“Daughter,” He said to her…
Section One (Parsha Debrief):
This week’s Parsha (Numbers 4:21-7:89) contained: details regarding the remaining Levite sub-families (Gershon and Merari), a quick mention of Tumah, the laws of the Sotah (married woman accused of adultery), the Nazirite vow, the priestly blessing, and a whole list of offerings from all 12 leaders of Isreal’s ancestral houses.
In the Midweek Reading Guide, we pointed you to the Tumah Text in Numbers 5:1-4 and asked why the author of Luke might focus on the woman afflicted with 12 years of flowing. To answer that, we’ll need to look at these Texts through the lens we created in the Defiled and Spiritual Leprosy posts. At the core, God wants each and every person to enter back into the community, which at this point in time centers around the Tabernacle.
That lens and what we discussed last week regarding the potential distinction between the book of Numbers and that of Leviticus, helps us unpack the connection.
Let’s start with our Numbers Text.
Rabbi David Block of AlephBeta recognizes something pertaining to the laws mentioned throughout our Torah portion. He recognizes that each connects to laws mentioned in Leviticus. Rabbi Block connects the Sotah of Numbers 5:12 to the trespass conversation in Leviticus 5:15-21; the thief of Numbers 5:7/8 to the offering required in Leviticus 5:24-25; the woman with a flowing issue in Numbers 5:3 to the flowing issue in Leviticus 15; and the Nazir of Numbers 6:3,7 to the Priests in Leviticus 10:9; 21:11.
To which Rabbi Block asks the question, why do all these laws direct our attention back to Leviticus?
What if they’re all the same conversation just with a new focus?
Think about it. The Nazir takes on identical restraints as the Priest, but those restraints don’t mean that person gets to enter the Tabernacle like the Priest. Additionally, look closely at the Tumah Text…
You must send away both male or female; send them outside the camp, so that they will not defile their camps where I dwell among them.
-Numbers 5:3, emphasis added
You must keep the Israelites from their uncleanness, so that they do not die by defiling My tabernacle that is among them.
-Leviticus 15:31, emphasis added
Notice what’s emphasized. In Leviticus, the emphasis is on My Tabernacle. Yet, in Numbers, it’s not My, rather their. Rabbi Block details the different focus among each of the connected laws.
What does it mean?
Maybe it denotes a transition in the emphasis of the narrative. As we mentioned last week, the book of Numbers is a very different book from Leviticus. Rabbi Block goes as far as to say,
Leviticus is a God book. We focused on God-place, the Tabernacle, where God lives. We focused on God-people, the priests, God’s representatives. And talked about how to connect and relate to God. [Numbers]…is a people book. We’re going to talk about how the people interact with each other, how they interact with Moses. We’re going to talk about the people-place, the camp, where the nation lives. And how does the Book of People see laws? We’re going to see those same cases that we had seen through a God lens, but now, in [Numbers], we are looking at it through a people lens.
-Rabbi David Block, in Adding Godliness to Our Lives
And, here’s the crux of it…
Sometimes it’s easy to see laws as technical requirements. [In doing so,] it’s very easy to forget that laws are meant to teach us practical expressions of values.
-Rabbi David Block, in Adding Godliness to Our Lives
As followers of Jesus can we look for, find, and try to live out the practical expressions of values?
Section Two (Connection to NT + haftarah):
I think the author of Luke is trying to help us do just that.
There are specific laws regarding Tumah. We’ve talked about them and created a new lens with which to read and understand them.
Here, in Luke 8:40-48, we read as Jesus navigates this world of Tumah. The very same woman that shows up in Numbers 5:2 and Leviticus 15:19-31, shows up in Luke 8:43-48 — the zuwb.
But, as we’ve seen time after time, the Luke Text sets itself apart from the Matthew and Mark Texts. I think these discrepancies are purposefully unique. Now we need to find out why.
As we can see in the above table, only the Luke Text has all these statements/words present. And, in some cases, the Luke Text is the only Text with specific items. For example, only the Luke Text mentions Jairus’ daughter is his only daughter.
In doing so, I believe the author of Luke is forcing us to see three things. First, a connection between Jairus’ daughter and the afflicted woman. The author emphasizes that it’s his only daughter — likely very treasured and loved by him. The author emphasizes her age, which just happens to be the same amount of years as the woman’s affliction.
Jesus follows by calling the woman healed of her affliction — daughter. It’s as if the author is forcing us to see how both daughters are equal in God’s eyes.
Second, a juxtaposition in Jewish leadership. The author emphasizes it was the corner of Jesus’ garment.
Why’s that relevant?
The Lord said to Moses, “Speak to the Israelites and tell them that throughout their generations they are to make tassels for the corners of their garments, and put a blue cord on the tassel at each corner. These will serve as tassels for you to look at, so that you may remember all the Lord’s commands and obey them and not become unfaithful by following your own heart and your own eyes. This way you will remember and obey all My commands and be holy to your God. I am Yahweh your God who brought you out of the land of Egypt to be your God; I am Yahweh your God.”
Therefore, isn’t Jairus wearing the same article of clothing as Jesus?
It’s as if there’s a nudge to suggest Jairus, a leader, should be loving the defiled just as much as his own daughter. Maybe it should even have been Jairus’ tassels that evoked healing, so to speak. Or, at the very least, Jairus’ tassels should have awoken him to his role as a religious leader (Footnote #1).
Third, why the number 12? In Numbers 7, part of our Torah portion, leaders from Israel’s ancestral houses bring gifts. The final tally is 12 of this, 12 of that… multiples of 12 everywhere — because the whole community showed up, equally.
Could the author of Luke be emphasizing: whether you’re an untouchable, outcast or part of the ruling class… you’re really equal when it comes to accessing God.
A daughter is a daughter.
Section Three (missing the mark):
Far too often pastors look like politicians… granting access to those with the resources to benefit the pastor’s vision the most (Footnote #2).
But, what about the people who could benefit from resources? What about the untouchable, outcast?
It seems to me… Jesus, even when on-the-go, does not deny someone who has no money to give.
Conversely, when a pastor’s vision favors access to those with resources — it seems to me… they’ve forgotten their tassels and are acting unfaithfully following their own heart and their own eyes.
Section Four (real-world applications):
I think the author of Luke forces us to face some tension. By law, Jesus became unclean when the woman touched Him. Next week, Jesus marches right into a room with a dead body, also forbidden.
So, does Jesus break the laws of Tumah? Or, is it possible, there’s a deeper practical expression of values?
Maybe it’s time we bound and loosed some 2,000-year-old laws — in a way that we find and live the practical values.
Next Week’s Readings: Numbers 8:1-12:15; Luke 8:49-56
- This might sound like a stretch, but then again Jairus’ name means “whom God enlightens.” So, maybe this string of events is designed to enlighten the God-people to remember their connection to people-people.
- We talked about this vision issue in the Obedience post.