Mattot-Masei – “Tribes-Stages”

The Torah reading for this week consists of two parashas.

First, we have Mattot, meaning Tribes. It covers Numbers chapter 30:1–32:42. Secondly, we have Masei, which means Journeys. It covers 33:1-36:13.

Moses was told to speak with all the leaders of Israel and to tell them about these commands from the Lord: “If a man made a special promise to God, or promises to give or to do somethings, he must do exactly what he promises!”

A man’s vow was declared to be absolutely binding. There was no provision to release him from it. If a woman dwelling in her father’s house took a vow, the father had the power to forbid it. If he remains silent in the day that he heard it, then the vow became binding. Likewise, the husband had the same power and in like manner, if he did not exercise it, the vow became binding. In the case of a widow or one divorced, if her vow was made in her widowhood or while she was divorced, her vow was absolutely binding.

These commands are revealing because they pointed to the importance for the unity of the household. There cannot be two supreme authorities in any family.

In God’s economy, the responsibility of headship was with the father and husband. As the nation approached settlement in the land of promise, the integrity of the family was carefully safeguarded.

The God whose Name is holy, the Eternal God of creation, the God who holds all things together by His spoken word – His word cannot change. His word will not lie nor fail. Psalms 138 says He honors His word above His name.

In chapter 31, Adonai spoke to Moses, saying, “Take full vengeance for the sons of Israel on the Midianites. Choose from every tribe 1,000 men for this war, that they may go to execute the Lord’s vengeance on Midian.” Moses was also told by Adonai that afterward he would be gathered to his people.

This battle was part of a “holy war” that Adonai Himself had declared against Midian because Midian had led Israel into the sin of idolatry.

Adonai had earlier taken vengeance on His own people for yielding to the Midianite’s temptations. 24,000 Israelis died of the plague.

Now the Midianites will be reckoned with, these that gave the temptation. And though judgment begins at the house of God, it shall not end there. The deceived and the deceiver are His, both are accountable to His judgments.

Numbers 25 tells us that Phinehas was the one who stopped the plague from God upon Israel for the corruption by the Midianites. Phinehas knew what it took to stand against evil in a successful way.

Adonai will now use the 12,000 tribesman and Phinehas the son of Eleazar the high priest, who was armed with the holy trumpets. The Ark is not mentioned here, but many scholars believe that it was the Ark that went before Phineas and the 12,000 into battle.

The campaign against the Midianites was successful and resulted in the death of every enemy soldier and every male from the elderly even to the infant. Only the young Midianites women who had not known a man were allowed to live.

Not a single Israeli soldier died in the conflict. And after the battle Joshua killed the five Midianite kings, including Zur, the father of Cozbi, the woman with whom Zimri had sinned with in the camp and in the sight of Moses.

The commanders of the troops were so grateful for this miraculous deliverance. This act of divine grace was beyond anything they deserved, so much so that they brought a freewill offering of gold to the Lord. The total weight of their offering was 16,750 shekels, worth several million dollars in today’s U S currency.

All this was brought into the tabernacle as a memorial for the Israelis before the Lord and was a tribute to the faithfulness and blessings of the true God of Israel.

In chapter 32, we have a request from Reuben, Gad, and Manasseh, for permission to settle in the territory recently captured on the east side of the Jordan. Their request was reasonable, and was granted, but only after they vowed not to rest there until Israel’s enemies were defeated.

In chapter 35, Adonai told Moses about six cities of refuge. If someone accidentally kills another person, that person can run to one of these six cities for refuge. That person will be safe there from anyone from the dead man’s family who wants to punish the killer, at least until he is judged in court.

These six cities of refuge foreshadow Messiah in a beautiful way. It is Messiah to whom we have all fled to for refuge, to lay hold upon the hope that He has set before us.

Understand that Moses did not choose the cities because the Law cannot save anyone.

And though these were priestly cities, it was not an earthly priest who appointed them. Their appointment and the sending of the Messiah both came from the loving heart of the Father.

These cities were announced in the Word. A slayer could enter a city and no one could forbid him! So it is with our salvation:

it is promised to us in the Word. There are many religions today but there is only one way of salvation as announced in God’s Word — faith in Yeshua our Messiah.

These cities were accessible to all. They were arranged so that no tribe was too far from the place of safety. What a beautiful picture of Messiah! He will never turn a repentant sinner away who comes to Him by faith.

There is one point of contrast between the cities and Messiah: when the slayer came to the city, he was admitted but he was also tried. With us, there is no trial, because we are already condemned! Saved only by grace through faith in Messiah.

What a savior!

Consider the names of the cities. Kadesh means holiness. When we come to Messiah, He makes us holy and forgives all our sins.

Shechem means shoulder and suggests that we find in Yeshua a resting place.

Hebron means fellowship, suggesting our fellowship with God in Messiah, and our fellowship with other believers.

Bezer means fortress, suggesting the protection and victory we have in Messiah. The safest place in existence is in the will of God.

Ramoth means heights and reminds us that believers are seated together in heavenly places in Messiah; and that the day will come when we shall be caught up together in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air.

Finally, Golan means circle or enclosure and suggests that in Messiah we are safe.

Let’s summarize: we should strive strongly to resemble our Heavenly Father, whose word is true and who is true to His word.

We would do well to remember that no one escapes His eternal eye. The deceiver and the deceived will face his judgment.

Also, by grace through faith, no one is turned away from the loving, saving, and keeping power of Messiah Yeshua who is our eternal salvation, and all to the glory of the Father. That should bless our hearts.