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Theocratic Ministry School Week Starting july 28 ‒ Highlights of Numbers 1-3

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Program of the Theocratic Ministry School: Week Starting july 28


ss14 pp. 1-4 Theocratic Ministry School Schedule for 2014
July 28 Bible reading: Numbers 1-3
No. 1: Numbers 3:21-38
No. 2: “All Sorts of Men” Will Be Saved (rs p. 357 ¶2)
No. 3: Accusation—How Were Accusations Handled Under Hebrew and Roman Law? (it-1 p. 39 ¶4-8)

w14 5/15 pp. 1-2 Table of Contents
JULY 28, 2014–AUGUST 3, 2014
Are You Moving Ahead With Jehovah’s Organization?
PAGE 26 • SONGS: 45, 27

ws14 5/15 pp. 1-2 Table of Contents
JULY 28, 2014–AUGUST 3, 2014
Are You Moving Ahead With Jehovah’s Organization?
PAGE 21 • SONGS: 45, 27


Highlights From the Book of Numbers 1-3


Highlights From the Book of Numbers

FOLLOWING their Exodus from Egypt, the Israelites were organized into a nation. Shortly thereafter, they could have entered the Promised Land, but they did not. Instead, they had to wander for some four decades in a “great and fear-inspiring wilderness.” (Deuteronomy 8:15) Why? The historical narrative in the Bible book of Numbers tells us what happened. It should impress upon us the need to obey Jehovah God and respect his representatives.
Written by Moses in the wilderness and on the Plains of Moab, the book of Numbers covers a period of 38 years and 9 months—from 1512 B.C.E. to 1473 B.C.E. (Numbers 1:1; Deuteronomy 1:3) Its name is derived from the two censuses of the Israelites, taken some 38 years apart. (Chapters 1-4, 26) The narrative is divided into three sections. The first part relates events that happened at Mount Sinai. The second covers what took place during Israel’s wandering in the wilderness. And the final section considers events on the Plains of Moab. As you read this account, you may want to ask yourself: ‘What do these incidents teach me? Are there principles in this book that can benefit me today?’

AT MOUNT SINAI

(Numbers 1:1–10:10)
The first of the two numberings takes place while the Israelites are still at the base of Mount Sinai. Males 20 years old and upward, except the Levites, total 603,550. The census is evidently taken for military purposes. The entire camp, including women, children, and the Levites, may amount to over three million people.
Following the census, the Israelites receive instructions regarding the order of march, details concerning the duties of Levites and tabernacle service, commands on quarantine, and laws relating to cases of jealousy and vows made by Nazirites. Chapter 7 contains information about offerings made by tribal chieftains in connection with the inauguration of the altar, and chapter 9 discusses the Passover observance. The assembly is also given instructions about setting up and breaking camp.

Scriptural Questions Answered:

2:1, 2—What were “the signs” around which the three-tribe divisions were to encamp in the wilderness? The Bible does not give a description of what these signs were. However, they were not regarded as sacred symbols or given religious significance. The signs were used for a practical purpose—to help a person find his proper place in the camp.

TMS REVIEW: *** w08 7/1 p. 21 Did You Know? ***
Why is reference generally made to the 12 tribes of Israel when there were actually 13 tribes?
The tribes, or families, of Israel descended from the sons of Jacob, whose name was changed to Israel. This patriarch had 12 sons—Reuben, Simeon, Levi, Judah, Dan, Naphtali, Gad, Asher, Issachar, Zebulun, Joseph, and Benjamin. (Genesis 29:32–30:24; 35:16-18) Eleven of these brothers had tribes named after them, but no tribe was named after Joseph. Instead, two tribes were named after his sons, Ephraim and Manasseh, who received full status as tribal heads. So the number of tribes in Israel amounted to 13. Why, then, does the Bible usually speak of 12 tribes?
Among the Israelites, the men of the tribe of Levi were set apart for service at Jehovah’s tabernacle and later at the temple. Hence, they were exempted from military service. Jehovah told Moses: “Only the tribe of Levi you must not register, and the sum of them you must not take in among the sons of Israel. And you yourself appoint the Levites over the tabernacle of the Testimony and over all its utensils and over everything that belongs to it.”—Numbers 1:49, 50.
The Levites did not receive a territorial allotment in the Promised Land either. Rather, they were assigned
48 cities scattered throughout the territory of Israel.—Numbers 18:20-24; Joshua 21:41. For these two reasons, the tribe of Levi was not generally included when the tribes were listed. The tribes
of Israel were thus usually numbered as 12.—Numbers 1:1-15.

