Torah Portion: B’ha’alotecha

“When you raise up” Numbers 8:1-12:16, Zech. 2:14-4:7, Rev. 11:1-19


B’ha’alotecha (when you set up or in the lifting up) literally means “to go up” or “to ascend”. This word has the same root as to make “aliyah” to the land of Israel. It also shares a root with “olah”, the burnt offering; as the burnt offering “rises” up in smoke before YHWH. Oddly, in our portion it is used in reference to the Menorah!

The Menorah

At this point in the Torah narrative, YHWH has already given the instructions for the Menorah. The focus this week is on setting the Menorah up and lighting its majestic wicks for the first time. As you read through the scriptures below, keep in mind that it was the duty of the High Priest to light the Menorah. And Yeshua is now our heavenly High Priest —- the provider of Light! While this portion doesn’t spend a lot of verses on the Menorah, I would like to recap some of the most poignant symbolism the Menorah offers us. I believe these features will bring some later accounts from our portion into the light (pun intended).

The menorah’s shaft carrying the central light is called the shamash, or the servant light. The shamash serves all the other branches by being their source of light. The “flowers” of hammered work that adorned the Golden Menorah were in the shape of almond blossoms. The word for almond in Hebrew is “shakad”; this is also the word for “to watch, be alert, or be on the lookout”. These words share these meanings because the almond is shaped like an eye. The menorah has 22 total eyes[1] (almond blossoms) covering its design[2].

There are 22 letters in the Hebrew aleph-bet. Therefore, the menorah symbolizes the Word of Yah and of course, the Messiah—-because He IS the WORD made flesh[3]! Messiah is the Aleph and the Tav (Alpha & Omega)[4]. The sampling of passages below demonstrates how the Word, the Torah, Yeshua, and we reflect YHWH’s light.

Ps. 119:105  NUN. Thy word is a lamp unto my feet, and a light unto my path.

Is. 8:20 To the law (Torah) and to the testimony: if they speak not according to this word, it is because there is no light in them.

Jn. 8:12  Then spake Yeshua again unto them, saying, I am the light of the world: he that followeth me shall not walk in darkness, but shall have the light of life.

Jn. 9:5  As long as I am in the world, I am the light of the world.

Mt. 5:14-16  Ye are the light of the world. A city that is set on an hill cannot be hid.  (15)  Neither do men light a candle, and put it under a bushel, but on a candlestick; and it giveth light unto all that are in the house.  (16)  Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven.   (See also Luke 8:16; 11:33-36) [Notice that this precedes the famous Matt 5:17-19]

1Th 5:5  Ye are all the children of light, and the children of the day: we are not of the night, nor of darkness.

Rev 1:12-13  Then I turned to see the voice that was speaking with me. And having turned I saw seven golden lampstands;  (13)  and in the middle of the lampstands I saw one like a son of man, clothed in a robe reaching to the feet, and girded across His chest with a golden sash.

Rev 1:20  “As for the mystery of the seven stars which you saw in My right hand, and the seven golden lampstands: the seven stars are the angels of the seven churches, and the seven lampstands are the seven churches.


When the Light is lifted upthe seven lamps (congregations) will give forth the Light of the Menorah! Our menorah/light, the Messiah, was lifted up on the tree, so that we could indeed produce light! And that light is the WORD of God.

The Haftarah portion deals with the menorah and its source of light——olive oil. Zechariah doesn’t quite understand what he is seeing. There are “two” olive trees. They are also called the “two witnesses”. These trees must produce olives (fruit = good works = keeping Yah’s Word). These olives (our fruit/works) must then be crushed to get the pure oil to keep the menorah burning brightly.

While I believe that the two trees and the two witnesses are the two houses of Israel (Judah and Ephraim and their companions[5]), I also believe that they correspond in like fashion to Moses and Elijah. They were the two “witnesses” with Yeshua on the Mount of Transfiguration[6]. They represent the Torah and the Prophets. Moses and Elijah can also represent the natural-born (Moses) and the Gentile (Elijah). For Elijah was from Tishbi—–not a place, but a people.

Interestingly, YHWH chose the menorah to be set up and lit before all the other pieces of holy furniture. Raising the golden Menorah for the first time and lighting its wicks must have been a great sight for Aaron to behold! After the wicks are lit, the text tells us that it was time for the Levites to be cleansed for duty. Once the Light of Yah (His Word/Yeshua) illuminates our hearts, we too must be washed in order to enter our service to Elohim.

