Naso’/”Lift Up”, covers Numbers 4:21-7:89, continues with the counting of Israel, yet there’s a distinction in who is being focused on! This portion focuses on the Levites who will serve in the Tabernacle, age 30-50, of the tribes of Gershon and Merari. It seems strange that this one last section is left out of the previous parshah, yet it is this very distinction that then points towards a message found here if we dig! With this “counting”, further focus is given on why they are being inspected and examined because the after results of the count are that they are going to serve at the Tabernacle. What is it exactly that Yahweh is asking of these Levites, what are they being charged with, and are we not being charged with the same tasks in becoming this nation of kingdom and priests?
In Hebrew the opening phrase reads “Naso’ ‘Et-Rosh”, watered down into the English translation of “Take the sum” yet containing so much more in the Hebrew! The focus completely shifts concerning what is happening – it’s about naso’/lifting up the Aleph Tav!
Take: Strong’s #5375 Nasa’ נָשָׂאto lift, bear up, carry, or take; covers 3 distinct ranges of meaning all which add clarity and apply somehow here!
- To lift – infers to lift the hand which can be done in taking an oath or in combat
- To bear or to carry – indicates the bearing of guilt or punishment, yet it’s also this same term used to describe how the Levites will bear/carry the Tabernacle!
- To take away – can infer to take in marriage, to take away guilt (forgive), or to take away to destruction
Notice that all of these meanings seem to carry both a blessed and a cursed aspect!
If you break apart this term naso’ it reveals the following: נ = Seed/Word, ש = Fire, to change, to consume, א = I (myself), Strength, Elohim
Remember that this is dealing with their connection to the Tabernacle, could it be revealing that when they (when we) come to the Tabernacle, when we encounter the Aleph Tav/His Living WORD it is a fire that will change me, consume me and depending on how I choose to interact with this fire, it can either become the source of my strength or my destruction! I can choose to carry/bear the Tabernacle (literally the Body of ET/Messiah that houses the Presence of Yahweh) or I can choose to war against it (lifting my hands in combat).
Sum: Strong’s #7218 ro’sh רֹאשׁhead, total, sum, the top; from an unused root meaning to shake; the focus is placed specifically on how we lift Him up in the midst of the shaking!
It is easy to worship and say the “right” things when standing at the base of Sinai, just recently set free and having experienced the miracles moving on your behalf, but what about in the shaking? Do we lift our hands declaring our oath and continued trust and commitment, or do we raise our hands in combat warring against the very situations meant to refine us?
*How could one function as a priest, expecting, teaching, and leading the people in worship and the bringing of their offerings, yet fail to understand how to offer up oneself as that living sacrifice?
Continuing to look at this term nasa’ it’s a cognate of #5382 nashah נָשָׁהto forget, to deprive, to not call to mind or not allow something to dominate one’s mind, to choose to push away instead of drawing near
The same letters also form sane’/shana שנא (#8130-8132) to be unwilling, to be hostile, to loathe someone or something, to change a person’s complexion, something that was pure becoming dark or dull
*Could the lesson be that to forget that this is about exalting/lifting up the Aleph Tav/Tabernacle Man, that then in the midst of the shaking and the increase of the heat of His Fire, we risk allowing our circumstances to change our very complexion – we become unwilling to nasa’ Him, hostile and loathsome towards the One we should be caring for! The very fire meant to purify can cause us to become dull or dark if we choose to push away rather than draw near!
This is further emphasized in the singling out of Gershon & Merari.
Gershon: Strong’s #1648 Gershown גֵּרְשׁוֹןexile; from #1644 garash גָּרַשׁto drive out or away, expel, cast out, to be troubled or agitated;
Cognate of #1645 geresh גֶּרֶשׁa thing put forth, something thrust forth, to produce or yield fruit/a harvest – it’s used only once in Deut. 33:14describing the specific type of harvest brought forth by the moon in comparison to the harvest brought forth by the sun
*Could it be that the declaration within this name is describing individuals who in the midst of the trouble and agitation, who in the midst of the night and darkness, are able to produce and yield a harvest? And it is this type of individual that is capable of nasa’/lifting up and handling the Aleph Tav, capable of being a kingdom of priests!
Merari: Strong’s #4847 Merariy מְרָרִיbitter, unhappy; from #4843 marar מָרַרto be bitter, or to be strong or strengthen – cognate languages to Hebrew contain this same root but it is translated as to bless, strengthen, or commend (most scholars acknowledge that the Hebrew audience would have been familiar with these cognate terms and their meaning and therefore it would have attached itself to their understanding as well!)
*This same root is also found in the term Myrrh – the main ingredient of the anointing oil and associated with the smell of the Tabernacle itself, it is also known as the “oil of joy” and is associated with the consummation of marriage. – Merari, those who are strengthened in the midst of adverse circumstances and see it as a blessing in that it becomes the very means by which they draw closer and more intimate with Yahweh and their very fragrance is the fragrance of His Presence rather than allowing it to embitter them!
And it is these 2 tribes who are called upon to naso’/bear and uplift the Aleph Tav and the Tabernacle! Why? Because they understand that even in the midst of their flesh being dealt with, the closer they approach the all consuming fire that is Yahweh, they never lose sight of why they are being consumed – it’s the removal of the dross, it becomes a source and time of strengthening and in the midst of what may seem like “darkness”, they are able to produce a sweet smelling fragrance and fruit!
