HEBREW WORD STUDY – LAMPLIGHTERS – BEH’ALOTEKA HANEROT – בהעלתכ הנרת
Numbers 8:2: “Speak unto Aaron, and say unto him, When thou lightest the lamps, the seven lamps shall give light over against the candlestick.”
Many people think that because I was a Hebrew teacher I would know all about Jewish customs and symbols. Oddly, I spend very little time studying their customs and practices. I am more interested in their relationship with God and how they express it. So I really spent very little time studying the Menorah. Until today, I was only vaguely aware that there are two different Menorahs, the Hanukkah Menorah which we see around our Christmas time and then there is the Temple Menorah. The Hanukkah Menorah is the one we commonly see which has eight branches with a ninth in the center called the shamash or servant light. The Temple Menorah has seven candlesticks for the seven days of creation. Three candlesticks on either side of a center candlestick which represents the seventh day of creation or the Sabbath.
The Menorah has always been the symbol of Judaism since early times. I read something thing interesting in the Talmud this morning in Manahot 28b and that it is forbidden to use the seven lamp Menorah outside the temple, therefore the Hanukkah Menorah is given eight branches with a ninth in the center.
God revealed the specific design of the Menorah to Moses and describes the construction in Exodus 25:31-40. The Temple Institute in Israel has already built a reproduction of the Menorah precisely as prescribed in Exodus and it is ready to be instantly lit with the completion of the construction of the third temple.
Candlestick is a misnomer. Candlestick in Hebrew is nir which simply means a lamp or burner. Candles were not used extensively in the Middle East until the time of the Romans. The Menorah was five and a half feet tall and stood on a stand. Here is what I found interesting in reading Jewish literature. Most translations are very loose with the words beh’aloteka hanerot from the root word alah. Some translations says when you mount up or set up the candlesticks or light the candlesticks. Actually, the words beh’aloteka hanerot in noun form means the lamplighter but in its verbal form it literally means: “in your raising of the light.” Rashi teaches that the lamplighter must hold the flame to the wick until a fire arises out of its own accord. The Lubavitcher Rebbe says that this teaches that when one is teaching and influencing one’s fellow, the object should be to establish him or her as a self-sufficient luminary so they can sufficiently glow in their own accord.
Here is what struck me, you would literally render Numbers 8:2 as: “Speak unto Aaron, and say unto him When in your rising of your light, the seven lamps shall give light over against the lamp burner.” I believe there is a buried message here for pastors and Christian workers. We often consider evangelism as sharing the four spiritual laws, getting a person to pray the sinner’s prayer and then go on our way. Saying the sinner’s prayer is only holding the fire to their wick, we must be sure their wick is lit and burning on its own before we move on. This may take days, weeks, perhaps years of discipline and all the time our goal is to let that person go so they can light other lamps.
Pastors spend years and years holding their light to their congregation, never letting go, afraid they will leave the fold so they are always warning that they must stay close to his light lest they trip and fall. Yet, like the mother bird, like any parent there comes a time that you must push the fold out of the nest, leave the nest or Menorah behind and let them establish their own church, or fellowship so they can light the Menorah of others.
Posted in Devotionals