BIBLE STUDY SERIES #320, 321 and 322

11 January, 1998

REDEMPTION MONEY - PART II

By Douglas C. Nesbit, B.A.

Our ongoing series of Bible Studies, starting several years ago with the Call of The Almighty God to Abram in Ur of the Chaldees, has taken us through successive Scripture passages following the tribal history of God's people as Abraham's son, Isaac, and Isaac's son, Jacob (re-named Israel), became Patriarchs of the tribal nation of God's selection. They moved down into Egypt, then suffered bondage there, from which The Almighty God drew them forth with great wealth, through the miracles of The Exodus. Now, they form a tribal encampment under the guidance of The Almighty Himself, and are under the supervision of God's Prophet, Moses.

Several weeks ago, in Part I of this topic we looked briefly at the fact that The Almighty chose the Tribe of Levi, instead of all the firstborn in Israel, to act as His firstborn, and their cattle instead of the firstborn among all the cattle of Israel, and later in today's study, I intend to return to that topic.

However, before we look further at that passage, there is one matter which was covered on a previous programme, to which I might address some further thoughts by way of amplification. That was in reference to the question regarding the Law of The Almighty concerning who might participate in presenting acceptable sacrifices in the Old Testament. That Law (Numbers 3:10 and 3:38) permitted only those assigned from the Tribe of Levi to perform this function. It did not permit any stranger to approach the sacrifice on penalty of death lest that sacrifice presented before The LORD be polluted. Keeping before us the fact that all such Old Testament sacrifices were in essence designed as prophetic pointers, looking forward as "type" to "Antitype", to the culminating sacrifice of Christ Himself at Calvary, the question was raised whether God contravened His Own Law by permitting Roman soldiers to perform the actual sacrifice by way of crucifixion on Golgotha. I had explained that to meet the required legalities, Levites must have formed the squad of Roman soldiers concerned. However these could not have been Levites who were instructed in, let alone observant of, the Law given to Moses, for the form of execution called Crucifixion was not among the permitted means of execution to any of Israel, Levite or not, for humans, but rather, was used only for the perfect animal sacrifices to The LORD. These Roman executioners had, therefore, to be Levites among one of the long-since deported and subsequently dispersed Northern tribes of Israel who had gone into Assyrian captivity precisely because they neglected and rejected God's Law code. It was perhaps to such tribesmen that Psalm 22:12, the prophetic description of Christ's Crucifixion, referred in the words "strong bulls of Bashan have beset me round." We recall that Bashan had fallen by agreement to the eastern half of the Israelite Tribe of Manasseh, and lay immediately adjacent to the neighbouring Tribe of Gad, and also that of Reuben further south, all three lying East of the Jordan River, and thus the first three tribes to suffer deportation by Assyria. I had spoken of tribesmen of Gad apparently, from the evidence, forming the populations of the seven northern regions of Italy today termed Padania. There is a further footnote, which concerns the origins of The Black Watch Regiment. While a prosaic explanation for the name of that famous regiment appears in a Regimental History, to the effect that it simply reflects a dark tartan and vigilance in defence of Scotland, there has come to me, by way of a well attested and informed source, a variant verbal account to the effect that the Regimental History of The Black Watch actually looks to that squad of Roman Soldiers for the root origins of their Regimental traditions. A thick blue fragment of the shredded Temple veil, torn when Christ died, I am told, is said to yield some substantive evidence to the latter account! Luke 23:44-45 declares "And it was about the sixth hour, and there was a darkness over all the earth until the ninth hour. And the sun was darkened, and the veil of the temple was rent in the midst." Matthew 27:45 states "Now from the sixth hour there was darkness over all the land unto the ninth hour" and verse 51 adds "And, behold, the veil of the temple was rent in twain from the top to the bottom; and the earth did quake, and the rocks rent..."; Certainly, whatever the truth of the matter, the Roman soldiers forming the guard or watch which lasted from about the sixth to the ninth hours of the Crucifixion, while the sun was darkened, would never forget the awesome "Black Watch" which they had to keep through those astonishing agony-filled hours.

