Day 73: Inheritance of Land
Numbers 26:1-65 As the people of Israel approached the acquisition of the Promised Land, Eleazar took another census to determine the number of able warriors in each tribe. The census was a visible sign of the fulfillment of God’s promise to Abraham that his descendants would become “a great nation.” The many members of the Catholic Church-in Heaven, in Purgatory, and on earth-testify to the dramatic truth of God’s promise to Abraham. (CCC 59-61, 1541)
Deuteronomy 27:14-26 This describes a ceremony to be conducted after the people will have crossed over into the Promised Land. The closing set of curses by the Levite priests correspond more or less to the Decalogue along with other common sins and abominations. The response, “Amen,” registered the ratification and renewal of the covenant by the people. (CCC 1061-1065)
Psalm 111 This psalm is essentially a hymn of praise for God’s covenant with his Chosen People that sets the stage for the New Covenant. The Hebrew text expresses God’s love using maternal symbols signifying birth and nourishment. The Church Fathers saw these references to feeding as a Eucharistic image. The fear of the Lord...wisdom: Pope Benedict XVI explained, “On the journey through life toward Christ, our initial servile fear is replaced by perfect awe, which is LOVE, a gift of the Holy Spirit” (Pope Benedict XVI, General Audience, June 8, 2005). (CCC 2807)
(*The Didache Bible RSV-CE Ignatius Edition, 2006)
A Second Chance for the Second Generation
After the apostasy with the Baal of Peor, the Lord orders a new census.
In Numbers 26 a census is taken from all twelve tribes, “but among these there was not a man of those numbered by Moses and Aaron the priest, who had numbered the people of Israel in the wilderness of Sinai. For the Lord had said of them, ‘They shall die in the wilderness’” (Nm 26:64-65).
With the exception of Joshua and Caleb, all those numbered in the first census have perished in the wilderness.
Now, the second generation stands poised at the borders of the Promised Land, ready to enter.
But before they can do so, diligent preparations are needed.
These preparations, however, are not what one would expect of a nation on the verge of a war of conquest.
Instead of fashioning weapons and training for battle, the preparation consists entirely in teaching and study of the Torah.
Israel’s path to conquest is not through might of arms or military planning, but through fidelity to the covenant instruction.
Deuteronomy 27 begins by laying out the procedures for how the people of Israel will swear allegiance to these laws and thereby bind themselves to this Deuteronomic covenant.
Once inside the Promised Land, six tribes will stand on Mount Gerizim and pronounce the covenant blessings while the other six tribes will stand on Mount Ebal and pronounce the curses.
As we have seen, blessings and curses were a normal part of covenants in the Ancient Near East.
If one was faithful to the covenant terms, blessings (e.g., fruitfulness, abundance, prosperity, etc.) would be received.
However, unfaithfulness to the covenant brought curses (e.g., affliction, economic difficulties, political ruin, exile, suffering, death).
Torah in Hebrew literally means “instruction.”
It is often translated as “law,” which in English has a far more narrow sense than the word torah has in Hebrew.
Torah comes from the Hebrew verb yarah, which means “to aim at” or “to hit the mark,” and usually refers to the aiming of an arrow or the throwing of a javelin.
The Hebrew word for sin, hattah, which is the opposite of yarah, means “to miss the mark.”
Learning and following Torah instruction is the way to aim towards what is true and good, and thereby avoid sin, which is the missing of the good that one is to aim for in life.
The Torah is not simply the Ten Commandments and similar law sections of the Old Testament Scriptures.
The stories of Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Joseph, Moses, etc., are also part of the Torah and serve to instruct believers how to live in relation to God and to navigate life with wisdom.
In short, the Hebrew understanding of torah is similar to what we think of more broadly as the “word of God.”
Nonetheless, many rabbis use the word Torah to refer more narrowly to the first five books of the Scriptures.
(*Walking With God: A Journey Through the Bible by Tim Gray and Jeff Cavins)
Numbers 26 was another census (YAY)
We can lose a little bit of the story here
Keep this in the context of the story
In the beginning of Numbers, we numbered the Tribes of Israel
Now here at the end of Numbers, we are numbering the Tribes of Israel AGAIN
Why are they doing this?
Remember, at the beginning of Numbers, who did God save from slavery in Egypt? (THE SMURFS!! No wait, that can’t be it…)
Let’s number them
God’s intention was that they would go up and take possession of the Promised Land that He had given to them
So now, 40 years later, they are numbering ONCE AGAIN the fighting men
This is really important
Because the next step is BATTLE
The next step is the Tribes of Israel go to war
Some of the tribes grew
Some of them did not grow, they got smaller
Overall, we have very little change in the numbers
In the first census, we had 603,550 people
In the last census, we now have 601,730 in the People of Israel
So we lost around 2,000 people
Moses makes it very clear that they are going to take the land, but also the land shall be divided for an INHERITANCE according to the number of names in the tribes
A large tribe gets a large inheritance
A small tribe gets a small inheritance
At the same time, they did it by lot
This was the fairest way to do this according to the size of the tribe
The Tribe of Levi DID NOT GET AN INHERITANCE OF LAND
Their inheritance WAS GOD
They would still live in these towns
They would LEAD WORSHIP in the places that God will eventually point out, where the Ark of the Covenant and the Temple will be set up
But they do not have any inheritance EXCEPT FOR GOD HIMSELF
Remember the get numbered because they are PREPARING FOR BATTLE
They get numbered because they get land according to the size of the tribe
Land is assigned by lot (Not Lot, pretty sure he was dead by this point 🤣)
Given that space by God’s hand (God is involved in EVERYTHING by PROVIDENCE)
Levi’s inheritance is not land or property, but GOD HIMSELF
We will soon be going into the Promised Land with Joshua
Joshua, Judges, Ruth, all are coming up very very soon
But, no rush 😉
God continues to speak to us
He continues to shape our minds, our hearts, and how we see Him and His Word, and His world by his Scripture
Keep praying for each other
Keep on moving forward
DO NOT GIVE UP!!
Keep praying for Fr. Mike 😁
Prayer by Fr. Mike: “Father in Heaven, it is true and your praise endures forever. We give you thanks. Let us praise you every day. Let us be like Judah, that praise goes up first in this moment. We offer you our first fruits in this moment. We offer you our hearts. We offer you our everything, in the best way, Lord God, that we know that we can love you. These three ways that we know we can love you, we know that we can show you our love by worshipping you. We can show you our love by obeying your commandments. And we can show you our love by loving and caring for our brother and our sister among us. Help us to do all those three things, Lord God. Help us to be people who love you with everything we have and everything we are. In Jesus’ name we pray. Amen.”