An Introduction to the Parashat HaShavuah. (Weekly Torah Portion) Understanding the Torah From a Thematic Perspective. Vayikra (Leviticus)

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1 An Introduction to the Parashat HaShavuah (Weekly Torah Portion) Understanding the Torah From a Thematic Perspective Vayikra (Leviticus) By Tony Robinson Copyright 2003 (5764) by Tony Robinson, Restoration of Torah Ministries. All rights reserved.

2 The Family House of Study Examining the Parashat HaShavuah by Thematic Analysis Welcome to Mishpachah Beit Midrash, the Family House of Study. Each Shabbat 1 we gather in our home and study the Scriptures, specifically the Torah. 2 It s a fun time of receiving revelation from the Ruach HaKodesh 3. Everyone joins in adults and children as we follow the Parashat HaShavuah 4 schedule. We devote ourselves to studying the Torah because the Torah is the foundation for all of Scripture. Therefore, a thorough understanding of the Torah will help us more fully understand the rest of the Tanakh 5 and the Brit Chadasha. 6 Furthermore, as Yeshua stated Himself, the Torah teaches about Him. So we study the Torah in order to be drawn closer to Yeshua, the goal of the Torah. As believers in the Messiah we have discovered the richness of the wisdom of the sages of Israel. These men, who devoted themselves to the study of the Torah, have left us a rich heritage. Part of that heritage is a unique method of learning and interpreting the Scriptures. It s called thematic analysis. In thematic analysis we search for the underlying theme/topic of each passage of Scripture. By studying Scriptures related by a common theme, line upon line and precept upon precept, the Scriptures open up to us in a unique manner that is clearly inspired by the Ruach HaKodesh. Passages that seemed obscure begin to make sense, and numerous levels of wisdom and understanding unfold before us. Thematic analysis of Scripture is based on the following premises. 1) Moses wrote the Torah as five separate books as the Ruach HaKodesh inspired him. 2) Since Adonai had him separate those words into five separate books, we surmise that each book has a unique message or theme. 3) Within each book, the words are written with two paragraph-like divisions 7 interrupting the flow of the words. 4) Since Adonai commanded Moshe to separate the individual books into smaller paragraph-like sections or Parshiot, we surmise that each Parsha was written as a separate unit because each of those Parshiot is trying to convey a unique thought, theme, concept or understanding. Therefore, since Adonai inspired these divisions, we think they are VERY important. We use these God-breathed divisions as the basis of our thematic analysis of Scripture. Once you begin to interpret the Scriptures thematically, you will immediately SEE that Adonai wrote His words in a manner consistent with the intent that they be interpreted thematically. Here is an example of what the Parsha divisions look like Page 2 of 13

3 s Parsha Stumah (plural, stumot) A paragraph-like break inspired by the Ruach HaKodesh, still preserved on kosher Torah Scrolls, where there are at least nine blank spaces between a word and the next word, all on the same line of text. p Parsha P'tuchah (plural, p'tuchot) A paragraph-like break inspired by the Ruach HaKodesh, still preserved on kosher Torah Scrolls, where there are blank spaces extending to the end of a line of text and the subsequent text does not begin until the next line. (Hebrew is read from right to left) Page 3 of 13

4 Parashat HaShavuah a'r.qiy;w Vayikra (And He Called) Vayikra 1:1 5:26 (Leviticus 1:1 5:26) 1 Vayikra 1:1-9 s 2 Vayikra 1:10-13 p 3 Vayikra 1:14-17 s 4 Vayikra 2:1-3 s 5 Vayikra 2:4 s 6 Vayikra 2:5-6 s 7 Vayikra 2:7-13 s 8 Vayikra 2:14-16 p 9 Vayikra 3:1-5 p 10 Vayikra 3:6-11 p 11 Vayikra 4:1-12 p 12 Vayikra 4:13-21 p 13 Vayikra 4:22-26 p 14 Vayikra 4:27-31 p 15 Vayikra 4:32-35 p 16 Vayikra 5:1-10 s 17 Vayikra 5:11-13 s 18 Vayikra 5:14-16 p 19 Vayikra 5:17-19 p 20 Vayikra 5:20-26 p Understanding the Parsha LEVITICUS 1:1-9 Objective Learn how to 1) interpret a Parsha thematically and 2) determine the main theme of the Parsha. Page 4 of 13