*** w84 4/15 p. 27 Respect Jehovah, Urges the Book of Numbers ***
The Israelites have been at the base of Mount Sinai for about a year when Jehovah commands Moses to take a census. Except for the Levites, all the males 20 years of age and upward are registered, and their number is 603,550. In place of the firstborn, God takes the Levites for tabernacle service. Instructions are given as to the line of march, in which Judah, the most populous tribe, is to take the lead. At God’s command, the Levites are then registered and assigned sacred duties.—Numbers 1:1–4:49.

*** w02 9/15 p. 21 “Salvation Belongs to Jehovah” ***
Does saluting or kneeling before a flag representing the State really go against giving Jehovah God exclusive devotion? The ancient Israelites did have “signs,” or standards, around which their three-tribe divisions gathered while in the wilderness. (Numbers 2:1, 2) Commenting on the Hebrew words denoting such standards, McClintock and Strong’s Cyclopedia says: “Neither of them, however, expresses the idea which ‘standard’ conveys to our minds, viz. a flag.” Furthermore, Israel’s standards were not viewed as sacred, nor were any ceremonies associated with their use. They simply served the practical purpose of signs, showing the people where to gather.

*** w94 12/1 p. 9 pars. 4-5 The Rightful Place of Jehovah’s Worship in Our Lives ***
4 If you had had a bird’s-eye view of Israel encamped in the wilderness, what would you have seen? A vast, but orderly, array of tents housing possibly three million or more people, grouped according to three-tribe divisions to the north, south, east, and west. Peering closer, you would also have noticed another grouping nearer the middle of the camp. These four smaller clusters of tents housed the families of the tribe of Levi. At the very center of the camp, in an area cordoned off by a cloth wall, was a unique structure. This was the “tent of meeting,” or tabernacle, which “wise-hearted” Israelites had built according to Jehovah’s plan.—Numbers 1:52, 53; 2:3, 10, 17, 18, 25; Exodus 35:10.
5 At each of about 40 campsites during their wilderness trek, Israel erected the tabernacle, and it became the focus of their encampment. (Numbers, chapter 33) Fittingly, the Bible describes Jehovah as dwelling among his people at the very center of their camp. His glory filled the tabernacle. (Exodus 29:43-46; 40:34; Numbers 5:3; 11:20; 16:3) The book Our Living Bible comments: “This portable shrine was of the utmost importance, since it created a religious rallying-centre for the tribes. It thus kept them united during the long years of wandering in the desert and made concerted action possible.” More than that, the tabernacle served as a constant reminder that the Israelites’ worship of their Creator was central to their lives.

*** w11 6/1 p. 13 Does God Have an Organization? ***
Jehovah God used Moses to organize the Israelites for true worship. Consider just the encampment arrangements during their sojourn in the wilderness of Sinai. Things surely would have been chaotic had every family been allowed to pitch their tent wherever they wanted. Jehovah gave the nation specific instructions as to where each tribe was to set up camp. (Numbers 2:1-34) The Law of Moses also contained precise health and hygiene regulations—for example, regarding the disposal of human waste.—Deuteronomy 23:12, 13.