With that additional comment on the matter of the soldiers at the Crucifixion completed, we can now, perhaps, turn our attention to the matters which form the main topic for today's study. Moses, you may remember, was ordered to take a census of the firstborn in ancient Israel, in order to facilitate the exchange by actual quantities of people, which saw the acceptance by The Almighty God of all the Levitical tribe in place of the firstborn among the whole nation of Israel. Because there were more firstborn among the other tribes of Israel than there were numbered of the Levites, redemption money was to be paid by the surplus 273 Israelites above the exact corresponding number of 22,000 of the Levites at that time. This Redemption Money is mentioned in the Scripture passage found in Numbers 3:44-51 and perhaps it would be as well to review that passage now. It states this.

44. And the LORD spake unto Moses, saying,
45. Take the Levites instead of all the firstborn among the children of Israel, and the cattle of the Levites instead of their cattle; and the Levites shall be mine: I am the LORD.
46. And for those that are to be redeemed of the two hundred and threescore and thirteen of the firstborn of the children of Israel, which are more than the Levites;
47. Thou shalt even take five shekels apiece by the poll, after the shekel of the sanctuary shalt thou take them: (the shekel is twenty gerahs:)
48. And thou shalt give the money, wherewith the odd number of them is to be redeemed, unto Aaron and to his sons.
49. And Moses took the redemption money of them that were over and above them that were redeemed by the Levites:
50. Of the firstborn of the children of Israel took he the money; a thousand three hundred and threescore and five shekels, after the shekel of the sanctuary:
51. And Moses gave the money of them that were redeemed unto Aaron and to his sons, according to the word of the LORD, as the LORD commanded Moses.

While we have pointed to the Tribe of Manasseh as a "thirteenth tribe" there is another way of looking at this matter. The Commentary by Keil and Delitzsch accords some pages to a study of this redemption event which is before us. They state "As Jacob had adopted the two sons of Joseph as his own sons, and thus promoted them to the rank of heads of tribes, the tribe of Levi formed, strictly speaking, the thirteenth tribe of the whole nation, and was excepted from the muster of the twelve tribes who were destined to form the army of Jehovah, because God had chosen it for the service of the sanctuary." After a reference to Moses and Aaron, they continue "And now, lastly, the whole tribe was chosen, in the place of the first-born of all the tribes, to assist the priests in performing the duties of the sanctuary, and was numbered and mustered for this its special calling." Keil and Delitzsch further state "God appointed the Levites for this service, because He had decided to adopt them as His own in the place of all the first-born of Egypt. When He slew the first-born of Egypt, He sanctified to Himself all the first-born of Israel, of man and beast, for His own possession... . By virtue of this sanctification, which was founded upon the adoption of the whole nation as His first-born son..., the nation was required to dedicate to Him its first-born sons for service at the sanctuary, and sacrifice all the first-born of its cattle to Him. But now the Levites and their cattle were to be adopted in their place, and the first-born sons of Israel to be released in return... . By this arrangement, through which the care of the service at the sanctuary was transferred to one tribe, which would and should henceforth devote itself with undivided interest to this vocation, not only was a more orderly performance of this service secured, than could have been effected through the first-born of all the tribes; but so far as the whole nation was concerned, the fulfilment of its obligations in relation to this service was undoubtedly facilitated. Moreover, the Levites had proved themselves to be the most suitable of all the tribes for this post, through their firm and faithful defence of the honour of the Lord at the worship of the golden calf... ."

The Commentary further states "The muster of the Levites included all the males from a month old and upwards, because they were to be sanctified to Jehovah in the place of the first-born; and it was at the age of a month that the latter were either to be given up or redeemed... ." Completing the comments on today's passage, after reviewing what the passage itself states, Keil and Delitzsch point to the words "from a month old and upwards", and explain concerning the 273 firstborn of other Israelite tribes who were numbered in excess of the number of Levites, and who were to pay five shekels a head for their redemption, that "This was the general price established by the law for the redemption of the first-born of men" and mention a reference to Numbers 18:16 in support. The explanation given was that the payment of the 1365 shekels to Aaron and his sons was properly to compensate for the persons who properly belonged to Jehovah, and had been appointed as first-born for the service of the priests. Those mentioned as "The redeemed of the Levites" are the 22,000 who were redeemed by means of the Levites, the latter being taken as first-born in their stead.

We shall have more to say on succeeding passages next week.

18 January, 1998

LEVITICAL SERVICE

By Douglas C. Nesbit, B.A.