5 I. In the book of Exodus, we learned that Adonai was about to make Himself known as YHVH. One aspect of this revelation concerns His Holiness and inapproachability by man. In previous sidras we saw teaching concerning the difficulty of drawing near to Adonai. Therefore, as we begin to see the Holiness of Adonai, by default, the sinfulness of man will also be seen. The book of Leviticus will begin to show us those things that cause man to fall short of the holiness of Adonai. Also, in our ever-growing understanding of the functioning of the Mishkan, we have primarily seen instructions concerning how the priests interact with it. Leviticus will now shift the focus to how Israel each individual will approach and interact with the Mishkan. However, let s not lose sight of the fact that the real issue is how Israel draws near to approach Adonai. Now, to emphasize that the primary theme taught by Leviticus concerns how to draw near to Adonai, we will examine the Hebrew word for offering. The Hebrew word for offering is The root for the word offering/corban is brq, which means coming near! As you can see, this aspect of its meaning is TOTALLY LOST in the translation! This is where knowing a little Hebrew will help you. You don t need to be an expert. If you 1) learn the alphabet (alephbet) and learn how to read the words and 2) study from a Chumash or some other source that has the Hebrew with commentary, you will certainly be doing yourself a favor. Literally, one could say, When a man brings a drawing near to YHVH If you have studied the book of Exodus with MBM, surely you can see how this one word emphasizes one of the important concepts the Torah begins to teach us in Exodus. How does sinful man draw near to a Holy God? Through blood sacrifice! corban (!'B..r'q). 8 II. In this week s study we want to practice interpreting passages thematically. Sometimes when the Torah begins to give a plethora of details in a Parsha we tend to loose sight of their thematic significance. Read the first Parsha (Leviticus 1:1-9). I will ask you some questions concerning some of the themes presented in these verses. Initially, you may not understand what I m asking for, but as you go through the questions you ll understand the point I m trying to make. Some Hebrew The Hebrew word for whole burnt offering/burnt offering/burnt sacrifice is olah, h'lo[. A. What thematic understanding is presented in Leviticus 1:3 concerning the type of sacrifice? 9 B. What thematic understanding is presented in Leviticus 1:3 concerning the quality of the sacrifice? 10 C. What thematic understanding is presented in Leviticus 1:3 concerning the location of the sacrifice? 11 D. What thematic understanding is presented in Leviticus 1:3 concerning the motivation for bringing the sacrifice? 12 E. What is the theme of Leviticus 1:4-5a? 13 F. What thematic understanding is presented in Leviticus 1:4 concerning the purpose of the sacrifice? 14 G. What is the theme of Leviticus 1:5b-9a? 15 Page 5 of 13

6 H. What thematic understanding is presented in Leviticus 1:9 concerning the type of sacrifice? 16 I. What thematic understanding is presented in Leviticus 1:9 concerning the effect of the sacrifice on Adonai? 17 These verses have told us many things about the nature of the olah sacrifice. Each of the characteristics mentioned above is very important. The characteristics are the basis of the themes presented in this Parsha! They give us the Scriptural foundation of sacrifice. What would you say is the main theme of this Parsha? 18 In searching the Parsha, we will compare and contrast this basic thematic map for the olah offering with the other Parshiot in order to gain a greater thematic understanding of the sidra (Torah portion). Searching the Parshiot Objective Learn how to 1) uncover the theme of a passage, 2) relate it to other passages through comparison and contrast and 3) gain new insight on how to connect passages together thematically. Thematic Analysis; Compare and Contrast, the Order of the Day I. I cannot over-emphasize that the most important concepts involved in thematic analysis are those of comparison and contrast. As you begin to compare and contrast words, phrases and entire passages, you will begin to see patterns that will help you organize and understand the Torah. Furthermore, the repetition of words, phrases and passages will help you in this endeavor. Let s read the second and third Parshiot and then compare and contrast them to the first Parsha. A. Before continuing, please pay attention to the last verse of the first Parsha, Leviticus 1:9. Notice how it seems to be a summary statement. We ve seen that many passages in the Torah have bookends that neatly separate and package the Torah passages into thematic units. Watch for that phrase as we continue our study. B. Read the second Parsha, Leviticus 1:10-13 In general, does this sacrifice seem to be similar or different from the olah discussed in verses 1-9? 19 Compare the summary verse in this Parsha to the summary verse in the first Parsha. 20 Based on Leviticus 1:2, would you expect the contents of the second Parsha to be significantly different than the first Parsha? 21 Based on the answers to the last two questions, we would expect these two Parshiot to still be united by one overall theme. C. Read the third Parsha, Leviticus 1:14-17 Compare the summary verse with the summary verse for the first Parsha. 22 Okay, so far, no problem. All of these verses 1) clearly describe an olah, 2) are fire offerings and 3) provide a pleasing aroma to Adonai. II. Read Leviticus 2. In Hebrew, a meal offering is a minchah (h'x.nim). A. What are some of the major contrasts between the olah and the minchah? 23 Page 6 of 13