Consecration of the Levites

This section deals with the Levites and not the priesthood from the line of Aaron. The Levites were chosen for service in the sanctuary in the place of the first-born of the people.  Before they could begin their duties they were to be consecrated to the work, and then formally handed over to the priests. This consecration is commanded in Num. 8:7, and is not like the consecration of the priests[7]. Instead, the Hebrew text uses a different term altogether— they are to be cleansed.

Num 8:6-7  “Take the Levites from among the sons of Israel and cleanse them.  (7)  “Thus you shall do to them, for their cleansing: sprinkle purifying water on them, and let them use a razor over their whole body and wash their clothes, and they will be clean.

What sort of water is “purifying water”? In Hebrew, this water is actually called “sin water” or “water of sin”.  According to most of the commentaries I consulted, this was the water that had been mixed with the ashes of the red heifer. However, there are some who believe it to be the water from the bronze laver.

Num 19:9  ‘Now a man who is clean shall gather up the ashes of the heifer and deposit them outside the camp in a clean place, and the congregation of the sons of Israel shall keep it as water to remove impurity; it is purification from sin.

If the waters were the purifying waters mixed with the ashes of the red heifer, then that might explain the second step in this “cleansing” process. The Levites had to shave their entire body. Picture this: after a good bath, complete hair removal, and fresh clothes, these fellows would have looked like newborns! But even stranger is the fact that this prescription was very similar to the cleansing procedures of a leper. Hmm.

After the cleansing process, the people of Israel had to lay their hands upon the Levites. This served as a type of transference of identity. The Levites would serve in the Israelite’s stead. Then, the Levites laid their hands upon the heads of bulls to be offered as a sin offering and a burnt offering. Finally, the Levites were then waved (like a grain offering) before YHWH.

It was only after this lengthy ritual that the Levites could serve in Israel’s place. The text tells us that they were quite literally replacing all the firstborn’s of Israel.


Passover is the only feast that is of such importance that one can have a second chance to observe it! The Passover is the beginning of our redemption; without Passover, we are lost. We must have the blood of the Lamb, and YHWH sees to it that we have an opportunity to have Pesach.

Do you remember why the Levites were chosen to serve in the sanctuary?

Num 8:16-19  for they are wholly given to Me from among the sons of Israel. I have taken them for Myself instead of every first issue of the womb, the firstborn of all the sons of Israel.  (17)  “For every firstborn among the sons of Israel is Mine, among the men and among the animals; on the day that I struck down all the firstborn in the land of Egypt I sanctified them for Myself.  (18)  “But I have taken the Levites instead of every firstborn among the sons of Israel.  (19)  “I have given the Levites as a gift to Aaron and to his sons from among the sons of Israel, to perform the service of the sons of Israel at the tent of meeting and to make atonement on behalf of the sons of Israel, so that there will be no plague among the sons of Israel by their coming near to the sanctuary.”

Because YHWH spared the firstborn of Israel in the Passover from Egypt, He requires the firstborn for Himself! The text says He sanctified them for His self. This means that the firstborn are set apart unto Him. I cannot help but speculate, based on all the firstborn accounts from Genesis forward, that God’s original design was that the firstborn’s role was a type of priesthood. If anything they were to “keep” their other siblings livelihood —- this was the purpose of them receiving a double portion inheritance. Perhaps the reason YHWH took the firstborns in the 10th plague was because their role was so vital to families and communities. At any rate, it was the “peak” of judgment upon Egypt.

But after the Exodus, YHWH transfers this role to the tribe of Levi. Whether this is done on account of the fact that Moses and Aaron are from Levi, or the fact that it was the tribe of Levi that didn’t participate in the sin of the golden calf, I know not. But what I do know is that Levi would now take on the “big brother” role amongst all the tribes of Israel.

