Why did the sons of Mosheh not merit any leadership?
Why did the sons of Mosheh, Gereshom and Eli’ezer, not merit to be in the leadership of Israel? Should they not have been worthy of high positions in the clergy, or entitled to a high rank in the leadership in Israel?
And why did Mosheh not say a word in their behalf at the end of his life, because he chose none of them to be his successor, but YHVH chose Mosheh’s right hand: Yehoshua.
But why? After all, were Gereshom and Eli’ezer not the sons of none other than Mosheh (Moses), the greatest statesman in the Scripture?
The answer to these questions we will seek in this article.
Everything started at Mount Sinai
YHVH revealed Himself to Mosheh at Mount Horev (Sinai), through the Messenger of His Face from the midst of the burning bush (Exo 3:2), and told him to go back to Egypt to take the children of Israel out of the land of slavery.
Mosheh took his wife Tsipporah and his sons and headed to Egypt. On his way to Egypt (Exo 4:20-26), in a dramatic event to prevent the death of her sons, Tsipporah circumcised them, because Mosheh neglected to perform the sign of the Covenant. And that was the last mention of Tsipporah and their sons until they appeared again in Exo 18.
It becomes very apparent in Exo 18:2 that Mosheh sent Tsipporah and their sons — Gereshom “refugee” and Eli’ezer “El is my help” — back to her father Yithro (Jethro) in Midian.
Now, when Mosheh sent his wife and sons back to Yithro, he believed that he would meet them again on the arrival of the Israelites at Horev, because YHVH assured him that Israel would be brought to this mountain on its deliverance from Egypt (Exo 3:12).
Now that Mosheh had returned to the land of Midian (Mount Sinai is in Midian), Yithro brought Zipporah and his sons to unite them, because he heard of all that YHVH did for Israel (Exo 18:1). What he heard was not only the miracles Elohim did in Egypt and the split of the Red Sea, but probably also, the Revelation at Sinai.
That day on which Mosheh sat down to judge his people was the day after what would be known as Yom Kippurim. On Yom Kippurim he returned from the mountain with the new tablets of the Covenant, after he was in the presence of YHVH 120 days, and on the next day he judged the people. This we studied in more details in the articles dedicated to Yom Kippurim from the series The Appointed Times of YHVH.
Evidently, Exo 18 was not written in chronological order, because it took place after the giving of the Covenant in Exo 20, and because, otherwise, it is impossible to say in Exo 18:13 that Mosheh “sat down to judge the people” and in Exo 18:16 “I judge between a man and his neighbor, and I make them know the statutes of Elohim, and His laws” on the day before the revelation at Sinai.
But, it is possible that Yithro arrived at the camp before the giving of the Covenant, and he stayed with Israel until the second year (Num 10:29-31).
Now, if this course of reasoning is correct, then most obviously, the sons of Mosheh were not present at the Revelation at Sinai and therefore they did not enter into the Covenant of YHVH
But, this is also true to say that they indeed entered into the Covenant, at another mountain Nebo, at its renewal with the new generation born in the exile (see Deu 29:1).
The golden calf sin
After the children of Israel worshipped the golden calf, Mosheh came down the mountain, and in his anger he ground up the idol, and made the people drink the gold.
Then, Mosheh called for those who were for YHVH to come to him. The Levites responded (Exo 32:26-28) and distinguished themselves from the rest of the tribes by their readiness to defend the Covenant of YHVH, even against their own brethren, and about 3,000 fell that tragic day for Israel.
We should remember that this same zeal for justice was demonstrated by their father Levi in defense of his sister Dinah’s honor after Shechem had raped her.
Thus, for their zeal at Mount Sinai the Levites gained the right to become YHVH’s priests instead of the firstborns, for originally the service was meant for the firstborns.
The Levites, who had not committed the idolatry with the golden calf, were chosen in their place (Num 3:40-41), because they were proven to be the most suitable of all the tribes for this honor, through their firm and faithful defense of the Torah.
And that was the reason why they were chosen by YHVH for the service the Tabernacle and later in the Temple, and not in the fact that Mosheh and Aharon belonged to the tribe and desired to form a hierarchical class of the Levites.