*** w02 8/1 p. 10 pars. 5-7 Loyally Submit to Godly Authority ***
5 Jehovah made other provisions to care for the spiritual needs of his people. Even before they arrived in the Promised Land, he commanded them to build the tabernacle, the center of true worship.
He also set up a priesthood to teach the Law, to offer animal sacrifices, and to burn the morning and evening incense. God installed Moses’ older brother, Aaron, as Israel’s first high priest and appointed Aaron’s sons to assist their father with his duties.—Exodus 28:1; Numbers 3:10; 2 Chronicles 13:10, 11.
6 Caring for the spiritual needs of several million people was an enormous task, and the priests were relatively few in number. So provision was made for them to be assisted by other members of the tribe of Levi. Jehovah told Moses: “You must give the Levites to Aaron and his sons. They are given ones, given to him from the sons of Israel.”—Numbers 3:9, 39.
7 The Levites were well organized. They were divided according to the three families—the Gershonites, the Kohathites, and the Merarites—each with an assignment of work to do. (Numbers 3:14-17, 23-37) Some assignments may have seemed more important than others, but all were essential. The work of the Kohathite Levites brought them into close proximity with the sacred ark of the covenant and the furnishings of the tabernacle. However, every Levite, whether a Kohathite or not, enjoyed marvelous privileges. (Numbers 1:51, 53) Sadly, some did not appreciate their privileges. Rather than loyally submitting to godly authority, they became dissatisfied and gave in to pride, ambition, and jealousy. A Levite named Korah was of that number.

*** w11 9/15 p. 27 par. 11 Are You Known by Jehovah? ***
11 Moses and Korah stand in sharp contrast when it comes to demonstrating respect for Jehovah’s arrangement and his decisions. Their reactions had a bearing on how Jehovah viewed them. Korah was a Kohathite Levite, and he enjoyed many privileges, which likely included seeing the deliverance of the nation through the Red Sea, supporting Jehovah’s judgment against disobedient Israelites at Mount Sinai, and having a role in transporting the ark of the covenant. (Ex. 32:26-29; Num. 3:30, 31) He had evidently been loyal to Jehovah for years and was subsequently looked up to by many in the camp of Israel.

*** w02 5/1 p. 15 par. 7 Jehovah Hates the Course of Treachery ***
7 Centuries before Malachi’s time, Jehovah had assigned the Levites to care for the tabernacle and later the temple and the sacred ministry. They were the teachers in the nation of Israel. Fulfilling their assignment would have meant life and peace for them and the nation. (Numbers 3:5-8) Yet, the Levites lost the fear of God that they initially had. Thus, Jehovah told them: “You have turned aside from the way. You have caused many to stumble in the law. You have ruined the covenant of Levi . . . You were not keeping my ways.” (Malachi 2:8, 9) By their failure to teach the truth and by their poor example, the priests misled many Israelites, so Jehovah was rightly angry with them.

*** w98 2/1 p. 11 par. 13 Jehovah Is a God of Covenants ***
13 What was the standing of such proselytes? When Jehovah made his covenant, it was only with Israel; those of the “vast mixed company,” although present, were not named as participants. (Exodus 12:38; 19:3, 7, 8) Their firstborn were not taken into account when the ransom price for the firstborn of Israel was calculated. (Numbers 3:44-51) Decades later when the land of Canaan was divided between the Israelite tribes, nothing was set aside for non-Israelite believers. (Genesis 12:7; Joshua 13:1-14) Why? Because the Law covenant was not made with proselytes. But proselyte men were circumcised in obedience to the Law. They observed its regulations, and they benefited from its provisions. Proselytes as well as Israelites came under the Law covenant.—Exodus 12:48, 49; Numbers 15:14-16; Romans 3:19.


