“He who observes a commandment safeguards his soul; one who scorns his proper ways will die.” Proverbs 19:16
What is the one single element that must be present for a society to exist and endure throughout history? It is the concept of ‘Law and Order’! Without law and order society will quickly fall apart into chaos and tyranny will emerge because it is the desire of sinful, wicked man to dominate and oppressively rule over others!
America today is sadly very far and away now from anything remotely indicating ‘Law and Order’! There are those in our society who demand law and order be restored, but in reality, the judgment of HaShem is falling and as such law and order will only continue to deteriorate in the coming days and weeks and by our society’s own hands in its demand to obtain freedom from law and order.
Is it a coincidence then that this weeks Torah portion is ‘Korach’ which is found in Bamidbar (Numbers) 16:1-18:32? We know there is no such thing as coincidences with HaShem!! This portion discusses the reasons for and the final outcome of the rebellion i.e. the desire to be free from the law and order HaShem established in His new nation i.e. Israel, and the plot to move against Moshe and Aharon which resulted in Korach and his followers being swallowed alive into the pit when the ground underneath them opened up by the Hand of HaShem!
Is it any wonder then that in this Torah portion HaShem gives His command that the Beit HaMishkan (Tabernacle and subsequently the Beit HaMikdash i.e. Temple in Jerusalem) are to be guarded? This is what we will be discussing in this Op as it pertains to today’s Torah portion! But before we jump into this topic of this Op, always remember the following attributes of HaShem and His Torah:
– HaShem never changes per Num 23:19/Mal 3:6/Hebrews 13:8/James 1:17
– His Word is firmly established per Psalm 119:89
– He reveals the end out of the beginning per Is 46:10
– He does nothing without first revealing it to His prophets per Amos 3:7
– He says there is nothing new under the sun per Ecclesiastes 1:9
– He says His Torah is a tree of life and eternal per Proverbs 3:18-19 and Psalm 119:160
– He says His Torah is perfect and restores the soul per Psalm 19:7
– He says His Torah makes the simple one wise per Psalm 19:7
– He says His Torah Is freedom and liberty per Psalm Ps 119:45 and James 1:25
– He says His Torah is the only good doctrine there is Proverbs 4:2
– He says His Torah will add length of days and years of life and peace per Proverbs 3:2
– He says all of the ways of His Torah are ways of pleasantness and peace per Proverbs 3:17
– He says His Torah is for our good and well-being per Deuteronomy 6:24
– He says His Torah is health for our lives per Proverbs 3:8
– He says His Torah is life to our soul and a graceful ornament for our neck per Prov 3:22
– He says His Torah is better than pearls and all desires cannot compare to it per Prov 8:11
– He says those who walk with His Torah are praiseworthy per Psalms 119:1
– He says observing His Torah is how we purify our path per Psalms 119:9
– He says His Torah is better than thousands in gold and silver per Psalms 119:72
– He says His Torah brings abundant peace to those who love Him and His Torah per Psalms 119:165
– He says there is one Torah for all per Exodus 12:49/Leviticus 24:22
– He says those who hate His Torah love death per Proverbs 8:36
As many of you know by now, studying and learning about the Temple of HaShem in Jerusalem is my passion! To say His House is amazing just doesn’t encapsulate the grandeur of His House! Why His House can be a topic of such animosity among people is truly baffling to me, but that is another topic.
For a quick review, the Temple of HaShem i.e. Beit HaMikdash in Jerusalem, has several names, but one that stands out for the purpose of this Op is ‘House of Kedusha’ or House of Holiness, why is it called this? Because the Temple of HaShem is not only the Throne of HaShem but also an interactive teaching tool to learn the concepts of Torah and kedusha! Per 2 Chronicles 6:6 He says “But I chose Jerusalem for My Name to be there, and I chose David to rule over My people Israel.” 2 Chronicles 7:16 says “And now, I have chosen and sanctified this Temple, that My Name should remain there FOREVER, and My eyes and My heart should remain there all the days.” So, we can see the Temple of HaShem in Jerusalem IS the place of His Throne on earth and this will NEVER change! Plus, He says His eyes and His heart will remain here forever, which again flushes Replacement Theology’s antisemitic doctrine that the rebuilt Temple is the height of blasphemy into the dung pile of history, but I digress.
