Parashah 29: Acharai Mot (After death)
Leviticus 16:1 through 18:30
Parashah 29: Acharei Mot (After death) Leviticus 16:1 through 18:30.
Haftarah (Writings and Prophets): Ezekiel 22:1-19.
B'rit Hadasha (New Testament): Romans 3:19-28, 9:30 - 10:13; 1 Corinthians 5:1-13; 2 Corinthians 2:1-11; Galatians 3:10-14; Hebrews 7:23 - 10:25.
Tanach Scriptures are from Stern's Complete Jewish Bible; B'rit Chadash Scriptures from the AENT.
Welcome "newbies" and "oldies!" As you all know, Torah was written by Moshe (Moses) and consists of the first five Books of the Bible which contain God's original Divine Instructions in Righteousness. Since this is a Netzarim (Nazarene/Messianic) website, we refer to God by His proper Name: Yud-Hey-Vav-Hey, transliterated into English as YHWH, and most likely pronounced "Yah-way" (see Exodus 3:13-15). His Son's Name is Y'shua (most likely pronounced "Ye-shoo-ah"). Enjoy this week's Torah portion!
This week's lesson is absolutely POWERFUL - and here is its basic message: The Book of Leviticus is not a "book of laws" as so many insist. It is our Creator asking us to be holy through obedience to HIS rules! In the Book of Leviticus we are told via many examples exactly how we can be "set apart" for Him - by not following the abominable ways of the other nations. He gives us a choice to follow Him, or not. Those who follow Him are blessed; those who don't are cut off. Simple as that. There is no gray area.
Over and over again we see YHWH saying in various ways: "Be holy because I am holy." How many times have we read His comments: "I am ADONAI (God)"....We are to "do" or "not do" because He said so! Paraphrased: "I am ADONAI! I am holy. If you want to belong to Me and be in MY holy Presence, then you will have to be holy."
And how does one know how to "be holy"? It was revealed to us in Leviticus 18:
Leviticus 18: 1 ADONAI said to Moshe, 2 "Speak to the people of Isra'el; tell them, 'I am ADONAI your God. 3 You are not to engage in the activities found in the land of Egypt, where you used to live; and you are not to engage in the activities found in the land of Kena'an, where I am bringing you; nor are you to live by their laws. 4 You are to obey my rulings and laws and live accordingly; I am ADONAI your God. 5 You are to observe my laws and rulings; if a person does them, he will have life through them; I am ADONAI.
How very powerful! Had YHWH never said another thing except what you can read in the above scripture, that should have been enough! How much clearer could He have been? Again, paraphrased: "I am God; I am holy. I have brought you out of the bondage of paganism, so stop living by THEIR laws and start obeying mine which are HOLY and through which you will gain eternal life!"
Yeshua, the Son of YHWH Himself (who had a Divine Qnoma/Nature) lived a holy, righteous life according to His Father's commands. He never veered from Torah! So, why should we? Without His Torah, we would have no way of measuring sin, because as we are told in 1 John 3:4, sin is transgression of Torah!
Question: When did the command to be holy ever change? Did the death of Yeshua take away our responsibility to behave in a "set apart" manner? Of course not!
YHWH expects His People (which includes ALL believers) to be holy. Please take a critical look at what He expected of HIS priests who were obviously to be beyond reproach (and then compare them to today's "priests" who are mostly a bunch of self-proclaimed "holy men of God" insisting "Okay, so I sinned a little by doing _____; but Gawd knows my heart and He's forgiven me!")....
Having said all that, let's go to the beginning today's parashah which discusses sin offerings:
Leviticus 16: 5 "He is to take from the community of the people of Isra'el two male goats for a sin offering and one ram for a burnt offering. 6 Aharon is to present the bull for the sin offering which is for himself and make atonement for himself and his household. 7 He is to take the two goats and place them before ADONAI at the entrance to the tent of meeting. 8 Then Aharon is to cast lots for the two goats, one lot for ADONAI and the other for 'Az'azel. 9 Aharon is to present the goat whose lot fell to ADONAI and offer it as a sin offering. 10 But the goat whose lot fell to 'Az'azel is to be presented alive to ADONAI to be used for making atonement over it by sending it away into the desert for 'Az'azel.
In verses 6-10 we learn that two goats are to be used as the sin sacrifice. One goat will be blood-sacrificed while the other will be set free. Sages have pondered over the meaning of the two goats and have concluded, well, basically nothing! Even a footnote in the Hebrew Tanach says "Though the commandment to send a "scapegoat" to Azazel is a decree...it is beyond human intelligence."
Many see a significance in the two goats to the everlasting life offered us through the Messiah. The first goat is slain for our sins as was the Messiah. The second goat which was offered as atonement for our sins (vs 10), is indicative of both forgiveness for our past sins, and of the Messiah who rose after taking on all of our sins.
