poop
Shittim is stinky!

A little humor to introduce this next Torah Portion that comes from Numbers 25 and is titled “Pinchas | פנחס | “Phinehas”

In this blog, I will highlight the journey Israel took by the names of the places they stopped at, and my own journey by the names of streets my husband and I have resided on. I also want to reflect on being pierced in the heart versus being pierced in the belly.

In this Torah portion is the name of the place where Israel was camped when 24,000 leaders died. It was east of the Jordon and called Shittim.

“The name Shittim means Acacias.”

Acacias are very special trees—

This location is mentioned by numerous prophets and has several hidden gems. Let’s look at one passage before we begin.

“And in that day

The mountains will drip with sweet wine,

And the hills will flow with milk,

And all the brooks of Judah will flow with water;

And a spring will go out from the house of the LORD

To water the valley of Shittim.” Joel 3:18.

Sounds wonderful!

Unfortunately, the valley of Shittim was used by the Israelites as a valley of sin.

“While Israel remained at Shittim, the people began to play the harlot with the daughters of Moab. For they invited the people to the sacrifices of their gods, and the people ate and bowed down to their gods. So Israel joined themselves to Baal of Peor, and the LORD was angry against Israel.” Numbers 25:1-3 NASB.

“Baal Peor is a Moabite god, which service specifically included sexual acts.”

It seems that Balaam had more to do with this story than we may have noticed. Apparently, he helped wet Israel’s appetites through bad counsel. For deeper revelation concerning the teaching of Balaam click here: The Teaching of Balaam | GRACE in TORAH.

“And Moses said to them, “Have you spared all the women? “Behold, these caused the sons of Israel, through the counsel of Balaam, to trespass against the LORD in the matter of Peor, so the plague was among the congregation of the LORD.” Numbers 31:15-16.

The rest of the story in this Torah portion is difficult to read. The Father commands Moses to take all the leaders of the people and execute them in broad daylight before Him. “But all things become visible when they are exposed by the light.” Ephesians 5:13.

They’re up Shittim creek without a paddle.

A man named Phinehas stops the plague. He was Aaron’s grandson.

“And when Pineḥas, son of El‛azar, son of Aharon the priest, saw it, he “rose up” (authority) from among the congregation and took a spear in his hand, and he went after the man of Yisra’ĕl into the tent and thrust both of them through, the man of Yisra’ĕl, and the woman through her belly. Thus the plague among the children of Yisra’ĕl came to a stop.

And those who died in the plague were twenty-four thousand.” Numbers 25:7-9 ISR.

Wow, 24,000 slain! What a large number of lives fell that day.

Image result for Phinehas

I find it interesting that at our last Feast, the Feast of Shavuot/ Pentecost, over 3,000 came back into the Covenant, and that same number represented the number who were slain after committing adultery with the golden calves. Let’s read that passage.

“Thus says the LORD, the God of Israel, ‘Every man of you put his sword upon his thigh, and go back and forth from gate to gate in the camp, and kill every man his brother, and every man his friend, and every man his neighbor.’” So the sons of Levi did as Moses instructed, and about three thousand men of the people fell that day.” Exodus 32:27-28 NASB.

Then during Shavuot, a very peculiar thing happens. Peter preaches the good news and 3000 souls were added that day.

Now when they heard this, they were pierced to the heart, and said to Peter and the rest of the apostles, “Brethren, what shall we do?” Peter said to them, “Repent, and each of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins; and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. So then, those who had received his word were baptized; and that day there were added about three thousand souls.” Acts 2:37, 38, 41 NASB.

24,000 leaders were slain in this Torah portion, but the number 24 also represents a perfect form of leadership. “Around the throne were twenty-four thrones; and upon the thrones I saw twenty-four elders sitting, clothed in white garments, and golden crowns on their heads.” Revelation 4:4.

While in the valley of Shittim, Phinehas was able to stop the plague by taking a spear and piercing the man and woman through.

Why such lustful cravings?

It has to do with our bellies.

Peter pierced the hearts and Phinehas pierced the bellies. The belly is the place of appetites, sexual lust, rich foods, and passions.