Having said that, we should note again that the sons of Mosheh were not present with their brethren in Exo 32, and did not merit to hear what Mosheh said to the Levites,
You are ordained for Yehovah today, since each one has been against his son and his brother, so as to bring upon you a blessing today. (Exo 32:29)
But, on the other hand the sons of Mosheh were present at the census in Num 3:40, when Aharon and his sons were appointed to guard the priesthood, and when the whole tribe of Levi was brought near and given to Aharon the priest and his sons (Num 3:9-10), and when YHVH said to Mosheh,
And you shall take the Levites for Me – I am Yehovah – instead of all the first-born among the children of Israel, and the livestock of the Levites instead of all the first-born among the livestock of the children of Israel. (Num 3:40-41)
Thus, the Levites, chosen by YHVH, were to serve not only at the Tabernacle but also as the redemption of the firstborn of Israel. And the sons of Mosheh Gereshom and Eli’ezer were among them.
Mosheh—the humblest man
And the man Mosheh was very humble, more than all men who were on the face of the earth. (Num 12:3)
Mosheh, as described in the Torah by YHVH Himself, was very humble, humbler than any person on the face of the earth. He was chosen for the official position of a mediator between the Creator of the universe and Israel; most evidently, in relation to all the Israelites Mosheh was greatly exalted.
This elevation of Moses excited envy on the part of some of the Israelites led by Korach, and even on the part of his brother and sister, whom YHVH had also placed so high, that Miriam was distinguished as a prophetess and Aharon had been raised into the spiritual head of the whole nation. Read more.
But even on that exalted position in Israel, Mosheh did not say a word to benefit his sons.
What does “humble” mean?
Humble does not mean showing modest reserve, nor does it mean being meek, bashful by lowering one’s head, shy, low or inferior in post or quality. Mosheh was none of these.
On the contrary, Mosheh was angry with his people from the moment he took the leadership of the children of Israel in Egypt until his last days in the land of Moav.
Humble does not mean to be nice, good, pleasant for all. Nor does humble mean to please everyone, that is “political correctness”. Mosheh was nothing like this, either.
Humility does not mean “religious piousness”, because it was written,
Do not be over righteous, neither be overwise! Why should you destroy yourself? (Ecc 7:16)
For there is not a righteous man on earth who does good and does not sin. (Ecc 7:20)
Yet, YHVH called Mosheh the humblest man on the face of the earth, because humble does not mean holding yourself low; humble means holding other people high.
And indeed, humility does mean honoring others and regarding them as important, no less important than yourself.
And that was Mosheh! That was what he was doing all his life: he was holding the children of Israel high, despite the anger he had towards them that cost him the Promised Land.
This highest trait of the person’s character was manifested when Mosheh returned to YHVH after the golden calf sin and said,
And now, if You would forgive their sin, but if not, please blot me out of Your book which You have written. (Exo 32:31-32)
Therefore, it was said about Mosheh,
And since then no prophet has arisen in Israel like Mosheh, whom Yehovah knew face to face, (Deu 34:10)
Where were the sons of Mosheh?
As noted above, once the Levites became the chosen tribe to serve YHVH after the golden calf sin, we do not see the sons of Mosheh among them. Nor do we see them in the leadership of Israel.
In Num 3:1, for instance, we see Aharon placed before Mosheh, not merely as being the elder brother, but because his sons received the priesthood, while the sons of Mosheh, on the contrary, were reckoned among the rest of the tribe (see 1Ch 23:14) and did not receive any privilege of being priests, nor did they become any leaders of Israel. Why?
Midrash HaChefetz says, “they did not experience the exodus from Egypt and did not traverse the sea with the people of Israel, as they were in Midian with Jethro (Moses’ father-in-law—see Exo 18:1-6)”.
Even though that the sons of Mosheh had not experience the Exodus, this fact alone does not disqualify them for the priesthood. As we noted above, the sons of Aharon stood behind Mosheh, despite their father’s sin in the golden calf.
It was Aharon who allowed the rebels among the Israelites to make the golden calf. It was Aharon’s sin that led Israel into sin. Had he stood his ground as the second leader of Israel and not given in, Israel would not have seen, and the outcome of this tragic event would have been quite different.
