Parashah 31: Emor (Speak)
Leviticus 21:1 through 24:23
Parashah 31: Emor (Speak); Leviticus 21:1 through 24:23.
Haftarah (Writings and Prophets): Ezekiel 44:15-31.
B'rit Hadasha (New Testament): Matthew 5:38-42; Galatians 3:26-29.
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!
Today's lesson was absolutely POWERFUL - with its basic messages being the holiness YHWH expected of His cohenim (priests); and the giving of YHWH's "designated times" - His Feasts - all of which bear the statement that they are to be observed "forever" and/or "throughout your generations."
Leviticus 21 starts out with YHWH commanding Moshe to tell the cohenim what they are to do to be considered holy in His eyes. We must remember that the office of cohen is an elevated position beyond compare. Cohenim were expected to be blemishless both on the exterior and on the interior - Not perfect (since no human is perfect), but blemishless and without defect whenever they came into His Presence, as they were the intermediaries between YHWH and His people. YHWH even expected His cohens to marry "unblemished" women:
Leviticus 21: "'A cohen is not to marry a woman who is a prostitute, who has been profaned or who has been divorced; because he is holy for his God.
The above brings to mind the Catholic "priests" who are forbidden to marry and who, in no way, resemble YHWH's cohens - who, incidentally, come only from the tribe of Levi. (One has to wonder from where the Catholics got most of their rules and regulations, because they certainly didn't come from Torah....)
In making our way through the Torah, we see YHWH constantly reiterating, "Be holy for I am holy!" Somehow, though, this command we lost over the course of the millennia, and "holiness" has lost its original meaning.
For instance, take President Bill Clinton - a supposed Christian - was immediately forgiven by the world for his adultery, lying, cheating and sexual misconduct in the White House, but yet he was even allowed to remain in office as President of the United States! ...(Often - especially around election time - we can hear Christians making statements during such as: "God put His candidate in the White House." Really? Since when does YHWH condone adultery, lying or fornication - much less, make those people leaders of our society? Do we really believe YHWH likes the "negative campaign ads" and the slandering and gossip perpetrated by our modern candidates against each other? Why would He ensure that sinners become our leaders? The Bible tells us to stay away from sinners and to confront them about their sins, and if they ignore the correction, we are to get away from them! (2 Tim 2:16; Titus 1:13-16; Matthew 24:4-13; Matthew 7:6; 2 Tim 2:14, etc.)
In Biblical times people who deliberately sinned were put to death! Just because Yeshua died does not mean that we are to ignore the antics of those who deliberately sin! (His death removed the need for us to kill innocent animals to atone for our sins; it never negated the need to obey YHWH's commands/Torah/Divine Instructions in Righteousness, or suggested we "look the other way" when our brethren are engaged in sinning.) If you look at the context of the holy writings contained within the Torah, YHWH's hand is not on nations that participate in, or condone deliberate sinning....
YHWH, as we see in today's parashah, expected nothing less than complete physical and mental perfection and complete obedience from His cohens. So much so that, if they had any physical deficiencies whatsoever, they were still allowed by be His cohens, but they could not make any offerings or enter the holy places - as we see in Leviticus 21 and beyond:
Leviticus 21: 16 ADONAI said to Moshe, 17 "Tell Aharon, 'None of your descendants who has a defect may approach to offer the bread of his God. 18 No one with a defect may approach - no one blind, lame, with a mutilated face or a limb too long, 19 a broken foot or a broken arm, 20 a hunched back, stunted growth, a cataract in his eye, festering or running sores, or damaged testicles - 21 no one descended from Aharon the cohen who has such a defect may approach to present the offerings for ADONAI made by fire; he has a defect and is not to approach to offer the bread of his God.
22 He may eat the bread of his God, both the especially holy and the holy; 23 only he is not to go in to the curtain or approach the altar, because he has a defect - so that he will not profane my holy places, because I am ADONAI, who makes them holy.'" 24 Moshe said these things to Aharon, his sons and all the people of Isra'el.
NOTE: Even though most of us are not from the Tribe of Levi, the Scriptures tell us we are priests - Exodus 19:4-6 and 1 Peter 2:4-9 - which means WE should strive to be holy as well! It is through YHWH's grace and mercy that we have that privilege, and there are many who have realized that being Torah observant brings them ever closer to God! May He richly bless each and everyone of you who is willing to be obedient to the best of their abilities.
The thing is, YHWH - the Creator of the Universe - expects the best. "The best" indicates that we revere Him far above ourselves! He expected His People to give Him the BEST of their livestock and their produce, and to obey His commands to the best of our abilities. Those who refused to do this were to be "cut off from their people."