The righteous has enough to satisfy his appetite, But the stomach of the wicked is in need.” Proverbs 13:25.

Yeshua said that out of our belly would flow rivers of LIVING waters. And that’s what we need to cleanse all the Shittim out!

The stomach area is also the place where we ingest food—good bread from the table of Adonai or bread mixed with impurity. The Israelites had cravings. We all do.

Back in chapter eleven, they had landed in a place called Taberah.

The name Taberah comes from the Hebrew verb בער (ba’ar I), meaning to kindle, burn or consume:

The Father was ready to consume them for a multitude of reasons. They wanted food. They were tired of eating His heavenly bread.

Awe the belly cries out. Our nephesh always does.

It’s HUNGRY!

A very curious thing happens in the story. It’s the same thing that happened when Miriam and Aaron had spoken poorly about Moses wife. The Lord Adonai hears it.

Yes, He hears us when we complain and murmur.

Now the people became like those who complain of adversity in the hearing of the LORD; and when the LORD heard it, His anger was kindled, and the fire of the LORD burned among them and consumed some of the outskirts of the camp. The people therefore cried out to Moses, and Moses prayed to the LORD and the fire died out. So the name of that place was called Taberah, because the fire of the LORD burned among them. The rabble who were among them had greedy desires; and also the sons of Israel wept again and said, “Who will give us meat to eat? Numbers 11:1-4.

Beten is the Hebrew word for belly, stomach, womb, and our inward parts.

How many of us can honestly say we have acted just as ungrateful. Raising my hand.

And why were the Elders slain? Many will pray healing from the top of the head to the souls of the feet, but let’s look at that verse again.

Why should you be beaten anymore? You continue in apostasy! All the head is sick, and all the heart faints.

From the sole of the foot, to the head, there is no soundness in it – wounds and bruises and open sores; they have not been closed or bound up, or soothed with ointment.” Isaiah 1:5-6 ISR.

Most the time we can look at leadership and see why a business failed–a nation crumbled–a family fell apart. The top has a trickle-down effect.

“Now I urge you, brethren, keep your eye on those who cause dissensions and hindrances contrary to the teaching which you learned, and turn away from them. For such men are slaves, not of our Lord Christ but of their own appetites; and by their smooth and flattering speech they deceive the hearts of the unsuspecting.” Romans 16:17-18 NASB.

While in Taberah they wanted food–pleasant meats and melons. In shittim they wanted sex and they lusted to fulfill their passions.

“For many walk, of whom I often told you, and now tell you even weeping, that they are enemies of the cross of Christ, whose end is destruction, whose god is their appetite, and whose glory is in their shame, who set their minds on earthly things.” Philippians 3:18-19 NASB.

In the valley of Shittim, their minds were on their appetites.

Shittim means acacia. Acacias is a tree that is used for multiple items in the Temple. This wood is something mysterious. The Sages say that HaShem created the tree—the cure before the sin occurred. It’s like a parent who keeps a box of Band-Aids on hand and a bottle of peroxide. He may pour in the cleansing waters that bubble forth and sting or even burn, but eventually, He will bandage us up. He will pour in the wine and the balm.

“Moreover, you shall make an altar as a place for burning incense; you shall make it of acacia wood.” Exodus 30:1 NASB.

They shall construct an ark of acacia wood two and a half cubits long, and one and a half cubits wide, and one and a half cubits high.” Exodus 25:10.

thorn

This tree is a tree that is not attractive and to top it off, it’s thorny like the crown that was pierced into our Messiah’s head. Many believe it might have been thorns from that very tree that were used. Below is a picture of an umbrella thorn acacia tree.

acacia

Isn’t it interesting that their lust for golden idols, fleshly meats, and sexual lust was greater than their fear of Yah? Many were killed by plagues and swords and the earth opened its mouth to swallow them, and still they were not afraid of the G-d of Abraham—The G-d of Isaac, and the G-d of Israel.

The Creator of ALL—

Are we at times guilty too? How soon we forget His warnings and end up smelling like Shittim and stepping in it.

