Take Every Thought Captive

Parashat Behaalot’ha (When You Kindle)
Bamidbar (Numbers) 8:1–12:6

As I was preparing to write the blog this week, I kept returning to the same Scripture again and again, which is Numbers 12:1. It is a very interesting verse, whose meaning — especially in Hebrew — can tell us much. Let’s take a look at this verse:

Then Miriam and Aaron spoke against Moses because of the Cushite woman whom he had married (for he had married a Cushite woman)…
Numbers 12:1

The word כֻּשִׁית (Cushite) in modern Hebrew is an insulting way to refer to a black woman; however, in biblical Hebrew, it can describe a beautiful woman, as well as a woman of noble character. The word can also directly refer to an Ethiopian woman since Cush was in Ethiopia.

There are different theories about this verse with regard to Moses' wife. Some say that Moses had a second wife, but I personally do not hold to that theory. Others believe that it was referring to Ziporrah, who was the daughter of Jethro, Kohen of Midian. But this begs the question of why she would be refered to as “Cushite”, especially as some Bible translations translate it as an "Ethopian" wife. Perhaps Ziporrah had darker skin and therefore she was called “Cushite”.

Regardless of the meaning, the reality is that Miriam (Moses' sister) and Aaron (Moses' brother) were speaking badly (gossiping) against her as they refered to her as a "stranger" outside of the camp of Israel. That ill thought caused them to doubt Moses' authority and to question whether  or not God appointed only him. In essence, they questioned God’s choice of Moses as their leader since he had married an “outsider”.

…and they said, “Has the LORD indeed spoken only through Moses? Has He not spoken through us as well?” And the LORD heard it.
Numbers 12:2

It is amazing how when we allow ill thoughts to come into our minds about someone else, based on our selfishness, biases and even racist opinions can take root in our hearts, which are based on the other person's difference from ourselves. We then start to poison others with these ill thoughts and opinions, which is essentially gossip. This can lead us to doubt this person's worth, and even God, because He is the Creator of all people. The creation speaks volumes about its Creator, and if we do not esteem the creation, then we cannot glorify the Creator!

The rest of this biblical account shows the tragic results of a rebellious heart, which leads to ill thoughts. When we do not keep every thought captive, and submit it to the LORD, as Shaul admonishes us to do in 2 Corinthians 10:5, that poison takes root within us, which can ultimately lead to death:

(Now the man Moses was very humble, more than any man who was on the face of the earth.) Suddenly the LORD said to Moses and Aaron and to Miriam, “You three come out to the tent of meeting.” So the three of them came out. Then the LORD came down in a pillar of cloud and stood at the doorway of the tent, and He called Aaron and Miriam. When they had both come forward, He said, “Hear now My words: If there is a prophet among you, I, the LORD, shall make Myself known to him in a vision. I shall speak with him in a dream. Not so, with My servant Moses, he is faithful in all My household; With him I speak mouth to mouth, even openly, and not in dark sayings,
and he beholds the form of the LORD. why then were you not afraid to speak against My servant, against Moses?”

So the anger of the LORD burned against them and He departed. But when the cloud had withdrawn from over the tent, behold, Miriam was leprous, as white as snow. As Aaron turned toward Miriam, behold, she was leprous. Then Aaron said to Moses, “Oh, my LORD, I beg you, do not account this sin to us, in which we have acted foolishly and in which we have sinned. Oh, do not let her be like one dead, whose flesh is half eaten away when he comes from his mother’s womb!” Moses cried out to the LORD, saying, “O God, heal her, I pray!” But the LORD said to Moses, “If her father had but spit in her face, would she not bear her shame for seven days? Let her be shut up for seven days outside the camp, and afterward she may be received again.” So Miriam was shut up outside the camp for seven days, and the people did not move on until Miriam was received again.” Numbers 12:3–15

There is so much more that I could write about this account, but the main point of this blog is to remind each of us, my dear brothers and sisters, that we would do well to take every thought captive. We are not to judge anybody from a worldly point of view, but instead are to look at others as God’s perfect creation, accepting one another, and loving one another as He loved us!

Let us take the time this week to love and pray for those around us.

Shabbat Shalom,

Did you know? — Lone Soldier

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