Our ongoing series of Bible Studies, starting several years ago with the Call of The Almighty God to Abram in Ur of the Chaldees, has taken us through successive Scripture passages following the tribal history of God's people as Abraham's son, Isaac, and Isaac's son, Jacob (re-named Israel), became Patriarchs of the tribal nation of God's selection. They moved down into Egypt, then suffered bondage there, from which The Almighty God drew them forth with great wealth, through the miracles of The Exodus. Now, they form a tribal encampment under the guidance of The Almighty Himself, and are under the supervision of God's Prophet, Moses.

On our last study, we completed an examination of Numbers 3. Today we look at the next chapter in this book which describes the movements of Israel through the Wilderness of Sinai towards the land promised to their forefather Abraham. Keep in mind as we read that the whole of a large nation is involved here, in a sequence of movements which are ordered by Yahweh (Jehovah), at times which might be quite unexpected from the human standpoint. Not only could the environment be hostile, but so could be the other non-Israel tribes who looked upon the territory through which Israel might pass as their possession too. Every Israelite must participate with regimented discipline when the order for a move was issued, for chaos could very easily develop among the hundreds of thousands of individuals, indeed perhaps several million people, if the orders were not precise, and the chain of command well recognised. If we realise the circumstances, it will, perhaps assist us to see the reason why Moses was led to include the account of today's instructions in the records of Holy Writ. Let us see how this order applied in the case of the Levites who must prepare the Tabernacle and all its glorious furniture for every move made by the camp.

The New Bible Commentary summarises this portion of Scripture very well, and it is as well to quote such a source for clarification of the matters presented before we actually read today's Scripture. Under the heading "d. The mature Levites numbered and their service described in detail (iv. 1-33)", it states "The numbering already described was for the purpose of setting the entire tribe of Levi apart for the service of the tabernacle. Now the Lord commands another numbering, this time limited to those individuals who are ready for actual service. Each of the three divisions of the tribe is taken in turn, but not in the same order as in chapter iii. Instead, the sons of Kohath, the division from which Moses and Aaron came, are placed first. This is logical, since the Kohathites are to have charge of the most important things in the tabernacle. The three divisions are discussed in closely parallel fashion, with much repetition of phraseology. In each case a specific command to make a census is given first (2, 22, 29). Then the age limits of this particular census are stated (3, 23, 30). Next the service of each division is stated. The charge of Kohath describes in full the work of Aaron and his sons in packing up the sacred vessels (5-15a) and then states that the other sons of Kohath are to carry these vessels after they have been packed (15b). It ends with a statement that Eleazar, the son of Aaron, is to have charge over all the tabernacle, and over the most holy objects in particular (16), followed by an extensive warning against any intrusion among the uncovered holy things on the part of the Kohathites (17-20). The charge of the Gershonites (25-26) repeats with some further details the service described in iii. 36-37. The charge of Gershon and that of Merari end with a statement that immediate supervision over them is committed to Ithamar, the youngest son of Aaron (28 and 33). For fuller understanding of the work of each group it would be well to study the detailed account of the parts of the tabernacle in Ex. xxv-xxvii, xxx, xxxv-xxxviii."

Now let us read the scripture portion itself, Numbers 4:1-33:

