Numbers 27:1-11 A decision was made to allow daughters to inherit their father’s land in the event that he had no son, ensuring that the property would stay within the same family or tribe. Sinful inequalities based on gender offend the equal dignity of men and women. (CCC 1938, 2402-2407)
Ch 27:12-23 Gathered to your people: God communicated to Moses that when it was time for him to die (cf. Num 20:22-29). Before his death, God allowed Moses the privilege of casting his eyes upon the Promised Land from a mountaintop. At Moses’ request, God appointed Joshua to succeed Moses as leader of Israel, and Moses handed oh his authority to Joshua through the laying on of hands. This gesture is among the liturgical signs used in the Old Testament, and it is integral to the form of the Sacrament of Holy Orders by which the sacred power of the priesthood is conferred. (CCC 1150)
Ch 28:1 Through Moses, God commanded the daily sacrifices and feasts to be observed in what was, in effect, a liturgical calendar, similar to the instructions given in Leviticus (cf. Lv 23:1-22) but in greater detail.
Ch 28:9 Animal sacrifices and cereal offerings were commanded to be made on the Sabbath. During his earthly ministry, Christ was criticized by the Pharisees and others for violating the Sabbath rest by healing people on the Sabbath. Christ, the Lord of the Sabbath, reminded his listeners that the Sabbath rest does not prohibit service to God and acts of mercy towards others. Therefore, doing good for others is a proper way of living the Sabbath. (CCC 574-576, 582)
Deuteronomy 28:1-68 The blessings to be bestowed upon Israel for their obedience in keeping the covenant are enumerated first, followed by a much longer list of curses that served as a warning if they would be unfaithful to the covenant. The ultimate curse would be a return to Egypt, which would negate all that God had done for them in the forty years since their liberation from slavery. (CCC 64, 74, 2170)
Ch 28:10 Called by the name of the Lord: This signifies Israel’s special relationship with God, which included the Revelation of God’s name. (CCC 63)
Psalm 112 The wisdom literature of the Old Testament teaches that wisdom, peace, and happiness come through observance of moral law. This peace and joy remains for the duration of life since these sentiments are strongly inspired by the hope for a heavenly reward. At the same time, this literature often points to the apparent injustice in this world in which faithful people like Job suffer greatly and many sinners apparently prosper. Blessed is the man...in his commandments!: The opening verse of this psalm resound with the first of these expectations: the fear of the Lord is nothing more than the enduring desire to please God and never offend him. This disposition is made manifest in fidelity to moral law. This psalm connects happiness and interior serenity with a solid moral life. This fidelity to God’s Law must include love for neighbor, ESPECIALLY THE POOR. (Cf. Pope Benedict XVI, General Audience, November 2, 2005)
(*The Didache Bible RSV-CE Ignatius Edition, 2006)
Deuteronomy 28 gives a long list of these blessings and curses.
They lay out the two paths Israel now has before them.
As Moses observes in his final homily: I call heaven and earth to witness against you this day, that I have set before you life and death, blessing and curse; therefore choose life, that you and your descendants may live, loving the Lord your God, obeying his voice, and cleaving to him; for that means life to you and length of days, that you may dwell in the land which the Lord swore to your fathers, to Abraham, to Isaac and to Jacob, to give them. (Dt 30:19-20)
Whether Israel receives blessing or curse will be determined by the people and their adherence to the covenant.
Great blessing is promised in return for obedience.
Life and blessing go hand in hand.
As Psalm 1 makes clear, the righteous man does not “walk in the way of sinners” (Ps 1:1) and the “way of the wicked will perish” (Ps 1:6).
Indeed, Psalm 1 serves not only as a commentary on Deuteronomy, but as a wonderful analysis of the desert wanderings.
The first generation chose the path not rooted in faith in God’s word and were scattered like the chaff in the wilderness.
The next generation trusted God and began to take root in the Promised Land.
The Psalter captures very well this desert experience of movement from seeking a home to finding a home.
St. Augustine captured these two powerful poles when, reflecting on his own wilderness journey, he observed, “Our hearts are restless, O Lord, until they rest in thee.”
The blessings and curses of Deuteronomy 28 set out what may be called Israel’s “Deuteronomic destiny.”
The future fortunes and misfortunes of Israel are contained in the covenant blessings and curses.
If Israel obeys, they will be blessed with abundant prosperity and life, because to be rooted in the Torah is to be rooted in the wisdom that leads to deep and abundant life.
Other nations will note their wisdom and understanding, and their Torah will be respected as the best and most righteous of all laws (Dt 4:6-8), bringing blessing to all the families of the world.
On the other hand, if Israel disobeys, the curse will bring the plagues of Egypt upon them, like the generation that died in the wilderness.
Taking up the keynote of Exodus—avad, to “serve” as “worship”—Deuteronomy gives the ultimate reason for the curse of exile that Israel will experience centuries later: Because you did not serve [avad] the Lord your God with joyfulness and gladness of heart, by reason of the abundance of all things, therefore you shall serve [avad] your enemies whom the Lord will send against you, in hunger and thirst, in nakedness, and in want of all things. (Dt 28:47-48)
Such a judgment would mark the reversal of the entire story of the Exodus.
As Israel prepares to conquer the Promised Land, Moses sets before them these two paths of blessing and curses.
The question is: which will Israel choose? (You could deal with this, or you could deal with that. I think you deal with this, but this is kind of phat….engine engine number 9 on the New York transit line...ok I’m sorry I couldn’t help myself 😎)
In these last two periods, God sets apart his people, giving them the Torah, the Levitical priesthood, and the tabernacle with his very presence.
