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While Moshe was on Mt. Sinai, he was told to make a special compound of spices and oil for the purpose of marking certain people or objects as holy: “Anoint Aharon and his sons, and set them apart, that they may minister unto Me in the priest's office… This anointing oil shall be set apart for Me throughout your generations. On the flesh of man shall it not be poured…; it is holy, and it shall be holy to you.’” (Exodus 30:30-32)

First of all, how can it be poured on Aharon and his sons, yet not touch human flesh?  

Wherever one Scripture innately begs a question, there is another Scripture to answer it. The answer to this one is in the first two verses of Psalm 133: “Behold, how good and how pleasant it is for brothers to dwell together in unity! [It is] like the precious ointment upon the head, that ran down upon the beard, even Aaron’s beard: that went down to the skirts of his garments.” His beard allowed it to keep flowing down from his head onto his garments without ever touching his skin.  

But what is so unholy about touching human flesh? That sounds very unfriendly, hostile, exclusive-- bound to offend many people! And if that’s not enough, “whoever makes something like it, to [enjoy] its smell, must be cut off from his people.” (Ex. 30:38) That’s as undemocratic as it gets! Nowadays it would get censored or “cancelled”! But YHWH doesn’t pander to popular fads. If it strikes such a nerve, you can be pretty sure it is meant to be a flag to alert us to an important deeper meaning.

In Noakh’s day, “all flesh on earth had corrupted its way…” (Gen. 6:12). This sets the tone for our understanding of the often-idiomatic or simply symbolic (but not metaphorical) use of the term “flesh” thereafter. 

 Sometimes it is very overt: “Flesh and blood cannot inherit the Kingdom of Elohim...” (1 Corinthians 15:50) Why? The parallel phrase answers it: “…nor can corruption inherit what is uncorrupted.” It may be for this reason (among others) that part of our flesh—that which is excessive--is cut off as a symbol of our belonging to YHWH. (Gen. 17:11, etc.) But holy garments such as seen in this week’s portion may not touch this part of our flesh. (Lev. 6:10)

“Flesh” also has the nuance of being mortal and therefore vulnerable. (e.g., Gen. 7:15) This idea comes out in YHWH’s words to Moshe later in his time on the mountain: ”Man cannot see Me and survive.” (Ex. 33:20) This is because our flesh is tainted, ever since the fruit got into Adam’s blood and altered his DNA.

Though related and occasionally interchangeable (e.g., Lev. 16:28; 17:16), flesh is distinct from skin (Ezek. 37:6), which could glow upon meeting with YHWH. (Ex. 34:29-35) Flesh is what is beneath the skin—the muscle, the natural strength of man (or beast). (Psalms 56:4; 73:26; 78:3; Isa. 31:3; 40:6; Jer. 17:5) From beneath the skin—from the flesh—springs “leprosy” (tzara’ath). (Lev. 13:3, etc.) When raw flesh is exposed (Lev. 13:14), or something oozes out from it (Lev. 15:2ff), its bearer is ritually unclean—barred from coming near anything holy. These are all manifestations of the corruption that is latent in all of us, “deeper than the skin”, just needing an appropriate occasion to express itself.

One of the sad realities of our fallen world is that consuming the flesh of another entity gives one energy (for “meat” and “flesh” are the same in Hebrew). But the blood may not be eaten with it. (Deut. 12:23) “The life of the flesh is in the blood.” (Lev. 17:11ff) It is sacred, reserved for a special purpose--atonement for our souls, in picture form through animals until the fuller reality it pointed to would come. (Heb. 10:4) The natural strength of flesh (human or animal), including natural intellect (Yochanan 8:8, 15; Romans 6:19), does not have what it takes to accomplish a true transformation. (Yoch. 6:63; Rom. 7:18; 1 Corinthians 1:29; Colossians 2:20-23)  

But when we receive a transfusion of the perfect blood of Yeshua (6:53), the only Anointed One whose flesh knew no corruption (Ps. 16:10), and therefore whose flesh was sown as a seed so that more like him could come forth (Yoch. 12:24; Colossians 1:22; Hebrews 2:14; 1 Peter 3:18) and continue to manifest his victory by the same method (Col. 1:24), then our mortal bodies can be infused with a spirit that enlivens them (Rom. 8:11)—like Moshe’s temporary glow--even this side of the complete liberation from decay that comes with death. (8:20-23; Yoch. 6:54) Only then will flesh become worthy to be touched by what is holy. (Lev. 7:20; 22:6; Haggai 2:12-13) When the stony heart is taken out of our flesh, a “heart of flesh” will be a good thing (Ezek. 11:19; 36:26; 44:7), because it bespeaks a soft heart that is sensitive enough to respond to YHWH’s tiniest prodding.

Until then, the flesh is to be kept silent (Zekh. 2:13), for it would stand in the way of what YHWH wants to accomplish. Its weakness hinders the willing spirit. (Mat. 26:41) The power of the flesh can never complete what YHWH’s spirit initiates. (Galatians 3:3) If we sow to the flesh, all we can reap is corruption. (Gal. 6:8)
But if we sow to the spirit (wind in Hebrew), we will find that there is a “law of aerodynamics” that has been given to us to not cancel but overcome the “law of gravity”. Though we are in the flesh, our ability to affect what is not flesh and blood (Ephesians 6:12) does not come from the flesh. (2 Cor. 10:3) 

 By walking according to the spirit and not according to the flesh (Rom. 8:3-4, 13), we can accomplish that which YHWH desires even in this fallen age, for the fallen flesh is not our true identity (Rom. 8:9; 2 Cor. 5:16); that spirit which He gave us as a down-payment of what we who have Yeshua’s blood in our veins will become (2 Cor. 1:22) is our real self. By “putting him on” and making no provision for the flesh (Rom. 13:14; Gal. 5:13; Col. 2:11-13), his life can be manifested even through our mortal flesh. (2 Cor. 4:11; Gal. 2:20; 1 Peter 4:1-2) Like Aharon’s beard, his uncorrupted flesh will (as long as we allow it to) override the weakness of our mortal, corrupted flesh (Gal. 5:16) and let YHWH’s anointing flow freely onto what it is meant to empower.

Scripture's Use of the Term "FLESH"