No. 1: Numbers 3:21-38


No. 2: “All Sorts of Men” Will Be Saved (rs p. 357 ¶2)

rs p. 357 ¶2 Salvation
What about texts such as Titus 2:11, which refers to “the salvation of all men,” according to the rendering of RS? Other texts, such as John 12:32, Romans 5:18, and; 1 Timothy 2:3, 4, convey a similar thought in RS, KJ, NE, TEV, etc. The Greek expressions rendered “all” and “everyone” in these verses are inflected forms of the word pas. As shown in Vine’s Expository Dictionary of New Testament Words (London, 1962, Vol. I, p. 46), pas can also mean “every kind or variety.” So, in the above verses, instead of “all,” the expression “every kind of” could be used; or “all sorts of,” as is done in NW. Which is correct—“all” or the thought conveyed by “all sorts of”? Well, which rendering is also harmonious with the rest of the Bible? The latter one is. Consider Acts 10:34, 35; Revelation 7:9, 10; 2 Thessalonians 1:9. (Note: Other translators also recognize this sense of the Greek word, as is shown by their renderings of it at Matthew 5:11—“all kinds of,” RS, TEV; “every kind of,” NE; “all manner of,” KJ.)

No. 3: Accusation—How Were Accusations Handled Under Hebrew and Roman Law? (it-1 p. 39 ¶4-8)

it-1 p. 39 ¶4-8 Accusation
One Hebrew word rendered “accusation” (sit•nah′) comes from the root verb sa•tan′, meaning “resist.” (Ezr 4:6; compare Zec 3:1.) The most common Greek word for “accuse” is ka•te•go•re′o, carrying the idea of ‘speaking against’ someone, usually in a judicial or legal sense. (Mr 3:2; Lu 6:7) At Luke 16:1 the Greek word di•a•bal′lo, rendered ‘accuse,’ may also be translated ‘slander.’ (Int) It is related to di•a′bo•los (slanderer), root of the word “Devil.”
The Greek term translated ‘accuse falsely’ in Luke 3:14 (sy•ko•phan•te′o) is rendered ‘extort by false accusation’ in Luke 19:8. It literally means “take by fig-showing.” Of the various explanations of the origin of this word, one is that in ancient Athens the exporting of figs from the province was prohibited. One who denounced others, accusing them of attempting to export figs, was termed a “fig-shower.” The term came to designate a malignant informer, a person who accused others out of a love of gain, a false accuser, a blackmailer.
One might be called to account and charged with wrong, yet be entirely innocent, blameless, the victim of a false accuser. Hebrew law, therefore, set forth the responsibility each one in the nation had to bring to account wrongdoers, and at the same time it adequately provided protection for the accused. A few examples from the Mosaic Law will serve to illustrate these principles. If a person had any knowledge respecting a crime, he had to bring the accusation before the proper authorities. (Le 5:1; 24:11-14) The authorities, in turn, were to “search and investigate and inquire thoroughly” into the accusations to determine their validity before administering punishment. (De 13:12-14) An observer was not to hide wrongdoing or fail to bring an accusation against a guilty one, even if the person was a close relative like a brother, son, daughter, or marriage mate. (De 13:6-8; 21:18-20; Zec 13:3) The testimony of two or three witnesses was required, and not just the word of a single accuser.—Nu 35:30; De 17:6; 19:15; Joh 8:17; Heb 10:28.
The Law of Moses also gave the accused the right to face his accuser before a court of justice in order that the truth of the charges might be fully established. (De 19:16-19; 25:1) A classic instance of this was the case of the two prostitutes who, with a baby, appeared before wise King Solomon for him to decide which one was its mother.—1Ki 3:16-27.
Roman law likewise required the accusers to appear in court. So, when the Roman citizen Paul stood trial before governors Felix and Festus, his accusers were ordered to appear also. (Ac 22:30; 23:30, 35; 24:2, 8, 13, 19; 25:5, 11, 16, 18) Paul’s appearance before Caesar in Rome, however, was on his own appeal that he might win an acquittal, and not that he might accuse his own nation. (Ac 28:19) Not Paul, not even Jesus, but Moses, by his conduct and by what he wrote, accused the Jewish nation of wrongdoing.—Joh 5:45.

References consulted on: Watchtower Library 2013 CD‒ROM

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