1. And the LORD spake unto Moses and unto Aaron, saying,
2. Take the sum of the sons of Kohath from among the sons of Levi, after their families, by the house of their fathers,
3. From thirty years old and upward even until fifty years old, all that enter into the host, to do the work in the tabernacle of the congregation.
4. This shall be the service of the sons of Kohath in the tabernacle of the congregation, about the most holy things:
5. And when the camp setteth forward, Aaron shall come, and his sons, and they shall take down the covering vail, and cover the ark of testimony with it:
6. And shall put thereon the covering of badgers' skins, and shall spread over it a cloth wholly of blue, and shall put in the staves thereof.
7. And upon the table of shewbread they shall spread a cloth of blue, and put thereon the dishes, and the spoons, and the bowls, and covers to cover withal: and the continual bread shall be thereon:
8. And they shall spread upon them a cloth of scarlet, and cover the same with a covering of badgers' skins, and shall put in the staves thereof.
9. And they shall take a cloth of blue, and cover the candlestick of the light, and his lamps, and his tongs, and his snuffdishes, and all the oil vessels thereof, wherewith they minister unto it:
10. And they shall put it and all the vessels thereof within a covering of badgers' skins, and shall put it upon a bar.
11. And upon the golden altar they shall spread a cloth of blue, and cover it with a covering of badgers' skins, and shall put to the staves thereof:
12. And they shall take all the instruments of ministry, wherewith they minister in the sanctuary, and put them in a cloth of blue, and cover them with a covering of badgers' skins, and shall put them on a bar:
13. And they shall take away the ashes from the altar, and spread a purple cloth thereon:
14. And they shall put upon it all the vessels thereof, wherewith they minister about it, even the censers, the fleshhooks, and the shovels, and the basons, all the vessels of the altar; and they shall spread upon it a covering of badgers' skins, and put to the staves of it.
15. And when Aaron and his sons have made an end of covering the sanctuary, and all the vessels of the sanctuary, as the camp is to set forward; after that, the sons of Kohath shall come to bear it: but they shall not touch any holy thing, lest they die. These things are the burden of the sons of Kohath in the tabernacle of the congregation.
16. And to the office of Eleazar the son of Aaron the priest pertaineth the oil for the light, and the sweet incense, and the daily meat offering, and the anointing oil, and the oversight of all the tabernacle, and of all that therein is, in the sanctuary, and in the vessels thereof.
17. And the LORD spake unto Moses and unto Aaron, saying,
18. Cut ye not off the tribe of the families of the Kohathites from among the Levites:

At this verse, I will interrupt to interject the further comments of that New Bible Commentary on this verse. It says "This expression is used as a vivid way of showing the great responsibility of Moses and Aaron to impress on the Kohathites the danger of any intrusion upon the sacred things by individuals who are not priests. Failure to warn them adequately might lead to a transgression which would cause the entire family of Kohath to be killed, and thus to be entirely cut off from the tribe of Levi." Continuing:

19. But thus do unto them, that they may live, and not die, when they approach unto the most holy things: Aaron and his sons shall go in, and appoint them every one to his service and to his burden:
20. But they shall not go in to see when the holy things are covered, lest they die.
21. And the LORD spake unto Moses, saying,
22. Take also the sum of the sons of Gershon, throughout the houses of their fathers, by their families;
23. From thirty years old and upward until fifty years old shalt thou number them; all that enter in to perform the service, to do the work in the tabernacle of the congregation.
24. This is the service of the families of the Gershonites, to serve, and for burdens:
25. And they shall bear the curtains of the tabernacle, and the tabernacle of the congregation, his covering, and the covering of the badgers' skins that is above upon it, and the hanging for the door of the tabernacle of the congregation,
26. And the hangings of the court, and the hanging for the door of the gate of the court, which is by the tabernacle and by the altar round about, and their cords, and all the instruments of their service, and all that is made for them: so shall they serve.
27. At the appointment of Aaron and his sons shall be all the service of the sons of the Gershonites, in all their burdens, and in all their service: and ye shall appoint unto them in charge all their burdens.
28. This is the service of the families of the sons of Gershon in the tabernacle of the congregation: and their charge shall be under the hand of Ithamar the son of Aaron the priest.
29. As for the sons of Merari, thou shalt number them after their families, by the house of their fathers;
30. From thirty years old and upward even unto fifty years old shalt thou number them, every one that entereth into the service, to do the work of the tabernacle of the congregation.
31. And this is the charge of their burden, according to all their service in the tabernacle of the congregation; the boards of the tabernacle, and the bars thereof, and the pillars thereof, and sockets thereof,
32. And the pillars of the court round about, and their sockets, and their pins, and their cords, with all their instruments, and with all their service: and by name ye shall reckon the instruments of the charge of their burden.
33. This is the service of the families of the sons of Merari, according to all their service, in the tabernacle of the congregation, under the hand of Ithamar the son of Aaron the priest.

We shall continue with this study next week.

25 January, 1998

MORE ON UNION JACKS

By Douglas C. Nesbit, B.A.

