Parashah 34 – B’midbar (In the desert)
1 Yehovah spoke to Moshe in the Sinai Desert, in the tent of meeting, on the first day of the second month of the second year after they had left the land of Egypt. He said, 2 “Take a census of the entire assembly of the people of Isra’el, by clans and families. Record the names of all the men 3 twenty years old and over who are subject to military service in Isra’el. You and Aharon are to enumerate them company by company.
4 Take with you from each tribe someone who is head of a clan. 5 These are the men to take with you:
From Re’uven, Elitzur the son of Sh’de’ur;
6 From Shim‘on, Shlumi’el the son of Tzurishaddai;
7 From Y’hudah, Nachshon the son of ‘Amminadav;
8 From Yissakhar, N’tan’el the son of Tzu‘ar;
9 From Z’vulun, Eli’av the son of Helon.
10 Of the children of Yosef:
From Efrayim, Elishama the son of ‘Ammihud;
From M’nasheh, Gamli’el the son of P’dahtzur.
11 From Binyamin, Avidan the son of Gid‘oni;
12 From Dan, Achi‘ezer the son of ‘Ammishaddai;
13 From Asher, Pag‘i’el the son of ‘Okhran;
14 From Gad, Elyasaf the son of De‘u’el;
15 From Naftali, Achira the son of ‘Enan.”
16 These were the ones called from the assembly, the chiefs of their fathers’ clans and heads of thousands in Isra’el. 17 So Moshe and Aharon took these men who had been designated by name; 18 and, on the first day of the second month, they gathered the whole assembly to state their genealogies by families and clans and recorded the names of all those twenty years old and over, as well as their total numbers. 19 Moshe counted them in the Sinai Desert, just as Yehovah had ordered him.
(ii) 20 The men twenty years old and over who were subject to military service were recorded by name, family and clan, starting with the descendants of Re’uven, Isra’el’s firstborn. Here are the totals:
|21 Descendants of Re’uven||46,500|
|22-23 Descendants of Shim‘on||59,300|
|24-25 Descendants of Gad||45,650|
|26-27 Descendants of Y’hudah||74,600|
|28-29 Descendants of Yissakhar||54,400|
|30-31 Descendants of Z’vulun||57,400|
|32-33 Descendants of Efrayim||40,500|
|34-35 Descendants of M’nasheh||32,200|
|36-37 Descendants of Binyamin||35,400|
|38-39 Descendants of Dan||62,700|
|40-41 Descendants of Asher||41,500|
|42-43 Descendants of Naftali||53,400|
44 Moshe, Aharon and the twelve leaders of Isra’el, each from a clan, 45 counted the people of Isra’el by their clans, those twenty years old and over, eligible for military service in Isra’el; 46 and the grand total came to 603,550.
47 But those who were L’vi’im, according to the clan of their fathers, were not counted in this census; 48 because Yehovah had told Moshe, 49 “Do not include the clan of Levi when you take the census of the people of Isra’el. 50 Instead, give the L’vi’im charge over the tabernacle of the testimony, its equipment and everything else connected with it. They are to carry the tabernacle and all its equipment, serve in it and set up their camp around it. 51 When the tabernacle is to be moved onward, it is the L’vi’im who are to take it down and set it up in the new location; anyone else who involves himself is to be put to death. 52 The rest of Isra’el are to set up camp, company by company, each man with his own banner. 53 But the L’vi’im are to camp around the tabernacle of the testimony, so that no anger will come upon the assembly of the people of Isra’el. The L’vi’im are to be in charge of the tabernacle of the testimony.”
54 This is what the people of Isra’el did — they did everything that Yehovah had ordered Moshe.
2 (iii) Yehovah said to Moshe and Aharon, 2 “The people of Isra’el are to set up camp by clans, each man with his own banner and under his clan’s symbol; they are to camp around the tent of meeting, but at a distance.
3-9 “Those camping on the east side toward the sunrise are to be under the banner of the camp of Y’hudah; they are to camp according to companies; by tribe and leader they are as follows:
|Y’hudah||Nachshon the son of ‘Amminadav||74,600|
|Yissakhar||N’tan’el the son of Tzu‘ar||54,400|
|Z’vulun||Eli’av the son of Helon||57,400|
“This group is to set out first.
10-16 “Those camping on the south are to be under the banner of the camp of Re’uven; they are to camp according to companies; by tribe and leader they are as follows:
|Re’uven||Elitzur the son of Sh’de’ur||46,500|
|Shim‘on||Shlumi’el the son of Tzurishaddai||59,300|
|Gad||Elyasaf the son of Re‘u’el||45,650|
“This group is to set out second.