Today, many are under the erroneous impression that, just because "Jesus died for us" we no longer have to adhere to holy doctrines or "toe the line" when it comes to our behavior. And the first thing out of someone's mouth when we attempt to correct their ungodly behavior is: "You're judging me!" They don't realize that it is not "judging" whenever we attempt to correct ungodly behavior via YHWH's Torah, which is our judge, our only blueprint for moral, holy living; and, if someone veers from Torah, they MUST be corrected, or else we cause them to stumble and fall away from God's Divine Instructions in Righteousness!
Our churches and synagogues are full of ungodly behavior! The Third Commandment tells us not to use YHWH's Name in vain - yet how many supposed "believers" are guilty of this very thing? How many times have we heard some believer say something like: "God's gonna get you for that!" or "I believe you fell and broke your arm because God was punishing you for what you said/did to me!" How many so-called "prophets" insist they are speaking for God, and they even dare to do it in the first person: "I the Lord God say to you...." And how many use "Jesus Christ" as a cussword? (Please see Leviticus 24:15-16)....
We are told in Leviticus 22:10 that "No one who is not a cohen may eat anything holy".... which shows how very seriously YHWH took His priesthood! Even today, YHWH doesn't want us mingling with the pagan/worldly. That has never changed. Leviticus 2:14 goes on to tell us: "If a person eats holy food by mistake, he must add one-fifth to it and give the holy food to the cohen."
One can only wonder whether the tithes we give at our synagogues or churches are being properly utilized whenever the pastors/rabbis give the money away to those who are constantly asking to be bailed out of their financial situations. It's one thing to experience "hard times" and having no other choice but to ask someone for help. But the sad reality is, many abuse their congregation's emergency funds by expecting to be bailed out time and time again - never bothering to pay the money back once they "get back on their feet." According to the above scripture, rather than to expect hand-outs, it seems people who borrow from the tithe fund should be repaying what they borrowed plus one-fifth!
Where in Scripture do we see that our tithe money is to be used to bail out those who regularly mishandle their financial affairs? The tithe, according to Torah, was to support the cohens whose only income came from the people! Yes, we as believers are also obligated to help support the less fortunate among us; but nothing says we must squander our tithes on those who qualify as leeches on society!
The holiness expected of the cohens didn't end once YHWH's people entered the Promised Land. As we saw in today's Haftarah reading, YHWH continued to reiterate holiness among His cohens:
Ezekiel 44: 17 "'Once they enter the gates of the inner courtyard, they are to wear linen clothing; they are not to wear any wool while serving at the gates of the inner courtyard or inside it. 18 They are to wear linen turbans on their heads and linen underclothes on their bodies, and they are not to wear anything that makes them sweat. 19 Before going out to the people in the outer courtyard, they are to remove the clothes in which they minister, lay them in the holy rooms, and put on other clothes; so that they won't transmit holiness to the people by means of their clothing. 20 They are not to shave their heads or let their hair grow long, but must keep their hair carefully trimmed. 21 No cohen is to drink wine when he enters the inner courtyard. 22 They may not marry a widow or a divorcee but must marry virgins descended from the house of Isra'el or a widow whose deceased husband was a cohen.
23 "'They are to teach my people the difference between holy and common and enable them to distinguish between clean and unclean. 24 They are to be judges in controversies, and they are to render decisions in keeping with my rulings. At all my designated festivals they are to keep my laws and regulations, and they are to keep my shabbats holy. 25 They are not to come to any dead person, because this would make them unclean; however, for father, mother, son, daughter, brother or sister who has had no husband they may make themselves unclean. 26 After a cohen has been purified, he is to wait seven days. 27 Then, on the day he enters the sanctuary, when he goes into the inner courtyard to minister in the sanctuary, he is to offer his sin offering,' says Adonai ELOHIM.
28 "'Their inheritance is to be this: I myself am their inheritance. You are not to grant them any possession in Isra'el - I myself am their possession. 29 They are to eat the grain offerings, sin offerings and guilt offerings; and everything in Isra'el devoted [to God] will be theirs. 30 The first of all the firstfruits of everything, and every voluntary contribution of everything, from all your offerings, will be for the cohanim. You are also to give the cohen the first of your dough, so that a blessing will rest on your house. 31 The cohanim are not to eat anything, bird or animal, that dies naturally or is torn to death.
May the Ruach (Holy Spirit) continue to work in all of us to not only help us better understand YHWH's Word so that we can keep striving for holiness in our lives, but also to keep us humble and ever willing to keep learning and obeying so that we may one day stand before Him to hear Him say: "Well done, good and faithful servant!"
