Author: Hollisa Alewine

Dr Hollisa Alewine – Footsteps of Messiah 118 (That Day You Went Missing)

That’s not like you.

He wasn’t himself.

She’s having a bad day.

Ever say that to or about someone?

After the beloved Miriam’s death, the gracious Moses and Aaron go missing:

And the people of Israel, the whole congregation, came into the wilderness of Zin in the first month, and the people stayed in Kadesh. And Miriam died there and was buried there. Now there was no water for the congregation.

And they assembled themselves together against Moses and against Aaron. And the people quarreled with Moses and said, “Would that we had perished when our brothers perished before the Lord! Why have you brought the assembly of the Lord into this wilderness, that we should die here, both we and our cattle? And why have you made us come up out of Egypt to bring us to this evil place? It is no place for grain or figs or vines or pomegranates, and there is no water to drink.” Then Moses and Aaron went from the presence of the assembly to the entrance of the tent of meeting and fell on their faces. And the glory of the Lord appeared to them, and the Lord spoke to Moses, saying, “Take the staff, and assemble the congregation, you and Aaron your brother, and tell the rock before their eyes to yield its water. So you shall bring water out of the rock for them and give drink to the congregation and their cattle.” And Moses took the staff from before the Lord, as he commanded him.
Then Moses and Aaron gathered the assembly together before the rock, and he said to them, “Hear now, you rebels: shall we bring water for you out of this rock?” And Moses lifted up his hand and struck the rock with his staff twice, and water came out abundantly, and the congregation drank, and their livestock. And the Lord said to Moses and Aaron, “Because you did not believe in me, to uphold me as holy in the eyes of the people of Israel, therefore you shall not bring this assembly into the land that I have given them.” These are the waters of Meribah, where the people of Israel quarreled with the Lord, and through them he showed himself holy. (Nu 20:1-13)

When Moses and Aaron took the message to the congregation, did they transmit the Glory of the Presence? Was it consistent with Kadesh, a place of testing in holiness?

When they delivered the message, did Israel see what they saw in the Tent of Meeting?

In Chukkat, there are three examples of the “sanctification of the Name” to witnesses through the death of a righteous person:

1)The death of Miriam

The death decrees of

2)Moses and

3)Aaron.

Before that, the deaths of Nadav and Avihu…

Then Moses said to Aaron, “It is what the LORD spoke, saying, ‘I will be sanctified by those who are close to Me, and before all the people I will be honored.’ So Aaron, therefore, kept silent.” (Le 10:3)

When a righteous person is judged or simply passes away peacefully, it definitely creates awe, mourning, and fear in those who see or hear it, thus sanctifying the Name.

But the LORD said to Moses and Aaron, “Since you did not believe in Me to sanctify Me in the eyes of the children of Israel, therefore, you will not bring this congregation to the land which I have given them.” They are the waters of strife, where the children of Israel contended with the LORD, and He was sanctified through them. (Nu 20:12-13 Artscroll)

As a result, the trio were all removed from the congregation before entering the Promised Land. Missing.

A garden locked is my sister, my bride,

A rock garden locked, a spring sealed up. (So 4:12)

A hint to our missing persons, Miriam, Moses, and Aaron, may be found in the “eyes of the people,” the Bride being tried in the wilderness:

“Take the staff, and assemble the congregation, you and Aaron your brother, and tell the rock before their eyes to yield its water.” (v 8)
“…to treat Me as holy in the sight of the sons of Israel…” (v 12)

Einayim (pl), ein, “eye,” or “sight” also means a spring, a fountain. Had Moses and Aaron spoken tenderly to the sealed “rock garden,” it may have released the holy spiritual power of faith, hope, and love within the Bride. Instead, they scolded angrily, and it released only natural water. This did not really help the congregation through the test, only pointed out their shortcomings.

Nothing has changed in our Exodus story at this point. Israel is the Bride being tested according to the mitzvot, particularly the Ten Words they agreed to at Har Sinai:

“You shall remember all the way which the LORD your God has led you in the wilderness these forty years, that He might humble you, testing you, to know what was in your heart, whether you would keep His commandments or not.” (Dt 8:2)

In this week’s Torah portion, we can find tests of at least five of the first six Words:

First Commandment (Exodus 20:2)

I am the Lord Your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of bondage.

Second Commandment (Exodus 20:3-6)

You shall have no other gods beside Me.

Yet, Moses and Aaron say, “Shall we bring forth water for you out of this rock?”

Third Commandment (Exodus 20:7)

You shall not take the name of the Lord Your God in vain; for the Lord will not hold him guiltless that takes His name in vain [falsely, in vanity, in emptiness]

Moses and Aaron’s words are not exactly a vow, but a violation of the spirit in which the message was received. It was passed on to the people in a spirit of anger, not holiness. “And the glory of the Lord appeared to them, and the Lord spoke to Moses, saying, “Take the staff, and assemble the congregation, you and Aaron your brother, and tell the rock before their eyes to yield its water. So you shall bring water out of the rock for them…” In other words, Moses and Aaron, “do it like this…” in a spirit of glorious assurance just as you’re experiencing it in the Tent of the Assembly.

Fourth Commandment (Exodus 20:8-11)

Remember the Sabbath, to keep it holy.

We’ll come back to this one.

