Parshat Shemini

Leviticus 9:1-11:47


Screen shot 2015-04-03 at 4.41.23 AM

And on the eighth day it came to be that Mushah called Aharon and his sons and the elders of Yashar’al (Yisrael).-Leviticus (Wayyiqra) 9:1

This torah portion is entitled “Shemini” meaning eighth. For the previous seven days Aharon and his sons have been initiated into the service of the Tent of Meeting. In these seven days Mosheh (Mushah) offered up offerings as Kohen HaGadol (High Priest). He anointed the Tent , the “furniture”, Aharon and his sons. He also placed the blood of the “ram of initiation” upon the right ear, thumb and big toe of Aharon and his sons. On the eighth day Aharon and his sons, the Kohanim (Priests) are to assume role and duty of all offerings and services, which are carried out in the Miqdash (Sanctuary).

 And he said to Aharon, “Take for yourself a young bull as a sin offering and a ram as a burnt offering, a perfect one, and bring them before YaHuWaH. “And speak to the children of Yashar’al (Yisrael), saying, ‘Take a male goat as a sin offering, and a calf and a lamb, both a year old, perfect ones, as a burnt offering,and a bull and a ram as peace offerings, to slaughter before YaHuWaH, and a grain offering mixed with oil. For today YaHuWaH shall appear to you.’ ”-Wayyiqra (Leviticus) 9:2-4

These offerings ushered in the כָּבֹד Kabod (Esteem) YaHuWaH! Yet again in the Torah YaHuWaH appears to his people.

Leviticus 9:23 And Mushah and Aharon went into the Tent of Meeting, and came out and blessed the people. And the esteem of YaHuWaH appeared to all the people,24 and fire came out from before YaHuWaH and consumed the burnt offering and the fat on the altar. And all the people saw and cried aloud and fell on their faces.


We know that the Berikah (“blessing”) that was given to the people can be found in Numbers 6. This Berikah is done by Aharon and his sons to “put the Name of YaHuWaH upon the people.’ When the people receive the berikah and have the Name placed upon them, YaHuWaH appears! Further YaHuWaH sent qodesh (set apart) fire from his presence consumes the burnt offering and fat!

 Wayyiqra (Leviticus) 10:1 And Nadab and Abihu, the sons of Aharon, each took his fire holder and put fire in it, and put incense on it, and brought strange fire before YaHuWaH, which He had not commanded them. 2 And fire came out from YaHuWaH and consumed them, and they died before YaHuWaH. 3ThencMushah said to Aharon, “This is what YaHuWaH spoke, saying, ‘By those who come near Me let Me be set-apart! And before all the people let Me be esteemed!’ ”And Aharon was silent. 4 And Mushah called to Misha’Ãl and to Eltsaphan, the sons of Uzzi’Ãl the uncle of Aharon, and said to them, “Come near, take your brothers from before the set- apart place out of the camp.”5So they came near and took them by their long shirts out of the camp, as Mushah had said.

אֵשׁ זָרָה “Esh Zarah” or strange fire in this case is a type of action carried out with the incense in a manner of which YaHuWaH did not prescribe.  The very word זָרָה zerah means to turn aside from and to depart.  The word also gives us the term “stranger” as in the strangers and sojourners amongst Yashar’al (Yisrael).  Therefore this act is identified as an act that is done among pagan civilizations, a type of worship YaHuWaH had not prescribed.  Due to the literal reading we know that the offering of incense is directly related to this act. It is speculated what exactly was done, some say Nadab and Abihu went into the Qodesh Qodeshah (Most set apart place).  Others have said they were drunk.   However it seems it had more to do with the way in which they put incense in their fire holder. Nadab and Abihu were very important men, of royal families. If YaHuWaH did not spare these prominent Kohanim (Priests) how unlikely is it that someone can just offer up any type of worship and it be accepted? We see here that worship is a very important thing yet it can even be dangerous if done incorrectly! According to the reading the shirts of Nadab and Abihu remained intact in so much that they could be pulled out by their shirts. For this reason it is believed that YaHuWaH burned them from the inside out. Aharon is commanded not to mourn due to the fact that YaHuWaH’s name and oil were upon him in the presence of YaHuWaH’s esteem. Aharon is not to show any signs of mourning, and in response he doesn’t even say a word. Perhaps it was his silence that spoke loudest.

yellow flame isolated on black background

 Wayyiqra (Leviticus) 10:6And Mushah said to Aharon, and to El’azar and to Ithamar, his sons, “Do not unbind your heads nor tear your garments, lest you die, and wrath come upon all the people. But let your brothers, all the house of Yashar’al, bewail the burning which YaHuWaH has kindled.7 “And do not go out from the door of the Tent of Meeting, lest you die, for the anointing oil of YaHuWaH is upon you.” And they did according to the word of Mushah.8 And YaHuWaH spoke to Aharon, saying,9“Do not drink wine or strong drink, you, nor your sons with you, when you go into the Tent of Meeting, lest you die – a law forever throughout your generations,10 so as to make a distinction between the set-apart and the profane, and between the unclean and the clean,11 and to teach the children of Yashar’al all the laws which YaHuWaH has spoken to them by the hand of Mosheh.”

YaHuWaH spoke to Aharon directly and warned that when he or any of his sons come into the Tent of Meeting to perform the duty that they are not to have any wine or strong drink before hand. YaHuWaH warned that if they have strong drink before serving in his Tent that they would die! This seems to indicate that wine contributed to the liberal and loose actions of Nadab and Abihu. This should be a parable to many today that our mighty one is a consuming fire and you cannot just worship him in any way you want. It should also be noted that this is not a ban on drinking alcohol. Drinking alcohol is perfectly acceptable, it is not a sin it is forbidden and considered to be profane and unclean for a Kohen (Priest) who is about to serve in the Tent of Meeting.  Wine is actually one of the qodesh offerings that are required to be made to YaHuWaH.