Leviticus 16: 11 "Aharon is to present the bull of the sin offering for himself; he will make atonement for himself and his household; he is to slaughter the bull of the sin offering which is for himself. 12 He is to take a censer full of burning coals from the altar before ADONAI and, with his hands full of ground, fragrant incense, bring it inside the curtain. 13 He is to put the incense on the fire before ADONAI, so that the cloud from the incense will cover the ark-cover which is over the testimony, in order that he not die. 14 He is to take some of the bull's blood and sprinkle it with his finger on the ark-cover toward the east; and in front of the ark-cover he is to sprinkle some of the blood with his finger seven times.
15 "Next, he is to slaughter the goat of the sin offering which is for the people, bring its blood inside the curtain and do with its blood as he did with the bull's blood, sprinkling it on the ark-cover and in front of the ark-cover. 16 He will make atonement for the Holy Place because of the uncleanness of the people of Isra'el and because of their transgressions - all their sins; and he is to do the same for the tent of meeting which is there with them right in the middle of their uncleannesses. 17 No one is to be present in the tent of meeting from the time he enters the Holy Place to make atonement until the time he comes out, having made atonement for himself, for his household and for the entire community of Isra'el.
18 Then he is to go out to the altar that is before ADONAI and make atonement for it; he is to take some of the bull's blood and some of the goat's blood and put it on all the horns of the altar. 19 He is to sprinkle some of the blood on it with his finger seven times, thus purifying it and setting it apart from the uncleannesses of the people of Isra'el. 20 "When he has finished atoning for the Holy Place, the tent of meeting and the altar, he is to present the live goat. 21 Aharon is to lay both his hands on the head of the live goat and confess over it all the transgressions, crimes and sins of the people of Isra'el; he is to put them on the head of the goat and then send it away into the desert with a man appointed for the purpose. 22 The goat will bear all their transgressions away to some isolated place, and he is to let the goat go in the desert.
It is interesting to note that both the Jerusalem and Babylonian Talmuds state that the goat's crimson ribbon never again turned white after 30 CE (which was when Y'shua died):
"Concerning the crimson strip-though not mentioned in the Scriptures and long before 30 C.E.-during the 40 years Simon the Righteous was High Priest, a crimson thread which was associated with his person always turned white when he entered the Temple's innermost Holy of Holies. The people noticed this. Also, they noted that ''the lot of the LORD'' (the white lot) came up for 40 straight years during Simon's priesthood. They noticed that the ''lot'' picked by the priests after Simon would sometimes be black, and sometimes white, and that the crimson thread would sometimes turn white, and sometimes not. The Jews came to believe that if the crimson thread turned white, that God approved of the Day of Atonement rituals and that Israel could be assured that God forgave their sins. But after 30 CE, the crimson thread never turned white again for 40 years, till the destruction of the Temple and the cessation of all Temple rituals!"
Especially important to remember that an innocent animal had to die to symbolically remove the memory of our sins! That is HUGE! YHWH made a big deal out of blood, beginning in the Garden of Eden where we see the first animal being sacrificed after the gross disobedience of Adam and Eve (Genesis 3:21). At that point we are not told about what YHWH did with the blood of that animal (because, if we were told every little detail about everything in the history of creation, we would have to carry our Bibles around in a wheelbarrow!), but the significance of the blood is well explained throughout the Torah in passages such as the following:
Leviticus 17: 10 When someone from the community of Isra'el or one of the foreigners living with you eats any kind of blood, I will set myself against that person who eats blood and cut him off from his people. 11 For the life of a creature is in the blood, and I have given it to you on the altar to make atonement for yourselves; for it is the blood that makes atonement because of the life.' 12 This is why I told the people of Isra'el, 'None of you is to eat blood, nor is any foreigner living with you to eat blood.'
13 "When someone from the community of Isra'el or one of the foreigners living with you hunts and catches game, whether animal or bird that may be eaten, he is to pour out its blood and cover it with earth. 14 For the life of every creature - its blood is its life. Therefore I said to the people of Isra'el, 'You are not to eat the blood of any creature, because the life of every creature is its blood. Whoever eats it will be cut off.'
Please note, the BLOOD is what makes atonement; that is why an animal was sacrificed. The animal itself means nothing; but the blood was poured onto the altar and substituted for the lives of YHWH's people.
Of course, we know today that Yeshua, our FINAL SIN SACRIFICE, rendered animal sin sacrifices unnecessary. He martyred Himself as the DIVINE Sacrifice on our behalf; yet most of today's believers (especially since many feel that Torah was "abolished at the cross") do not have the slightest clue as to the meaning behind these blood sacrifices - which, in turn, hampers their REAL understanding about the awesomeness of Yeshua's sacrifice!
