When you come into the land to which I bring you, then it will be, when you eat of the bread of the land, that you shall offer up … a cake of the first of your ground meal as a heave offering. (Numbers 15:18-20)
Considering all that had transpired, that God even mentioned they would, in time, enter the land would have been a very welcome message. In spite of all, they were not to lose hope that He would do as He had promised, albeit through their children. Furthermore, He promised that when He brought them into the land, the earth would produce gran for them and, in gratitude, they were to offer from the harvest of this grain. An alternative translation renders it as the “first of your dough” signifying that, more than just grain, it was grain ready to become bread.
In that vein of thought, the Hebrew word translated as “dough” is חלה challah. In the days of the Tabernacle, this challah was given to the priests as their portion for their family’s table. Later, after the destruction of the Second Temple, this portion of dough — the challah — became a fixture of every Jewish family’s Sabbath table. On most Fridays, challah is baked fresh to be placed on the Sabbath table as a reminder of God’s provision for Israel in spite of their waywardness. In fact, some will bake two loaves of challah to acknowledge the double portion of manna that was given on the sixth day so that the people would not feel compelled to gather on the Sabbath.
It is customary in our family to follow this tradition as a way of celebrating God’s provision for us as well, not that it is required. Yet it connects with the past and how God faithfully cared for those He called His people. It also connects us with the fact that Messiah — born in Bethlehem, “the house of bread” — is the Living Bread that sustains us each and every day. As we gather around the table to have fellowship with friends and family, we have a reminder at the center of the table that all blessing, all prosperity and all peace comes from above. He is the One who has brought us to this time and season and, for that, we are grateful. You see, He is our portion.
Blessings and Shalom,