There are a total of 613 Commandments which comprise the Torah of HaShem. Out of these 613, 271 of them pertain directly to the Temple of HaShem! Further, the tavnit (Blueprints) for how the Temple is laid out, the functions of each korbonot (offering), the Temple Services, the liturgy, every single minuscule detail was NOT derived from man as some in Replacement Theology claim, but were given directly by the Ruach of HaShem per Shemot (Exodus) chapter 25 to Moshe and I Chronicles 28 to David!
So with this said thus far, what is the definition of ‘Kedusha?’ It is best summed up with this statement by my teacher who said “The time, space and objects that are limited to us through the agency of kedusha (Holiness) are signs that as HaShem’s covenantal partners, we must relinquish some control in every sphere of our existence and reserve those elements for His service!” This parallels what HaShem commands in Ezekiel 43:10-11 which says “You Son of Adam! Tell the family of Israel of the Temple and let them be ashamed of their sins, and measure the design. And if they are ashamed, the form (Blueprint) of the House and its design, its exits and entrances, and all its appearance, its laws, all its decoration, and all its regulations make known to them and write it down before their eyes, that they may remember its form and its decrees and perform them.” Point is, HaShem commands that we all, you and I, study, learn and apply the concepts of His House to our daily lives! Paul reiterates this when he said in his letter to the Corinthians in verse 3:16 when he says we are likened to the Temple of HaShem! He did NOT say, we replaced the Temple of HaShem, that is just more Replacement Theology garbage doctrine, but he was reiterating a very Jewish concept of that day that we are to look to the Temple as the model of how to conduct our lives with understanding the concept of kedusha! Remember, HaShem commands we are to be kadosh (Holy) as He is kadosh per Vayikra (Leviticus) 19:1-2 and every single time HaShem commands this, which is over a dozen times alone, in every instance it is in conjunction with a call for Israel to guard and keep His Torah!
Now understand the Feasts of HaShem have what’s called a ‘Kedusha’ attached to them in that they are Feasts in which time is set apart for service to HaShem, where we do not engage in our own affairs, but focus solely upon HaShem. The same is true for His weekly Shabbat in which there is a kedusha attached to it where time is set aside and reserved for His service! He commands in Vayikra 19:30 “Keep/Guard My Shabbat AND reverence My Sanctuary (Temple).” He says it again in Vayikra 26:2 “Keep/Guard My Shabbat AND reference My Sanctuary (Temple).” So we see being kadosh like HaShem commands us to be, requires we relinquish some control in every sphere of our existence and reserve those elements for His service!
Now that this foundation is laid, we can jump into the command to guard the Temple! Bamidbar (Numbers) 18:1-4 says “HaShem said to Aharon, ‘You, your sons, and your father’s household with you shall bear the iniquity of the Sanctuary (Temple); and you and your sons with you shall bear the iniquity of your priesthood. Also your brethren the tribe of Levi, the tribe of your father, shall you draw near with you, and they shall be joined to you and minister to you. You and your sons with you shall be before the Tent of the Testimony (Ohel Moed – Tent of Meeting). They shall SAFEGUARD your charge and the charge of the ENTIRE TENT, but to the holy vessels and to the Mizbe’ach (Altar) they shall not approach, that they not die, they as well as you. They shall be joined to you and SAFEGUARD the charge of the Ohel Moed for the ENTIRE service of the Tent, and an alien shall not approach you.”
So, the responsibility to guard the Temple falls upon Levi! Now, what needs to be clarified here with regards to the Priesthood is that it is divided up between TWO elements you might say: Kohanim i.e. Priests, and Leviim. Depending on which element a person from Levi was on, determined what functions were performed and how far in the Temple one could go as it pertains to kedusha! Point is, ALL the Kohanim are Leviites, BUT not all the Leviites are Kohanim!!! Further, remember the higher the level of kedusha, the closer one draws towards HaShem and the Most Holy Place, which means if that kohen did something to defile himself while performing his part of the avodah (Service) inside the Temple, that kohen died because of the kedusha!! Very serious stuff here folks when dealing with the Sovereign of the Universe!!
