Focus on two verses that come in the center of the reading as a Firestarter for your heart to glow with a basic truth: God wants purity for his people (31:22-23). This may help to interpret the warlike behavior, which seems impossible to justify by modern understanding of how God wants us to act toward our enemies. Certainly, Jesus’ position is clear: we are to love our enemies and pray for them. These “coals of fire” upon their heads are the holy violence of love designed to win people into the Kingdom. As for the Book of Numbers, there is no consistently clear position about what constitutes a Holy War. Killing defiles; hence the need for purification afterward.
There are harsh consequences for those given to idolatry. However, thank God for Jesus. The way he treats the foreign woman in Matthew 15 shows how he makes new “spoils” for the Kingdom by healing and love.
What are these?
Holding to my promises 30:2
Vengeance belonging to You 31:1ff
Water and fire of new life 31:23
Praying for my enemies
Saturdays are dedicated to the Sabbath Torah portions
read in synagogues throughout the world.
This plan follows those traditions that take a third of the portion
over a three year cycle, this year, the third part.
For more about the Torah portions and thoughtful commentaries, visit
The Jewish Theological Seminary.
Today’s image courtesy of http://liberty92.wordpress.com/