These three things are of tremendous importance for the remaining story of Israel, and they will find their ultimate fulfillment when Christ himself comes to dwell among us, not in a tabernacle or temple of gold and stone but in our very souls.
Jesus Christ will be the new high priest, being the faithful firstborn Son of God, and he will inaugurate the New Covenant and empower his followers with the gift of the Holy Spirit to imitate him in living the law and the beatitudes.
(*Walking With God: A Journey Through the Bible by Tim Gray and Jeff Cavins)
Once again just to remind us all: Numbers is the NARRATIVE BOOK about the People of Israel as they are getting closer and closer to the end of their wilderness wanderings
Deuteronomy is Moses’ LAST SPEECH
“Deutero” - Second “Nomos” - Words; so it means SECOND WORDS
This is Moses recapping what has happened before and establishing once again: HERE ARE THE RULES, HERE IS THE LAW WE ARE OFFERING A SECOND TIME before you go into the Promised Land
What we are finding in Numbers 27 and 28 is that we are coming REALLY CLOSE to the beginning of Deuteronomy (have any of you seen the movies Memento or Tenet? It kind of feels like that in a way….the timelines are coming closer and closer)
As the Israelites get to the end of the wilderness wanderings, we need to resolve a couple of things
Manasseh was one of the two sons of Joseph
Both of Joseph’s sons (who were they? POP QUIZ!!.......Manasseh and Ephraim!) were going to receive the inheritance of the Tribes of Israel
It’s a unique situation
Joseph did not have a tribe named after him, his sons Manasseh and Ephraim did (Do you remember why? Because Israel (Jacob) blessed them before his death)
Manasseh ---> Machir ---> Gilead ---> Hepher ---> Zelophehad
Zelophehad did not have any SONS, only DAUGHTERS
The law said that you passed on inheritance to the SONS
Well, what if you had NO SONS but had ONLY DAUGHTERS?
This is so good
Moses is SO GLAD that the daughters of Zelophehad came before him
Moses wanted to do the RIGHT THING
Moses wanted to be JUST
Moses wanted to HONOR THE LORD BY HONORING THESE FAMILIES AND THESE PEOPLE
If a man dies and has no SONS, then the inheritance passes to THE DAUGHTERS
At the very end of Numbers, in Ch 36, it will talk about the rules of female inheritance and male inheritance
This is important because of the way things were set up IN THE ANCIENT WORLD
Typically, the INHERITANCE would go to THE SONS
The DOWRY would go to THE DAUGHTERS
The LAND would go to the SONS to keep it in the family
The DOWRY, essentially GOODS aka flocks, money, etc. would go to the DAUGHTERS
This was one way to keep the LANDS SEPARATED
What if the woman got the DOWRY but also had INHERITED THE LAND?
She marries a man and now that OTHER FAMILY has LAND from MULTIPLE FAMILIES
So it could get kind of messy
They are trying to be AS JUST AS POSSIBLE
In Numbers 27 the response to JUSTICE would be if a man dies with NO SONS, then the DAUGHTERS get the inheritance
If there are no DAUGHTERS then it goes to the next person in the family (nephews, nieces, and so on)
After this, we have Joshua appointed as Moses’ SUCCESSOR
Joshua and Caleb were the ONLY TWO SPIES who said the Promised Land could be taken
The other TEN noped out
Joshua is going to be the one who leads the Israelites into battle in the Promised Land
Moses’ laid his hands on Joshua, almost like an ORDINATION
Moses is bestowing that AUTHORITY on his SUCCESSOR, Joshua
Joshua will lead the Israelites into the Promised Land
Joshua is another name for YESHUA!!
YESHUA is another form of the name……..can you guess?....JESUS!!! (TYPOLOGY!!!)
Joshua is going to lead God’s Chosen People through the River Jordan, a type of BAPTISM (TYPOLOGY!!!) into the Promised Land
Just like ancient JOSHUA leads the Israelites into the Promised Land (CANAAN!!), the New Testament YESHUA/JESUS is the FULFILLMENT of (Not only David and Moses) JOSHUA and leads His people through THE WATERS OF BAPTISM into the Promised Land (HEAVEN!!)
It is pretty REMARKABLE and INCREDIBLE how many connections there are between the Old Testament and the New Testament
We will soon talk about all the BLESSINGS AND CURSES in Deuteronomy, so keep those things in mind
The Lord promises GOODNESS, even if we don’t experience IMMEDIATE BLESSINGS as a consequence of doing GOOD, and if we don’t experience IMMEDIATE CURSES as a consequence of doing EVIL
God is JUST
God is FAITHFUL
Ultimately, WE GET WHAT WE CHOOSE (The Choice is YOURS)
Ultimately, this is one of the MAIN LESSONS OF SCRIPTURE
Pray for each other
Pray for Fr. Mike
Prayer by Fr. Mike: “Father in Heaven we give you praise and glory. Thank you so much for your word. We thank you so much for filling us with your light and with your truth. We thank you for the fact that you are a God of Justice. Lord God, we declare your justice to be just and we declare your goodness to be good. Not because you need us or our declaration, but because we need to continue to declare that your justice is right and just and that your goodness is truly good. Help us to choose the right, Lord God. Help us to obey your commandments. Help us to walk in your ways regardless of the consequences, regardless of immediate blessings or delayed blessings. Lord God, help us to be faithful because you are just and you are true and you are God FOREVER. In Jesus’ name we pray. Amen.”