17 “Then the tent of meeting, with the camp of the L’vi’im, will set out, with the other camps in front and behind. They will go in the same order as their camps are set up — each man will go forward in his position, under his banner.
18-24 “Those camping on the west are to be under the banner of the camp of Efrayim; they are to camp according to companies; by tribe and leader they are as follows:
|Efrayim||Elishama the son of ‘Ammihud||40,500|
|M’nasheh||Gamli’el the son of P’dahtzur||32,200|
|Binyamin||Avidan the son of Gid‘oni||35,400|
“This group is to set out third.
25-31 “Those camping on the north are to be under the banner of the camp of Dan; they are to camp according to companies; by tribe and leader they are as follows:
|Dan||Achi‘ezer the son of ‘Ammishaddai||62,700|
|Asher||Pag‘i’el the son of ‘Okhran||41,500|
|Naftali||Achira the son of ‘Enan||53,400|
“This group is to set out last with their banners.”
32 These are the ones counted from the people of Isra’el by clans; the total number recorded in the camps, company by company, was 603,550. 33 But, as Yehovah ordered Moshe, the L’vi’im were not counted with the rest of Isra’el.
34 The people of Isra’el did everything Yehovah had ordered Moshe: they set up camp under their banners, and they set out, each according to his family and clan.
3 (iv) These are the descendants of Aharon and Moshe as of the day when Yehovah spoke with Moshe on Mount Sinai. 2 The names of the sons of Aharon are: Nadav the firstborn, Avihu, El‘azar and Itamar. 3 These were the names of the sons of Aharon the cohen, whom he anointed and ordained as cohanim. 4 But Nadav and Avihu died in the presence of Yehovah when they offered unauthorized fire before Yehovah in the Sinai Desert, and they had no children; El‘azar and Itamar served as cohanim in the presence of Aharon their father.
5 Yehovah said to Moshe, 6 “Summon the tribe of Levi, and assign them to Aharon the cohen, so that they can help him. 7 They are to carry out his duties and the duties of the whole community before the tent of meeting in performing the service of the tabernacle. 8 They are to be in charge of all the furnishings of the tent of meeting and to carry out all the duties of the people of Isra’el connected with the service of the tabernacle. 9 Assign the L’vi’im to Aharon and his sons; their one responsibility in regard to the people of Isra’el is to serve him. 10 You are to appoint Aharon and his sons to carry out the duties of cohanim; anyone else who involves himself is to be put to death.”
11 Yehovah said to Moshe, 12 “I have taken the L’vi’im from among the people of Isra’el in lieu of every firstborn male that is first from the womb among the people of Isra’el; the L’vi’im are to be mine. 13 All the firstborn males belong to me, because on the day that I killed all the firstborn males in the land of Egypt, I separated for myself all the firstborn males in Isra’el, both human and animal. They are mine; I am Yehovah.”
(v) 14 Yehovah said to Moshe in the Sinai Desert, 15 “Take a census of the tribe of Levi by clans and families. Count every male a month old or over.” 16 Moshe counted them in the manner Yehovah had said, as he had been ordered. 17 The names of the sons of Levi were Gershon, K’hat and M’rari. 18 The names of the sons of Gershon were Livni and Shim‘i; they fathered their respective clans; 19 likewise the sons of K’hat — ‘Amram,Yitz’har, Hevron and ‘Uzi’el — 20 and the sons of M’rari — Machli and Mushi. These fathered the clans of the L’vi’im.
21 Gershon fathered the clans of Livni and Shim‘i; these were the Gershon clans. 22 Of them, 7,500 males a month old and over were counted. 23 The Gershon clans were to camp behind the tabernacle, toward the west. 24 The chief of the Gershon clan was Elyasaf, the son of La’el. 25 In connection with the tent of meeting, the descendants of Gershon were to be in charge of the following: the tabernacle itself, its inner and outer coverings, the screen for the entrance of the tent of meeting, 26 the curtains surrounding the courtyard, the screen for the entrance of the courtyard surrounding the tabernacle and the altar, all the fixtures and ropes for these items, and their maintenance.
27 K’hat fathered the clans of ‘Amram, Yitz’har, Hevron and ‘Uzi’el; these were the K’hat clans. 28 Of them, 8,600 males a month old and over were counted; they were in charge of the Holy Place. 29 The K’hat clans were to camp next to the tabernacle, toward the south. 30 The chief of the K’hat clan was Elitzafan the son of ‘Uzi’el. 31 They were responsible for the ark, the table, the menorah, the altars, the utensils the cohanim use when they serve in the Holy Place, the curtain, and everything involved with the maintenance of these things. 32 El‘azar the son of Aharon the cohen was first among the chiefs of the L’vi’im and supervised those in charge of the Holy Place.