Awe, it’s a thorny business. We need our hearts pierced and our bellies.

The next portion of this teaching is going to recap a personal journey.

When I first met my husband I lived on Oak Side Ct. After a year of homelessness due to sickness I landed in a tiny apartment. We married later and I moved in with him. He lived on Irvin Pines Drive in ‘Timber Bend” Subdivision, and Oh how we did bend (humbled) there. We felt rejected by those we loved the most. Irvin means high cliff (pride) and also fresh waters. People in the Bible are often compared to trees. We had oak trees and pine trees for titles. One was hard and resilient—one had a sweet smelling fragrance.

After marriage, we realized we needed a place that was ours. We placed his house on the market and it sold one year later, closing on Passover/ Pesach. We thought that it was interesting to close on that date. Next, we landed for a very short time at a place called Preston Crossings Condominiums. Now Holy Ruach Spirit had me looking into this the other day, and I was intrigued by how His hand can even be in the name of a place. He took us from Egypt through the waters.

Preston means a “Spiritual Place.” “From an English surname which was originally derived from a place meaning “priest town.” We lived on Preston Springs Drive. This place was small compared to my husband’s three story house, but we were able to get rid of a huge chunk of debt. The rented condo was a place where we removed a lot of old relics, and we also removed a lot of junk from our spiritual houses. My husband was stripped of his titles of Chief of police and Associate pastor. I was being stripped in other ways. On moving day I was too weak to climb the steps into our new occupancy and scooted backward on my bottom up the flight of steps.

We spent a lot of time at the lake that year frolicking in the water and also in the pool. After being single for twelve years the shock of a new bride was uncomfortable for some and we needed good Counsel. Abba supplied our needs and we were able to heal from many hurts, but some of the pain was still tender to the touch. While living at Preston Springs we were parched and eager for these springs of water to quench us. A short time later, we were thrown into the wilderness. Literally.

My father lives on acreage in a rural area in KY. Our first week there was met with two snakes in the house, mice, and spiders the size of my hand. Since my mother had become sick with Parkinson’s and passed away shortly before I wed, my father had spent most his time taking care of her. The house needed a thorough cleaning—so did our Spiritual houses. My dad only cleared enough trees to build the house, so much of the critters felt right at home inside his home. Me– not so much. The name of the town he lives in means dove in Latin “Columba.” It looked anything but like a dove to me!

A snake we caught in the kitchen on a mouse pad.

snakeeespidey

This time of great testing was more than I could bear. I was hospitalized five times and had surgery. My right arm went numb from MS and I was given many rounds of steroids. I spent a long while in my motorized scooter there. We missed our children and family members who were a hundred miles away. I cherished my time with my father who now is 82 years young, but I had to leave. Sickness, snakes, murmuring and complaining and demanding flesh instead of His baked manna was part of our training ground. We needed a water bearing rock. We needed The Rock!

The Israelites were in Shittim and they had partaken of the flesh. Let’s read the verses again.

While Israel remained at Shittim, the people began to play the harlot with the daughters of Moab. For they invited the people to the sacrifices of their gods, and the people ate and bowed down to their gods. So Israel joined themselves to Baal of Peor, and the LORD was angry against Israel.” Numbers 25:1-3 NASB.

The Israelites bellies are ripe with desire.

Shittim in the Septuagint translation (Greek) of the Scriptures, is translated as aphthartos or incorruptible. The wood from the acacia cannot be corrupted. It’s covered in gold and housing the Words of LIFE.

They shall construct an ark of acacia wood two and a half cubits long, and one and a half cubits wide, and one and a half cubits high. “You shall overlay it with pure gold, inside and out you shall overlay it, and you shall make a gold molding around it. “You shall cast four gold rings for it and fasten them on its four feet, and two rings shall be on one side of it and two rings on the other side of it. “You shall make poles of acacia wood and overlay them with gold. “You shall put the poles into the rings on the sides of the ark, to carry the ark with them. “The poles shall remain in the rings of the ark; they shall not be removed from it. “You shall put into the ark the testimony which I shall give you.” Exodus 25:10-16 NASB.