(NOTE: Our use of the term "martyr" is intentional because traditional Jews love to point out that "G-d never required human sacrifice!" Well, Y'shua wasn't a "human sacrifice" because nobody "sacrificed" Him. He was a Divine Sacrifice who willingly went to the cross/stake. As a human being, He had the choice to obey YHWH or not. As we see time and time again, He CHOSE to obey. He KNEW who He was....)
The blood of animals allowed YHWH's people to "become clean again" so that they could continue to remain in His Presence. Yeshua died for ALL so that, once we realize and accept what He did for us, we could continue with our attempts to get an ever-closer relationship with YHWH. Please, please think about this!
Moving on to Leviticus 18, we see YHWH's people receiving instructions on sexual purity - which indicates that, by that time, DNA was no longer pure and relatives were not to marry anymore:
Leviticus 17: 1 ADONAI said to Moshe, 2 "Speak to the people of Isra'el; tell them, 'I am ADONAI your God. 3 You are not to engage in the activities found in the land of Egypt, where you used to live; and you are not to engage in the activities found in the land of Kena'an, where I am bringing you; nor are you to live by their laws. 4 You are to obey my rulings and laws and live accordingly; I am ADONAI your God. 5 You are to observe my laws and rulings; if a person does them, he will have life through them; I am ADONAI.
The whole world has rejected YHWH's commands, and just look at what has happened! Decadence and lewd behavior is seen as "normal" today! Incest and rape and homosexuality are rampant. But take a look at just a few of the commands YHWH gave, and notice these commands were not just for "the Jews" as most Christians erroneously believe;they were for all Israel - which today includes all the Gentiles who have "crossed over" to accept the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob (and consequently, they are no longer "Gentile"; but rather, "Hebrews":
Leviticus 18: 22 "'You are not to go to bed with a man as with a woman; it is an abomination. 23 "'You are not to have sexual relations with any kind of animal and thus become unclean with it; nor is any woman to present herself to an animal to have sexual relations with it; it is perversion. 24 "'Do not make yourselves unclean by any of these things, because all the nations which I am expelling ahead of you are defiled with them. 25 The land has become unclean, and this is why I am punishing it - the land itself will vomit out its inhabitants. 26 But you are to keep my laws and rulings and not engage in any of these disgusting practices, neither the citizen nor the foreigner living with you;
Please read all of Leviticus 18 which warns against practically every type of sexual perversion there is. YHWH was completely clear about the way He wanted HIS people to behave. That has never changed!
Today's Haftarah reading contains YHWH's strong warning to His people:
Ezekiel 22: 1 The word of ADONAI came to me: 2 "Now, human being, are you prepared to judge? Are you prepared to judge the city drenched in blood? Then make her realize how disgusting all her practices are! 3 Say that Adonai ELOHIM says, 'City that sheds blood within yourself, thus speeding your own doom, and that makes idols for yourself that defile you: 4 you are guilty because of the blood you have shed, you are defiled by your idols that you have made. You have shortened your days, you have completed your years; therefore I have made you an object of scorn for the nations and a laughingstock for every country.
5 Those close by and those far off will taunt you, you who have such a defiled reputation and such great disorder. 6 "'The leaders of Isra'el in you all use their power in order to shed blood. 7 In you, they make light of fathers and mothers, they oppress foreigners, they wrong orphans and widows. 8 You treat my holy things with contempt, you profane my shabbats. 9 In you, people gossip to the point of inciting bloodshed; in you are those who go to eat on the mountains; in you, they commit lewd acts; 10 in you, they commit incest; in you, they force themselves on women during their menstrual impurity.
11 In you, one commits an abomination with his neighbor's wife; another commits some lewd act defiling his daughter-in-law; still another humbles his sister, his own father's daughter. 12 In you, people take bribes to shed blood; you demand and accept interest on loans; in greed you make profits off your neighbors by extorting them; and you have forgotten me,' says Adonai ELOHIM. 13 "'Therefore, I am clapping my hands together because of your ill-gotten gains and the blood shed in you. 14 Can your courage last, can your strength continue during the days when I deal with you? I, ADONAI, have spoken it; and I will do it.
15 I will scatter you among the Goyim and disperse you throughout the countries; thus I will remove your defilement from you, 16 and you will cause yourselves to be profaned in full view of the Goyim. Then you will know that I am ADONAI.'" 17 The word of ADONAI came to me: 18 "Human being, the house of Isra'el has become an alloy of base metals for me; they are all copper, tin, iron and lead mixed together in the crucible, the dross left over from the silver. 19 Therefore Adonai ELOHIM says this: 'Because you have all become dross, I will collect all of you inside Yerushalayim.
