Parashat Bamidbar and the Haftorah from Hosea

This haftorah begins with the words “the number of the children of Israel shall be as the sand of the sea”, linking with the parasha’s description of the census of the people.


Yeshayahu Leibowitz linked the haftorah to G-d’s promise in Bechukotai to remember the covenant, and commented that the Brit between G-d and His nation and between Israel and its G-d still stands before G-d and will only move to actuality if the Jewish people fulfils its obligations.

Leibowitz pointed to the similarity between the terms used by Hosea and the language of the Song of Songs, describing the relationship between G-d and Israel as that between a man and a woman, a marriage covenant. After the breach by Israel, the renewal in the future is in terms “I will betroth you in righteousness, justice, tenderness and in mercy”. These are all descriptions of the Divine. Then “I will betroth you to me in faithfulness” meaning the faithfulness of the betrothed to one another.


The next three words are “you will know G-d”. Yeshayahu Leibowitz taught that righteousness, justice, tenderness, mercy, and faithfulness all pertain to G-d. These qualities are eternal and not dependent on man’s behaviour. Leibowitz commented that “knowing G-d is the one condition for the renewal of the covenant”. The fulfilment of the covenant between Israel and G-d depends on the Jewish people. 

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