33 M’rari fathered the clans of Machli and Mushi; these were the M’rari clans. 34 Of them, 6,200 males a month old and over were counted. 35 The chief of the M’rari clan was Tzuri’el the son of Avichayil. They were to camp next to the tabernacle, toward the north. 36 The M’rari clans were assigned responsibility for the frames of the tabernacle, along with its crossbars, posts, sockets and fittings, together with their maintenance; 37 also the posts of the surrounding courtyard, with their sockets, pegs and ropes.
38 Those who were to camp in front of the tabernacle on the east, in front of the tent of meeting toward the sunrise, were Moshe, Aharon and his sons who were in charge of the Holy Place. They carried out their responsibility on behalf of the people of Isra’el, and anyone else who involved himself was to be put to death.
39 The total number of L’vi’im whom Moshe and Aharon counted by their clans, all the males a month old and over, was 22,000.
(vi) 40 Yehovah said to Moshe, “Register all the firstborn males of the people of Isra’el a month old and over, and determine how many there are. 41 Then you are to take the L’vi’im for me, Yehovah, in place of all the firstborn among the people of Isra’el, and the cattle of the L’vi’im in place of the firstborn of the cattle belonging to the people of Isra’el.” 42 Moshe counted, as Yehovah had ordered him, all the firstborn among the people of Isra’el. 43 The total number of firstborn males registered, a month old and over, of those who were counted, was 22,273.
44 Yehovah said to Moshe, 45 “Take the L’vi’im in place of all the firstborn among the people of Isra’el, and the cattle of the L’vi’im in place of their cattle; the L’vi’im are to belong to me, Yehovah. 46 Since there were 273 more firstborn males from Isra’el than male L’vi’im, in order to redeem them, 47 you are to take five shekels [two ounces] for each of these (use the sanctuary shekel, which is equal to twenty gerahs). 48 Give the redemption money for these extra people to Aharon and his sons.” 49 Moshe took the redemption money from those who were over and above those redeemed by the L’vi’im; 50 the amount of money he took from the firstborn of the people of Isra’el was 1,365 shekels, using the sanctuary shekel. 51 Moshe gave the redemption-money to Aharon and his sons, in keeping with what Yehovah had said, as Yehovah had ordered Moshe.
4 (vii) Yehovah said to Moshe and Aharon, 2 “Take a census of the descendants of K’hat, who are among the descendants of Levi, by clans and families, 3 all those from thirty to fifty years old; these will enter the corps doing the work in the tent of meeting.
4 “Here is how the descendants of K’hat are to serve in the tent of meeting and deal with the especially holy things: 5 when the time comes to break camp, Aharon is to go in with his sons, take down the curtain which serves as a screen, and cover the ark of the testimony with it. 6 On that they are to place a covering of fine leather, and on top of that spread an all-blue cloth. Then they are to insert the carrying-poles. 7 On the table of showbread they are to spread a blue cloth and place on it the dishes, incense pans, offering bowls and pitchers. The perpetual bread is to remain on the table. 8 They are to spread on these things a scarlet cloth, cover them with a covering of fine leather and insert the poles. 9 They are to take a blue cloth and cover the menorah for the light, its lamps, its tongs, its trays and the jars used to add oil to it. 10 They are to wrap it and all its accessories in fine leather and place them on a carrying-frame. 11 On the gold altar they are to spread a blue cloth, cover it with a covering of fine leather and insert its carrying-poles. 12 They are to take all the utensils they use when serving in the sanctuary and put them in a blue cloth, cover them with fine leather and place them on a carrying-frame. 13 After removing the greasy ashes from the altar, they are to spread a purple cloth over it 14 and place on it all the utensils required for their altar service — the fire pans, meat-hooks, shovels, basins and other utensils for the altar. Then they are to spread over it a fine leather covering and insert its carrying-poles. 15 When Aharon and his sons have finished covering the holy furnishings and all the holy utensils, when the camp is about to move forward, then the descendants of K’hat are to come and carry them. But they are not to touch the holy things, so that they won’t die. These things are the responsibility of the descendants of K’hat in the tent of meeting.
16 “El‘azar the son of Aharon the cohen is to be responsible for the oil for the light, the fragrant incense, the continuing grain offering and the anointing oil. He is to be in charge of the entire tabernacle and everything in it, including the sanctuary and its furnishings.”
(Maftir) 17 Yehovah said to Moshe and Aharon, 18 “Do not cut off the clan of K’hat from among the L’vi’im; 19 rather, do this for them, so that they will live and not die: when they approach the especially holy things, Aharon and his sons are to go in — and you are to assign each one his task; 20 but the descendants of K’hat are not to go in and look at the holy things as they are being covered; if they do, they will die.”