Our ongoing series of Bible Studies, which started several years ago with the Call of The Almighty God to Abram in Ur of the Chaldees, has taken us through successive Scripture passages following the tribal history of God's people as Abraham's son, Isaac, and Isaac's son, Jacob (re-named Israel), became Patriarchs of the tribal nation of Israel. They moved down into Egypt, then suffered bondage there, from which The Almighty God drew them forth with great wealth, through the miracles of The Exodus. They have, more recently, formed a tribal encampment under the guidance of The Almighty God Himself, and under the supervision of God's Prophet, Moses.

Several weeks ago, we were discussing the various symbols on the tribal banners, validated prophetically by Jacob, and I made some further references to the matter of the Union Jack, which now represents a gathering in today's world of a number of the descendants of those ancient Israelites of the wilderness encampments described in the Bible. We, of the British-Israel-World Federation hold that the main bodies of the modern-day descendants of those Israelite clans now form the generally Anglo-Celto-Saxon and kindred peoples of today. These are seen primarily in the British, and their relatives in Holland, Scandinavia, France, those mainly of northern and-western Europe, and those descended of them in Canada, Australia, New Zealand, and the U.S.A. and other areas now similarly inhabited. We do not forget the fact that many also of their relatives were left in significant pockets along the braided migratory routes by which these peoples moved from their Assyrian captivity and deportation to their homes in these new areas. Thus some peoples of Russian and Ukrainian background, and of Polish, Germanic, Italian, north Spanish and Portuguese, those of Switzerland, and others of central Europe, are by no means excluded from the list.

The flag, known as the Union Jack, formed in Great Britain, of the Jacks representing a strong concentration of these peoples has been described, most appropriately, as representing a "Union of Jacob", and thus it has become a point of attack by some who would deny the identification of ourselves with ancient Israel.

I recently learned of one such thrust, a twenty-page attack on our thesis on the internet, and I have also received some letters from interested persons who want further information on the matter. This I hope to supply, at least in part, today.

I had mentioned that Union Jacks flown at the top of the rigging on old sailing ships, hoisted, as mentioned by Chambers's Twentieth Century Dictionary, at the spritsail topmast-head, and flown amidst such articles as "Jack-blocks" and the "Jack cross-trees" were reached by a "Jacob's Ladder", a rope ladder having wooden steps. A flag thus positioned would be at the top of Jacob's Ladder, and symbolically occupy the position from which The Almighty, in a vision, gave Jacob the remarkable promises of Genesis 28:12-15. The 11th Edition of the Encyclopaedia Britannica, Vol. 16, item "ladder"; the Oxford Illustrated Dictionary; The Compact Edition of the Oxford English Dictionary, Vol. I; The New Lexicon Webster's Encyclopedic Dictionary of the English Language; Chambers's Twentieth Century Dictionary and three etymological dictionaries all confirm the use of the name Jacob's Ladder to reach such rigging. However, such "Jack" flags are also used at the bowsprit of a vessel, held aloft on a Jack-staff, and according to some sources like The Oxford Dictionary of English Etymology, the source from which the name "Jack" arose was from its size, being smaller than the ensign. Reading this, one might assume that this provides grist to the mills of our detractors. Is this true? Let us follow the trail of investigation further.

Pursuing the matter, I consulted "History of the Union Jack - How it Grew and What It Is", by Barlow Cumberland, M.A., printed by William Briggs, Toronto, in 1900. That authority states "The origin of the name 'Union Jack' has given rise to considerable conjecture and much interesting surmise. The name used in most of the earlier records is that of 'Union Flag', or 'Great Union.' In the treaty of peace made with the Dutch in 1674, in the reign of Charles II., it is mentioned as 'His Majesty of Great Britain's flag or Jack,' and in the proclamation of Queen Anne, A.D. 1707, as 'Our Jack, commonly called the Union Jack.' The most generally quoted suggestion for the name is that it was acquired from the fact that the first proclamation which authorized a flag, in which the national crosses of England and Scotland were for the first time combined, was issued by James VI. of Scotland after he had become James I. of England, the explanation being that King James frequently signed his name in the French manner as 'Jacques,' which was abbreviated into 'Jac,' and thus the new flag came to be called a 'Jack.'"