Moving on to the rest of today's parashah: Please read this carefully, as Leviticus 23 is one of the most important (if not THE most important) Book in the Bible because it lists the days our God considers as Holy Convocations!
Leviticus 23: 1 ADONAI said to Moshe, 2 "Tell the people of Isra'el: 'The designated times of ADONAI which you are to proclaim as holy convocations are my designated times.
Leviticus 23 goes on to outline the feasts and their specific days as shown below:
Seventh Day Sabbath (Shabbat):
Leviticus 23: 3 "'Work is to be done on six days; but the seventh day is a Shabbat of complete rest, a holy convocation; you are not to do any kind of work; it is a Shabbat for ADONAI, even in your homes.
Leviticus 23: 4 "'These are the designated times of ADONAI, the holy convocations you are to proclaim at their designated times. 5 "'In the first month, on the fourteenth day of the month, between sundown and complete darkness, comes Pesach (Passover) for ADONAI. (Yeshua, YHWH's "Passover Lamb" who fulfilled Passover when he was crucified and willingly allowed His own blood to be shed on our behalf in order to become our redemption.)
Unleavened Bread (Hag HaMatzot):
Leviticus 23: 6 On the fifteenth day of the same month is the festival of matzah; for seven days you are to eat matzah. 7 On the first day you are to have a holy convocation; don't do any kind of ordinary work. 8 Bring an offering made by fire to ADONAI for seven days. On the seventh day is a holy convocation; do not do any kind of ordinary work.'" (Yeshua fulfilled this Feast when he was buried and became our righteousness (Rom. 6:4, II Cor. 5:21).)
Firstfruits (Yom HaBikkurim):
Leviticus 23: 9 ADONAI said to Moshe, 10 "Tell the people of Isra'el, 'After you enter the land I am giving you and harvest its ripe crops, you are to bring a sheaf of the firstfruits of your harvest to the cohen. …. 14 You are not to eat bread, dried grain or fresh grain until the day you bring the offering for your God; this is a permanent regulation through all your generations, no matter where you live. (As you know, our Savior Yeshua was the Firstfruits of Creation! The first three Feasts were fulfilled through the crucifixion, burial and resurrection of Yeshua haMashiyach!)
Feast of Weeks (Shavuot):
Leviticus 23: 15 "'From the day after the day of rest -that is, from the day you bring the sheaf for waving - you are to count seven full weeks, 16 until the day after the seventh week; you are to count fifty days; and then you are to present a new grain offering to ADONAI…. 21 On the same day, you are to call a holy convocation; do not do any kind of ordinary work; this is a permanent regulation through all your generations, no matter where you live. 22 …I am ADONAI your God.'" (This feast represents the beginning of the body of Messiah on Earth, in which ALL believers, redeemed through the blood of Messiah, are lifted up before ADONAI and set apart as holy (Acts 2, John 14:15-18, Ephesians 2:11-22).)
Feast of Trumpets (Rosh Hashanah):
Leviticus 23: 23 ADONAI said to Moshe, 24 "Tell the people of Isra'el, 'In the seventh month, the first of the month is to be for you a day of complete rest for remembering, a holy convocation announced with blasts on the shofar. 25 Do not do any kind of ordinary work, and bring an offering made by fire to ADONAI.'"
Day of Atonement (Yom Kippur):
Leviticus 23: 26 ADONAI said to Moshe, 27 "The tenth day of this seventh month is Yom-Kippur; you are to have a holy convocation, you are to deny yourselves, and you are to bring an offering made by fire to ADONAI. 28 You are not to do any kind of work on that day, because it is Yom-Kippur, to make atonement for you before ADONAI your God. 29 Anyone who does not deny himself on that day is to be cut off from his people; 30 and anyone who does any kind of work on that day, I will destroy from among his people. 31 You are not to do any kind of work; it is a permanent regulation through all your generations, no matter where you live. 32 It will be for you a Shabbat of complete rest, and you are to deny yourselves; you are to rest on your Shabbat from evening the ninth day of the month until the following evening."
Feast of Tabernacles (Sukkot):
Leviticus 23: 33 ADONAI said to Moshe, 34 "Tell the people of Isra'el, 'On the fifteenth day of this seventh month is the feast of Sukkot for seven days to ADONAI. 35 On the first day there is to be a holy convocation; do not do any kind of ordinary work. 36 For seven days you are to bring an offering made by fire to ADONAI; on the eighth day you are to have a holy convocation and bring an offering made by fire to ADONAI ; it is a day of public assembly; do not do any kind of ordinary work. (Yeshua our Messiah was born on the first day of the Feast of Sukkot when "the Word made flesh" comes to tabernacle among men....)