These sub-tribes are specifically chosen “to serve and for burdens” (Numbers 4:24)
Service: Strong’s #5656 ‘abodah עֲבֹדָהlabor, service, covers a wide range from delicate artistry work to forced labor, and this same term describes the slave labor in Egypt! Yet it also here describes the Tabernacle service!
Breaking this term apart: עב(#5646/#5645) threshold, thick clouds forming an impenetrable covering; it describes the presence of Yahweh a top the mountain!
When we worship we approach the threshold to the very place of His Presence! Whether we gain access to Him or not (an open door or a closed door) seems to be determined by how we approach – is it forced labor in the midst of adverse circumstances, or is it the worship from a heart that’s been wholly consumed by the fire of His presence as it transforms our very nature?
*2 letter root found in ‘abodah is בד (#905, #907) a root which can mean either idle words, empty talk, false boasts or can infer a measurement describing parts/ingredients of the incense! (Do you realize for the fragrance of incense to be fully released fire is needed?)
Could it be that when we come before Him, when we approach His dwelling place, our words will be inspected, when the heat is put on us does it reveal a sweet smelling fragrance as we come offering up the worship and prayers (Psalm 141:2– “Let my prayer be set before thee as incense; and the lifting up of my hands as the evening sacrifice.”) or do we come bearing idle words, empty talk, and false boasts?
In the very next verse in Psalms, we have revealed how our words can be incense! Vs. 3 – “Set a watch, O Yahweh, before my mouth; keep the door of my lips.”
Watch: Strong’s #8108 shomrah שָׁמְרָהguard, watch; ש= Fire, Change, Consuming; מר = root of Merari – to be strengthened in the midst of bitterness; ה = to reveal, to be fruitful
*King David cries out for the consuming fire of Yahweh to change the words of His Mouth to be words that would reveal that Yahweh was His strength in the midst of bitter circumstances that he may be fruitful!
They were chosen for service and for burderns…
Burdens: Strong’s #4853 macca’ מַשָּׂאload, bearing, tribute, burden; cognate of #4855 massa’ מַשָּׁאusury, an excessive profit, often in high interest, charges, debt
*Is our worship viewed as a debt, usury, something excessive and the cost too high to pay?
The firstborn of all of Israel were intended to function as the priests, yet the cost was seen as too high, a tribute they weren’t willing to give, and it is Levi alone that was willing! What about now?
In this Torah Portion, the very next passage after the census declares who must be put out of the camp, seeming to reveal and connect it’s through the numbering that not only are those capable of worshipping and offering up a living sacrifice discovered, but these individuals are as well!
Lepers: Strong’s #6879 tsara’ צָרַעto be diseased of skin, leprous;
Same letters form #6113 ‘atsar עָצַרto restrain, shut up, close, withhold, refrain, to prevent or refuse; refers to a person in bondage, held in slavery, not free, also used of wombs being closed, cognate terms mean barrenness
*Cognate of #6116 ‘atsarah עֲצָרָהsolemn assembly (sacred or festive meeting), gathering together or assembly of the people
In the midst of the solemn assembly, the gathering of Israel together to be counted, it revealed the very ones who would restrain/refuse/prevent/shut/close their womb to the Seed/WORD, choosing to be barren – they produced no fruit in the midst of the fire/shaking! They chose to remain in slavery/bondage (or perhaps this is their view of the worship of their King and the lifting up of the Aleph Tav/Tabernacle?).
*Isn’t it interesting that leprosy is associated with lashon hara’ – the evil tongue! Their words, spoken from their heart (out of the heart the mouth speaks – Matthew 12:34) revealed that they were not refined by the fire of Yahweh, but instead have become hostile and loathsome towards the very one they should be lifting up and drawing near to!
Issue: Strong’s #2100 zuwb זוּבto flow, gush, issue, discharge; this term is not always used in the negative, it can describe a flow that makes you unclean or it can describe the pouring forth of living water and blessings!
*Gematria = 15, same value as Yah יה and also just so happens to be the number of steps that would lead up to the Nicanor Gate later in the Temple – the same steps where the Psalms of Ascent were sung by the Levites approaching the Presence of Yahweh, and the same steps the adulterous woman would climb to partake of the bitter waters (detailed directly after these verses!)
The first of the Psalms of Ascent is Psalm 120, verse 1,2 – “In my distress I cried unto Yahweh, and he heard me. Deliver my soul, O Yahweh, from lying lips, and from a deceitful tongue.”
Distress: Strong’s #6869 tsarah צָרָהstraits, distress, trouble; vexer or rival wife
It’s in the midst of adverse troubling circumstances, that our words will reveal whether we are Levi (His Heart) coming just to worship and love on the one who is worthy or the vexer wife who will consume the bitter waters of our own words!
Hosea 14:2– “Take with you words, and turn to Yahweh: say unto him, Take away all iniquity, and receive us graciously: so will we render the calves/fruit of our lips.”
*The Sotah (the adulterous woman) who is guilty produces no fruit (Numbers 5:27), her belly swells – tsabah which can indicate to go forth to battle. She wars against the WORD that would refine her! But Levi is able to sing forth and offer up the fruit of their lips because the same fire that the sotah wars against is something that they choose to draw near to and it becomes their very source of strength!
Zechariah 13:9– “And I will bring the third part through the fire, and will refine them as silver is refined, and will try them as gold is tried: they shall call on my name, and I will hear them: I will say, It is my people: and they shall say, Yahweh is my God.”