Fifth Commandment (Exodus 20:12)

Honor your father and your mother, that your days may be long upon the land which the Lord God gives you.

“Then Miriam the prophet, Aaron’s sister, took a timbrel in her hand, and all the women followed her, with timbrels and dancing.” (Ex 15:20) “You rebels…”
Miriam was a mother in Israel, a prophetess, and the congregation needed to mourn her and honor her memory. Instead, Moses calls them “rebels,” a play-on word to Miriam’s name [Hamorim-Miryam]. As a result, they did not progress to the Land.
?????????–???????

Sixth Commandment (Exodus 20:13)

You shall not murder.

“Death and life are in the hand of the tongue, and those who love it will eat its fruit.” (Pr 18:21) “You rebels…” The text implies that the water stopped because Miriam died. The people were grieving more than just the loss of water, but Moses and Aaron, likely exhausted from grief themselves and the weight of leadership, went missing that day. They murdered the congregation’s reputation by calling them rebels when the Holy One knew it was a grief and glory problem, not a rebellion. They were accused with Moses and Aaron’s own shortcoming that day.

Maybe the simplest explanation is found in the beauty associated with the Tried Bride…

Your lips, my bride, drip honey;

Honey and milk are under your tongue,

And the fragrance of your garments

Is like the fragrance of Lebanon. (So 4:11)

Torah is milk and honey; it should be pleasant to those who hear it. The Bride’s fragrance is that of Lebanon, the “bones” of the Temple structure. It houses the Presence and glory of Adonai. The words spoken to the Bride of Israel should have comforted them with their pleasant encouragement and released the fragrance of Adonai’s glorious Presence.

Midrash Rabbah 4§22: “Anyone who says words of Torah in public, and they are not pleasing to those who hear them is:

Like the fine flour that floats on top of the sieve, it would have been better for him had he not said them.
Like the bride, who is pleasing to people when under her wedding canopy, it would have been better for him had he not said them.
If the audience does not appreciate them, the words of Torah that he is imparting will suffer disgrace.
One must ensure that he teaches Torah using the choicest of words, entirely free of inaccuracy or imperfection.

The midrash is explaining that if the teaching is not in harmony with the whole Word, the teacher will teach inaccurately, not discerning the hearts of those listening. Moses and Aaron needed to bring the whole glorious experience they had in the Tent of Meeting to the people whose hearts were grieving. Assurance of help coming. By omitting it, this test in the wilderness brought disgrace to Israel, especially Moses and Aaron.

Fourth Commandment (Exodus 20:8-11)

Remember the Sabbath, to keep it holy…Wherefore the Lord blessed the Sabbath day and made it holy.

Where is this in the story of the rock? It is in the equivalency of expression in holiness. Even as we are in the “wilderness of the peoples” seeking to draw close to the Presence of Adonai, so He has provided us the cooperative means just as He provided a Tent of Meeting to the Bride in the wilderness…

You shall keep My sabbath is equivalent to reverencing the sanctuary.

Our test in the wilderness of the peoples is to keep the Shabbat! As the Levitical priesthood guarded the holiness of the Mishkan and Mikdash, so the royal priesthood guards the sanctuary of holiness by creating a place of assembly in the Presence of Adonai so that we are filled with His glory to pass on to those in need.

You shall make holy garments for Aaron your brother, for glory and for beauty. You shall speak to all the skillful persons whom I have endowed with the spirit of wisdom, that they make Aaron’s garments to consecrate him, that he may minister as priest to Me. These are the garments which they shall make:..(Ex 28:2-4) … “They shall be on Aaron and on his sons when they enter the tent of meeting, or when they approach the altar to minister in the holy place, so that they do not incur guilt and die.” (v. 43)

Rashi: “When they enter the Tent of Meeting…and die.” See that you have learned from this verse that a Kohen who performs the service lacking any of the Kohen’s garments in subject to death.” This is a death “at the hands of Heaven,” not execution by the courts.

Leaders and priests are tested to see if they will uphold the holiness of Adonai; so is His royal priesthood. If the priests are lacking a garment, they suffer a kind of death different from a typical death. Likewise, the royal priesthood will be tested for her bridal garments. She will be tested for the Ten Words to which she agreed. She should lack nothing faith supplies for her beauty.

As Boaz tested Ruth, and as The Holy One tested Israel in the wilderness as a Bride, so we are tested in the wilderness of the nations, “abroad”:

To the twelve tribes who are dispersed abroad: Greetings. Consider it all joy, my brethren, when you encounter various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces endurance. And let endurance have its perfect result, so that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing. (Ja 1:2-4)

It is believed that the manna was provided in Moses’ merit and the pillar of cloud in Aharon’s merit. The water came from the Rock in Miriam’s merit.

The three siblings operated as a unit. Although the para aduma was burned in the second year in the wilderness for use in the Mishkan, the Torah portion inserts it in Chukkat, drawing the connection between the purifying water of the ashes of the red heifer and Miriam’s life, which helped to purify Israel. In this test, perhaps Moses and Aaron could have helped the Bride release the faith Miriam modeled for them, not simply to give them, but to teach them to operate their gifts from within themselves.

Moses and Aaron were to speak, not strike, the rock to release its water. Who knows if the whole congregation could have learned from their example to release Garden words with faith and kindness?

