Chukkat contains the mysterious laws of the Red Heifer, the deaths of Miriam and Aharon, the punishment of Moshe forbidding him entry into the Promised Land, the brass serpent and multiple wars caused by fear and hatred of wandering Israel.
The Haftorah sees Yiftach appointed as chieftain over his brothers who had estranged him in order to save them from the attacking People of Ammon. Yiftach tries diplomacy, then leads Israel to victory over Ammon when they choose to fight instead.
In the Apostolic Writings Messiah speaks of being “born from above” and recalls how the Israelites were saved from death in the wilderness by means of brass serpent as a result of their faith in the Almighty.
The sixth portion of the book of B’Midbar/Numbers is Chukkat, which means “Regulation.” This is the 39th Torah Portion.
Torah Portion: Numbers 19:1 – 22:1
Haftorah Portions: Judges 11:1-33
Apostolic Writings: John 3:1-21
You can read or listen to the portions below:
Now Yiftach, a brave soldier from Gil‘ad, was the son of a prostitute. His father, Gil‘ad, had other sons by his wife; and when his wife’s sons grew up, they drove Yiftach away and told him, “You will not inherit from our father, because you are another woman’s son.” Then Yiftach fled from his brothers and lived in the territory of Tov, where he enlisted a gang of rowdies who would go out raiding with him. After a while the people of ‘Amon made war against Isra’el. When the army of ‘Amon attacked Isra’el, the leaders of Gil‘ad went to fetch Yiftach from the territory of Tov and said to him, “Come and be our chief, so that we can fight the army of ‘Amon.” Yiftach answered the leaders of Gil‘ad, “Didn’t you hate me so much that you forced me out of my father’s house? Why are you coming to me now, when you’re in trouble?” The leaders of Gil‘ad replied, “Here is why we’ve come back to you now: if you lead us in war with the people of ‘Amon, you will be head over everyone living in Gil‘ad.” Yiftach answered them, “If you bring me back home to fight the army of ‘Amon, and HaShem defeats them for me, I will be your head.” The leaders of Gil‘ad said to Yiftach, “ HaShem is witness that we promise to do what you have said.” Then Yiftach went with the leaders of Gil‘ad, and the people made him head and chief over them. Yiftach repeated all these conditions at Mitzpah in the presence of HaShem. Yiftach sent messengers to the king of the people of ‘Amon to say, “What’s your problem with us? Why are you invading our territory?” The king of ‘Amon answered the messengers of Yiftach, “Because Isra’el took away my territory when they came up from Egypt. They took everything from the Arnon to the Yabok and the Yarden. Now, restore it peacefully.” Yiftach sent messengers again to the king of the people of ‘Amon with this response, “Here is what Yiftach has to say: ‘Isra’el captured neither the territory of Mo’av nor the territory of the people of ‘Amon. But when Isra’el came up from Egypt, walked through the desert to the Red Sea and arrived at Kadesh, then Isra’el sent messengers to the king of Edom, to say, “Please let us pass through your land.” But the king of Edom wouldn’t let them. He sent a similar message to the king of Mo’av, but neither would he, so Isra’el stayed at Kadesh. Then they walked through the desert, around the territory of Edom and the territory of Mo’av, past the east border of the territory of Mo’av, and pitched camp on the other side of the Arnon; but they did not cross the border into Mo’av, for the Arnon was the border of Mo’av. Isra’el sent messengers to Sichon king of the Emori and king of Heshbon with this message, “Please let us pass through your land to our own place.” But Sichon did not trust that Isra’el would only pass through his land, so he gathered all his people together, pitched camp in Yahatz and fought against Isra’el. HaShem the G-d of Isra’el handed Sichon and all his people over to Isra’el, and they killed them. Thus Isra’el possessed all the territory of the Emori who lived there. They took possession of all the territory of the Emori from the Arnon to the Yabok and from the desert to the Yarden. So now that HaShem the G-d of Isra’el has expelled the Emori before his people Isra’el, do you think that you will expel us? You should just keep the territory your god K’mosh has given you; while we, for our part, will hold onto whatever HaShem our G-d has given us of the lands that belonged to others before us. Really, are you better than Balak the son of Tzippor, king of Mo’av? Did he ever pick a quarrel with Isra’el or fight with us? Isra’el lived in Heshbon and its villages, in ‘Aro‘er and its villages and in all the cities on the banks of the Arnon for three hundred years. Why didn’t you take them back during that time? No, I have done you no wrong. But you are doing me wrong to war against me. May HaShem the Judge be judge today between the people of Isra’el and the people of ‘Amon.’” But the king of the people of ‘Amon paid no attention to the message Yiftach sent him. Then the spirit of HaShem came upon Yiftach; and he passed through Gil‘ad and M’nasheh, on through Mitzpeh of Gil‘ad, and from there over to the people of ‘Amon. Yiftach made a vow to HaShem: “If you will hand the people of ‘Amon over to me, then whatever comes out the doors of my house to meet me when I return in peace from the people of ‘Amon will belong to HaShem ; I will sacrifice it as a burnt offering.” So Yiftach crossed over to fight the people of ‘Amon, and HaShem handed them over to him. He killed them from ‘Aro‘er until you reach Minnit, twenty cities, all the way to Avel-K’ramim; it was a massacre. So the people of ‘Amon were defeated before the people of Isra’el.
There was a man among the P’rushim, named Nakdimon, who was a ruler of the Judeans. This man came to Yeshua by night and said to him, “Rabbi, we know it is from G-d that you have come as a teacher; for no one can do these miracles you perform unless G-d is with him.” “Yes, indeed,” Yeshua answered him, “I tell you that unless a person is born again from above, he cannot see the Kingdom of G-d.” Nakdimon said to him, “How can a grown man be ‘born’? Can he go back into his mother’s womb and be born a second time?” Yeshua answered, “Yes, indeed, I tell you that unless a person is born from water and the Spirit, he cannot enter the Kingdom of G-d. What is born from the flesh is flesh, and what is born from the Spirit is spirit. Stop being amazed at my telling you that you must be born again from above! The wind blows where it wants to, and you hear its sound, but you don’t know where it comes from or where it’s going. That’s how it is with everyone who has been born from the Spirit.” Nakdimon replied, “How can this happen?” Yeshua answered him, “You hold the office of teacher in Isra’el, and you don’t know this? Yes, indeed! I tell you that what we speak about, we know; and what we give evidence of, we have seen; but you people don’t accept our evidence! If you people don’t believe me when I tell you about the things of the world, how will you believe me when I tell you about the things of heaven? No one has gone up into heaven; there is only the one who has come down from heaven, the Son of Man. Just as Moshe lifted up the serpent in the desert, so must the Son of Man be lifted up; so that everyone who trusts in him may have eternal life. “For G-d so loved the world that he gave his only and unique Son, so that everyone who trusts in him may have eternal life, instead of being utterly destroyed. For G-d did not send the Son into the world to judge the world, but rather so that through him, the world might be saved. Those who trust in him are not judged; those who do not trust have been judged already, in that they have not trusted in the one who is G-d’s only and unique Son. “Now this is the judgment: the light has come into the world, but people loved the darkness rather than the light. Why? Because their actions were wicked. For everyone who does evil things hates the light and avoids it, so that his actions won’t be exposed. But everyone who does what is true comes to the light, so that all may see that his actions are accomplished through G-d.”