The Ark of the Testimony is The Word of Yahweh kept in the “heart” of the Tabernacle. It is the heart of the matter. This Ark is covered in gold, and on top of it, the Mercy seat. The wings of the cherubs spreading out from tip to tip as a covering. Thank Yah for His Mercy Seat and the blood that covers all our Shittim!

After the deaths of the leaders, the Father makes a covenant with Phinehas. A lasting Priesthood of peace. Abba always keeps His Vows. He is not a man that He should lie.

“The Lord said to Moses, “Phinehas son of Eleazar, the son of Aaron, the priest, has turned my anger away from the Israelites. Since he was as zealous for my honor among them as I am, I did not put an end to them in my zeal. Therefore tell him I am making my covenant of peace with him. He and his descendants will have a covenant of a lasting priesthood, because he was zealous for the honor of his God and made atonement for the Israelites.” Numbers 25:10-13.

Now, what about the names of those who were spearheaded through their bellies?

“The name of the Israelite who was killed with the Midianite woman was Zimri son of Salu, the leader of a Simeonite family. And the name of the Midianite woman who was put to death was Kozbi daughter of Zur, a tribal chief of a Midianite family.” 25:14-15.

“For a meaning of the name Cozbi, NOBSE Study Bible Name List reads False. Jones’ Dictionary of Old Testament Proper Names proposes Lying.” “In Israeli, the name Cozbi means-a liar sliding away.”

The lust of our fleshly appetites will always lie to us. Our nephesh, with its many appetites, will rise up and speak falsely.

The name Zimri is the word זמר post-fixed with the possessive yod. It may mean My Musician, My Gardener, My Mountain Sheep. Jones’ Dictionary of Old Testament Proper Names leans towards the verb that means to sing or make music, and reads Song Of The Lord, taking the yod to be not a possessive but a remnant of יה, the abbreviated form of the Name of the Lord: יהוה (YHWH).”

We can stop and stifle our music, our gardening of planting His seeds, and our mountain journey by becoming one with a Harlot. The Harlot will always present a false message using an appearance of light—sparkling—beauty that ends in death.

After a spending a year in the wilderness at my father’s house, we both reflected on our attitudes at times.  How we acted and our actions during this testing were what really mattered. We both agree now looking back, that at times we were just as ungrateful as the Israelites in the wilderness, and we were often looking to fulfill the lust of our flesh because we were not pleased with our surroundings.

One night while living there, I had a dream that I was going to be living on cemetery road. I write extensively about this experience in my blog titled “My Funeral” where I go into how each of us must die to ourselves. We left the wilderness and landed on a street named Fenwick Creek place. Fenwick means “Village on the marsh”. What is a marsh? A marsh, according to the dictionary, is an area of low-lying land that is flooded in wet seasons or at high tide, and typically remains waterlogged at all times. We wanted water. We were thirsting for water, and He gave us a marsh and a creek. We landed here right before Pesach/ Passover and were able to enjoy His Feast in our new place.

“My people, what have I done to you,  And how have I wearied you?

Answer Me.

“Indeed, I brought you up from the land of Egypt

And ransomed you from the house of slavery,

And I sent before you Moses, Aaron and Miriam.

My people, remember now 

What Balak king of Moab counseled             

And what Balaam son of Beor answered him,           

  And from Shittim to Gilgal,           

  So that you might know the righteous acts of the LORD.” Micah 6:3-5 NASB.

Awe, we must get out of Shittim and move on to where the Father’s Torah is written on our hearts and where it pierces our hearts. May we use His Torah to pierce the serpent of our bellies and rise up drinking from the waters that He will pour out from the bowels of the Jordan. May it overflow its banks in this season and purify us and bring us lips that praise–that bless instead of curse. May we be grateful and not bitter. May we be strong in Him and the Power of His Might.

eagle fly

 

 

Sources:

Acacia thorn tree picture found here, https://www.bing.com/images/search?

Umbrella tree found here, https://www.bing.com/images/search?view=detailV2&ccid=

Phinehas photo from preacheroftruth.com

NASB Version.

Grace in Torah

Abarim Publication

 

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