We are now on the Torah portion Behaalotecha, Numbers 8:1-12:16.
8:5-22; God instructs Moses on the ritual for consecrating the Levites as the priestly tribe-the washing of the clothes, the laying on of hands by the Israelites, the sacrificing of the bulls. God selects the Levites, instead of taking the first born, for performing the rites at the Mishkan.
8:23-26; God tells Moses that the Levites would begin their service at the Mishkan at age 25, and retire at age 50 and serve as a sort of ‘honor guard” at the Mishkan. A new generation must be developed to take over after the older generation, but the older people must be on hand to advise the youngsters. (Youth and age each have their virtues; it’s not either-or.)
11:1-9; the Israelites complain to Moses about not having any meat to eat, but having nothing bot the manna; they talk about the vast array of food they had when they were slaves in Egypt. (this is one of the times they show a lack of faith in themselves, believing they can’t handle being a free people; also, the idea of nostalgia comes up, the glorifying the “good old days” whenever there are difficulties in the present. The liberation of Israel from bondage was a revolution, a serious social upheaval, and such events create a beautiful picture of the old regime, which does not match reality.)
11:10-25; Moses gets upset with all the complaining he hears from the people, crying “I can’t take care of all these people!” God tells Moses to assemble 70 of the Israelite elders, experienced leaders, so that God;s spirit would descend upon them and share Moses’ burden of leadership. (This shows that one individual, no mater how talented and gifted, cannot do everything in running a tribe or an organization; they need other talented people to help them with leading the tribe or other body.)
11:26-30; Two lay Israelite, Eldad and Medad, have the spirit of God in them, and they “spoke in ecstasy.” Joshua urges Moses to make them stop, but Moses says, “would that all the LORD’s people were prophets, that the LORD put His spirit upon them.” God, spiritual development, and participation in any body, is the right and responsibility of all of the community, not just an elite.