Sometimes we need, “Suck it up, Buttercup.”

Sometimes we need, “Words of life and healing are within you…release it.”

When we grieve over a missing person or opportunity, we are vulnerable. We may complain, lash out, or go missing ourselves. Chukkat is the story of the whole community. What happens when it is not the leaders who are missing, but the members of the congregation?

Therefore, if the whole church assembles together and all speak in tongues, and ungifted men or unbelievers enter, will they not say that you are mad? But if all prophesy, and an unbeliever or an ungifted man enters, he is convicted by all, he is called to account by all; the secrets of his heart are disclosed; and so he will fall on his face and worship God, declaring that God is certainly among you. What is the outcome then, brethren? When you assemble, each one has a psalm, has a teaching, has a revelation, has a tongue, has an interpretation. Let all things be done for edification. (1 Co 14:23-26)

The Holy One is sanctified in the eyes of unbelievers when ALL contribute to the assembly. There are different kinds of prophecy, but all involve a telling or affirmation of the Word, which convicts, heals, provokes to repentance, encourages, comforts…because it is manifest through gifts, it is exactly what the grieving, exhausted, or rebellious heart needs to hear. If, like Moses and Aaron had a bad day grieving for their sister, a leader goes missing on Shabbat, a royal priesthood can stand in the gap even though they may also be grieving. Their willing presence directs attention to Heaven and releases pure, clean water for the needs at hand.

It is a Bridal test of released, purifying waters. The words we speak in the assembly should be milk and honey: purifying, edifying, provoking to repentance, comforting, healing, encouraging, inspiring joy.

When leaders or congregants go missing, the Bride has a hard day of testing.

What is worse than a Bride who dies trying? One who never tried dying.

At least Moses, Aaron, Nadav, and Avihu died serving. Our presence on Shabbat invites the holy Presence to dwell among us. It honors Him, not our emotion of the day or our purposes. He will be sanctified when someone goes missing, one way or another.

So on those days when I’m not quite myself yet, but I’m not anyone else either, that’s a day to speak less as I serve, as Aaron remained silent about Nadav and Avihu. Let the assembly step in and release pure water.

Let us honor the Holy One in the assembly, using His gifts just as we received them so that they become glory to His Bride.

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Dr Hollisa Alewine – Footsteps of Messiah 117 (A Tried Bride)

A Tried Bride

In Creation Gospel Workbook Five Volume Four (Bamidbar), students are challenged with the following exercise:

Draw a circle on a sheet of paper, but don’t close it. Inside write all the gifts, abilities, and characteristics that you KNOW are completely you. Don’t write what you’d like to be or do, but what you already know describes you. Let the circle sit for a few days or even weeks. Add or remove as necessary. It is okay to consult close friends or family who know you well. When you’re satisfied that what’s inside that circle describes what can be definitively known about you, close the circle.

This simple exercise helps us to explain the problem in the Torah portion Korach this week:

Therefore you and all your company are gathered together against the LORD; but as for Aaron, who is he that you grumble against him? (Nu 16:11)

The leading administrators from the tribes of Reuven and Levi became jealous and bitter against Moses and Aaron. They are influencers of their generation. Moses reminds them that they were each given important leadership roles and service in the Body of the their future Messiah, but for some reason they became angry with Adonai; however, Moses and Aaron were the physical scapegoats for their jealousy. Moses wants to know why they were picking on Aaron. Who was he but an assigned agent of the Holy One? Authority comes from Heaven, not personal ambition or the ability to influence people.

Aaron was a man walking in obedience to his gifts and calling; he was walking in the Way. When a disciple walks in The Way of obedience to Adonai, then he walks in a power of the Ruach HaKodesh that threatens the satan. Aaron was walking in the power of THE NAME. He was operating to the best of his ability in the gifts and abilities he’d been given to intercede for Israel. We saw his Divine gift early in the story when he met Moses and willingly interceded as a speaker for Moses when Moses was still struggling to walk in his own gift of administration…which he’d learned early in the house of Pharaoh, then abandoned for a time while he learned shepherding in the wilderness.

The simple circle warmup exercise above was taken from a rabbi who was teaching on confusion and doubt. It is better to inventory one’s strengths and weaknesses early in a journey than to leave the path littered with ill-fitting armor and unrealistic dreams. In this context, the exercise points out where Korach and his assembly, and we as well, covet and enter spaces and places not apportioned by HaShem.

Once the circle is closed, spend all your effort developing what’s inside it, never what is outside it. This is your portion. If something else will be added later, it will grow from what is inside the circle, not what is outside.

The warmup exercise of drawing the circle is a way of helping disciples avoid doubt and confusion as to their roles in the Body of Messiah, families, work, etc. Every disciple must build the “name” or reputation and deeds uniquely apportioned to him in this world. The writer of Proverbs acknowledges that a Godly balance is desired in the portion:

Give me neither poverty nor riches; feed me with the food that is my portion… (Pr 30:8)

The Father knows how to apportion His gifts to His children. He supplies food and water inside the circle, like the Garden of Eden. The difficulty for most of us is that we don’t want to close the circle. We want to keep our options open so we can be or have more or be responsible for less.

