Highlights of Numbers 4, 5, 6

Highlights From Bible Reading ‒ Numbers 4, 5, 6

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Aug. 4 Bible reading: Numbers 4-6

Scriptural Questions Answered:

5:27—What is meant by the ‘falling away of the thigh’ of a wife guilty of adultery? The term “thigh” is used here to denote the procreative organs. (Genesis 46:26) The ‘falling away’ of it suggests the degeneration of these organs, so that conception would be impossible.

Lessons for Us:

6:1-7. Nazirites were to abstain from the product of the vine and all intoxicating beverages, requiring self-denial. They were to let their hair grow long—a sign of submission to Jehovah, just as women were to be in subjection to their husbands or fathers. The Nazirites were to remain clean by staying away from any dead body, even that of a close relative. Full-time servants today show a spirit of self-sacrifice when it comes to self-denial and submission to Jehovah and his arrangement. Some assignments may involve going to a distant land, which may even make it difficult or impossible to return home for the funeral of a close family member.

*** w01 10/15 p. 31 Questions From Readers ***
The poles were not to be removed from the rings even when the Ark was in place in the tabernacle. Consequently, the poles could not be used for any other purpose. Also, the Ark would not have to be touched; had the poles been taken out of the rings, each portage would require handling the sacred Ark to reinsert the poles in the rings. The comment at Numbers 4:6 about ‘putting in the poles’ may refer to arranging or adjusting the poles in preparation for carrying the heavy chest to a new encampment.

*** w05 2/1 p. 26 Jehovah Always Does What Is Right ***
Why Did Jehovah Strike Uzzah Dead?
18 Another account that might seem puzzling to some involves David’s attempt to bring the ark of the covenant to Jerusalem. The Ark was placed on a wagon, which was led by Uzzah and his brother. The Bible states: “They came gradually as far as the threshing floor of Nacon, and Uzzah now thrust his hand out to the ark of the true God and grabbed hold of it, for the cattle nearly caused an upset. At that Jehovah’s anger blazed against Uzzah and the true God struck him down there for the irreverent act, so that he died there close by the ark of the true God.” Some months later, a second attempt succeeded when the Ark was transported in the God-appointed way, carried on the shoulders of Kohathite Levites. (2 Samuel 6:6, 7; Numbers 4:15; 7:9; 1 Chronicles 15:1-14) Some may ask: ‘Why did Jehovah react so strongly? Uzzah was only trying to save the Ark.’ Lest we draw the wrong conclusion, we do well to note some helpful details.

*** w06 8/1 pp. 23-24 Be Wise—Fear God! ***
When Fear of God Lapsed
13 Experiencing Jehovah’s help during distress deepened David’s fear of God and strengthened his confidence in him. (Psalm 31:22-24) On three notable occasions, however, David’s fear of God lapsed, which led to serious consequences. The first involved his arranging for the ark of Jehovah’s covenant to be transported to Jerusalem on a wagon rather than on the shoulders of the Levites, as God’s Law directed. When Uzzah, who was leading the wagon, grabbed hold of the Ark to steady it, he died on the spot for his “irreverent act.” Yes, Uzzah sinned seriously, yet ultimately, it was David’s failure to maintain proper respect for God’s Law that brought about that tragic outcome. Fearing God means doing things according to his arrangement.—2 Samuel 6:2-9; Numbers 4:15; 7:9.

*** w02 8/1 p. 12 par. 13 Loyally Submit to Godly Authority ***
13 According to God’s Law, only the priests could offer incense. The very idea of a nonpriestly Levite offering incense before Jehovah should have shaken those rebels to their senses. (Exodus 30:7; Numbers 4:16) Not so Korah and his supporters! The next day he “got all the assembly together against [Moses and Aaron] at the entrance of the tent of meeting.” The record tells us: “Jehovah now spoke to Moses and Aaron, saying: ‘Separate yourselves from the midst of this assembly, that I may exterminate them in an instant.’” But Moses and Aaron pleaded for the lives of the people to be spared. Jehovah consented to their pleas. As for Korah and his crowd, “a fire came out from Jehovah and proceeded to consume the two hundred and fifty men offering the incense.”—Numbers 16:19-22, 35.

*** w02 8/1 pp. 10-11 Loyally Submit to Godly Authority ***
“Must You Men Also Try to Secure the Priesthood?”
8 Korah was not the head of the paternal house of Levi, nor was he the head of the families of the Kohathites. (Numbers 3:30, 32) Nevertheless, he was a respected chieftain in Israel. Korah’s duties might have brought him into close association with Aaron and his sons. (Numbers 4:18, 19) Seeing firsthand the imperfections of these men, Korah might have reasoned: ‘These priests are decidedly imperfect, yet I am expected to be in subjection to them! Not long ago Aaron made a golden calf. Worshiping that calf caused our people to fall into idolatry. Now Aaron, Moses’ brother, is serving as high priest! What favoritism! And what of Aaron’s sons, Nadab and Abihu? Why, they showed such gross disrespect for their privileges of service that Jehovah had to put them to death!’ (Exodus 32:1-5; Leviticus 10:1, 2) Whatever Korah’s reasoning might have been, it is clear that he began to view the priesthood from a human standpoint. That led to his rebellion against Moses and Aaron and, ultimately, against Jehovah.—1 Samuel 15:23; James 1:14, 15.

