jesus is not referring to the whole world of humans. The word cosmos in Greek means order, system. In this present context, Jesus is speaking of the order or system of the Mosaic Covenant.

The light of this world had always been intended to be reflected upon all nations. Israel as the seed of Abraham is the instrument through which Yahweh has intended to accomplish this. Jesus is “the” seed of Abraham. This light, after His resurrection, will be directed into the world of the nations.

Those then presently following Jesus are no longer walking in the darkness of disobedient Israel, but are presently walking in the light of the life of the Mosaic Covenant. Thus, the metaphor light is equivalent to the metaphor life. Both metaphors convey information about the Mosaic Covenant. Until the Mosaic Covenant reaches its consummation, it means life to Israel; it is the light which enables the nation to walk along Yahweh’s path of the righteousness of Yahweh’s Law.

The word of Jesus to His contemporaries is covenantal life. The covenantally dead, hearing and believing the voice of Jesus the Son of Yahweh, are at that moment, that hour resurrected to covenantal life, even as the nation had been brought to covenantal life at Sinai by the hearing of the voice of Yahweh. The Father has given the Son authority and power to raise the covenantally dead to covenantal life, preparing these people to go through the death of Jesus the Son into the resurrection life of the New Covenant. In this is the hope of Israel. In this is the metamorphosis of Yahweh’s people into a spiritual nation consisting of individuals not only enabled to keep Yahweh’s Law, but who also will obey His voice, His law to the end with all the heart, with all the soul, with all the mind.

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The Farewell Blessing of Moses

Moses knows his death is near. It is time to bless the sons of Israel, even as Jacob blessed his sons just prior to his death. The specific blessings to each of the tribes are not important to the present theme being traced through the Hebrew Scriptures. What is significant is to be found in the introductory and closing verses.

In verses 1-5 of Deuteronomy, chapter 33, Moses reviews the significant events of Israel’s recent history, beginning with Yahweh’s journey from Mount Sinai and Mount Paran to Egypt and concluding with Yahweh’s inauguration as King over Israel in Moab. Moses first poetically describes Yahweh’s redemptive activity in Egypt. Yahweh is described as coming from Sinai, arising from Seir (Edom) on behalf of the sons of Israel in Egypt. Thus, Yahweh is Israel’s benefactor. He arises from Seir, His glory shining from Mount Paran to Egypt. He arrives in Egypt as Israel’s kinsmen redeemer. He is not alone. With Him are a multitude of celestial holy ones. At His right hand is a fiery edict. This edict alludes to Exodus 6:6, “I am Yahweh . . . I will bring you forth from beneath the burdens of the Egyptians,” . . . and Exodus 7:16, “dismiss My people” (CV). The demand of this fiery edict is secured by a demonstration of Yahweh’s power over Egypt and her gods by the manifestation of plagues produced by the army of celestial holy ones, celestial warriors. As a result, Israel is redeemed out of Egyptian bondage.

Moses next describes poetically Yahweh’s covenantal activity at Mount Sinai. He first declares Yahweh’s motive in redeeming Israel. Yahweh “is cherishing peoples” (Deut. 33:3a my translation, see also Gen. 28:3, 35:11, 48:4). He is concerned with the welfare of the nations. Israel is chosen as His instrument through which He will bless the nations.

Israel is thus the first beneficiary of Yahweh’s love, mercy, and compassion,


All the holy ones [saints]

                are in Your hand

And they

                are huddled at Your feet.



                obtains something

                from Your words

                About the law Moses enjoined on us, . . .

                The tenancy [heritage] of the assembly of Jacob.

(Deuteronomy 33:3-4 CV)


The “holy ones” in this context are the sons of Israel who now belong to Yahweh as a result of His redemptive activity on their behalf. They are metaphorically described as being in Yahweh’s hand, the very hand that has redeemed them. At Sinai, they are “huddled” at Yahweh’s feet in covenantal subjection, in covenantal worship and adoration. At the hearing of the voice of Yahweh speaking the Ten Words, each member of the nation “obtains something.” Each obtains covenantal life from the words of Yahweh’s Torah, His law later mediated by Moses. Thus, the “holy ones” are the sons of Israel, “the assembly of Jacob.”

Finally, Moses recounts the inaugural activity of Yahweh in Moab: “So He became King in Yeshurun” (Deut. 33:5a CV). Yahweh’s inauguration as King of Israel had taken place in the renewal of the covenant on the plains of Moab recorded in Deuteronomy 29:1-15. Here Moses refers to this inaugural renewing of the covenant as “When the heads of the people gathered themselves together with the tribes of Israel (Deut. 33:5b CV).

The name “Yeshurun,” referring to Israel, is used because it is a term conveying endearment. Israel is drawn endearingly close to Yahweh because He cherishes the peoples (Deut. 33:3a). Through this seed of Abraham, the peoples (the nations) will be blessed. Note the poetic parallelism of verses 2b-5: “Yahweh came from Sinai, And He arose from Seir” is equated with “He shone from Mount Paran, And He arrived with some from myriads of the holy ones. At His right hand a fiery edict [Heb. MT],” which in turn is equated with “Indeed, he is cherishing peoples” (Deut. 33:3a CV modified), which finally is equated with “So He became King in Yeshurun” (Deut. 33:5a CV).

Yahweh has not forsaken the peoples, the nations. In His election of Israel is revealed His loving remembrance of the nations. Israel is separated to Yahweh as an elect nation on behalf of the non-elect nations. However, Israel as a Cainish nation, possessing a rebellious heart, was to continually exalt himself at the expense of his brother nations. But the members of the faithful remnant of Abelites were to continually take to heart the humbling instrumentality and serious responsibility of their election.

