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B'Midbar/Numbers 3:1 And these are the generations of Aharon and Moshe in the day Adonai spoke to Moshe on Mt. Sinai
Strangely, this verse introduces only a list of the four sons of Aharon and does not mention any sons of Moshe. Why should this be?Rashi comments: "It mentions none but the sons of Aharon, yet they are called 'offspring of Moshe' because he taught them Torah. It teaches us that whoever teaches his friend's son Torah, Scripture views him as of he had fathered him." This is based upon the Talmud which records: "Rav Samuel ben Nahmani said in Rav Jonathan's name: He who teaches the son of his neigbour the Torah, Scripture ascribes it to him as if he had begotten him, as it says, 'Now, these are the generations of Aharon and Moshe'; whilst further on it is written, 'These are the names of the sons of Aharon', thus teaching that Aharon begot and Moshe taught them, hence they are called by his name" (b. Sanhedrin 19b). Since by the time that Rav Samuel said this there were schools in every town, organised by Joshua ben Gamala, we can tell that this referred to a serious teaching or discipling role rather than just school or rote learning of the texts at an elementary level.
We find the same idea at work in the relationship between Rav Sha'ul and Timothy. Although Sha'ul and Timothy were not physically related - the book of Acts tells us that "Timothy was the son of a Jewish woman who had come to faith and a Greek father" (Acts 16:1, CJB) and was started in the faith by his grandmother Lois and mother Eunice (2 Timothy 1:5) - yet Rav Sha'ul writes, "To Timothy, my dear son" (2 Timothy 1:2, CJB) and "Timothy, my true child in the faith" (1 Timothy 1:2, NASB). What is this link that has formed between them? Sha'ul had taken Timothy under his wing and become a spiritual mentor and father to him. He attended to Timothy's circumcision (cf. Acts 16:3) and taught him Torah, both The Torah and the Torah of Yeshua. This is why, writing to Timothy some years later, Sha'ul could say, "the things you heard from me, which were supported by many witnesses, these things commit to faithful people, such as will be competent to teach others also" (2 Timothy 2:2, CJB). Throughout the Pastoral Epistles we find Sha'ul urging both Timothy and Titus to develop their teaching ministries, to coming alongside others and developing those deep father-son teaching and mentoring relationships.
The Master, of course, did the same. Yeshua spent three years with His disciples, teaching them the Torah - the gospels record a number of occasions, such as Matthew 5-7, where Yeshua was clearly teaching the meaning of Torah to not only His closest disciples but also the crowd who had gathered to hear His teaching. He sometimes refers to the disciples in that way: "Children, how hard it is to enter the kingdom" (Mark 10:24, NASB), or "Children, you do not have any fish, do you" (John 21:5, NASB), demonstrating that aspect of His relationship with the twelve.
We should be endeavouring to build the kingdom by developing relationships with people, coming alongside them and teaching them the words of Torah. The ancient rabbis said, "make many disciples" (Pirkei Avot 1:1) and Yeshua Himself gave that charge to the disciples in the Great Commission (cf. Matthew 28:18-20).
Further Study: Galatians 3:6-9; 1 Corinthians 4:14-17
Application: How many spiritual children do you have? Are you working on encouraging those people that you know to become disciples of Yeshua and to learn His Torah? Why not pray during this week that you will have an opportunity to come alongside someone to do just that.
© Jonathan Allen, 2007
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