The Land of Israel

Every disciple should endeavor to make pilgrimage to visit the land of Israel at least once in his or her lifetime.

Jerusalem as the Center of the World, sculpture by David Breuer-Weil in Teddy Park in Jerusalem, Israel (Image: © Bigstock/alefbet)

Mattot-Massei

Regular Shabbat Readings

* Note: On Jewish holidays, special readings often interrupt the regular cycle.

  • Mattot-Massei (מטות-מסעי | Tribes-Journeys)
  • Torah: Numbers 30:2-36:13
  • Haftarah: Jeremiah 2:4-28, 3:4
  • Gospel: Matthew 23:1-39/Matthew 24:1-25:46

Portion Outline

  • Torah
    • Numbers 30:1 | Vows Made by Women
    • Numbers 31:1 | War against Midian
    • Numbers 31:13 | Return from the War
    • Numbers 31:25 | Disposition of Captives and Booty
    • Numbers 32:1 | Conquest and Division of Transjordan
    • Numbers 33:1 | The Stages of Israel's Journey from Egypt
    • Numbers 33:50 | Directions for the Conquest of Canaan
    • Numbers 34:1 | The Boundaries of the Land
    • Numbers 34:16 | Tribal Leaders
    • Numbers 35:1 | Cities for the Levites
    • Numbers 35:9 | Cities of Refuge
    • Numbers 35:16 | Concerning Murder and Blood Revenge
    • Numbers 36:1 | Marriage of Female Heirs
  • Prophets
    • Jer 2:4 | God Pleads with Israel to Repent

Portion Summary

Mattot

The name of the forty-second reading from the Torah is Mattot (מטות), which means "tribes." The name is derived from the words of Numbers 30:1, which says, "Then Moses spoke to the heads of the tribes of the sons of Israel." Numbers 30 discusses the laws of vows and oaths. Numbers 31 tells the story of Israel's war with Midian. Numbers 32 relates the story of how the Reubenites, the Gadites and the half-tribe of Mannaseh came to inherit the land east of the Jordan River. Except in biblical calendar leap years, Mattot is read together with the subsequent Torah portion, Massei, on the same Sabbath.

Massei

The last reading from the book of Numbers is called Massei (מסעי), a word that means "journeys." It comes from the first verse of the reading, which begins with the words "These are the journeys of the sons of Israel" (Numbers 33:1). Massei is the end of the continuous narrative of Torah that began in Genesis with the creation of the universe. The narrative does not resume until the end of Deuteronomy, when Moses dies.

The final reading in Numbers settles several last-minute details. In it we find a list of the encampments from Egypt to the plains of Moab. We also find instructions for apportioning the land, as well as the specifics regarding the borders of the land. While explaining the land and its borders, Moses introduces the laws of the cities of refuge and more inheritance laws. In most years, synagogues read Massei together with the preceding portion, Mattot, which accounts for the brevity of this portion's commentary.


Numbers 34 sketches out the borders for the land of Israel, which Joshua was to distribute among the nine and a half tribes that remained to be settled. The tribes of Reuben and Gad and half the tribe of Manasseh had already made claim to territories east of the Jordan. The Levites were not to receive tribal territory. Joshua and Eleazar were to cast lots to parcel out the land among the remaining tribes. Numbers 34:19-29 gives a list of the tribal leaders responsible for dividing the parcel among the clans and families of the tribe.

It is easy for believers in Messiah to read about geographical Israel with little interest. Descriptions of the land seem inconsequential to us. After all, Christianity provides a spiritual inheritance in heaven, not an earthly inheritance. Why should believers care about the land of Israel?

One reason we should take an interest in the land of Israel is that God does. The Bible is filled with details about this particular piece of real estate. The land of Israel is the stage on which the majority of the Bible is played out. In God's Book, the land of Israel is a central concern. If it matters to God, it should matter to His children.

When Christian believers first visit the land of Israel, they typically say things like, "The Bible has become so real to me now," or, "I never realized how much I was missing," or "I feel like I've come home." All believers have a special relationship to the land of Israel. It is the cradle of our faith. Our Master's feet tread upon its soil and stones. It is God's holy land in which He placed His city (Jerusalem) and His Temple and caused His presence to dwell.

For a Jewish believer the connection is even more relevant. Not only is the land of Israel the place of his spiritual origin, it is his literal inheritance in this world.

Christians have been making pilgrimages to the Holy Land since the first century. At FFOZ, we encourage all believers in Messiah to make at least one visit to Israel. In a spiritual sense, the land of Israel is the homeland of all believers. The presence of God permeates the land. It is "a land for which the LORD your God cares; the eyes of the LORD your God are always on it, from the beginning even to the end of the year" (Deuteronomy 11:12). The prophets say that when the Messiah comes, He will gather all the people of Israel back to the land of Israel.

Join the Conversation:

FFOZ Friends are individuals, families, or congregations who resonate with the mission and vision of First Fruits of Zion and contribute financially towards reaching our ministry objectives.

Become a Friend!

Share this Teaching

Adapted From:

Unrolling the Scroll

This is “Torah 101” for everyone — a Messianic Jewish study from Genesis to Deuteronomy with easy-to-read, devotional-styled commentary on the weekly, synagogue Torah readings.

Learn More


Get the Email Newsletter

The Weekly eDrash

Get inspirational teachings on the Torah Portions delivered to your inbox free every week. Insightful commentary from Genesis to Deuteronomy!

SIGN UP TODAY


Related Commentary

Torah Portions Library

Core community content: To unlock all the library articles, sign in, or sign up for a free Core community account »


© 2017 First Fruits of Zion, Inc., All Rights Reserved

FOLLOW US ON

First Fruits of Zion

© 2017, All Rights Reserved

Copyright Privacy Contact Help Donate