 Wayyiqra (Leviticus) 10:16And Mushah diligently looked for the goat of the sin offering and saw it was burned up. And he was wroth with El’azar and Ithamar, the sons of Aharon who were left, saying,17 “Why have you not eaten the sin offering in a set-apart place, since it is most set- apart, and Elohim has given it to you to bear the crookedness of the congregation, to make atonement for them before YaHuWaH?18“See, its blood was not brought inside the set-apart place. You should have eaten it without fail in a set-apart place, as I have commanded.”19And Aharon said to Mushah, “See, today they have brought their sin offering and their burnt offering before YaHuWaH, and matters like these have come to me! If I had eaten the sin offering today, would it have been right in the eyes of YaHuWaH?”20And when Mushah heard that, it was good in his eyes.

 Clean (Tahor) and Unclean (Tame)

Further we learn of the clean טָהוֹר(tahor) and unclean טָמֵא (tame) animals.

 Wayyiqra (Leviticus) 11:2Speak to the children of Yashar’al (Yisrael), And YaHuWaH spoke to Mushah and to them,saying, ‘These are the living creatures which you do eat among all the beasts that are on the earth:3‘Whatever has a split hoof completely divided, chewing the cud, among the beasts, that you do eat.

 Among land mammals the rule is that they must both chew cud and have divided hooves.

Wayyiqra (Leviticus) 11:4 ‘Only, these you do not eat among those that chew the cud or those that have a split hoof: the camel, because it chews the cud but does not have a split hoof, it is unclean to you;5 and the rabbit, because it chews the cud but does not have a split hoof, it is unclean to you;6 and the hare, because it chews the cud but does not have a split hoof, it is unclean to you;7 and the pig, though it has a split hoof, completely divided, yet does not chew the cud, it is unclean to you.8‘Their flesh you do not eat, and their carcasses you do not touch. They are unclean to you.


We see here that clearly both criteria must be met and if one is lacking then the animal is rendered unclean and we are not to even touch it’s carcass!

Wayyiqra (Leviticus) 11: 9 ‘These you do eat of all that are in the waters: any one that has fins and scales in the waters, in the seas or in the rivers, that you do eat.10 ‘But all that have not fins and scales in the seas and in the rivers, all that move in the waters or any living creature which is in the waters, they are an abomination to you.11 ‘They are an abomination to you – of their flesh you do not eat, and their carcasses you abominate.12‘ All that have not fins or scales in the waters is an abomination to you.

Of all water animals, they must have fins and scales. This eliminates most of what the world deems “seafood” and leaves us with various varieties of fish. Further YaHuWaH commands us that their carcasses are to be an abomination to us.

Instead of listing any rules for birds, YaHuWaH lists 20 species of birds that are unclean.In Hebrew, the 20 unclean species of bird are: nesher, peres, ozniyah, daah, ayah, oreiv, bat yaanah, tachmas, shachaf, netz, kops, shalach, yanshuf, tinshemet, kaat, racham, chassidah, anafah, duchifat, atalef.

 Wayyiqra (Leviticus) 11:13‘And these you do abominate among the birds, they are not eaten, they are an abomination: the eagle, and the vulture, and the black vulture,14and the hawk, and the falcon after its kind,15 every raven after its kind,16 and the ostrich, and the nighthawk, and the seagull, and the hawk after its kind,17and the little owl, and the fisher owl, and the great owl,18 and the white owl, and the pelican, and the carrion vulture, 19and the stork, the heron after its kind and the hoopoe, and the bat.

 Insects and “creeping creatures” are forbidden “All swarming things that fly, going upon four, shall be an abomination to you” with four exceptions:

Wayyiqra (Leviticus) 11: 22These of them you do eat: the locust after its kind, and the destroying locust after its kind, and the cricket after its kind, and the grasshopper after its kind.23 ‘But all other flying insects which have four feet is an abomination to you.


Purity Laws

The carcasses of unclean land animals decrees the one who touches or carries them tameh, ceremonially impure. The same principle applies to the carcass of a clean animal that was not slaughtered in the prescribed fashion. The Torah lists eight “creeping animals” which makes a person tameh: “The rat, the mouse, and the tortoise after its kind; the gecko, the monitor, the lizard, the skink, and the chameleon.”Any utensils or food and drink will also become tameh (unclean) through contact with a carcass. A mikwah which is a living pool of water or even a well spring do not become tameh; actually, the mikwah and the wellspring have the power to clean things that have become impure that are immersed in them.


(Siloam in the land of Israel is an ancient mikwah.)

Wayyiqra (Leviticus) 11:43Do not make yourselves abominable with any creeping creature that creeps, and do not make yourselves unclean with them, lest you be defiled by them.44‘For I am YaHuWaH your Elohim, and you shall set yourselves apart. And you shall be set-apart (qodesh), for I am set-apart (qodesh). And do not defile yourselves with any creeping creature that creeps on the earth.

Many times I have heard this famous quote spoken in King James English “be ye holy for I am holy…” As we know the word holy is fairly inaccurate and has pagan connotation but the Hebrew word Qodesh literally means set apart. So we are to be set apart for YaHuWaH is set apart. Many quote the following:

 1 Kepha (Peter) 1: 16 because it has been written, “Be set- apart, for I am set-apart.”

However where is this written? In Wayyiqra (Leviticus) YaHuWaH tells us to be qodesh as he is qodesh and in context he is saying to eat only what is clean! Messiah kept the Torah, his followers kept the Torah and they all ate clean foods. Remember Nadab and Abihu and do not offer up strange fire to YaHuWaH, choosing your own path instead of his.