Ki Tisa: Bitter Curses, and a Blind Prophet


This Torah portion is about worthless idols– a golden calf ground to powder and sucked up through a jumbo-sized straw. A similar story pertaining to the spirit of jealousy is told in the book of Numbers. If a man thought his wife might have been unfaithful, and a spirit of jealousy came on him, he was to bring his wife to the priest. In Numbers 5, the priest would take holy water and an earthen vessel and some of the dust on the floor of the tabernacle to put in the water. The priest would then have the woman swear under oath:

If no man has lain with you, and if you have not gone astray to uncleanness while under your husband’s authority, be free from this bitter water that brings a curse. But if you have gone astray while under your husband’s authority, and if you have defiled yourself and some man other than your husband has lain with you”— then the priest shall put the woman under the oath of the curse, and he shall say to the woman—“the Lord make you a curse and an oath among your people, when the Lord makes your thigh rot and your belly swell; and may this water that causes the curse go into your stomach, and make your belly swell and your thigh rot. Then the woman shall say, “Amen, so be it” (Numbers 5:19-22).

Sounds horrible. Can you imagine? There is no record of this thigh rot happening , by the way. It almost reads as if the man is suspicious that she may be pregnant with someone else’s baby. Joseph was suspicious of Mary (Miriam) but he was going to take care of the matter quietly. Can you see Joseph pondering these verses and wondering about Mary (Miriam) before the angel of the Lord appeared to him?

Next, the priest would have the woman drink the bitter water:

And the priest shall write these curses on a scroll and wash them off into the bitter water. He is to have the woman drink the bitter water that brings a curse, and it will enter her and cause her bitter suffering. The priest shall take from her hand the grain offering for jealousy, wave it before the LORD, and bring it to the altar. Then, the priest is to take a handful of the grain offering as a memorial portion and burn it on the altar; after that, he is to have the woman drink the water.

–Numbers 5:23-26, KJV

Back then, women could be sent away, and falsely accused. Even sent away with no divorce papers. These passages are no doubt for mercy—mercy from Adonai.

In our Torah portion, Ki Tisa, Moses burns the calf in the fire, grounds it to powder, and makes the people drink it. Not your average slurpy!

Then he (Moses) took the calf they had made, burned it in the fire, ground it to powder, and scattered the powder over the face of the water. Then he forced the Israelites to drink it.

—Exodus 32:20

There is another story involving a woman caught in adultery that involves jealousy and dust, but we do not read about 2 or 3 witnesses. We just have a woman. Notice the similarities in the story of the bitter curses.

Teacher,” they said to (Yeshua) Jesus, “this woman was caught in the act of adultery.  The law of Moses says to stone her. What do you say?” They were trying to trap him into saying something they could use against him, but Yeshua stooped down and wrote in the dust with his finger.  They kept demanding an answer, so he stood up again and said, “. . . let the one who has never sinned throw the first stone!”  Then he stooped down again and wrote in the dust.

–John 8:4-7, NLT

 

This dusty business is interesting, and we see it repeated throughout the Bible.

Slurpy recipe: one golden calf ground down to powder, mix with water, drink.

Why did the people need Moses to worship properly? They were waiting on Moses to come down the mount. Perhaps, they thought Moses was so close to the Holy One, speaking with Him face to face, that they assumed he was never coming back to lead or direct them? They needed a leader. His elder brother Aaron had failed to keep holiness in the camp after Moses’ departure.

And somehow, I can relate to this dusty drink. How many times have we made calves?

The Father is so angry. He wants to destroy the people He saved, parted the sea for, and annihilated the Egyptians over. Moses is willing to sacrifice his own name and pleads for the people to be spared. Even if a ragtag group of Egyptians convinced them to fall into sin, they still were persuaded.  This story has always reminded me of King Saul who was supposed to wait for the prophet Samuel to offer sacrifices, but Saul gets pressured by the people. Saul does not kill the wicked king Agag, so Samuel has to do the King’s dirty work. Aaron was pressured by the people and out popped this golden calf.

The Holy One is ready to blot out the people and he is offering Moses the big kahuna position.

Moses says, Let not the Egyptians say, ‘It was with evil intent that he delivered them, only to kill them off in the mountains and to annihilate them from the face of the earth.’ Turn from Your blazing anger and renounce the plan to punish Your people. Remember Your servants Abraham, Isaac, and Israel, how You swore to them by Your Self and said to them: I will make your offspring as numerous as the stars of heaven, and I will give to your offspring this whole land of which I spoke, to possess forever.”

Where are men like Moses? This humble man is able to plead for a people and remind the Holy One of His Great Name and His promises. Who tells the Holy One to turn from His BLAZING anger? Oh, we need men today like Moses. Mighty men.

King Jeroboam and Aaron make similar statements.

Aaron: “He took the gold from their hands, and with an engraving tool, he fashioned it into a molten calf. And they said, “These, O Israel, are your gods, who brought you up out of the land of Egypt!” (Exodus 32:4, BSB).

 Jeroboam:Therefore the king asked advice, made two calves of gold, and said to the people, “It is too much for you to go up to Jerusalem. Here are your gods, O Israel, which brought you up from the land of Egypt!”

But then this. . .

“And Jeroboam appointed his own priests for the high places and for the goat demons and calf idols he had made” (II Chronicles 11:15, BSB).

What were these goat demons or idols warned about in the Torah (Leviticus 17:7)? This is more than likely the god pan who was part human from the toro up and goat on the bottom half. He played the musical pipes. Pan was a lustful figure having the horns, legs, and ears of a goat. Pop stars are famous for depicting this image or the ram in costume or album covers. They mock the ram in the thicket and Abraham. They mock the Lamb of Yahweh. They separate themselves from the sheep and take on the goat.