7 III. IV. B. Despite their differences, compare the minchah to the olah and show how they are related? 24 Note once again that despite the differences, the minchah and olah are related by the familiar descriptor, "a fire offering, a soothing aroma to Adonai." Read Leviticus 3. In Hebrew, the peace offering is a sh'lamim (~yim'.l.v). A. When comparing the sh'lamim to the olah and minchah, how are they similar? 25 In Hebrew, the word for sin offering is chatat (ta'.j;x). For sake of brevity, we will examine only one of the examples of the chatat. Read Leviticus 4: Now, let's compare and contrast this Parsha with those detailing the olah, minchah and sh'lamim offerings using some of the characteristics we developed in Understanding the Parsha. A. Compare and contrast Leviticus 4:13-21 with Leviticus 1:1-9. How do they differ concerning the motivation for bringing the respective offerings? 26 B. How do they differ concerning the need for making the offering? 27 C. How do they differ concerning atonement? 28 D. How do they differ in their effect? 29 E. How do they differ concerning the ritual of the blood? 30 V. In Hebrew, the word for guilt offering is asham (~'.v'.a). For sake of brevity, we will examine only one of the examples of the asham. Read Leviticus 5:1-10. Now, let's compare and contrast this Parsha with those detailing the olah, minchah and sh'lamim offerings using some the characteristics we developed in Understanding the Parsha. A. Compare and contrast Leviticus 5:1-10 with Leviticus 1:1-9. How do they differ concerning the motivation for bringing the respective offerings? 31 B. How do they differ concerning the need for making the offering? 32 C. How do they differ concerning atonement? 33 D. How do they differ in their effect? 34 Summary I. Now let's make some general conclusions concerning our thematic analysis. We have seen that this week's sidra is divided into two major sections. The first section, from Leviticus 1:1-3:17 (the olah, minchah and sh'lamim offerings), share the following major thematic connection they were all characterized by the phrase, "a fire offering." In contrast, the chatat and asham offerings of Leviticus 4:1-5:26 share the following major thematic connection they were all characterized by the phrase, "and it shall be forgiven." The major difference between these two types of offerings is that the olah, minchah and sh'lamim offerings were voluntary offerings, whereas the chatat and asham offerings were mandatory! This division into two major sections is also taught in other ways. A. Note how in the first half of the sidra, which we characterized as voluntary, the worshiper had a tremendous amount of choice concerning what he would offer. Will it be an olah, minchah or sh'lamim? If an olah, of the herd or flock? If a minchah, which of the five minchot will he choose? If a sh'lamim, a bull, goat or sheep? Choices, choices, choices. And this makes sense if the offering is voluntary. However, when we consider the chatat and asham, the choice as to which offering is necessary depends on the sin. Secondly, the choice of which animal to offer depends on who you are high priest, a leader, or an individual. Less choice is appropriate since after all, you've sinned. Your main concern should be finding out what you need to do in order to get right with Adonai. Page 7 of 13

