The Prophet Musa (PBUH) and his brother Harun (PBUH) have led the Israelites for 40 years. They have written the Commands and instituted the sacrifices. They have written these many Signs in the Taurat. Soon it is time for these two men to die. Let us review the patterns that have emerged from the Taurat before we consider the close of Taurat.
Reviewing patterns in Taurat
So what is the pattern of the Signs that emerge from the Taurat?
Sacrifice in Taurat
We should notice the importance and how frequent sacrifices are. Think about the following we looked at:
- Abel offered a right sacrifice; Cain a vegetable sacrifice. That sacrifice was not accepted.
- After the flood Noah (PBUH) offered a sacrifice.
- Ibrahim (PBUH) offered a sacrifice after he arrived in the Promised Land
- Ibrahim (PBUH) offered the ram as a sacrifice after the test with his son. Then, right after, he declared that on that same spot it ‘will be provided’
- All the Israelites sacrificed on the Passover. This saved them from death and the Jews still celebrate the Passover on the same day of their year
- Harun (PBUH) offered the sacrifice of the Two goats every year for the Israelites, after offering a sacrifice for himself
- A heifer was sacrificed so that its ashes would cleanse from uncleanness of a corpse
These sacrifices were all done with clean animals – either sheep, goat or bull. They were all male except the heifer.
These sacrifices atoned for the people who offered the sacrifice. This means that they were a covering so that the guilt and shame of the person giving the sacrifice was covered. This started with Adam who received the Mercy of Allah in the form of skins. These skins required the death of an animal (another sacrifice!) while covering his nakedness. An important question to ask is: Why are sacrifices no longer given or offered? We will see the answer later.
Righteousness in Taurat
The word ‘righteousness’ constantly re-appeared. We saw it first with Adam when Allah told him that the ‘raiment of righteousness was the best’. We saw that Ibrahim was ‘credited’ righteousness when he chose to believe the promise of a coming son. The Israelites could get righteousness if they could keep the Commandments – but they had to keep them fully – all the time.
Judgment in Taurat
We also saw the pattern that failing to keep the commands resulted in Judgment from Allah. This started with Adam, who only had to disobey once to receive judgment. Judgment always resulted in death. Death was either on the person being judged or on the animal sacrificed. Think about the following we learned:
- With Adam, the animal sacrificed for skins died.
- With Abel – the animal of his accepted sacrifice died.
- With Noah people died in the flood and even Noah, after the flood, by offering a sacrifice, had an animal die.
- With Lut, the people of Sodom and Gomorrah died in Judgment – as well as his wife.
- With the sacrifice of Ibrahim’s son the son would have died but the ram died instead.
- With Passover either the firstborn son (for Pharoah and the other unbelievers) died or the lamb whose blood was painted on the doors died.
- With the Commandments of the Law, either the guilty person died or the one goat died on the Day of Atonement.
What do all these patterns mean? We will see as we continue. But now Musa and Harun (PBUT) are going to conclude the Taurat. But they do so with two important messages directly from Allah, both of which looked to the future and are important for us today – the coming Prophet and the coming Curses & Blessings. We look at the Prophet here.
The Coming Prophet
When Allah gave the Tablets at Mount Sinai He did so with a terrible display of power and majesty. The Taurat describes the scene just before the Tablets were given
On the morning of the third day there was thunder and lightning, with a thick cloud over the mountain, and a very loud trumpet blast. Everyone in the camp trembled. … Mount Sinai was covered with smoke, because the LORD descended on it in fire. The smoke billowed up from it like smoke from a furnace, and the whole mountain trembled violently. (Exodus 19:16-18)
The people were filled with fear. The Taurat describes them this way
When the people saw the thunder and lightning and heard the trumpet and saw the mountain in smoke, they trembled with fear. They stayed at a distance and said to Moses, “Speak to us yourself and we will listen. But do not have God speak to us or we will die.” (Exodus 20:18-19)
This had happened at the beginning of Musa’s (PBUH) 40 years of leading the community. At the end, Allah spoke to the prophet Musa (PBUH) about that past situation, reminding the people of their past fear, and making a promise for the future. Musa (PBUH) records in the Taurat:
The LORD your God will raise up for you a prophet like me from among you, from your fellow Israelites. You must listen to him. For this is what you asked of the LORD your God at Horeb (i.e. Sinai) on the day of the assembly when you said, “Let us not hear the voice of the LORD our God nor see this great fire anymore, or we will die.”
The LORD said to me: “What they say is good. I will raise up for them a prophet like you from among their fellow Israelites, and I will put my words in his mouth. He will tell them everything I command him. I myself will call to account anyone who does not listen to my words that the prophet speaks in my name. But a prophet who presumes to speak in my name anything I have not commanded, or a prophet who speaks in the name of other gods, is to be put to death.”
You may say to yourselves, “How can we know when a message has not been spoken by the LORD?” If what a prophet proclaims in the name of the LORD does not take place or come true, that is a message the LORD has not spoken. That prophet has spoken presumptuously, so do not be alarmed. (Deuteronomy 18:15-22)
Allah had wanted the people to have a healthy respect so when he spoke the Commands on Tablets He did so in a way that caused great fear among the people. But now He looks to the future and promises that a time will come when a prophet like Musa (PBUH) from among the Israelites will be raised up. Then two guidelines are given:
- Allah himself will hold people responsible if they do not pay attention to the coming Prophet
- The way to decide whether Allah has spoken through a prophet is that the message should be able to predict the future and it must come true.
The first guideline did not mean that there will be only one more prophet after Musa (PBUH), but that there will be one coming who in particular we must listen to because he was to have a unique role with his message – they would be ‘My Words’. Since only Allah Himself knows the future – certainly no man does – the second guideline was a way to assist the people to decide correctly if a message actually came from Allah or not. This guidance and the promise of the Coming Prophet were kept in expectation by the Israelites – not always held well, but never entirely forgotten. We see in the next Post how Musa (PBUH) used this second guidance to foresee the future of the Israelites in the Blessings and Curses of the Israelites – which is what the Taurat closes with.
But now for some thoughts on this ‘coming Prophet’. Who was he? Some scholars have suggested that this is referring to the prophet Muhammad (PBUH). But notice that the prophecy states that this prophet would be “from among their fellow Israelites” – thus a Jew. So it cannot be referring to him. Other scholars have wondered if this could be referring to the prophet Isa al Masih (PBUH). He was a Jew and he also taught with great authority – as if Allah’s words were ‘in his mouth’. We continue exploring the Holy Books to seek further understanding.