Today is the 40th Sabbath of the annual Torah cycle. The Torah reading (parashah) is Matot (tribes) + Masei (journeys), Num 30:1-36:13.
The paragraph divisions for Matot, Num 30:1-32:42, are as follows:
Num 30:1-16 p The law concerning vows
Num 31:1-54 Victory for Israel over Midian:
— Num 31:1-12 s Defeat of Midian
— Num 31:13-20 s Kill the women and male children, be purified on the 3rd, 7th days
— Num 31:21-24 s Purification of metals + 7th day to come into the camp
— Num 31:25-54 p The division of the plunder
Num 32:1-19 Reuben + Gad desire to inherit the east side of the Jordan:
— Num 32:1-4 s The country on the east side of the Jordan, a land for livestock
— Num 32:5-15 s Reuben + Gad, do not take us over the Jordan; Moses’ rebuke
— Num 32:16-19 p We will cross over armed with Israel to cause them to inherit
Num 32:20-42 p Reuben, Gad, half of Manasseh inherit east of the Jordan
Matot forms a chiastic structure by itself:
1a) Num 30:1-16 p, The law concerning vows;
1b) Num 31:1-8, One thousand from each tribe prevailed over Midian;
1c) Num 31:9-12 s, Israel took the women and children of Midian captive, and took spoil and booty;
1d) Num 31:13, Moses met them outside the camp;
1e) Num 31:14-15, Moses was angry with the officers and captains: Why were the women of Midian kept alive?;
central axis) Num 31:16, These were the women who enticed Israel re: Baal of Peor, by the counsel of Balaam;
2e) Num 31:17-18, Kill the women and male children, keep the female children who are virgins for yourselves;
2d) Num 31:19-24 s+s, Remain outside the camp seven days and purify the plunder and yourselves;
2c) Num 31:25-47, Division of the plunder of Midian;
2b) Num 31:48-54 p, Not a man missing of those who went to war + memorial offering of the victory over Midian;
2a) Num 32:1-42 s+s+p+p, Reuben, Gad, and half Manesseh vow to cross over armed before Israel.
The central axis explains why the war is being waged, but also reveals a deeper truth: that which entices someone away from the LORD God, is an eternal enemy of the LORD God, with whom He wages war forever until they are no more. This Torah portion then is also prophesying of the end of days and the victory which will be to Him and His people in that Day.
The paragraph divisions for Masei, Num 33:1-36:13, are as follows:
Num 33:1-56 The goal of deliverance from Egypt: to possess the land:
— Num 33:1-39 s Journey of Israel from Egypt to the death of Aaron
— Num 33:40-49 s Journey of Israel from Mt Hor to Acacia Grove
— Num 33:50-56 p Israel shall dispossess the inhabitants of the land and possess it
Num 34:1-15 p The boundaries of Canaan, which Israel is to inherit by lot
Num 34:16-29 p The leaders of the tribes who will divide the land
Num 35:1-8 p Cities for the Levites among the tribes
Num 35:9-34 p Cities of refuge + distinction between murder and manslaughter
Num 36:1-13 p Marriage of the daughters of Zelophehad, so that his inheritance is retained
Masei forms a chiastic structure by itself:
1a) Num 33:1-34:29 s+s+p+p+p, Israel brought out of Egypt, so that their inheritance in the land may be gained;
1b) Num 35:1-8 p, Cities for the Levites that they may dwell among the tribes;
1c) Num 35:9-24, Set aside six cities of refuge for the manslayer;
central axis) Num 35:25-28, The manslayer shall remain in the city of refuge until the death of the anointed high priest;
2c) Num 35:29-33, Eternal nature of the statutes of the cities of refuge;
2b) Num 35:34 p, Therefore do not defile the land which you inhabit, for I the LORD dwell among the children of Israel.
2a) Num 36:1-13 p Marriage of the daughters of Zelophehad, so that his inheritance in the land may be retained.
Messiah Yeshua is not only our city of refuge, our escape from our death sentence, but He is also our Anointed High Priest, whose death restores our freedom to dwell in our inheritance!
There is another larger chiastic structure which stretches beyond Matot and Masei:
1a) Num 27:1-7, The daughters of Zelophehad;
1b) Num 27:8-11, Laws concerning the inheritance of the land;
1c) Num 27:12-14, Moses shall be gathered to his people;
1d) Num 27:15-23, Moses transferred authority to Joshua by inauguration;
central axis) Num 28:1-29:40, Daily, Sabbath, new moon, and feast day offerings;
2d) Num 30:1-16, Fathers/ husbands transfer authority to daughters/ wives by vows;
2c) Num 31:1-54, Moses shall be gathered to his people after taking vengeance on the Midianites;
2b) Num 32:1-35:34, Laws concerning the inheritance of the land;
2a) Num 36:1-13, The daughters of Zelophehad.