Aharon was a righteous man. But he was also a meek man, and meekness sometimes may lead to weakness, and weakness to sin, as it was the case of the golden calf.
But, had Mosheh not prayed for him and for the people before YHVH, Aharon would have been among those 3,000 who died that day (see Deu 9:20), and then who would have been the High Priest of Israel?
The sons of Mosheh did not sin in the golden calf sin, but they did not go through the test their brethren went through.
Yet, one can expect that Mosheh’s sons should have received some honor to become priests for the sake of their father. But we do not see them as leaders anywhere in the Scripture.
Nor do we see that Mosheh had made any attempts to negotiate the position of the new leader of Israel, after YHVH told him that he would not enter the Land but die in a foreign land.
On the contrary, before his death the man of Elohim asked Him to appoint the most suitable man for this job. And YHVH chose Yehoshua.
Therefore, YHVH chose the Levites not in the fact that the most prominent of them, Mosheh and Aharon, belonged to the tribe. Nor did YHVH choose them to form a hierarchical class of priests and religious leaders in Israel.
But, He chose them for their zeal to defend the Torah, when the trial came.
In other words, the Levites, who had not committed the idolatry with the golden calf, YHVH appointed as servants in the Dwelling Place. None of them were chosen because of relation to Mosheh and Aharon, but because of their stance in time of trial.
And the sons of Mosheh did not make any exception. YHVH does not look at the man and shows no partiality or favoritism. They were reckoned impartially among the rest of the Levites, as we read,
Now Mosheh, the man of Elohim, his sons were named after the tribe of Levi. (1Ch 23:14)
The tribe of Levi had been divided at Mount Sinai into the three great families of Gershonites, Kohathites, and Merarites, corresponding to the three sons of Levi.
But as to Mosheh the man of Elohim, his sons Gereshom and Eli’ezer were named after the tribe of Levi, i.e. were reckoned in the ranks of the ordinary Levites, not of the priests. They did not receive any preferential treatment for the sake of their most notable father Mosheh.
The lesson of the virus
As of the time of this writing, more than 100,000 souls died due to COVID-19 the Coronavirus in the U.S. alone. More than 100,000!
The plan of the U.S. President Donald Trump is to reopen the country, the economy, and the houses of worship as “essential” amid the coronavirus pandemic.
President Trump announced new guidelines pertaining to communities of faith, and viewed the houses of worship as “essential places that provide essential services”.
It is not the policy of Time of Reckoning Ministry (TORM) to discuss whether America is ready for the reopening; from his chair President Trump sees better what is good for his country.
However, it is a matter of fact that prominent religious leaders pressured President Trump for reopening the churches in America. Read more.
Why? This is why.
It is a matter of fact that the coronavirus pandemic made the places of worship closed. This affected the attendance and most notedly the proceeds from donations.
Most of the Protestant churches in America are on mortgage and any default would cause financial and property losses; not to ignore the fact that the pastors are on a large payroll and they too pay mortgages and car loans, etc.
As noted above, YHVH did not choose the Levites to form a hierarchical class of professional priesthood, such as is to be found among the wealthiest of the Christian professional clergymen, who created denominational dynasties, mega churches, TV networks, handed down from the father to the son, and to the grandson. And rightly so, they have built them [with the donations of the laymen]; these churches are theirs.
But, when the pandemic came, those religious formations were shuttered, the pastors’ incomes ceased or reduced, as well as, their standard of living. Hence, the emergency arose to reopen the places of worship. Meanwhile, “drive through churches” were opened to keep on money flowing.
But what is the motivation for the reopening; to provide the laymen with the proper service, or to have the money flow again?
This is what the virus taught us: if something is based on money, it will follow the flow of money down the pipe, as the money has gone on buildings, salaries, perks, and tax-exempt allowances of the “chosen” religious elite.
But, this is not how it was in the beginning, and this is not how it was meant to be, in the first place.
YHVH did not appoint anyone to replace the Levites, nor did He establish any new class of priests, aka “professional priesthood”, that would demand the money of the laymen and say, “God said so!”. Much less, He replaced Israel with the Church.
But did we not study these controversial issues in the Church in the articles:
as well as the series of articles The seven letters to the seven churches.
May we merit seeing the coming of our Mashiach speedily in our days.