The Distinction of the Portion

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The Distinction of the Portion

20 The Lord spoke to Aaron. He said, “You will not receive any part of the land I am giving to Israel. You will not have any share among them. I am your share. I am what you will receive among the Israelites. (Numbers 18:20)

The portion (Heb. ḥēleq, ḥeḇel, mānâ; Gk. méros, merís) is something that is distributed and received, e.g., spoils of war (Gen. 14:24; 1 Sam. 30:24). It is food eaten in ceremonial meals (Exod. 29:26; Lev. 7:33; 1 Sam. 1:4–5). In a technical sense it refers to inheritance (Gen. 31:14; Luke 15:12) and land (Deut. 10:9). If you think about it, the land Israel has was just entrusted by God, the true Owner of the land. When you say you have a portion in someone, means you are affiliated with that person or you belong to that person’s company or community (2 Sam. 20:1; 1 Kings 12:16; cf. John 13:8). When we say “portion” we can use it with reference to that which is a dear or a close person. Israel is called the portion of the Lord (Deut. 32:9). The Lord is also called Israel’s portion (Ps. 16:5; 73:26; 119:57; 142:5; Jer. 10:16; Lam. 3:24). The “portion” can also refer to the lot or fate of a person at the hand of the Lord (Job 31:2; Jer. 13:25; Rev. 21:8). Luke 10:42 mentions that “good portion” Mary has chosen when she chose to pay attention to Christ, instead to chores.

The portion can also mean allowance, ration, or share. It is frequently used in a sense of a share of food, clothing, or property. It is in the wisdom writings when it’s designated as one’s lot in life, as one’s portion (Job 20:29; 27:13; Ecclesiastes 9:9). To have a portion in the Lord is to share the right of joining the community in worship of God (Joshua 22:25, 27; cp. Neh. 2:20). The Psalms commonly describes the Lord as the Portion of the faithful (Ps. 16:5; 73:26; 119:57).


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