Torah Portion Beha’alotcha Num 8:1- 12:16
Beha’alotcha is Hebrew for “When you light”),
referring to Aaron’s responsibilities for lighting the Menorah at the
Summary: Aaron is to light the Menorah. The
Levites are to be cleansed and treated like a wave offering, with the
commensurate burnt and sin offerings, prior to their performing their Temple
duties. Levites are to serve from
the ages of 25 to 50. Hebrews who
could not observe Passover on the holiday schedule because they were ritually
impure (e.g, they had come in contact with the dead) may do so a month later.
The Children of Israel travel
with a cloud to lead during the day and a column of fire at night.
But if the cloud is on the Tabernacle, they stay encamped.
YHVH instructs Moses to have two silver trumpets made to be used to
muster the troops. When the cloud
lifted, the Children of Israel traveled to Moab.
Moses’ father-in-law (now referred to as Hobab) returns to Moses who
asks him to journey with him, but Hobab apparently declines.
Some of the people were fomenting an overthrow (“evil in the ears of
YHVH”), and they were destroyed by fire. Moses
prayed on their behalf and the anger of YHVH abated.
The mixed multitude that left Egypt also caused problems by proclaiming a
need to eat more than manna. Moses
can no longer deal with all the complaining and he asks YHVH to kill him.
Instead, G-d instructs Moses to gather 70 elders to the Tent of Meeting,
and G-d will descend and share Moses’ burden with them.
G-d will also give people so much food for a month that they will be
sickened by it. The 70 elders gathered and
experienced the ecstasy of prophecy, including 2 men, Eldad and Medad, who had
remained in the camp. Joshua wanted
the two of them to be punished. But Moses declined.
In fulfillment of the prophecy to provide a surfeit of meat, YHVH sends
quail. When the people ate it, they
died of a plague. Even Miriam and
Aaron foment discord against Moses. YHVH
punishes Miriam with leprosy. Moses
prays for her healing, and in seven days she is cured.
When Miriam is restored to the camp, the Children of Israel continue