This brings us back to Shavuot and the story of Boaz and Ruth. Once Boaz realizes who Ruth is, he doesn’t react exactly as we’d expect him to. Yes, he invites her to his table, makes sure she gleans more with less effort, and she’s protected in his field. What he doesn’t do is lavish gifts or an all-expenses paid new home and car. Or donkey. He doesn’t woo her with expensive gifts. If he is such a close relative, and we know that from the first time he laid eyes on her he was attracted, why not roll out the red carpet?

Even as she sweats to glean in his field, Boaz and the whole city know this about Ruth’s name, her reputation:

“Now, my daughter, do not fear. I will do for you whatever you ask, for all my people in the city know that you are a woman of excellence.” (Ru 3:11)

Boaz wants to see if she would be content with her portion. Having been Divinely guided to his field, would she be content in it and grow into maturity with him, or would she seek a faster way to the top outside his authority? Would she follow the reaping crowd to new fields? This was the testing of the future bride as the testing of the Bride in the wilderness.

Korach and the other leaders had the potential to build within their assigned positions. Had they applied the energy of coveting Aaron and Moses’ positions into developing their own, imagine what a blessing they would have been to Israel. They failed the test of the Tenth Word:

Tenth Commandment (Exodus 20:17) You shall not covet your neighbor’s house, nor his wife, his man-servant, his maid-servant, nor his ox, nor his ass, nor anything that is your neighbor’s [in order to steal it].

Boaz tried Ruth to see if she had any residue of covetousness, a rebellion against her portion. And then, Boaz demonstrates he also follows the principle of authority by refusing to “steal” Ruth from a man who had a stronger legal claim to her and the property:

“Now it is true I am a close relative; however, there is a relative closer than I. Remain this night, and when morning comes, if he will redeem you, good; let him redeem you. But if he does not wish to redeem you, then I will redeem you, as the LORD lives. Lie down until morning.” (Ru 3:12-13)

And Ruth waited for the result. Boaz would do what she couldn’t. Yes, working within one’s circle takes longer, but the result is less confusion and doubt in the Body and Bride of Messiah.

Today we struggle with so many people who are adept with technology beyond their sense of responsibility to the Body of Messiah. They are called “influencers,” and they love to gather a crowd. Because the goal is to influence and gather, not to build and gather, they daily subvert the work of local congregations.

Those congregations provide face-to-face opportunities to explore the Word, an opportunity to follow the model of Yeshua by physically attending a congregation each Shabbat, and by gathering at the feasts. The local leadership knows the sheep by name and reputation: when they hurt, when they need help, and when they triumph.

?They are not driven by a single doctrine, which often contributes to feelings of self-righteousness among those crowded around the influencer. The local pastor or rabbi wants to build and feed the flock on healthy fields and pastures where they can grow within the circle of their portion on a balanced diet, not the Sugar-Pops of the latest “wow.”

Influencers gobble up “likes” and statements of affirmation. Some of them even thrive on negative feedback…I suppose they think negative attention is better than no attention. Attention is their food, a feeling of power. This is covetousness, not of a good gift, but often in order to steal the attention of the flock and plant “grumbles.” Coveting a good thing is a good thing, but not to the point we “steal” from someone else’s place in the Body:

And God has appointed in the church, first apostles, second prophets, third teachers, then miracles, then gifts of healings, helps, administrations, various kinds of tongues. All are not apostles, are they? All are not prophets, are they? All are not teachers, are they? All are not workers of miracles, are they? All do not have gifts of healings, do they? All do not speak with tongues, do they? All do not interpret, do they? But earnestly desire the greater gifts. (1 Co 12:28–31)

Yes, desire the greater gifts, but allow them to grow out of the circle of gifts Adonai has placed within us. A greater gift must stand the test of the wilderness.

Influencers know how to gather a crowd, but the question is whose authority will they trample and steal to achieve their goals? How many flocks will they scatter?

The attention-gobblers might take a lesson from Korach and his band. The average Israelite may be left standing in doubt, but the Ruach HaKodesh is not confused. The single-doctrine attention-gobblers might even pull people with completely different agendas into the same demonstration or challenge to authority, but Korach’s family and the Reubenites, if successful in their power play, would have soon turned on each other. In the end, they both thought they deserved the authority. They certainly wouldn’t have shared it as they demanded Moses and Aaron do!

The Boaz and Ruth example shows us the discipline of hard work and patience that establishes a spiritual legacy passed on to children. We can be gobbled up by the wilderness, or we can diligently serve the community in the wilderness so that we become a community in the Land of Promise.

A tried Bride.

Circle closed.

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Dr Hollisa Alewine – Footsteps of Messiah 116 (A Wedding of Words Pt 2)

A Wedding of Words
Part Two

Recap: Each year, it is traditional to read the scroll of Ruth at Shavuot. We might say the three scrolls of Ruth, Esther, and Song of Songs are the Bridal Scrolls of return from exile.

What happened to Israel in leaving Egypt at Pesach is what happened to Ruth in leaving Moab and arriving at the House of Bread (Beit Lechem) at Pesach. The Israelites left Egypt as strangers there before she became a Bride, and Ruth left Moab to become a stranger inside the gate of Judah before she became part of the Bride.

Israel and Ruth moved to holier places in their journeys.