If the above commands weren't enough, YHWH then reiterates when His holy convocations are:
Leviticus 23: 37 "'These are the designated times of ADONAI that you are to proclaim as holy convocations and bring an offering made by fire to ADONAI -a burnt offering, a grain offering, a sacrifice and drink offerings, each on its own day - 38 besides the Shabbats of ADONAI, your gifts, all your vows and all your voluntary offerings that you give to ADONAI. 39 "'But on the fifteenth day of the seventh month, when you have gathered the produce of the land, you are to observe the festival of ADONAI seven days; the first day is to be a complete rest and the eighth day is to be a complete rest.
40 On the first day you are to take choice fruit, palm fronds, thick branches and river-willows, and celebrate in the presence of ADONAI your God for seven days. 41 You are to observe it as a feast to ADONAI seven days in the year; it is a permanent regulation, generation after generation; keep it in the seventh month. 42 You are to live in sukkot for seven days; every citizen of Isra'el is to live in a sukkah, 43 so that generation after generation of you will know that I made the people of Isra'el live in sukkot when I brought them out of the land of Egypt; I am ADONAI your God.'" 44 Thus Moshe announced to the people of Isra'el the designated times of ADONAI.
As you know, "the people of Israel" includes everyone who has accepted the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob (Numbers 15:13-16).
Brit Chadashah reading:
In the Brit Chadashah reading, we discover that Yeshua did not "abolish" YHWH's Divine Instructions, but He actually reinforced and even added explanation to them! Those without Torah have no righteousness, and they are certainly not "borrowing" any from Mashiyach's righteousness while they continue in sin, regardless of what their theologians have to say. Mashiyach imparts his righteousness to those who follow him, and keep Torah. Through Y'shua, YHWH is raising up a Set Apart people who Keep His Commandments rather than making up their own religious traditions.
Matthew 5: 38. You have heard that it has been said that an eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth. 39. But I say to you that you should not stand against evil, but who hits you upon your right cheek, turn also to him the other. 40. And he that desires to go to court with you and take your coat, leave to him also your cloak. 41. He that compels you to go one mile, go two with him. 42. He that asks you to give to him and he desires to borrow from you, you should not deny him.
When Y'shua says, "you have heard it said" he refers to oral tradition; when he says "it is written" he refers to Scripture. The matter of an eye for an eye and tooth for a tooth, according to Torah, refers to fair restitution; not literally taking out an eye or tooth. The amount to be restored must be commensurate to the loss; the loss of an eye must be rewarded the value of an eye. See Exodus 21:24; Leviticus 24:20; Deuteronomy 19:21. Torahless ultra-religious judges or pagan cultures opted for barbaric punishment as crime for crime, however this is not a Torah principle.
Do not react with evil towards evil, rather let patience and temperance prevail when accosted by evil doers. Torah instructs the strong to protect the weak, Deut 22:27. Ya'akov teaches to "stand firm" against Satan, James 4:7. Paul teaches to stand against the strategies of the Accuser in Ephesians 6:11; neither does he mince words in Acts 13:10. Isaiah 14:15 states that haSatan will be brought down to hell and a slaughter is prepared for his children (verse 21). Rev 20:10 promises a date for Satan in the lake of fire, in the meantime we are to recognize that our battles are not against flesh and blood, and to act accordingly.
Galatians 3: 26. For you are all the children of Elohim by faith in Y'shua the Mashiyach. 27. For those who have been immersed in Mashiyach have been clothed with Mashiyach. 28. For there is neither Jew nor Aramean, nor slave nor free, nor male nor female, but you are all one in Y'shua the Mashiyach. 29. And if you are of the Mashiyach then you are seeds of Awraham and inheritors by the promise.
 That is, as a garment wraps a person inside, which is a very common idiom in both Hebrew and Aramaic. Rav Shaul uses it elsewhere in Ephesians when talking about putting on the armor of Elohim and the breastplate of righteousness. A very similar idiomatic usage, "clothed with zeal like a cloak", is found in Isaiah 59:17.
The above scripture serves to remind us that we are all ONE in Mashiyach! Discrimination is abhorrent and we must remember that we were created in the image of YHWH - color and gender are only "skin deep"....We are all equal and equally inheritors of the promise!
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 32: B'har (On Mount); Leviticus 25:1 through 26:2.
Haftarah (Writings and Prophets): Jeremiah 32:6-27.
B'rit Hadasha (New Testament): Luke 4:16-21; 1 Corinthians 7:21-24; Galatians 6:7-10.