Brit Chadashah reading:
One of today's Brit Chadashah readings drives home the powerful points outlined above: That Torah still stands today!
Romans 3: 19. Now we know, that whatever Torah says, it says to them who are under Torah; that every mouth may be stopped, and all the world be guilty before Elohim. 20. Wherefore, by the deeds of Torah, no flesh is justified before him: for, by Torah, sin is known. 21. But now, the righteousness of Elohim without Torah, is manifested; and Torah and the prophets testify of it. 22. Even the righteousness of Elohim, which is by faith in Y'shua the Mashiyach for every one and on every one that believes in him: for there is no distinction; 23. For they have all sinned, and failed of the glory of Elohim.
Footnote from AENT: Y'shua qualified as Mashiyach because he fulfilled all Torah and Prophetic requirements, and he became Torah. Torah is written upon the heart by the Ruach haKodesh; the Spirit of Mashiyach is Torah which is the Spirit of Mashiyach, or the Manifestation (Word) of YHWH which became flesh and dwelt among us. Therefore, if we live "in" Y'shua we also become Torah. It is evil to posture that Rav Shaul brought Torah down, when in fact Y'shua and Paul restored and elevated Torah to be the foundation of a spiritual dialogue with Heaven.
Romans 9: 30. What will we say then? That the Gentiles who ran not after righteousness, have found righteousness, even the righteousness which is by faith: 31. But Israel who ran after the Torah of righteousness, has not found the Torah of righteousness. 32. And why? Because they went after it, not by faith, but by the works of Torah.
Footnote from AENT: When the Israelites followed Moshe and were obedient to YHWH by faith, they won their battles, but when they rebelled they lost and suffered great casualties. In our day when Jews seek YHWH by faith, they find Mashiyach, but they stumble when they focus not on faith but "works of Torah" according to religious authorities and traditions. Mashiyach is the greatest "stumbling stone" to man's religions - but let's not pick on Jews only, because this applies equally to every other soul who regards their own religious traditions as more authoritative than YHWH and His Mashiyach.
Romans 3:24. And they are granted the status of being righteous by grace and by the redemption which is in Y'shua the Mashiyach 25. Whom Elohim has ordained in advance a propitiation by faith in his blood, because of our previous sins 26. In the space which Elohim in his long suffering gave to us for the manifestation of his righteousness at the present time, that he might be righteous, and might with righteousness make him righteous who is in the faith of our Master Y'shua the Mashiyach. 27. Where then is glorying? It is completely unmade. By what Torah? By that of works? No! But by the Torah of faith. 28. We therefore conclude, that it is by faith a man is being made righteous, and not by the works of Torah.
Footnote from AENT: The terms "works of Torah" and "under Torah" predate Paul by hundreds of years. These terms were discovered in the Dead Sea Scrolls (A Sectarian Manifesto 4QMMT:4Q394-399); while originally referring to the ultra religious halacha (laws) of the Essenes, the same principles apply to the Pharisees' halacha. These two phrases are also mentioned in Romans 6:14, 15; 9:32; 1 Corinthians 9:20; 21; Galatians 2:16; 3:2, 5, 10, 23; 4:4, 5, 21; 5:18. "Under Torah" refers to the orthodox/traditional interpretation and observance of Torah.
Religious halacha is clearly NOT what Y'shua or Paul followed in their observance of Torah. The Renewed Covenant promise in Jeremiah 31:33 is to write the Torah of YHWH upon the hearts of His people, not the "Torah of men." The idiomatic expression "works of Torah" provides insight to those of a "traditional" Jewish upbringing. Paul references Jews at the beginning of this chapter; in verse 19 he states "Now we know" referring to those who understand Torah and halacha (law).
There is so much more that could be said about today's study, and we wholeheartedly urge you to read the cited scriptures through, if you haven't already done so. If you have any questions or comments, please don't hesitate to write! Thank you for reading our Torah study notes for this week, and we pray for you a blessed week ahead, that may you ever grow in your knowledge of YHWH. And, as always, please let us know if you ever see anything in our studies that sounds "off the mark"! Nobody has the market cornered on absolute Truth; we are all learning and obeying to the best of our abilities....
The next parashah reading:
Parashah 30: Kedoshim (Holy People) Leviticus 19:1 through 20:27.
Haftarah (Writings and Prophets): Amos 9:7-15.
B'rit Hadasha (New Testament): Matthew 5:33-37, 43-48, 15:1-11; 19:16-30, 22:33-40; Luke 10:25-37; Romans 13:8-10; Galatians 5:13-26; James 2:1-9; 1 Peter 1:13-21.