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B'Midbar/Numbers 26:53 To these the Land shall be divided, in an inheritance, in the number of names
The Israelites are now in the Plains of Mo'av, by the Yarden river, opposite Yericho (B'Midbar 26:3) and Moshe and Elazar the son of Aharon have just taken a census of the people before preparing to enter the Land. NowHaShem gives instructions as to how the Land is to be divided between the tribes. Rashi comments that the 'these' in this verse means that the division was to be done according to the census now, and not according to the status or number of families some years later when the Land has been conquered; by then some families may have lost members in combat, while others have grown due to marriage or childbirth. The Sforno points out that this way of dividing the Land enabled the fulfillment of Ya'akov's death-bed prophecy to his sons: to Shimon, who was numerically the smallest tribe at the time of entry, was given several pockets of land, rather than one contiguous piece so that Yehoshua 19:9 records, "Out of the portion of the children of Y'hudah was the inheritance of Shimon" so fulfilling, "I will divide them in Ya'akov" (B'resheet 49:7).
The physical division of the Land was done both by tribe and by number so that the area and value of the land allocated to each descendant of Ya'akov should be equal. This demonstrates a kingdom principle that Rav Sha'ul writes about: "[in Messiah] there is neither Jew nor Gentile, neither slave nor freeman, neither male nor female; for in union with the Messiah Yeshua you are all one" (Galatians 3:28, CJB). What is Sha'ul saying? Simply that in exactly the same way that the quality and quantity of the land inheritances were balanced to give every Israelite the same value, so believers in Messiah Yeshua - from whatever racial background, gender or social status - all share the same spiritual inheritance in Messiah. No-one is disadvantaged or discriminated against. Given the social order of his day, Sha'ul obviously had to repeat this message several times, for we find him saying it again: "The new self allows no room for discriminating between Gentile and Jew, circumcised and uncircumcised, foreigner, savage, slave, free man; on the contrary, in all, the Messiah is everything" (Colossians 3:11, CJB).
However, just as some Israelites had many acres of poorer quality scrub-land, fine for grazing but no good for intensive horticulture, whilst others had only a few acres of rich land, excellent for vineyards, olive groves or fruit trees, yet others having mid-sized holdings suitable for cereal production, so it is with the roles and identities of believers in the body of Messiah. "For indeed the body is not one part but many. If the foot says, 'I'm not a hand, so I'm not a part of the body,' that doesn't make it stop being part of the body" (1 Corinthians 12:15, CJB). We come together with our different gifts, callings and abilities to build up the body and give glory to G-d.
Further Study: 1 Corinthians 12:12-26; Romans 12:4-8
Application: Be encouraged today with what the L-rd has given you to do. Not only has He made you unique, but He has placed you where you can bring your gifts to bear and help others to grow as they share themselves with you. Go to it, for this is the way the body works!
© Jonathan Allen, 2006
23Jul06 21:17 Vern Miller: Quite insightful to the understanding on how God operates.
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