The setting of Ruth’s story is Beit Lechem, the House of Bread, where Judah was recovering from the famine. The wilderness also was a place of miraculous, Heavenly Bread and Living Water. A place of covering, anointing, preparation, and clean clothes for a nation of priests. The wilderness was where the Bride was purified with the Torah as she walked as she walked after her Bridegroom, picking up what He dropped for her each morning.

Let’s see if there are wilderness template parallels in the story of Ruth:

The Ten Words to the Bride
at Shavuot, Mount Sinai,
Via Moshe, Friend of the Bridegroom
become Ten Witnesses to the Bride’s purity and offspring.

If what happened to Israel in the wilderness at Mount Sinai happened to Ruth, then we should be able to find the Ten Words at work in the Megillat Ruth. Last week, we found the first four commandments. This week, we’ll find the remaining six:

Fifth Commandment (Ex 20:12)

Honor your father and your mother, that your days may be long upon the land which the Lord God gives you.

Ruth honors her father and mother in a way that many have had to when their parents were idolators and habitual sinners…she doesn’t do what they would want, but what her mother “in Torah” would want. Her disobedience to her parents to honor her Heavenly Father is the only way to honor her earthly parents.

All that you have done for your mother-in-law after the death of your husband has been fully reported to me, and how you left your father and your mother and the land of your birth and came to a people that you did not previously know. (Ru 2:11)

Enjoying “long days on the earth” is a kind of security that is thought to allude to eternal security in the Kingdom of Heaven.

Then Naomi her mother-in-law said to her, “My daughter, shall I not seek security for you, that it may be well with you? Now is not Boaz our kinsman, with whose maids you were? Behold, he winnows barley at the threshing floor tonight. Wash yourself therefore, and anoint yourself and put on your best clothes, and go down to the threshing floor; but do not make yourself known to the man until he has finished eating and drinking. It shall be when he lies down, that you shall notice the place where he lies, and you shall go and uncover his feet and lie down; then he will tell you what you shall do.”

She said to her, “All that you say I will do.” So she went down to the threshing floor and did according to all that her mother-in-law had commanded her. (Ru 3:1-6)

In Ruth, the Moses role and priesthood role along with “young men” shifts to Naomi as the friend/mediator between bride and bridegroom, and the young women (na’arot) are emphasized instead of young men (na’arim). Boaz tells Ruth to follow his young women. This shift in emphasis honors the “mother” [in law]. Whereas Moses instructs Israel what to do, Naomi instructs Ruth, who obeys her in all.

Then Moses came and recounted to the people all the words of the LORD and all the ordinances; and all the people answered with one voice and said, “All the words which the LORD has spoken we will do!”
Moses wrote down all the words of the LORD. Then he arose early in the morning and built an altar at the foot of the mountain with twelve pillars for the twelve tribes of Israel. He sent young men of the sons of Israel, and they offered burnt offerings and sacrificed young bulls as peace offerings to the LORD. (Ex 24:3-5)
She said to her, “All that you say I will do.” So she went down to the threshing floor and did according to all that her mother-in-law had commanded her. (Ru 3:1-6)

Naomi’s instructions to Ruth to wash herself and her garments and anoint herself echo Moses instructions to the Israelites to prepare to meet the Bridegroom:

“Go to the people and consecrate them today and tomorrow and let them wash their garments; and let them be ready for the third day, for on the third day [first fruits of barley] the LORD will come down on Mount Sinai in the sight of all the people. You shall set bounds for the people all around, saying, ‘Beware that you do not go up on the mountain or touch the border of it; whoever touches the mountain shall surely be put to death. No hand shall touch him, but he shall surely be stoned or shot through; whether beast or man, he shall not live.’ When the ram’s horn sounds a long blast, they shall come up to the mountain.” So Moses went down from the mountain to the people and consecrated the people, and they washed their garments.” (Ex 19:10-15)

Ruth’s obedience also echoes the Israelites’:

Ex 19:8 All the people answered together and said, “All that the LORD has spoken we will do!” And Moses brought back the words of the people to the LORD.
Ex 24:3 Then Moses came and recounted to the people all the words of the LORD and all the ordinances; and all the people answered with one voice and said, “All the words which the LORD has spoken we will do!”
Ex 24:7 Then he took the book of the covenant and read it in the hearing of the people; and they said, “All that the LORD has spoken we will do, and we will be obedient!”

Sixth Commandment (Ex 20:13)

You shall not murder.

Seventh Commandment (Ex 20:13)

You shall not commit adultery.

Ruth is recognized for her clean conduct:

So she lay at his feet until morning and rose before one could recognize another; and he said, “Let it not be known that the woman came to the threshing floor.” (Ru 3:14)

Ruth does nothing but request redemption and marriage from Boaz, and Boaz in turn protects her reputation by sending her away before she can be seen so that there will not even be an appearance of evil. Boaz makes sure her reputation is not murdered by evil talk. Even before he knows her intentions, Boaz takes steps to protect her reputation and purity:

Then Boaz said to Ruth, “Listen carefully, my daughter. Do not go to glean in another field; furthermore, do not go on from this one, but stay here with my maids. Let your eyes be on the field which they reap and go after them. Indeed, I have commanded the servants not to touch you.” (Ru 2:8-9)

Boaz even acknowledges that Ruth has pursued a husband for the sake of sanctifying the Name of the Holy One, not simply to have a young handsome husband or a rich one:

“May you be blessed of the LORD, my daughter. You have shown your last kindness to be better than the first by not going after young men, whether poor or rich.” (Ru 3:10)

Seventh Commandment  (Ex 20:13)

You shall not commit adultery.