*** w05 2/1 p. 27 par. 20 Jehovah Always Does What Is Right ***
20 Keep in mind that Uzzah should have known better. The Ark was associated with Jehovah’s presence. The Law specified that it was not to be touched by unauthorized individuals, explicitly warning that violators would be punished by death. (Numbers 4:18-20; 7:89) Therefore, the transfer of that sacred chest was not a task to be treated lightly. Uzzah evidently was a Levite (though not a priest), so he should have been familiar with the Law. Besides, years earlier the Ark had been moved to the house of his father for safekeeping. (1 Samuel 6:20–7:1) It had stayed there for some 70 years, until David chose to move it. So from childhood on, Uzzah had likely been aware of the laws regarding the Ark.

*** w02 6/1 p. 19 par. 5 Cleansed as a People for Fine Works ***
5 Indeed, the Mosaic Law included rules and regulations on practically every aspect of the Israelites’ life, outlining what was clean and acceptable and what was not. For example, in Leviticus chapters 11 to 15, we find detailed instructions relative to cleanness and uncleanness. Certain animals were unclean, and the Israelites were not to eat them. Childbirth would cause a woman to be unclean for a specified period of time. Certain skin diseases, particularly leprosy, and discharges of the male and female organs would likewise cause a person to be unclean. The Law also specified what should be done in situations involving uncleanness. For example, at Numbers 5:2, we read: “Command the sons of Israel that they send out of the camp every leprous person and everyone having a running discharge and everyone unclean by a deceased soul.”

*** cl chap. 29 pp. 293-295 pars. 11-12 “To Know the Love of the Christ” ***
11 Moved to relieve suffering. People with various ailments sensed that Jesus had compassion, so they were drawn to him. This was especially evident when Jesus, with crowds following him, was approached by a man “full of leprosy.” (Luke 5:12) In Bible times, lepers were quarantined so as to protect others from contamination. (Numbers 5:1-4) In time, however, rabbinic leaders fostered a heartless view of leprosy and imposed their own oppressive rules. Notice, though, how Jesus responded to the leper: “There also came to him a leper, entreating him even on bended knee, saying to him: ‘If you just want to, you can make me clean.’ At that he was moved with pity, and he stretched out his hand and touched him, and said to him: ‘I want to. Be made clean.’ And immediately the leprosy vanished from him.” (Mark 1:40-42) Jesus knew that it was unlawful for the leper even to be there. Yet, instead of turning him away, Jesus was so deeply moved that he did something unthinkable. Jesus touched him!
12 Can you imagine what that touch meant to the leper? To illustrate, consider an experience. Dr. Paul Brand, a leprosy specialist, tells of a leper he treated in India. During the examination, the doctor laid his hand on the leper’s shoulder and explained, through an interpreter, the treatment that the man would have to undergo. Suddenly, the leper began to weep. “Have I said something wrong?” the doctor asked. The interpreter questioned the young man in his language and replied: “No, doctor. He says he is crying because you put your hand around his shoulder. Until he came here no one had touched him for many years.” For the leper who approached Jesus, being touched had even greater meaning. Following that one touch, the disease that had made him an outcast was gone!

*** w12 10/15 pp. 27-28 par. 2 Let Your Yes Mean Yes ***
2 Do Jesus’ words mean that all making of oaths is bad? How could that be? As we learned in the preceding article, Jehovah God and his righteous servant Abraham made sworn oaths on important occasions. Also, God’s Law required the taking of a sworn oath to settle certain disputes. (Ex. 22:10, 11; Num. 5:21, 22) Thus, it may be necessary for a Christian to swear to tell the truth when testifying in a court of law. Or, on a rare occasion, a Christian might find it necessary to make a sworn oath to assure others of his intentions or to help settle a matter. In fact, when Jesus himself was put under oath by the high priest, he did not object to it but responded truthfully to the Jewish Sanhedrin. (Matt. 26:63, 64) Jesus, however, did not need to swear to anyone. Even so, to emphasize the reliability of his message, he often introduced what he said in this unique way: “Most truly [literally, “Truly, truly,” ftn.] I say to you.” (John 1:51; 13:16, 20, 21, 38) Let us see what else we can learn from the examples of Jesus, Paul, and others whose Yes meant Yes.

*** g 11/07 pp. 16-17 Does Archaeology Support the Bible? ***
Could They Read and Write?
The Bible indicates that the ancient Israelites were a literate people. (Numbers 5:23; Joshua 24:26; Isaiah 10:19) But critics disagreed, arguing that Bible history was largely transmitted by unreliable oral tradition. In 2005 this theory suffered a blow when archaeologists working at Tel Zayit, midway between Jerusalem and the Mediterranean, found an archaic alphabet, perhaps the oldest Hebrew alphabet [6] ever discovered, incised on a piece of limestone.
Dated to the tenth century B.C.E., the find, say some scholars, suggests “formal scribal training,” a “sophisticated level of culture,” and “a rapidly developing Israelite bureaucracy in Jerusalem.” So, contrary to the critics’ claims, it appears that at least as early as the tenth century B.C.E., the Israelites were literate and would have been able to record their history.

