Thoughts and Teachings: Haftarah for Balak

This week’s Parasha, Balak, (Numbers 22.2-25.9)[i] is the very well-known account of Balak’s attempt to entice Balaam to come a curse Bnei Israel. As I read this passage a particular question really stood out. After Balak’s emissaries approached Balaam, the LORD came to Balaam and asked, “Who are these men with you?” (Numbers 22.9) When I read this, I immediately thought of the incident in the Garden when the LORD asked Adam “where are you?” (Genesis 3.10) as well as the LORD asking Cain, “where is Abel your brother?” (Genesis 4.9)

Is it possible that the LORD did not know the answers to these questions? Was the created actually able to hide from the Creator. It seems to me that in each case, as well as in our own lives, the LORD asks questions of man, not to accommodate the LORD’s lack knowledge because Scripture states: “Nothing in all creation is hidden from God’s sight” (Hebrew 4.13). Instead, it appears that the LORD desires man to look at the situation and understand or recognize what is going on. Shaul wrote to the believers in Rome that they should “discern what is the will of God—what is good and acceptable and perfect.” (Romans 12.2)

The Haftarah, Micah 5.6 – 6.8, with the prophet’s warning in Micah 6.5 providing the connection with the Torah portion. As well-known as the Balak/Balaam story is, so is the closing verse of this Haftarah.

He has told you, humanity, what is good, and what Adonai is seeking from you: Only to practice justice, to love mercy, and to walk humbly with your God.

It would seem that the prophet is adding his amen to the Torah requirements (Deuteronomy 6.5 and Leviticus 19.18) just as Yeshua taught both the Pharisees and by default his disciples (Matthew 22.37-40). What is most startling is that the prophet’s words are not to Israel alone, but to אדם, to all mankind. We were all created in the image of God (Genesis 1.27) and we are all recipient of the breath of life from Hashem (Genesis 2.7). Though Micah’s utterance deals with judgment and discipline upon Israel he does not release the rest of creation from their responsibility to walk in righteousness and justice as well. Though the Torah was given to Israel, the principles of life and the knowledge of Adonai are present in all of creation (Romans 1.19-20).

Shabbat Shalom

[i] Unless otherwise noted, all Scriptures are from the Tree of Life (TLV) Translation of the Bible.