Day 67 (March 8): Rights to Inherit land, Joshua chosen as next Israelite leader, offering rules

Welcome to BibleBum where we are exploring the entire Bible in one year to better learn how to follow God’s instructions and discover the purpose for our lives.  The BibleBum blog uses The One Year Chronological Bible, the New Living Translation version.  At the end of each day’s reading, Rob, a cultural history aficionado and seminary graduate, answers questions from Leigh An, the blogger host, about the daily scripture.  Take the challenge.  You won’t regret it.

Numbers 27-29

Questions & Observations

O. (Numbers 27:8): I never really thought about this before, but now that I have, it’s noteworthy.  God saw the importance in every being, that each one should be remembered and acknowledged — here, with land.  It isn’t just that because someone didn’t have sons that they should not have an inheritance.

Q. (27:18): Here God mentions that Joshua has the “Spirit” in him.  Does God explain anywhere thus far what he means by that?

A.  It appears to be some form of reference to the Holy Spirit at work in Joshua, but no, it is not expanded further.

Q. (28:3-8): I think this is the first time God has asked for an alcoholic drink to be offered?  Also, if there were two lambs sacrificed every day, is this meat for the priests to eat?  Or is it just burned for God?

A. You are correct, this is the first instance of an alcoholic beverage asked for, and the meat here did go to the priests.

Q. These occasions have already been mentioned, Day 55. Why are the offerings not included in the earlier descriptions?

A. I don’t really have a good answer for that.  It is simply the way it is presented.

Q. I don’t think we’ve talked about if there are reasons God asks for certain animals to be offered — ram, bull, lamb, goat, etc.?

A. These animals, and some domestic birds (doves, etc.) are the domestic animals that the Israelites have in their flocks/herds.  Each of these animals has been declared clean (what Jews today call “kosher”) by God, and this appears to be the reason He selects them for His sacrifices.  Those basically were the only animals they kept!

Q. (28:16): This festival lasts for seven days.  Of course there are the offerings, but does the Bible tell what other activities comprise a festival?  I think of our festivals now — none that I can think of last for seven days — but I doubt they have much in common.

A. You can read about many of the traditions that have come to be associated with the festivals, and sometimes in the narrative story of the OT you get some insight into what went on, but generally, no, there is not much information on the celebratory aspects of the Holy Days.  I would suggest outside reading — even the Wikipedia page — for each of the festivals to learn more about them, but we will see some festivals/rituals described in later texts.

Q. (29:12-40): Any reason God would single out this festival by requiring a greater number of sacrifices?  I can’t imagine making all of these sacrifices on one altar.  Just preparing them would take long enough and then offering them properly.

A. This particular festival (also described in Lev. 23) appears to be agricultural in nature, which might explain it.  This festival, today known as Sukkot, will come in subsequent books to be associated with the reading the entire Law every seventh year (its coming in Deuteronomy 31), so this would have been treated as both an important religious day as well.  Those are basically guesses, however.  I don’t really have a certain answer to this question.

Day 39 (Feb. 8): More laws, annual festivals, God promises to be with Israelites, Israel accepts Covenant

Exodus 22:16-24:18

Questions & Observations

Q. (Exodus 22:16): There are obviously more laws here than the 10 Commandments.  Do these other laws have an official name?  Do you know how many there are total?  My husband knew once, but has forgotten.

A. It is usually referred to as the Law or Torah.  Jews call the individual laws Mitzvah.  There appear to be 613 commands contained in Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, and Deuteronomy.  Have a look: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/613_commandments.  The page lists all of them at the bottom.

Q. (22:18): Sorceress?

A. Sure.  We would probably use the word witch: those women in particular who used the forces of the occult — or appeared to — in order to manipulate events.  This would include fortune telling, séances and speaking with the dead — we will actually see this in 1 Samuel — and other occult practices.  Sorcery is strictly forbidden in scripture, since it relies on other, likely demonic, powers not of God.  It is always an attempt to gain inside information on the future, thereby demonstrating lack of faith in God.  We will see more commands like this one.

Q. (22:28): I’m going through these thinking that I’m OK.  But to not dishonor any of our rulers?  That can’t possibly apply today?  Politics would be no fun!

A. Ha!  Respect for authorizes put in place by God IS a Biblical concept, even when those authorizes do not serve God (however you define that).  Paul speaks very similarly in Romans 13:1-7.  We must be very careful in not submitting ourselves to the authorities in place, and it is important to see the necessity of humility in doing so; something a lot of Christians could use more of.

Q. (22:29-30): We covered the “give the firstborn sons and livestock” thing, but remind us again in a nutshell.  Thanks!

A. God spared them through the Passover, so they belonged to Him.  Thus, they had to be “bought back” in a ceremony where the participants would be reminded of the centrality of God’s power in their lives.  It was a way of remembering what God did at Passover.

O. (23:2-3): I like it when we can easily understand many rules such as these and they are relevant today.

Q. (23:20): Is this angel referring to Moses?

A. No.  Moses was the human representative, but 14:19 has already established an angel, or messenger, of God who has been moving with the company.  We will see some references to this when the Israelites enter the Promised Land in Joshua.

Q. (23:25-26): Is this law just for the Israelites or for all, including us now?  I know Christians who have had these misfortunes.

A. God is making particular promises to these people at this time, and we get to be on shaky ground when we try to adopt promises He makes to them for us.  Having said that, we are certainly commanded to live in good relationship with God, which includes the understanding that God will provide for our needs.  But I definitely say that the Bible does not tell US today that if we live in good relationship with God, only good things will happen to us.  As Jesus reminded his followers: If you follow me, in this world, you will have trouble (John 16:33).  God does not say we will never have difficulty, even with the bare necessities at times, but only that He will never leave us alone.