“It was not Boaz’ habit to inquire about young women. What caught his notice was her exemplary conduct and knowledge of the Torah. She would only glean two ears out of three, for three ears remain the property of the farmer (Pe’ah 6:5, Shabbos 113b). She did not mingle or jest with the young men harvesting, nor did she lift her skirt or bend immodestly as she gleaned.” (Midrash Rabbah)

Going after men opens the door to sexual immorality, akin to idolatry. Let the righteous man notice a young woman’s dedication to the Word first.

Eighth Commandment (Exodus 20:13)

You shall not steal [a person].

Ninth Commandment (Exodus 20:13)

You shall not bear false witness against your neighbor.

Tenth Commandment (Exodus 20:14)

You shall not covet your neighbor’s house, nor his wife, his man-servant, his maid-servant, nor his ox, nor his ass, nor anything that is your neighbor’s [in order to steal it].

Boaz acknowledges that there is another who is legally entitled to redeem Ruth and her deceased husband’s property. Rather than make the transaction secretly because he loves Ruth, Boaz takes it to the proper court to make the transaction. He refuses to steal her from one who might take up the claim. He testifies to the truth both to Ruth and before the court.

Now it is true I am a close relative; however, there is a relative closer than I. Remain this night, and when morning comes, if he will redeem you, good; let him redeem you. But if he does not wish to redeem you, then I will redeem you, as the LORD lives. Lie down until morning.” (Ru 3:12-13)

Ruth is also an honest worker.

And she said, ‘Please let me glean and gather after the reapers among the sheaves.’ (Ru 2:7)

Even though Torah gives the poor the right to glean, in her modesty and humility, Ruth asks permission.

And thus, both the Israelites and Ruth married their bridegrooms and Bridegroom, making a covenant of wedding Words, ’til death do us part.

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Dr Hollisa Alewine – Footsteps of Messiah 115 (A Wedding of Words Pt 1)

A Wedding of Words
Ruth’s One-Way Flight

Each year, it is traditional to read the scroll of Ruth at Shavuot. We might say the three scrolls of Ruth, Esther, and Song of Songs are the Bridal Scrolls of return from exile.

There are many wonderful ideas about why Ruth commemmorates the giving of the Torah in addition to the story’s setting, the time between the first fruits of the barley harvest at Pesach and the wheat harvest at Shavuot.

Sometimes the simplest answer is the most memorable. What happened to Israel in leaving Egypt at Pesach is what happened to Ruth in leaving Moab and arriving at the House of Bread (Beit Lechem) at Pesach. The Israelites left Egypt as strangers there before she became a Bride, and Ruth left Moab to become a stranger in Judah before she became part of the Bride.

The clue is in the wings that carried the Israelites and Ruth to their destinations, the wildernes and the Promised Land. In Hebrew, “wing” is kanaf  (??????). And why were they carried their places? To engage in a covenant of the Ten Words:

“You yourselves have seen what I did to the Egyptians, and how I bore you on eagles’ wings (??????), and brought you to Myself.” (Ex 19:4)
“May the LORD reward your work, and your wages be full from the LORD, the God of Israel, under whose wings (??????) you have come to seek refuge.” (Ruth 2:12)
He said, “Who are you?” And she answered, “I am Ruth your maid. So spread your covering (??????) over your maid, for you are a close relative.” (Ruth 3:9)

Were Israel and Ruth flown to a place of refuge, or were they moved to holier places in their journeys?

Yes.

“Thus says the LORD of hosts, ‘In those days ten men from all the nations will grasp the garment (??????) of a Jew, saying, “Let us go with you, for we have heard that God is with you.”’” (Zec 8:23)

The setting of Ruth’s story is Beit Lechem, the House of Bread, where Judah was recovering from the famine. The wilderness also was a place of miraculous, Heavenly Bread and Living Water. A place of covering, anointing, preparation, and clean clothes for a nation of priests. The wilderness was where the Bride was purified with the Torah as she walked as she walked after her Bridegroom, picking up what He dropped for her each morning.

Let’s see if there are wilderness template parallels in the story of Ruth:

The Ten Words to the Bride
at Shavuot, Mount Sinai,
Via Moshe, Friend of the Bridegroom
become Ten Witnesses to the Bride’s purity and offspring.

Think of the Ten Words (Commandments) as Ten Witnesses, the observable grace of the Bride in preparing for her Bridegroom according to their everlasting agreement. Ruth’s character exhibited this grace in the Word, witnessed by ten elders of Beit Lechem:

…for all my people in the city know that you are a woman of excellence. (3:11) He took ten men of the elders of the city and said, “Sit down here.” So they sat down. (Ru 4:2)
Then Boaz said to the elders and all the people, “You are witnesses today…(v. 9)
All the people who were in the court, and the elders, said, “We are witnesses. May the LORD make the woman who is coming into your home like Rachel and Leah, both of whom built the house of Israel; and may you achieve wealth in Ephrathah and become famous in Bethlehem. Moreover, may your house be like the house of Perez whom Tamar bore to Judah, through the offspring which the LORD will give you by this young woman.” (v. 11-12)

Numerous times in Deuteronomy Moses called heaven and earth as well as the Israelites to be witnesses “today” of the importance of obeying the Words of the covenant. Ruth’s obedience to the Ten Words had risen to such heights that she broke the “Moabite barrier,” a passage in the Torah forbidding marriage to a Moabite, for they were stingy and inhospitable to their kin, Israel, as they passed in the wilderness.