8 B. Basically, these offerings describe two states people will find themselves in. The first state is described by the voluntary offerings. Those in this group are in good standing with Adonai. There is no sin that prevents them from drawing nigh to Adonai. Those in the second group are those who have allowed sin to prevent them from drawing nigh to Adonai apart from first dealing with the sin! This is Israel's first sacrificial lesson concerning the only two states one can be found in. You may either be in a state where you can freely worship Him or you may be in a state that requires you to deal with the sin issue before you can freely worship Him. The Voluntary Offerings I. Although this is the first time we ve seen the olah and sh lamim offerings mentioned in the context of the Mishkan, these offerings have been mentioned before. Previously, we stated that the voluntary offerings were made by those who were in right standing with Adonai. Let s see if we can find thematic evidence elsewhere to support that assertion. A. Read Genesis 8:20. Is there any evidence in this passage that Noach is offering the olah because he needs atonement for sin? 35 What is the thematic context within which Noach was offering olah offerings? 36 Note how the olah was offered by someone who was in right standing to Adonai. B. Read Exodus 24:5. What is the thematic context within which the youth were offering olah and peace offerings? 37 II. As we can see, the olah and peace offerings were made by those in right relationship with Adonai. There was no emphasis on sin within the context of these sacrifices. In previous lessons we have seen that the olah offering was a picture of the worshiper offering himself in complete submission to the commandments of Adonai. The peace offering was made by those who were walking in wholeness and peace with Adonai. We will learn later that a portion of the offering was eaten by the priest and another portion was eaten by the worshiper and his friends and family. The peace offering was a festive meal, celebrating the relationship between Adonai and the worshiper. As you can see, these two offerings express the ideal relationship between Adonai and His people. Making the Connection Between the Parashat HaShavuah and the Haftarah Objective Learn how to relate Scriptures thematically, thereby learning how to think Hebraically. Become rooted in the importance of thematic analysis by seeing it in action as you relate the Torah portion to the Haftarah portion. The Haftarah reading is found in Isaiah 43:21-44:23. I will list some verses from the Haftarah reading. Your job will be to relate them thematically to the Parashat HaShavuah reading. I. After studying the previous two sections, what do you think is the thematic relationship between the three types of offerings mentioned in Isaiah 43:23? 38 II. What thematic message is the prophet trying to make by mentioning these three sacrifices? 39 Page 8 of 13

9 If you would like to explore more information about connections between the Torah portion and the Haftarah reading, then go to the Haftarah Connections link on our website under The Weekly Torah Portion. You will be able to download a document that will show you numerous Scriptures from the Haftarah reading so that you can determine how they are thematically connected to the Torah portion. The answers are provided as endnotes. This is an excellent exercise to help you begin thinking thematically. Messiah in the Parsha Objective Learn how the Torah teaches about the life and ministry of Yeshua HaMashiach. Yeshua said that Moses wrote about Him 40. Since the Torah never even mentions the word Messiah, this section will help you see the Messiah in the Torah. This is primarily done using thematic analysis and Midrash. Messiah in the Voluntary Offerings I. The Olah h'lo[. In previous lessons we have seen that the olah offering was a picture of the worshiper offering himself in complete submission to the commandments of Adonai. However, we must always remember the greatest hermeneutic tool taught to us by Yeshua. He said that the Torah teaches us about Him (see Luke 24:27, 44-45; John 5:39 and 46)! Can you think of a verse that specifically speaks of the Messiah offering Himself as an olah? 41 That s correct. 6 Sacrifice and offering You did not desire; My ears You have opened. Burnt offering and sin offering You did not require. 7 Then I said, "Behold, I come; In the scroll of the book it is written of me. 8 I delight to do Your will, O my God, And Your law is within my heart (Psalm 40:6-8, emphasis mine)." II. A. Messiah Yeshua is the ultimate olah, laying down His life incomplete service to Adonai. Remember the themes associated with the olah obedience and servanthood? What is the most important and well known story of the Torah, which teaches us that the Messiah will offer Himself as an olah, giving up His life for the sake of performing the Father s will? 42 In Genesis 22:2-3, what type of offering was Abraham going to make? 43 B. Can you think of a New Covenant Scripture that specifically teaches us that the Messiah came as a servant to suffer and die on our behalf? 44 As we can see, Messiah Yeshua embodies the olah offering. We know that Yeshua s death was a substitutionary blood atonement. Let s see how Parashat Vayikra lays this foundation. Read Leviticus 1:4. A. What does this Scripture teach us concerning the effect of the olah offering? 45 We ve already seen that the olah is symbolic of the worshiper offering himself in complete service and obedience to the commandments of Adonai. The theme of this verse that Page 9 of 13