The original 1973 album cover of the Rolling Stones was titled Goat’s Head Soup. The goat and ram head are revered in witchcraft. Paul McCartney’s 1971 solo album above, Ram, pictures him holding a Ram by the horns. In 1966, the Beach Boys came out with their album, Pet Sounds, featuring them feeding goats on the album. Today’s pop stars wear a headdress depicting ram or goat horns for main events, and they are proud of it.

Ozzy Osbourne features this symbol on many albums but then again, he was lead man for a group called Black Sabbath. His hit song concerning Aleister Crowley, of Mr. Crowley, became a bestselling hit.

Crowley, below, top left corner,  has appeared on many Rock album covers or in lyrics such as The Doors, the Beatles, Rolling Stones, David Bowie, Iron Maiden, and Led Zeppelin. Aleister was an occultist, frequented prostitutes, slept with both genders and was a drug addict. He wrote books about black magic and the occult. He was a necromancer. Too bad he ran after darkness and decided that since there was no forgiveness for blasphemy of the Holy Spirit, he would attempt to succeed in doing just that. These goat demons have been given the spotlight.

Sometimes, when we are immature, we sing songs that we have no idea the meaning behind the lyrics. Sometimes we worship on days we pick out of our own hearts. Sometimes we black out the Sabbath and forget to keep it holy.

We chant, “Make us a calf. Make it gold”. Raise it up on a platform. Idols reign supreme today. We carry one around with us and stare at it. A bite taken out of an apple. Top NFL players make 20 million a season. Why? Because we have made them idols. What we watch, we support. Some idols are easy to point out, but what about the ones that happen in congregations and ministries?

Jeroboam feared he would lose the kingdom. He devised a plan where the people would not go up to Jerusalem to offer sacrifices. Political powers do not want to lose their kingdoms or their wealth. Possibly there is a reason for a bull outside the stock market in NY.

“So the king consulted, and he made two golden calves; and he said to the people, “It is too much for you to go up to Jerusalem; behold your gods, Israel, that brought you up from the land of Egypt.”

Jeroboam added to the issue by NOT keeping with the pattern set up by Yahweh. He instituted his Sukkot on the day he wanted. He appointed priests who were not of the sons of Levi. Sound familiar?

“And he made houses on high places and appointed priests from all the people who were not of the sons of Levi. Jeroboam also instituted a feast in the eighth month on the fifteenth day of the month, like the feast that is in Judah (The postponement of the Feast of Sukkot to the eighth month), and he went up to the altar. So he did in Bethel, sacrificing to the calves which he had made. And he stationed in Bethel, the priests of the high places which he had made. Then he went up to the altar which he had made in Bethel on the fifteenth day in the eighth month, the month that he had devised in his own heart; and he instituted a feast for the sons of Israel and went up to the altar to burn incense.” (I Kings 12:31-33)

Jonah went down to Joppa and down to the ship and down, but Jeroboam went up to the altar, and up to the altar and up. Oh, the pride.

Some scholars believe Jeroboam’s calves were initially intended as pedestals or mounts for YHVH, like the cherubs, not as idols. The Lord sends a prophet who prophesies against him and tells him the altar will split apart, and the ashes upon it will be poured out. Jeroboam cries “Seize him!” But his hand withers and the altar splits apart, and the ashes pour out, according to the sign that the prophet spoke. Jeroboam then cries for his hand to be restored.

What happens to King Jeroboam? After the prophet warns him. After watching the altar split apart and his arm wither up, yes, after all this, he continued appointing priests who had no business being priests. He continued celebrating Sukkot on the day his heart wanted. He continued being disobedient. Until suddenly his young son falls sick. Jeroboam does not seek the prophet.  After the strong rebukes from prophets in the past, he tells his wife to disguise herself—put on a mask, dress up, but it doesn’t really matter. The prophet Ahijah is primarily blind anyway. Luckily, this old prophet can still hear:

But the LORD had said to Ahijah, “Behold, the wife of Jeroboam is coming to ask you about her son, for he is ill. You are to say such and such to her, because when she arrives, she will be disguised.”

So when Ahijah heard the sound of her feet entering the door, he said, “Come in, wife of Jeroboam! Why are you disguised? For I have been sent to you with bad news. Go, tell Jeroboam that this is what the LORD, the God of Israel, says: ‘I raised you up from among the people and appointed you ruler over My people Israel. I tore the kingdom away from the house of David and gave it to you. But you were not like My servant David, who kept My commandments and followed Me with all his heart, doing only what was right in My eyes. You have done more evil than all who came before you. You have proceeded to make for yourself other gods and molten images to provoke Me, and you have flung Me behind your back. Because of all this, behold, I am bringing disaster on the house of Jeroboam:

I will cut off from Jeroboam every male, both slave and free, in Israel; I will burn up the house of Jeroboam As one burns up dung until it is gone! Anyone belonging to Jeroboam who dies in the city will be eaten by dogs, and anyone who dies in the field will be eaten by the birds of the air.’ For the LORD has spoken.

As for you, get up and go home. When your feet enter the city, the child will die. All Israel will mourn for him and bury him. For this is the only one belonging to Jeroboam who will receive a proper burial, because only in him has the LORD, the God of Israel, found any good in the house of Jeroboam.

–I Kings 14:5-13

May we burn our golden calves down to powder.

Blessings,

Tekoa Manning

 

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