This said, from the Mishnah Tractate Middot 1.1 it tells us “At THREE sites the Kohanim stood guard in the Temple: In Beit Avtinas and in Beit HaNitzotz and in Beit HaMokeid (See the picture I modified below to get oriented…Hopefully you an read my scribbling)“:
“And the Levites, in twenty one sites: Five for the five gates of Har HaBayit (Temple Mount); four for its four corners, from inside it; five for the five gates of the azarah (Interior Courtyard); four for its four corners, from the outside; and one in Lishkat HaKorban (Chamber of the Offering – The holding area for the lambs to be offered in each day’s services), and one in Lishkat HaParokhet (Chamber of the Curtain – The chamber in which the Temple curtains were woven); and one for behind Beit HaKaporet (House of the Kaporet – The innermost chamber of the Temple i.e. Holy of Holies which contained the Ark of the Covenant and its cover which is called the Kaporet….this guard stood BEHIND Beit HaKaporet, NOT inside it, I want to make this clear!).”
So, we can see there are 24 guard posts within the Temple of HaShem! Three belong to the Kohanim because they are in areas which have a higher level of kedusha and twenty one belong to the Leviim.
Middot 1.1 goes on to say “It is a Torah command to guard the Temple all night long, NOT against enemies, thieves and marauders as the gates were locked at night, BUT TO ENHANCE ITS GLORY, just as royal palaces are watched by a ceremonial guard.” Can you see the concept here? We are to guard our lives, because we are LIKENED to the Temple of HaShem, therefore when we guard our lives and strive to keep His Torah and eat only clean, keep His Feasts, keep His Shabbat, etc, it enhances the glory of HaShem in our lives!!! It points to HaShem as being our King!! So, when you have an entire doctrine devoted to teaching all of the Torah is tossed aside and the Temple of HaShem is now the greatest example of blasphemy, can the glory of HaShem be enhanced in Replacement Theology? Not a chance…in fact HaShem isn’t there in Replacement Theology at all!! No wonder the adversary has worked so hard to convince people the Torah and HaShem’s Temple are evil and akin to dung!! I digress.
Middot 1.2 says “The Har HaBayit Levite would circuit each of the watches, and the torches were burning before him, and any watch that did not stand, the Har HaBayit person would call out to him: ‘Peace unto you!’ If it was evident that he was asleep, he would strike him with his staff, and he was empowered to burn his garment. And they (The people of Jerusalem) would say: ‘What is the sound in the azarah? The sound of a Levite being struck and his clothes being burned, because he was asleep on his watch.'” Sleeping while on guard duty is not only a great offense in the Temple of HaShem, but is also a great offense for those charged with guarding and defending the community as a whole, whether the police, security or military personnel, so it is in HaShem’s Temple!
I want to quickly describe what each of these four corner buildings in the azarah are and what their functions are that they needed to be guarded:
The following information is derived from the book ‘Measure the Pattern’ by Joseph Good of HaTikvah Ministries…he is my teacher and is referenced with his permission:
Please refer to the above picture to get oriented on which building is being discussed.
Beit HaMokeid – House of the Hearth
- This is the building that supplied the necessary items for the daily services
- The lambs kept for the daily Tamid (Twice daily Olah/Burnt offerings) in the Lishkat HaT’La’ei (Chamber of the Lambs).
- The Bakery i.e. Lishkat Osei Lechem HaPanim i.e. Chamber of the Makers of the Bread of the Face which probably supplied not only the Lechem HaPanim but also many of the required bread offerings for each day’s service.
- Chamber of the Tokens i.e. Lishkat HaChotamot where the tokens for the items to be used in the offerings were secured.
- The dormitory for the Mishmar (Temple Course on duty at the time – there are 24 Mishmarot in total that serve throughout the year) lodged in the Lishkat Beit HaMokeid.
- Shaar HaMokeid i.e. Gate of the Mokeid passed through this building.
- A Levitical Superintendent had a chamber within this building.
Beit HaNitzotz – House of the Spark
- Had chambers that dealt with the slaughtered korbonot
- They rinsed in the Lishkat HaMedichin i.e. Chamber of Rinsing
- Salted and processed in the Lishkat HaParvah i.e. Chamber of Skins
- Salt for the Mizbe’ach (Altar) and the korbonot were stored in the Lishkat HaMelach i.e. Chamber of Salt.