10 the sacrifice is substituted for the worshiper is consistent with that interpretation. In other words, this verse teaches substitution. Specifically, a sacrifice may substitute for the worshiper. Secondly, it teaches (through Remez) that there are acceptable and unacceptable sacrifices. We must ensure that our sacrifice is acceptable to Adonai. This is also taught in Romans 12:1-2 and Philippians 4:18. However, it is Yeshua the Messiah who is our acceptable offering Ephesians 1:6, who enables us to be accepted in the eyes of the Father. B. What procedure seems to allow the offering to become acceptable on behalf of the worshiper? 46 Can you think of a verse from the Torah that is thematically connected to the procedure requiring the laying on of hands that may shed more light on what happens during this procedure? 47 Yes. During the Yom Kippur ceremony, the priest lays his hands on the head of the scapegoat, confessing the sins of Am Yisrael (the people of Israel). In this manner, the sins of the people are symbolically transferred to the offering. Therefore, we can conclude that the laying of hands on the offering is a transferal process. Although the olah is not a sin sacrifice (in the strictest sense of the word), perhaps, in a symbolic way, this procedure shows that the worshiper transfers himself in some manner to the sacrifice, thereby making it acceptable on his behalf. This seems to be the implication when the ram is substituted for Isaac in Genesis Can you think of a passage from the prophets thematically linked to the concept of laying on, that connects this procedure to the work of the Messiah? 48 Isaiah 53:6 teaches that Adonai has laid on him the iniquity of us all. This entire chapter is devoted to teaching us about the substitutionary blood atonement of the Messiah. 2. What New Covenant passage is clearly linked to Isaiah 53, which teaches that Yeshua bore our sins in His body? 49 Messiah in the Peace Offerings I. The peace offering spoke of peaceful, harmonious relationship between the worshiper and Adonai. Pertaining to peace, what does the Scripture teach us concerning those who do not receive salvation through Yeshua the Messiah? 50 Scriptures referring to this concept are very numerous (wrath of God). Can you think of a Scripture, which specifically states that Yeshua is the offering of peace that brings us into peaceful relationship with Adonai? Yes, Romans 5:1; Ephesians 2:14; and Colossians 1:20. It is the sacrifice of Yeshua that secures peace between sinful man and a Holy God! He is the ultimate peace offering. II. In Leviticus 3:6 it states that the sh lamim must be unblemished. Now read I Peter 1: What thematic connection is Peter making concerning the work of the Messiah and Leviticus 3:6? 51 This requirement also existed for all of the sacrifices. Next week we will look at more Messianic significance concerning these and other offerings. Page 10 of 13

11 Fun For the Whole Family Okay, time to show what you ve learned. Word searches and crossword puzzles are available for you to test your understanding. The word search for adults (and older children) consists of words taken from this week s sidra (portion). Some of the words may be common Hebrew words or English phrases. The crossword puzzle for adults (and older children) may also contain common Hebrew words or English phrases. There is also a word search for the little guys! And of course, the answer key is provided for the crossword puzzle. Adult and children s crossword puzzles and word searches are available on Restoration of Torah s website: Click on the link entitled, The Weekly Torah Portion Crossword Puzzles and Word Searches. Shabbat Shalom! 1 Shabbat is Hebrew for Sabbath. 2 In its most limited form, the Torah comprises the first five books of Moses. 3 Holy Spirit. 4 The Parashat HaShavuah, or weekly Parashat, are the weekly readings from the Torah. Each week, beginning on the Shabbat, we read specific selections from the Torah, such that we complete the entire Torah each year. 5 Tanakh is the entirety of what is commonly called the Old Testament. It is a Hebrew acronym taken from the three major divisions of the Tanakh: the Torah, Prophets (Neviim) and Writings (Khetuvim). 6 Brit Chadasha is commonly known as the New Testament Scriptures. 7 This paragraph-like division is called a Parsha (Parshiot, plural). 8 This word, corban, is the Hebrew word for offering used extensively throughout this week s sidra. For example, the word translated offering in Lev 1:2, 10; 3:1(and many others) is the Hebrew word corban. 9 The offering under discussion is called a whole burnt offering (or an ascending/elevation offering). This is an olah. 10 The sacrifice had to be unblemished, which meant physically sound and whole. 11 It was to be brought to the tent of meeting. This is no minor detail, as we shall see in later studies. 12 It is brought voluntarily, i.e., this offering was not required. 13 Instructions for the one offering the sacrifice. Page 11 of 13