YHWH is a God of second chances as this occasion for a “second” Passover attests. Perhaps, this is due to the fact that the consequence for missing the Passover was to be “cut off from his people [Israel]… [and] bear his sin” (9:13). Those are pretty strong words. This is because our redemption is so vital! It is the beginning point of our salvation as Messiah Yeshua IS our Passover lamb. Moreover, Passover is one of the primary testimonies of YHWH. It defines who God is and what His character is like. This is why in so many places He prefaces His Words and commands with “I am YHWH your Elohim, who brought you out from the land of Egypt[8]. It is YHWH and YHWH alone that redeems us from Egypt———- the house of slavery and sin.

Inverted letters

Num 10:35-36 And it came to be, whenever the ark set out, that Mosheh said, “Rise up, O יהוה! And let Your enemies be scattered, and let those who hate You flee before You.” And when it rested, he said, “Return, O יהוה, to the countless thousands of Yisra’ĕl.”

The two verses above appear in the Hebrew Torah with an “inverted nun” or “nun hafuchah[9] before and after them. ( נ normal nun )These out of place “nuns” stand out in the text in order to draw the reader’s attention. They are like highlighters or brackets around the texts. Many Sages refer to these marks and others like them as “the jots and tittles of Moses”[10]. Whether Moses included these “highlights” in the text or whether they are later additions by scrupulous Torah scribes is debatable. Nevertheless, when they are present, slowing down and meditating on these passages is always enlightening. There does appear to be mystery and meaning just below the surface of the literal reading. Some even believe these “signs” are highly prophetic.

The letter “nun” is the fourteenth letter in the Hebrew aleph-bet. Its ancient pictograph looks like a fish. This letter represents abundant life, procreation, and seed. The numeric value of the letter “nun” is fifty (all Hebrew letters are also numbers), which can represent divine revelation and the fullness of life. We see this in the 50 days from the Exodus to the giving of Torah in the Counting of the Omer to Shavuot and in the Yovel or Jubilee year. Both of these cycles deal with release, freedom, and fullness.

I find it interesting that these verses we are examining are encompassed in “life”. It was as if Moses wants to draw our attention to the ark as it represents YHWH/Yeshua. The Hebrew word for ark is “ah-rohn”; it can mean a box, chest, or coffin.  It shares a root with “ohr”, that is LIGHT. Death is compared to darkness in scripture, so what could a coffin and light have to do with one another?

Only one person’s death is associated with life—-Messiah Yeshua. In this passage, could Moses have prophetically seen the two comings of the Messiah? In the first verse did Moses foresee Messiah’s sacrifice and death? Could this be why he exclaimed, “Arise O YHWH”?

And, then did Moses “see” the second coming when he exclaimed, “Return O YHWH”? On the Sod (mystery or hidden) level of Hebraic Bible interpretation, I believe that is exactly what he saw. I believe that is why Moses encompassed these two verses in “life”.

As Yeshua finished His redemptive work on the stake, and as He is raised up, “may His enemies be scattered and those who hate Him flee from before Him”…… and they shall. And, the day is coming when He will return to the outcasts of Israel and “return to the countless thousands of Israel”. Baruch HaShem YHWH!

Mumble and Grumble

It was the “mixed multitude” that were complaining; those that left Egypt (sin) and followed by faith the Words of YHWH given by Moses (placing the blood of the lamb on their doorposts). They were baptized in the water of the Sea of Reeds, and then they went to the Mt. Sinai and received the commandments (how to live and walk after redemption). But they still managed to find something to complain about. Oh, how we are just like them!

Their biggest complaint? A bland diet of heavenly manna. I guess it became “boring”, unlike the variety of luscious foods found in Egypt. But what they missed the most was meat or flesh. As manna represents the Word of YHWH, it is easy to see why His anger was kindled against them. In previous circumstances when the people complained about their fear of starvation or thirst, YHWH wasn’t angry, but provided their need—–but it was a true NEED, not a want or LUST.

The ones on the outskirts of the camp were first consumed with the fire of YHWH’s anger. Is it because they were further from the heart of the camp, the Tabernacle? Perhaps their position in the camp speaks to their spiritual condition. May we stay close to the source—— Messiah!

Rejecting the manna is like rejecting the Word of Yah—Yeshua—-our spiritual bread. Their lusting after flesh denotes that they didn’t desire the spiritual. YHWH did an odd thing——-He gave them what they wanted—flesh. He gave them so much meat that it was coming out of their noses! But, before it left their teeth, before they could chew it, they died. (Be careful what you ask for!) Just because you greatly desire something doesn’t mean that desire is of God. Many think that just because they are “saved” or “serving” the LORD that their every desire is “good”.