Ruth, however, was the exact opposite: hospitable, obedient, humble, and loyal to her words of fialty to Naomi, Judah, Israel, and the Elohim of Israel. Because of this repentance, a new understanding of the commandment against Moabites was found, just as Moses found a new understanding of the laws of inheritance through the five daughters of Tzelofechad. Now the judges realized that the prohibition was against marrying male Moabites, for the wording, when examined closely, suggested the injunction was against the males, not females [who had put away idols].

If what happened to Israel in the wilderness at Mount Sinai happened to Ruth, then we should be able to find the Ten Words at work in the Megillat Ruth. We’ll start this week with the first four commandments of the Ten Words, then continue next week, b’azrat HaShem.

First Commandment (Ex 20:2)

I am the Lord Your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of bondage.

Second Commandment (Ex 20:3-6)

You shall have no other gods beside Me. You shall not make for yourself any graven image, nor any manner of likeness, of any thing that is heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth.

Then she said, “Behold, your sister-in-law has gone back to her people and her gods; return after your sister-in-law.” But Ruth said, “Do not urge me to leave you or turn back from following you; for where you go, I will go, and where you lodge, I will lodge. Your people shall be my people, and your God, my God. Where you die, I will die, and there I will be buried. Thus may the LORD do to me, and worse, if anything but death parts you and me.” (Ru 1:15-17)

While Orphah returned to the house of her people’s idols, Ruth firmly declares she is entering the “lodge” of Naomi to become one of her people worshiping their Elohim…’til death do they part.

You shall have no other gods beside Me.

Part of acknowledging only one Elohim is to eat only His food, only His Word, His manna. A phrase sometimes appears in Scripture: “which your fathers did not know,” indicating a new thing, sometimes good, sometimes bad, such as Daniel 11:38 describing strange gods previously unknown.

“He humbled you and let you be hungry, and fed you with manna which you did not know, nor did your fathers know, that He might make you understand that man does not live by bread alone, but man lives by everything that proceeds out of the mouth of the LORD.” (Dt 8:3)

In Beit Lechem, the House of Bread, Naomi continues to mentor Ruth in the precepts of the Torah which her fathers did not know because they served other gods. As Ruth sustains Naomi with physical bread, Naomi teaches her the manna-bread she will need to remain “long” in the Land. Boaz, too, instructs Ruth on how to remain safe gathering the Bread of the Word and where to drink safe water in his field. He acknowledges her allegiance has changed from the gods of her father’s house to embrace a people and Elohim she did not previously know:

Then Boaz said to Ruth, “Listen carefully, my daughter. Do not go to glean in another field; furthermore, do not go on from this one, but stay here with my maids. Let your eyes be on the field which they reap, and go after them. Indeed, I have commanded the servants not to touch you. When you are thirsty, go to the water jars and drink from what the servants draw.” Then she fell on her face, bowing to the ground and said to him, “Why have I found favor in your sight that you should take notice of me, since I am a foreigner?” Boaz replied to her, “All that you have done for your mother-in-law after the death of your husband has been fully reported to me, and how you left your father and your mother and the land of your birth, and came to a people that you did not previously know. (Ru 2:8-11)

Third Commandment (Ex 20:7)

You shall not take the name of the Lord Your God in vain; for the Lord will not hold him guiltless that takes His name in vain.

When an Israelite takes an oath in the Name of YHVH, it should be performed and true in every way. Ruth swears to remain loyal to Naomi and the Elohim of Israel until death, and Boaz swears to take Ruth as his wife:

“Where you die, I will die, and there I will be buried. Thus may the LORD do to me, and worse, if anything but death parts you and me.” (Ru 1:17)
Then Boaz said to the elders and all the people, “You are witnesses today that I have bought from the hand of Naomi all that belonged to Elimelech and all that belonged to Chilion and Mahlon. Moreover, I have acquired Ruth the Moabitess, the widow of Mahlon, to be my wife in order to raise up the name of the deceased on his inheritance, so that the name of the deceased will not be cut off from his brothers or from the court of his birth place; you are witnesses today.” All the people who were in the court, and the elders, said, “We are witnesses. (Ru 4:9-11)

Fourth Commandment

Remember the Sabbath, to keep it holy. Six days you shall labor, and do all your work; but the seventh day is a Sabbath unto the Lord Your God, in it you shall not do any manner of work, you, nor your son, nor your daughter, nor your man-servant, nor your maid-servant, nor your cattle, nor your stranger that is within your gates; for in six days the Lord made heaven and earth, the sea, and all that in them is, and rested on the seventh day. Wherefore the Lord blessed the Sabbath day, and made it holy.