Pointing out that the derivation suggested, while "ingenious", cannot be accepted as "there were 'Jacks' long before the time and reign of James I" the author presents information concerning feudal companies which wore the heraldry of their liege lord and military companies which wore such, marking their allegiance to a king. During the Crusades [which were military expeditions "under the banner of the cross to recover the Holy Land" (the Chambers's Twentieth Century Dictionary definition)], the Christian nations of Europe were combined together to rescue Jerusalem and the Holy Land from the rule of the Mohammedan. Cumberland continues: "Warrior pilgrims recruited from the different countries, wore crosses of different shapes and colours upon their surcoats, to indicate the nationalities to which they belonged." From wearing these crosses they were named Crusaders. For example, French wore red crosses, Flanders, green, Germany black and Italy yellow. Earlier, the English wore white, but later changed to the red cross of St. George."

Cumberland explains: "These 'surcoats' or 'Jacques' came in time to be known as 'Jacks'... and it was from the raising of one of them upon a lance or staff at the bow of a ship... that the cross of St. George, or the cross of St. Andrew, came to be known as a 'Jack,' and from this origin, too, the small flag-pole at the bow of a ship is still called the 'Jack staff.'" That makes the case for our opponents, one might imagine. Cumberland is quite a recognized authority. But wait a moment, there is yet one thread of inquiry to be pursued before we wrap the matter up! Let us pursue it.

Those Christian nations of Europe were, in the main, generally composed of the descendants of the Tribes of Israel of old time. From what source, then, did they derive that name, Jacque? Let us consult some dictionaries. The Oxford Dictionary of English Etymology, while noting its use as a pet name for John, adds "the resemblance to F. Jacques James (:-Rom. *Ja-cobus, for L. Jaco-bus Jacob) is a difficulty." That looks interesting. Let us consult some other dictionaries. An Etymological Dictionary of Modern English by Ernest Weekley, Vol. I states "jack. Personal name used in E. as pet-form of John, via Jankin, Jackin, but also representing F. Jacques, L. Jacobus (see Jacob)." That name "Jacob" keeps circling about in the background. Perhaps it is shown most clearly in "Origins - A Short Etymological Dictionary of Modern English", by Eric Partridge. That reference is straight forward and quite clear. It states "Jack, the very common pet-form of John, the world's commonest font-name. Jack, although used for John, derives from OF Jaques (F. Jacques), James, ML Jacobus, LL Iacobus, LGr Iakobos, H Ya'aqobh, lit 'supplanter'." So the name does derive from the Patriarch, Jacob, after all! It always pays to pursue a matter through to the end. It has been truly said, that "The game's not over until 'Its over'." Here we find that the name of the Patriarch Jacob lies in the historic background beyond every diversionary attempt by opponents to obscure the origin of the name of our "Union Jack" in Jacob!

No wonder that King James VI of Scotland and I of Great Britain signed his name as "Jacques", abbreviated to "Jac". He well knew that this was a form of the name "Jacob". He well knew the origin of both the Scottish people from whom he had come, and that of the English. The Arbroath Declaration had been signed and sealed by the Scottish Parliament under Robert the Bruce in April, 1320 A.D., and in it they told the Pope that the Scottish people came from "the Greater Scythia" and entered Scotland, completely destroying the Picts, twelve hundred years after the outgoing of the people of Israel. According to "The Story Of The Irish Race" by Seumas McManus, the Scots did this about 500 A.D., and Mr. W. H. Bennett, in "Symbols of our Celto-Saxon Heritage" also gives "about 500" as the date of this effective invasion of Scotland. This means that the Scottish barons under the leadership of Robert the Bruce were relating their origins to the emergence of Israelites, at a date of about 700 B.C.. This agrees with our knowledge of the deportations of most of the tribesmen of Israel effectively completed by Assyria in 721 B.C., which was soon followed by the break-up of the Assyrian Empire itself a few years later and the release and flight of the Israelite captives at that time.

The Royal Genealogy of Elizabeth I, of England, was linked to that of the Davidic monarchy of the Bible, and it is displayed at Hatfield House in England. Her leading admiral, Sir Francis Drake, knew of England's identity with Israel for he mentions the name of "Israel" casually in place of the name "England" without feeling the need for any explanation in a letter written to John Foxe the writer of "Foxe's Book of Martyrs." It is now preserved as Manuscript 167, part of folio 104 of the Harleian manuscripts, British Library, The British Museum.

Thus, we have sustained our assurance in making reference to the Union Jack as a symbol for the Union of Jacob. We shall revert to our regular studies next week.

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