Parashat Behaalot’ha (When You Kindle)
Bamidbar (Numbers) 8:1–12:6
An interesting translation issue came up as I was reading the parasha for this week from the book Bamidbar (Numbers). The second verse of chapter eight in particular stood out to me because of a mistranslation from Hebrew to English of a certain phrase: פְּנֵ֣י הַמְּנוֹרָ֔ה
The verse in the original Hebrew is as follows:
דַּבֵּר֙ אֶֽל־אַהֲרֹ֔ן וְאָמַרְתָּ֖ אֵלָ֑יו בְּהַעֲלֹֽתְךָ֙ אֶת־הַנֵּרֹ֔ת אֶל־מוּל֙ פְּנֵ֣י הַמְּנוֹרָ֔ה יָאִ֖ירוּ שִׁבְעַ֥ת הַנֵּרֽוֹת׃
In the vast majority of English translations I read, the verse is translated as:
Speak to Aaron and say to him, ‘When you mount the lamps, the seven lamps will give light in the front of the lampstand.’
I believe that this verse ought to be translated differently to keep the integrity of the Hebrew intact. It is a much more literal translation, and therefore reads less smoothly in English. Here is my suggested translation:
Speak to Aaron and say to him ‘When you light (elevate, increase) the lamps toward the face of the Menorah (Lampstand), shine the light seven lamps.’
As I read this portion, I pondered the meaning of the various specific elements, which are mentioned here in Hebrew:
- The “Menorah” (lampstand) (הַמְּנוֹרָ֔ה)
- The “Pnei HaMenora” (the face of the lampstand) (פְּנֵ֣י הַמְּנוֹרָ֔ה) *This can be translated in Hebrew two ways; either as “in front of” or “the face of”. I personally believe that the accurate translation here ought to be as the face of the Menorah.
- The “Nerot” (נֵּרֹ֔ת) which are the lamps/lights/candles.
When we put these “pieces” together, I believe we get an amazing prophetic picture, which connects to the way Aaron was instructed to “bring up” the lights (lamps) before the face of the lampstand. God Himself is the Menorah (lampstand); Yeshua is the face of God through which the Father has chosen to shine His light:
In Him was life, and the life was the light of men. And the light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not comprehend it.
We, His followers, are the lamps through which He chooses to shine His light here on this earth. As Yeshua said,
Let your light shine before men in such a way that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father who is in heaven.
I also believe that John refers to this in his vision which he wrote in the Book of Revelation:
And I turned to see the voice that was speaking with me. And having turned I saw seven golden lampstands; and in the middle of the lampstands one like a son of man, clothed in a robe reaching to the feet, and girded across His breast with a golden girdle.
As I continue to study from His Word, I continue to marvel at His Work here on this earth! God is The Light of this world; Yeshua is His face through which He has chosen to shine His light on earth; and, we are the ambassadors that He choose to represent Him!