The place where these people died was called the Graves of Greediness. May we be content with where YHWH has us and with what He has given us. We often make this mistake unwittingly in the name of serving YHWH. Even ministry can become a place of greed when we place our desire to serve before YHWH. He is Sovereign. We are where we are for good reason. Perhaps YHWH is preparing us, perhaps we are suffering for our sins, perhaps we are suffering for the sake of righteousness, perhaps we are out of balance, or perhaps YHWH is patiently waiting for us to get our priorities in order. Regardless, we must remain humble and content in every circumstance. Repentance is the key. His grace is sufficient in every area of our life. May we stay close to the inner courts and may greed and pride not consume us.

[1] See also Zech. Chapter 4. It will be discovered that the top of the menorah (7 lights) is also like eyes running to and fro throughout the earth. These eyes are really the Ruach HaKodesh (Holy Spirit).

[2] Ex. 25:31-40 & Ex. 37:17- 23

[3] John 1

[4] Rev. 1:8, 11; 21:6; 22:13

[5] Ezk. 37:15-28

[6] Mark 9:2-9

[7] Ex.29:1; Lev.8:11

[8] Ex. 6:7; Ex. 20:2; Lev. 19:36; Lev. 22:23; Lev. 25:38,55; Lev. 26:13; Num. 15:41; Dt. 5:6; Is. 43:3; Ps. 81:10; Ezek. 20:5,7; Hos. 12:9; Hos. 13:14

[9] See also Psalm 107 where there are more inverted nuns. It has seven to be precise verses 23-28 and then verse 40. What can you glean from this?


#1) The Enlarged Bet (Genesis 1:1)
#2) The Small Hey (Genesis 2:4)
#3) The Small Kaf (Genesis 23:2)
#4) the Small Pey (Genesis 27:46)
#5) The Jots (Genesis 33:4)
#6) The Jots (Genesis 37:12)
#7) Then Enlarged Nun (Exodus 34:7)
#8) The Enlarged Resh (Exodus 34:14)
#9) The Small Aleph (Leviticus 1:1)
#10) The Small Mem (Leviticus 6:9)
#11) The Elongated Vav (Leviticus 11:42)
#12) The Jots (Numbers 3:39)
#13) The Inverted Nuns (Numbers 10:35-36)
#14) The Enlarged Yod (Numbers 14:18)
#15) The Small Yod (Numbers 25:11)
#16) The Gap (Numbers 26:1)
#17) the Enlarged Nun Sofit (Numbers 27:5)
#18) The Gap (Numbers 2:8)
#19) The Enlarged Ayin (Deuteronomy 6:4)
#20) The Enlarged Dalet (Deuteronomy 6:4)
#21) The Enlarged Lamed (Deuteronomy 29:28)
#22) The Jots (Deuteronomy 29:29)
#23) The Enlarged Hey (Deuteronomy 32:6)

Categories: Torah Portions | Tags: , , | 2 Comments

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2 thoughts on “Torah Portion: B’ha’alotecha

  1. Cydnie

    This post was excellent, thank you for providing words of inspiration and conviction. My life has, up until now, involved a lot of moving. But, for the last 10 years we have literally been living in the desert wilderness and having to patiently wait for the Lord. It is a struggle to sit on my hands and wait, but God promises a plan for us, a hope and a future and that comforts us in our struggles to even put food on the table. YHVH has never let us fall, though we live, what feels like, on the edge of a cliff.I am not worthy of even that attention from YHVH but as a result we cling to those promises and try our best to be holy and faithful. We are commanded not to worry, why? YHVH knows what he is doing!


    • Thanks for your kind words, Cydnie! I can empathize with the moving. For a decade straight (right after YHWH opened our eyes to His Torah) YHWH had us here and there. It was stressful and I didn’t understand it. At first, I actually thought He was moving us “out” of the wilderness —- boy was I wrong! He just took us deeper in! But you are right, His promises never fail. Not even when we don’t deserve them (which is always). I am continually amazed by His long-suffering with me — and how He always comes through (even though it’s not usually in the way I expect). Be strong, be strong, and let us be strengthened. Eventually, we will reach the Promised Land. 🙂


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