Beth Elohim Messianic Synagogue
Parashah #37: Shlach L’kha (Send on you behalf) B’midbar (Numbers) 13:1-15:41
Haftarah: Y’hoshua (Joshua) 2:1-24
B’rit Chadashah: Hebrews 3:7-19
This week we are confronted with a sad aspect of human nature; “lack of trust and faith in the G-d who created the universe. The leaders of the tribes chosen to reconnoiter the land which G-d was about to give them focused on the obvious instead of the ability of G-d to overcome any physical obstacle. This is incredible in light of the fact that G-d ad so recently brought them from under the Egyptian bonds of slavery and through the Sea of reeds parted just for their safe passage. The only two men who had faith and trust in G-d to overcome such monumental obstacles was Y’hoshua the son of Nun, and Kalev the son of Y’funeh. All of the people if Israel disregarded the encouragement of these two men and their admonishment that the people do not rebel against Adonai or be afraid of the physical obstacles reported by the other 10 spies.
After reading this narrative, we should ask ourselves why Y’hoshua and Kalev were singled out as the only two spies who possessed such faith and trust in Adonai when the majority of the spies and the people succumbed to human nature to believe only what we physically see and not consider the power of G-d. Now we will explore these two men in a little more detail.
Moshe renamed Hoshea the son of Nun a new name before he went out with the others to reconnoiter the land. His new name was Y’hoshua. We can only understand the significance on these names in the Hebrew. The root of (yasha) means “salvation” and the root (yaho) referring to G-d. With the Hebrew name change, the spelling is also different which gives the new name a much more significant meaning. Joshua in Hebrew means “G-d is salvation.” This is because of the addition of the “Yud” (See Exodus 3:14). It seems that Moshe was given the insight to know that Y’hoshua knew from where his strength and salvation would come. This narrative teaches us that we must learn to look beyond what is seen with the physical sight and know that we can safely entrust our lives to G-d in all situations. The name change was also a blessing to Joshua because he would have known the meaning of his new name. That there were only 2 of 12 spies who trusted G-d even though the physical obstacles would have been insurmountable for the people had G-d not been involved also shows us that not everyone who calls themselves “believers” will make it into the Kingdom of heaven. For parallel scriptures on this subject see Matt. 7:21; Rom.9:27; Is.10:22; Lev.23; Luke 13:24). We see the first example of the fact in B’midbar (Numbers) 20-24; “Adonai answered, ‘I have forgiven as you have asked. But as sure as I live, and that the whole earth is filled with the glory of Adonai, none of the people who saw my glory and the signs I did in Egypt and in the desert, yet tested me these ten times and did not listen to my voice, will see the land I swore to their ancestors! None of those who treated me with contempt will see it. But my servant Kalev, because he had a different Spirit with him and has fully followed me- him I will bring into the land he entered, and it will belong to his descendants.”
Salvation is not a “given.” We must follow G-d’s instructions, G-d’s Torah (not the Oral Torah where it contradicts G-d’s Torah). Note the word “Spirit” in the above paragraph is capitalized. G-d knew Kalev had the Spirit of G-d in him and he was blessed. With that, let’s look at Kalev’s name in more depth to better understand this man of G-d.
There is some debate over whether Kalev was a Jew or Gentile. Num. 13:6 reads “from the tribe of Y’hudah, Kalev the son of Y’funeh.” If we take this sentence literally, there is no question he was Jewish. However, there are arguments on both sides about Kalev’s heritage.
