A people that lives apart


In The Book of Numbers, Chapter 23 Verse 9 stated:

 Here is a people that lives apart and does not reckon itself among the nations.     

A footnote mentioned:     
 A people that lives apart:  Israel, as the chosen people of God, occupied a unique place among the nations, from which they kept themselves aloof.      

Please explain about the aloofness of the Israelites.


They kept themselves seperate from other nations.


The notion of holiness, or ‘qadosh’, literally means “to be set apart.” In claiming the Israelites as His own, God “set them apart from the nations” (see Lev 20:26).

Were the Israelites ready to be “set apart”, though, or to be holy for the Lord, when they escaped slavery in Egypt? No; so, God set up provisions in the Mosaic law that were meant to help them keep themselves ‘apart’, so that they wouldn’t be swallowed up by the practices of their neighbors. As we can see, in many Biblical stories (e.g., the effect on Solomon of his many foreign wives), the Israelites failed to live up to this command.

So, it’s not as if they’re ‘aloof’ out of unkindness or malice; but rather, they were to be set apart as a sign of their identity as God’s chosen people.

Does that help?


We had an example of this a couple of weekends ago with the Samaritan woman at the well. The Gospel said that Samaritans and Jews did not associate with one another, and she didn’t want to speak to Jesus initially for that very reason. There are many references in Scripture about the Jews keeping clear of non-Jews.


The Jews and the Samaritans came together at the well. Thus Jesus bridged the gap that existed between the Jew and the other tribes. This eventually gave rise to the universal church that is Catholicism. If the Jews who followed Christ eventually did cross that divide, what of the rest of the Jews? Do they still see themselves as people apart?


You’ll have to ask them…As far as I know they are our heritage…they are our brothers…yet they still seek the Messiah. Next week during Holy Week we will all pray for the Jewish people in our intentions. Remember the “let us kneel…let us stand…”
God bless,


Gorgias, You stated the explanation very well!!

  They (the Israelites) were to be set apart as a sign of their identity as God's chosen people.


DISCLAIMER: The views and opinions expressed in these forums do not necessarily reflect those of Catholic Answers. For official apologetics resources please visit www.catholic.com.