In trying to send Orpah and Ruth back to Moab, Naomi uses the term “rest” to describe what they will find with their husbands. In the case of Ruth, the words turn out to be prophecy of Ruth’s shabbat rest under Boaz’ wing, in his house as well as in the House of Adonai:

And Naomi said to her two daughters-in-law, “Go, return each of you to her mother’s house. May the LORD deal kindly with you as you have dealt with the dead and with me. May the LORD grant that you may find rest, each in the house of her husband.” (Ru 1: 8-9)

The commandment requires even the stranger within the gates of Israel to rest on Shabbat as well. Boaz treats her well even though she is a stranger, teaching later generations that an obedient stranger at the gate is a stranger on the way in to clinging to the Covenant of Ten Words, not on the way out. She should be treated well since the sign of her faithfulness to the Elohim of Israel will also be the Shabbat like the native-born:

Then she fell on her face, bowing to the ground and said to him, “Why have I found favor in your sight that you should take notice of me, since I am a foreigner?” (2:10)

The next “rest” passage alludes to a Shabbat Shabbaton, or High Sabbath of the feasts via its number and grain symbolism:

So she held it, and he measured six measures of barley and laid it on her. Then she went into the city. When she came to her mother-in-law, she said, “How did it go, my daughter?” And she told her all that the man had done for her. She said, “These six measures of barley he gave to me, for he said, ‘Do not go to your mother-in-law empty-handed.’” Then she said, “Wait, my daughter, until you know how the matter turns out; for the man will not rest until he has settled it today.” (Ru 3:15-18)

Six can represent the six days of work. Boaz sends the six measures to Naomi, knowing she’ll understand his intent to bring rest to Ruth. Naomi in turn assures Ruth that “the man will not rest until he has settled it today.” Boaz is taking the sixth day as a “preparation day” to settle the matter in court so that they can rest on the seventh in unity.

Remember the Sabbath, to keep it holy.

I am the Lord Your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of bondage.

The First Fruits of the barley is a reminder that Israel was brought out of the house of bondage. For Ruth, too, Boaz measures six measures of barley to signal that she has left Moab and the house of bondage to idols, and her journey to “Sinai” has occurred at the same season at the Israelites’ journey:

First fruits of Barley: “You shall observe the Feast of Unleavened Bread; for seven days you are to eat unleavened bread, as I commanded you, at the appointed time in the month Abib, for in it you came out of Egypt. And none shall appear before Me empty-handed. (Ex 23:15)
So she held it, and he measured six measures of barley and laid it on her. Then she went into the city. When she came to her mother-in-law, she said, “How did it go, my daughter?” And she told her all that the man had done for her. She said, “These six measures of barley he gave to me, for he said, ‘Do not go to your mother-in-law empty-handed.’” Then she said, “Wait, my daughter, until you know how the matter turns out; for the man will not rest until he has settled it today.” (Ru 3:15-18)

In the two passages above, the term “do not go empty-handed” appears in reference to the barley feast. Something interesting is happening here!

Naomi is like Moses and the priesthood, friends of the Bridegroom, “matchmaking.” Moses led the people to the mountain to meet the Bridegroom at Sinai, and the priesthood drew the Israelites close to the Presence of the Bridegroom through the Temple services…a Temple that Ruth’s offspring would fund, plan, and build!

Using a female in the role of matchmaker or friend of the Bridegroom is another symbolic layer: righteous women in Scripture often represent the work of the Ruach HaKodesh working in the lives of men and Israel, such as Rachel and Leah “building” the house of Israel. Both advised Jacob to return to the Promised Land and to leave the exile of living with idol-worshipping Laban.

Boaz’ reasoning that Ruth should not return to Naomi empty-handed is also a subtle reference to the way he perceives Ruth’s status has changed. She is now a Hebrew, not a Moabite as his servant erroneously told him. This precept applies uniquely to a Hebrew servant set free from bondage, not a foreigner:

“When you set him free, you shall not send him away empty-handed. (Dt 15:13)

And this refers to an offering brought by males to the Temple:

“Three times in a year all your males shall appear before the LORD your God in the place which He chooses, at the Feast of Unleavened Bread and at the Feast of Weeks and at the Feast of Booths, and they shall not appear before the LORD empty-handed. (Dt 16:16)

Ruth is being inducted into the Covenant People Israel, welcomed under the wing of Boaz just as Israel was taken to the wilderness on eagles’ wings. Like Israel, she was saved from the house of bondage. Acting on that salvation, she begins learning the Torah, doing works of kindness, obeying the Ruach HaKodesh as symbolized by Naomi, which brings her to the holier places of Boaz’ House of Bread. Not to be saved, but to reach for a holier space of intimacy. She was already saved. Now she would have offspring to dwell in those holier places of the Covenant.

She asks Boaz, ““Why have I found favor in your sight that you should take notice of me, since I am a foreigner?” (Ru 2:10)

He noticed her modesty, her obedience, her loyalty, her willingness to pursue the Covenant. In Acts Chapter Two, a similar group of proselytes of the gate also gathered at Shavuot and witnessed to the Ruach HaKodesh, the Friend of the Bridegroom. On that Shabbat Shabbaton, the former strangers to the Feast of Shavuot were assured they were no longer strangers to the Covenant of Ten Words: “For the promise is for you and your children and for all who are far off, as many as the Lord our God will call to Himself.” (Ac 2:39)

They were called, like Ruth, to the feast. “At mealtime Boaz said to her, ‘Come here…’” (Ru 2:14)

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