*** w04 11/15 p. 23 pars. 14-15 Search for Jehovah, the Examiner of Hearts ***
14 Not all Israelites were doing what was bad in Jehovah’s eyes. For instance, Hosea and Amos ‘loved what was good’ and served God faithfully as prophets. Others took vows as Nazirites. For the length of their Naziriteship, they abstained from the use of products of the vine, especially wine. (Numbers 6:1-4) How did the other Israelites view the self-sacrificing course of such doers of good things? The shocking answer to that question reveals the extent of the nation’s spiritual decay. Says Amos 2:12: “You kept giving the Nazirites wine to drink, and upon the prophets you laid a command, saying: ‘You must not prophesy.’”
15 Upon seeing the faithful example of the Nazirites and the prophets, those Israelites should have been ashamed and should have been moved to change their ways. Instead, they unlovingly sought to discourage the loyal ones from giving glory to God. Let us never urge fellow Christians who are pioneers, missionaries, traveling overseers, or members of the Bethel family to discontinue their full-time service simply to return to a so-called normal life. Rather, let us encourage them to keep up their good work!

*** w07 3/15 p. 16 How Hannah Found Peace ***
Hannah Makes a Vow
Communion sacrifices were eaten at Jehovah’s sanctuary. After leaving the dining chamber, Hannah prays to God. (1 Samuel 1:9, 10) “O Jehovah of armies,” she begs, “if you will without fail look upon the affliction of your slave girl and actually remember me, and you will not forget your slave girl and actually give to your slave girl a male offspring, I will give him to Jehovah all the days of his life, and no razor will come upon his head.”—1 Samuel 1:11.
Hannah’s prayer is specific. She asks for a male child and vows that he will be dedicated to Jehovah as a lifelong Nazirite. (Numbers 6:1-5) Such a vow is subject to the approval of her husband, and Elkanah’s later actions show that he approves of his beloved wife’s promise.—Numbers 30:6-8.
The way Hannah prays causes High Priest Eli to think that she is drunk. Her lips quiver, but he hears no words, for Hannah is speaking in her heart. The prayer is particularly fervent. (1 Samuel 1:12-14) Imagine how Hannah feels when Eli reproaches her, saying that she is drunk! Yet, she respectfully answers the high priest. When Eli realizes that Hannah has been praying “out of the abundance of [her] concern and [her] vexation,” he says: “May the God of Israel grant your petition.” (1 Samuel 1:15-17) At that, Hannah goes on her way and eats, and “her face [becomes] self-concerned no more.”—1 Samuel 1:18.
What can we learn from all of this? When we pray to Jehovah about our concerns, we can let him know how we feel and make heartfelt requests. If we can do no more to resolve the problem, we should leave the matter in his hands. There is no better course to follow.—Proverbs 3:5, 6.
After praying fervently, servants of Jehovah are very likely to experience a peace similar to that of Hannah. With respect to prayer, the apostle Paul wrote: “Do not be anxious over anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication along with thanksgiving let your petitions be made known to God; and the peace of God that excels all thought will guard your hearts and your mental powers by means of Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 4:6, 7) When we throw our burden on Jehovah, we must allow him to take care of it. Then, like Hannah, we no longer need to be self-concerned.—Psalm 55:22.

*** w13 3/15 pp. 26-27 Honor Jehovah’s Great Name ***
9 Shortly after Israel’s Exodus, Jehovah became something new to his people. By means of the Law covenant, he became their “husbandly owner,” willingly taking on all the responsibilities associated therewith. (Jer. 3:14) The Israelites, in turn, became his figurative wife, his name people. (Isa. 54:5, 6) As they willingly submitted to him and kept his commandments, he would prove to be the perfect ‘Husband.’ He would bless them, keep them, and assign peace to them. (Num. 6:22-27) Jehovah’s great name would thus be glorified among the nations. (Read Deuteronomy 4:5-8; Psalm 86:7-10.) Indeed, throughout Israel’s history, many foreigners were drawn to true worship. They, in effect, said what the Moabitess Ruth said to Naomi: “Your people will be my people, and your God my God.”—Ruth 1:16.
10 For some 1,500 years, Jehovah’s dealings with Israel revealed many new facets of his personality. Despite the nation’s waywardness, over and over Jehovah proved to be “a God merciful” and “slow to anger.” He was a God of extraordinary patience and long-suffering. (Ex. 34:5-7) Jehovah’s patience, nevertheless, did have a limit, and that limit was reached when the Jewish nation rejected and killed his Son. (Matt. 23:37, 38) The fleshly descendants of Israel ceased to be God’s name people. In the main, they became spiritually dead, like a withered tree. (Luke 23:31) How did this affect their attitude toward the divine name?

References consulted on: Watchtower Library 2013 CD‒ROM

Download the references adapted for Laptops, Mobiles and Tablets

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