In the concluding verses of the farewell blessing given by Moses (Deut. 33:26-29), he relates the connection between Yahweh’s inauguration to kingship and His exaltation to augustness. Using poetic metaphor, Moses boasts,



There is none like the El of Yeshurun:

Riding the heavens as your helper

And in His augustness, the skies,

The habitation of Elohim aforetime. (Deuteronomy 33:26-27a CV)


Yahweh had ruled over the race as the one riding the clouds of the skies. Since His inauguration as King in Yeshurun, He is the Supreme El over the appointed Els of the nations. There is none like Him. The augustness of His majestic grandeur is incomparable, unparalleled, unmatched, and peerless in contrast to His appointed Els given authorization to supervise over the nations.

As the august El of Yeshurun, He rides the “heavens” as Israel’s “helper,” rather than the “skies.” The metaphoric “heavens” conveys greatness, exaltation, superiority in contrast to the metaphoric “skies” conveying ordinariness, common place, humiliation, inferiority. In the past, “aforetime,” the habitation of the august Elohim was the “skies.” He had a distant relationship, a more ordinary, more impersonal relationship with the race (the nations representing humanity). Now, as August El of Yeshurun, He has a close, extraordinary, personal relationship with this elect, holy nation drawn near to His heavenly augustness. He reveals Himself as He had very rarely revealed Himself in the past. He imparts to this people alone His statutes and judgments. He dwells in their midst only, as He had dwelt in the midst of Adam and Eve in the garden of Eden.

As this elect, holy nation prepares to enter the land of promise, Moses poetically describes the arms of the El of Yeshurun as spread out underneath the nation as she spreads her new-born wings for flight against the enemy (Deut. 33:27 CV). The implied imagery describes Yahweh as a mother eagle spreading out her wings below the initial flight of her young one, protecting her young one from possible catastrophic accidents due to navigational inexperience. These spread-out protective arms are defined as “eonian,” indicating that such protective activity on the part of Yahweh would continue to be available through the entire duration of the Mosaic Eon.

Yahweh “shall drive out the enemy from your presence” (Deut. 33:27b CV). He orders Israel to exterminate the enemy. As Yahweh is august, so His people are august. If the nation obeys Yahweh, it will “tabernacle in trust” (Deut. 33:28 CV). She will remain august as long as she trusts the augustness of her King. She will tabernacle, dwell in safety only as she trusts the augustness, the superiority, the faithfulness of Yahweh her King.

Moses joyously exclaims, “Happy are you Israel! Who is like you?” (Deut. 33:29a CV). What other nation has been saved by Yahweh? What other people can claim Yahweh as their shield, their sword? As long as Israel follows obediently her King Who leads into battle, sword in hand, Israel shall be victorious over her enemies. She shall remain supreme, august, metaphorically dwelling in the heavens at the feet of her El and King, reigning over the nations metaphorically dwelling on the earth beneath the feet of this majestic, wise, and intelligent nation which reflects the august majesty of Yahweh her Elohim, her King. What an honor! What a privilege! What august glory!

As Israel defeats her enemies militarily, she shall also defeat her enemies religiously. Though her enemies shall pretend to submit to her, she shall not be deceived. Moses confidently declares, “Yet you, you shall tread on their fane heights” (Deut. 33:29b CV). Israel will destroy the enemy’s cultic objects, places, and gods. She shall humiliate the cultic worship system of the enemy. She shall humiliate the impotent gods of her enemy in the name of her Supreme, August, Living, Potent El. As Yahweh Elohim, King of Yeshurun, is exalted and magnified, so also is Israel exalted and magnified.

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The Covenantal Graduation of Israel and the Epitaph Concerning Moses

Israel has now been instructed and informed concerning her identity, her purpose, her destiny. She has been informed about “the former days” (Deut. 4:32 CV). She has been made aware of the significance of Yahweh’s activity on her behalf while in Egypt. She is aware of her destiny and her responsibility. She has been given the knowledge of what is right in the eyes of Yahweh. Yahweh’s statutes and judgments have provided her with civil, social, economic, and religious structures necessary for abundant terrestrial life among the nations. The nation, encamped on the plains of Moab, having matriculated through her Mosaic education and having been pronounced by Moses a successful graduate, awaits the command of Yahweh to enter the land under the leadership of Joshua.

Moses is entombed by Yahweh in a ravine in the country of Moab. The place of his entombment remains unknown. His death is not due to old age: “Moses was a hundred and twenty years old at his death. Neither had his eye dimmed nor had his vitality fled” (Deut. 34:7 CV). He had been allowed to view the land of promise from the heights of Mount Nebo.

The record of Deuteronomy concludes with a literary epitaph concerning Moses,

No prophet arose again in Israel like Moses, whom Yahweh knew face to face; there was none like him in all the signs and the miracles which Yahweh sent him to do in the country of Egypt to Pharaoh, to all his servants and to all his country, and none like him in all the steadfast hand and in all the great and fear-inspiring deeds which Moses had done before the eyes of all Israel. (Deuteronomy 34:10-12 CV)

This would remain true until the coming of Jesus the Messiah. As Moses is entombed by Yahweh on behalf of Israel, so Jesus would be entombed by Yahweh on behalf of Israel. The tomb of Moses is unknown (Yahweh’s concealment); the tomb of Jesus is empty (Yahweh’s revelation). The entombment of Moses typifies the telos of the Sinatic/Mosaic Covenant; the entombment of Jesus typifies the death of the old covenant and the birth of the New Covenant.