First Glimmer of Redemption

Disciples of Yeshua endeavor to live kingdom-lives now in this current age, and they seek to attain the exalted spiritual status of the Messianic Era by clinging to King Messiah now.

Jews, largely Holocaust survivors, in 1947, in search of a homeland, aboard the SS Exodus. Most of the emigrants were Holocaust survivors who had no legal immigration certificates for Palestine. Following wide media coverage, the British Royal Navy seized the ship and deported all its passengers back to Europe. (Image: Wikimedia, Public domain)

Mattot-Massei

Regular Shabbat Readings

  • Mattot-Massei (מַּטּוֹת־מַסְעֵי | Tribes-Journeys)
  • Torah: Numbers 30:2-36:13
  • Haftarah: Jeremiah 2:4-28, 3:4
  • Gospel: Luke 13:1-9; Mark 11:12-23

Regular readings above are often interrupted with special readings on Jewish holidays, special Sabbaths, and Rosh Chodesh. Refer to the current Torah Portion Schedule for all these variations, and special portions.

Portion Outline

  • Torah
    • Numbers 30:1 | Vows Made by Women
    • Numbers 31:1 | War against Midian
    • Numbers 31:13 | Return from the War
    • Numbers 31:25 | Disposition of Captives and Booty
    • Numbers 32:1 | Conquest and Division of Transjordan
    • Numbers 33:1 | The Stages of Israel's Journey from Egypt
    • Numbers 33:50 | Directions for the Conquest of Canaan
    • Numbers 34:1 | The Boundaries of the Land
    • Numbers 34:16 | Tribal Leaders
    • Numbers 35:1 | Cities for the Levites
    • Numbers 35:9 | Cities of Refuge
    • Numbers 35:16 | Concerning Murder and Blood Revenge
    • Numbers 36:1 | Marriage of Female Heirs
  • Prophets
    • Jer 2:4 | God Pleads with Israel to Repent

Portion Summary

Mattot

The name of the forty-second reading from the Torah is Mattot (מטות), which means "tribes." The name is derived from the words of Numbers 30:1, which says, "Then Moses spoke to the heads of the tribes of the sons of Israel." Numbers 30 discusses the laws of vows and oaths. Numbers 31 tells the story of Israel's war with Midian. Numbers 32 relates the story of how the Reubenites, the Gadites and the half-tribe of Mannaseh came to inherit the land east of the Jordan River. Except in biblical calendar leap years, Mattot is read together with the subsequent Torah portion, Massei, on the same Sabbath.

Massei

The last reading from the book of Numbers is called Massei (מסעי), a word that means "journeys." It comes from the first verse of the reading, which begins with the words "These are the journeys of the sons of Israel" (Numbers 33:1). Massei is the end of the continuous narrative of Torah that began in Genesis with the creation of the universe. The narrative does not resume until the end of Deuteronomy, when Moses dies.

The final reading in Numbers settles several last-minute details. In it we find a list of the encampments from Egypt to the plains of Moab. We also find instructions for apportioning the land, as well as the specifics regarding the borders of the land. While explaining the land and its borders, Moses introduces the laws of the cities of refuge and more inheritance laws. In most years, synagogues read Massei together with the preceding portion, Mattot, which accounts for the brevity of this portion's commentary.


As Israel prepared to cross the Jordan to take the promised land, the tribes of Reuben and Gad and Manasseh petitioned Moses for the Transjordan territory of the Amorites, the lands taken by Israel in the war with Sihon and Og as described in Numbers 21. Though the Transjordan lay outside the borders of the promised land proper, the three tribes were well-pleased with the rich grazing land of Bashan and Gilead, and they wanted to settle their flocks and families there.

Moses feared that the three tribes would refuse to further assist the conquest of the promised land. He scolded them and reminded them of how their fathers had also refused to enter Canaan and thereby forfeited their opportunity to take possession of the land that God had sworn to give to them. He said, “The LORD’s anger burned against Israel, and He made them wander in the wilderness forty years, until the entire generation of those who had done evil in the sight of the LORD was destroyed” (Numbers 32:13).

Moses was afraid that the decision of the three tribes might dissuade the rest of the people from entering Canaan. He said, “If you turn away from following Him, He will once more abandon them in the wilderness, and you will destroy all these people” (Numbers 32:15). The tribes assured Moses that they would cross the Jordan and fight with their brothers before returning and permanently settling in the Transjordan.

In this way, the three tribes reversed the tragedy of the previous generation. Not only did they agree to enter Canaan and fight to take possession of the promised land, they also expanded the borders of the holy land and took hold of that promised possession prior to crossing the Jordan. The situation with the three tribes settling in the Transjordan can be compared to the idea of entering the kingdom prior to the final redemption. The New Testament teaches that entering the land of Israel symbolizes entering the kingdom.

Disciples of Yeshua endeavor to live kingdom-lives now in this current age, and they seek to attain the exalted spiritual status of the Messianic Era by clinging to King Messiah now. In this way, the disciples of Yeshua extend the borders of the Messianic Era into this current age. Figuratively speaking, they take territory on the east side of the Jordan. At the same time, they keep the final redemption in clear view, and they acknowledge that despite their best efforts to bring the kingdom now, the world has not yet entered the Messianic Era. That will happen only when King Messiah comes to lead His people into the promised land. The disciple of Yeshua, however, is not content to wait until the final redemption; he seeks to enter the kingdom now by laying claim to the promises of the new covenant through faith in the Messiah.

Along the same lines of interpretation, one might say something similar about Zionism and the formation of the modern State of Israel. The return of the Jewish people to the land of Israel and the formation of the modern state certainly seem to fulfill some of the ancient prophecies about the end of exile and the return to the land. However, the ultimate ingathering of Israel and redemption of the land has not yet occurred. Messiah has not yet come; neither has all Israel yet returned. Despite that, the Jewish people are taking hold of the redemption as much as possible in this current era. Just as the three tribes laid hold of their inheritance before Joshua had led them into the land and apportioned it out, so too, the modern state has laid hold of the land before the final redemption. The return of the Jewish people to the land and the modern State of Israel represents the first fruits of the final ingathering, the first glimmering of the dawn of redemption.

Adapted From: Torah Club Commentary Set: Shadows of the Messiah. Learn more about Torah Club and how you can start a Club of your own, or join a Torah Club in your area. Visit TORAHCLUB.ORG

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