- The proximity to the Beit HaMitbechayim (Slaughter House in the Azarah north of the Mizbe’ach) made these tasks very efficient.
- The Kohen selected to slaughter the Parah Adumah (Red Heifer) was sequestered in the Beit Evan i.e. House of Stone for seven days prior to the slaughter.
- Chamber for the choir is in this building
- Shaar HaNitzotz i.e. Gate of the Spark passed through this building.
Beit Avtinas – House of Avtinas
- Where the Kohanim prepared for their daily services in the azarah
- The Sanhedrin Gedolah (Great Sanhedrin of 71 members met) in Lishkat HaGazit i.e. Chamber of Hewn Stone.
- Here they inspected the Kohanim reporting for duty according to their mishmar (Priestly Order).
- Garments for the Kohanim were kept in this building in windows designed for the different garments and mishmarot.
- The Kohanim washed their hands and feet from the Kior (Laver) in this building BEFORE entering the azarah for service.
- The Galgal (Wheel) in the Lishkat HaGolah i.e. Chamber of the Exile/Bowl, drew water to supply the azarah.
- The Amah (One cubit deep and one cubit wide water channel) passed through this building into the azarah and emptied the bloody water from the Kohanim who washed their hands and feet at the kior as well as the washing down of the azarah each Shabbat.
- The Kohen HaGadol (High Priest) had his chamber here in the Lishkat HaEitz i.e. Chamber of Wood.
- On the roof of this building in the Non-Sanctified section of the building was a mikveh for the Kohen HaGadol on Yom Kippur.
- The Levitical Choir had their second set of chambers here for both practice and sleeping.
- Bakers for the Chavatim (Pancakes) and possibly other bread offerings were prepared in the bakery in Beit Avtinas
- A Levitical Superintendent had a chamber within this building.
Beit Otzarot – House of the Treasuries
- Where the main store houses were located
- Levitical supervisors had their command center and is where the guards operated from i.e. the Ta HaRatzim or Chamber of the Guards.
- Contained the main admin offices and was the security center of the Temple complex
- Storehouses for the oil designated as Terumot (Priestly offering) was in this building
- Storehouses for the oil designated for Ma’aser (Tithes) stored in separate store rooms in this building.
- All the monies, precious metals, precious gems and war trophies were stored in this building.
- All the wine, flour and all items necessary for the Temple Services and its maintenance stored in this building.
- A chamber beneath Beit HaOtzarot PROBABLY stored the hidden Ark of the Covenant, which was hidden by Jeremiah in chambers beneath the Temple Mount.
- A Levitical Superintendent had a chamber within this building.
I know I am throwing a ton of information at you in this Op, but I want you to see how complex His House is and believe me when I say, this is barely scratching the surface of what goes on in His House and how complex the tavnit (Blueprints) are and how rebuilding His Temple will truly be an act of HaShem to complete!
Further, can you see how the concept for the guards not only enhances the glory of HaShem and His Throne on earth, but also provides for a visual reminder of ‘Law and Order?’ Again, if there is no law and order in His Temple, then His Temple doesn’t exist, His Name is defiled and shamed and His Presence will be withdrawn and chaos reigns, just like we see happening in the United States today with the withdrawing of law and order by the removing of the police!! Chaos erupts, tyranny arises and oppression takes hold and then the American society ceases to exist.
Ultimately, my point for this Op is to again highlight how necessary reading His Torah portions are each week because they do indeed relate to events going on in the world at that time!! Because He is unchanging and reveals the end from the beginning means nothing has changed in history and events will unfold just as they have done so time and time again, which means we can take comfort knowing HaShem provided for His people once before and He will do so for us, IF we stay close to Him and guard our lives to walk in His Torah!
Hope you were not overwhelmed with this Op. As always much to consider.
- The Scriptures
- The Stone Edition Chumash by Artscroll
- Mishlei by Artscroll
- The Milstein Edition of the Prophets by Artscroll
- The Kehati Mishnah Tractate Middot
- Measure the Pattern by Joseph Good of HaTikvah Ministries