2 (1:10) “Nevertheless, the people of Isra’el will number as many as the grains of sand by the sea, which cannot be measured or counted; so that the time will come when, instead of being told, ‘You are not my people,’ it will be said to them, ‘You are the children of the living God.’ 2 (1:11) Then the people of Y’hudah and the people of Isra’el will be gathered together; they will appoint for themselves one leader; and they will go up out of the land; for that will be a great day, [the day] of Yizre‘el.
3 (1) “Say to your brothers, ‘Ammi [My People]!’
and to your sisters, ‘Ruchamah [Pitied]!’
4 (2) Rebuke your mother, rebuke her;
for she isn’t my wife, and I’m not her husband.
She must remove her whoring from her face,
and her adulteries from between her breasts.
5 (3) Otherwise, I will strip her naked
and place her as she was the day she was born,
make her like a desert, place her like a dry land
and kill her with thirst.
6 (4) I will have no pity on her children,
for they are children of whoring —
7 (5) their mother prostituted herself,
she who conceived them behaved shamelessly;
she said, ‘I will pursue my lovers,
who give me my food and water,
wool, flax, olive oil and wine.’
8 (6) Therefore, I will block her way with thorns
and put up a hedge so she can’t find her paths.
9 (7) She will pursue her lovers but not catch them.
She will seek them but won’t find them.
Then she will say, ‘I will go
and return to my first husband;
because things were better for me then
than they are now.’
10 (8) For she doesn’t know it was I who gave her
the grain, the wine and the oil;
I who increased her silver and gold,
which they used for Ba‘al.
11 (9) So I will take back my grain at harvest-time
and my wine in its season;
I will snatch away my wool and flax,
given to cover her naked body.
12 (10) Now I will uncover her shame,
while her lovers watch;
and no one will save her from me.
13 (11) I will end her happiness,
her festivals, Rosh-Hodesh, and shabbats,
and all her designated times.
14 (12) I will ravage her vines and fig trees,
of which she says, ‘These are my wages
that my lovers have given me.’
But I will turn them into a forest,
and wild animals will eat them.
15 (13) I will punish her for offering incense
on the feast days of the ba‘alim,
when she decked herself with her earrings and jewels,
pursuing her lovers and forgetting me,” says Yehovah.
16 (14) “But now I am going to woo her —
I will bring her out to the desert
and I will speak to her heart.
17 (15) I will give her her vineyards from there
and the Akhor Valley as a gateway to hope.
She will respond there as she did when young,
as she did when she came up from Egypt.
18 (16) “On that day,” says Yehovah
“you will call me Ishi [My Husband];
you will no longer call me Ba‘ali [My Master].
19 (17) For I will remove the names
of the ba‘alim from her mouth;
they will never again be mentioned by name.
20 (18) When that day comes, I will make
a covenant for them
with the wild animals, the birds in the air
and the creeping things of the earth.
I will break bow and sword,
sweep battle from the land,
and make them lie down securely.
21 (19) I will betroth you to me forever;
yes, I will betroth you to me
in righteousness, in justice,
in grace and in compassion;
22 (20) I will betroth you to me in faithfulness,
and you will know Yehovah.
22 Now what if God, even though he was quite willing to demonstrate his anger and make known his power, patiently put up with people who deserved punishment and were ripe for destruction? 23 What if he did this in order to make known the riches of his glory to those who are the objects of his mercy, whom he prepared in advance for glory — 24 that is, to us, whom he called not only from among the Jews but also from among the Gentiles? 25 As indeed he says in Hoshea,
“Those who were not my people I will call my people;
her who was not loved I will call loved;
26 and in the very place where they were told,
‘You are not my people,’
there they will be called sons of the living God!”
27 But Yesha‘yahu, referring to Isra’el, cries out,
“Even if the number of people in Isra’el is as large
as the number of grains of sand by the sea,
only a remnant will be saved.
28 For Yehovah will fulfill his word on the earth
with certainty and without delay.”
29 Also, as Yesha‘yahu said earlier,
“If Yehovah–Tzva’ot had not left us a seed,
we would have become like S’dom,
we would have resembled ‘Amora.”
30 So, what are we to say? This: that Gentiles, even though they were not striving for righteousness, have obtained righteousness; but it is a righteousness grounded in trusting! 31 However, Isra’el, even though they kept pursuing a Torah that offers righteousness, did not reach what the Torah offers. 32 Why? Because they did not pursue righteousness as being grounded in trusting but as if it were grounded in doing legalistic works. They stumbled over the stone that makes people stumble. 33 As the Tanakh puts it,
“Look, I am laying in Tziyon
a stone that will make people stumble,
a rock that will trip them up.
But he who rests his trust on it
will not be humiliated.”