12 14 Two things occur; 1) the sacrifice is ACCEPTED on behalf of the worshiper and 2) the sacrifice ATONES for the worshiper. 15 Instructions for the priests. 16 The olah is said to be a fire offering. 17 It is a satisfying aroma to Him. 18 I would designate the theme of this Parsha as The Olah Offering. 19 In general, except for a couple of small details, it is the same. 20 The summary verses are the same. 21 No, because Leviticus 1:2 states that the instructions that follow pertain to an olah of the herd and the flock. The first Parsha discusses the olah from the herd. The second Parsha discusses the olah of the flock. So they should be similar. 22 They are the same. 23 The olah involves animal sacrifice, whereas the minchah involves only vegetation. A portion of the minchah is reserved for the priest, whereas the olah is burned in its entirety. 24 They are both called fire offerings and they both produce a soothing aroma to Adonai. 25 All three are fire offerings, a pleasing aroma to Adonai. 26 The offering in the first Parsha (and those related to it) is voluntary. This is the first offering that is mandatory! 27 The offering in the first Parsha did not mention sin. The chatat ritual specifically mentions sin as a reason for its necessity. 28 The olah was said to atone FOR THE PERSON. The chatat atones FOR THEIR SIN. See Leviticus 4:26 and The chatat results in FORGIVENESS OF SIN. No mention of sin is made for the olah. 30 The blood of the olah is splashed at the base of the olah altar. The blood of the chatat is applied to the horns of the altar. 31 The offering in the first Parsha (and those related to it) is voluntary. This offering is mandatory! 32 The offering in the first Parsha did not mention sin. The asham ritual specifically mentions sin as a reason for its necessity. 33 The olah was said to atone FOR THE PERSON. The asham atones FOR THEIR SIN. See Leviticus 5: The asham results in FORGIVENESS OF SIN. No mention of sin is made for the olah. 35 No. 36 The context is one wherein Noach has been chosen as the only righteous person to replenish the earth. Adonai has destroyed all of the sinners and Noach and his family are the righteous ones who remain to fulfill Adonai s will on the earth. Adonai is in the process of blessing Noach and establishing a covenant with him. Page 12 of 13

13 37 The context is one in which Israel is entering into a covenant with Adonai. This is before the sin of the golden calf. At this time Israel was enjoying unprecedented fellowship with Adonai. 38 These are the voluntary offerings, the olah, minchah and sh lamim offerings. 39 We ve seen that the voluntary offerings are made by those in right standing with Adonai. By specifically mentioning these three offerings, the prophet is implying that Am Yisrael s sins prevented them from offering these types of sacrifices. 40 Yeshua said in John 5:46 that Moses spoke about him. Psalm 40:6-8, speaking of the Messiah said that the book is written about Him. Paul said that all of the feasts were prophetic shadows of Messiah Yeshua. 41 Psalm 40: The story of the binding of Isaac (The Akeida) in Genesis A burnt offering, olah. 44 Philippians 2: It teaches us that the sacrifice was substituted for the worshiper. 46 When the worshiper LAYS his hands on the head of the offering and leans on it. 47 Leviticus 16: Isaiah 53:6. 49 I Peter 2: The Scriptures teach us that Adonai s wrath abides upon them (John 3:36). 51 He shows that the unblemished condition of the offering was a picture of Messiah Yeshua, who was sinless. The physically perfect animal was a picture of the spiritually perfect Son of God! Page 13 of 13

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