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B'Midbar/Numbers 26:5 [to] Hanoch, the Hanochite family, to Pallu, the Palluite family
In this naming and counting of the people of Israel, which goes through to verse 51 for the tribes other than Levi, and continues to the end of the chapter with the Levite families, the Rabbis note and comment upon the apparent redundancy of the formula, "to Fred, the Fredite family" (Maskil LeDavid).Rashi provides a two-fold explanation. Firstly, he points out, the mechanism for turning 'Fred' into 'Fredite' is adding a to the front of the name and a to the end of the name - both letters that are found in the tetragrammaton - the four-letter ineffable name of G-d in the Hebrew Scriptures. Secondly, he mentions that in attempts to humiliate the Israelites the nations would say that it was pointless to have elaborate genealogical records of tribal descent since it must be presumed that the Egyptians must have had their way with the Israelite women just as the men were forced slaves in the mud-pits. Putting the two together, Rashi suggests that this textual device is G-d's way of saying that the family called after Hanoch really is Hanoch's natural family, that Pallu's family is composed of Pallu's own natural sons - that he is their father and so on for all the tribes and families: G-d protected the purity and descent of our people.
The Bible talks in very patrilineal terms: that sons should be like their fathers, that sons inherit from their fathers: cohen, Levite, tribes and families, family and tribe land allocations. Little wonder that asked by His talmidim to show them the Father, Yeshua said, "I and the Father are One" (John 14:10). The setting for Yeshua's famous parable about the prodigal son is an inheritance issue: who will inherit not only the land, the family title and authority, but lifestyle and position in society; who will be like the father in the story. Talking of David's son Sh'lomo,HaShem said, "I will be his father and he shall be My son; and I will not take My lovingkindness away from him" (1 Chronicles 17:13, NASB).
It was this very issue of parenthood that brought a very sharp exchange between Yeshua and the P'rushim in Jerusalem. In John chapter 8, Yeshua had said that the Father testified on His behalf (v18), then "You know neither Me nor My Father; if you knew Me, you would know My Father" (v19, CJB). They replied that they were sons of Avraham (v39) and Yeshua answered, "You belong to your father, Satan, and want to carry out his desires ... Whoever belongs to G-d listens to what G-d says; the reason you don't listen is that you don't belong to G-d" (v44, 47, CJB). People do what their family upbringing has conditioned them towards; people are very like their parents. Yeshua said that knowing the truth and obeying Him would set us free (v31-32): free from generational habits and behaviour, free to serve G-d.
Further Study: Ephesians 3:14-19; Hosea 6:1-3
Application: Who do we behave like? Do we follow the behaviour patterns of the world, or do we behave like Yeshua, like our Father in heaven? If G-d has been speaking to you about breaking or changing some habits that you might have had for a long time, now is the time to be free.
© Jonathan Allen, 2005
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