Kalev’s father was Jephunneeh, a Kennezite. These people were descended from Kenez. Kenez was a son of Eliphaz who was one of Esau’s sons. The Kennezzites were among those tribes who had lived in Canaan who were to be displaced by the Israelites. But Kalev’s family had at some point joined themselves to the Jews in Egypt and had been faithful members of the covenant from that time forward. On the Jewish side of the argument, the Talmudic discussion clearly sides with the Torah that states he was from the tribe of Judah, though he is called “the Kenizzite” because his stepbrother (and later son- in- law) came from his mother’s second husband named Kenaz. To add to the mix is the fact that the word “Jew” (Yud Heh Vav Dalet Yud) pronounced “Y’hudah, comes from the root Yud Dalet Heh (to give thanks, laud, or praise). Therefore, it is not difficult to make the connection if Kalev was not an indigenous Jew. If he were a Gentile, he was grafted in through his obedience to and love for G-d that Yahshua describes in Romans chapter 2. That settles the argument in the eyes of G-d. So it is with any true believer (see Ezekiel 37). Finally, we look at the name “Kalev” for the “icing on the cake regarding his character. The name Kalev means “faithful, devotion, whole- hearted, brave.” The name is a compound word as are many Hebrew words. It is no wonder then, that the name for “dog” is Kelev; close to the heart of the master just as all true believers should be. Recall that Kalev was the one who immediately attempted to silence the people around Moshe when the initial report was given by the other 10 spies about the land (Num. 13:30). He did so without any reservation just as we should as the majority of so-called believers places limits on our G-d. Y’hoshua stands with Kalev when Moshe and Aharon fall on their faces before the people of Israel as they complain and rebel, but it was Kalev who initially told the people that there should be no hesitation in taking possession of the land. Accordingly, the spies who were responsible for enticing the entire community to complain against Moshe were killed by a plague in the presence of Adonai with the exception of Y’hoshua and Kalev. G-d. G-d will deliver His people, no matter how the world situation or our personal circumstances appear. He is true and faithful (deut.7:9; 2 Thess. 3:3; Psalms 119:90; Heb. 10:13; Num.23:19). I am quoting Rev. 15:3 as a reminder that anyone who considers him/herself to be a trust believer must become reconciled to G-d through Yahshua (G-d saves) who is G-d and follow G-d’s commands: “ And they sing the song of Moshe the servant of G-d and the song of the Lamb, saying, great and marvelous are they works, L-rd G-d Almighty; just and true are they ways, thou King of the nations.”
Haftarah: Y’hoshua 2:1-24
This week’s haftarah tells the story of the spies sent by Joshua to scout out Jericho, prior to the invasion of the Holy Land by the Israelites. This event is similar to the one in our parashah. Joshua sent two spies to Jericho, where they stayed at an inn within the city walls, run by Rahab. The king discovered their presence and he sent for Rahab and asked her to report the two men. Rahab covered for the men telling the king they had already left. She actually hid them on her rooftop. Rahab told the men that the people in the city were afraid of the Israelites impending attack because they knew G-d was with them. She told them she knew G-d was going to give them the land. Rahab asked to be remembered and spared with her family when the Israelites attacked. She was told to tie a scarlet thread and hang it from her window. This would be a symbol that her home was a safe haven. She helped the men escape via a rope out her window and she told them how to hide if needed. The spies returned, and Rahab and her family were spared. We can see the similarity of the red thread in the window and the blood on the lentils of the doors during Pesach (Passover). Rahab was obedient as were the Israelites. Her home was symbolically covered by the blood of a Messiah that was yet to physically appear but was already present.
B’rit Chadashah: Hebrews 3:7-19
This passage gives us New Testament confirmation of what G-d said and did in the parashah. There is little need for detailed explanation beyond the literal word. There is a point of no return. The Ruach confirms this fact. “Watch out brothers, so that there will not be in any one of you an evil heart lacking trust, which could lead you to apostatize (fall away) from the living G-d. Instead, keep exhorting each other every day, as long as it is called Today, so that none of you will become hardened by the deceit of sin. For we have become sharers in the Messiah, provided however, that we hold firmly to the conviction we began with, right through until the goal is reached” (Heb. 3:12-14). John 14:12 reads “Yes, indeed! I tell you that whosoever trusts in me will also do the works I do! John 14:15 reads “If you love me, you will keep my commands.” In John 15:9 Yahshua tells us that “If you keep my commands, you will stay in my love.” John 14:21 reads “Whoever has my commands and keeps them (7-fold witness in Revelation), is the one who loves me, and the one who loves me will be loved by my Father, and I will love him and reveal myself to him. “John 14:24 reads “Someone who doesn’t love me doesn’t keep my words.”
Moving to Heb. 3:18-19: And to whom was it that he swore that they would not enter his rest? those who were disobedient.” So, we see that they were unable to enter because of lack of trust. To define the concepts of trust and validate the term as an action verb, Hebrews chapter 11 provides 18 examples I encourage you to read and contemplate.
Rabbi Tamah Davis-Hart