Parashah 47: R'ah “See!”
Devarim (Deuteronomy) 11:26-16:17 Psalm 97
Yesha'yahu (Isaiah) 54:11-55:5 Yochanan John 7:37-52
by Messianic Teacher Dr. Daniel Boley
26 See, I am setting before you today a blessing and a curse – 27 the blessing, if you listen to the mitzvot of Adonai your God that I am giving you today; 28 and the curse, if you don't listen to the mitzvot of Adonai your God, but turn aside from the way I am ordering you today and follow other gods that you have not known.
Blessing and curse are set before us:
the blessings if we שָׁמַע [shah-mah] the LORD's commandments
to שָׁמַע means
Strong's: to hear intelligently (often with implication of attention, obedience, etc.; causatively, to tell, etc.)
BDB: (here in the Qal verb form)
to hear (perceive by ear)
to hear of or concerning
to hear (have power to hear)
to hear with attention or interest, to listen to
to understand (language)
to hear (used of judicial cases)
to listen, to give heed (to consent, to agree; to grant request)
to listen to, to yield to
to obey, to be obedient
the curse, if we don't שָׁמַע His commandments, but instead,
turn aside and follow other gods
whether a god of someone else's making, or
a god of our own making
who- or whatever we שָׁמַע we have made or allowed to become our god
the choice is ours and we will receive in our lives the natural outworking of the choices we make
Considering the paleo-Hebrew meanings of the letters,
שׁ [shin] is pictured as teeth, representing:
to devour; to consume; to destroy; something sharp; tooth, jaw
מ [mem] is pictured as water, representing:
mighty; massive or many; water, liquid; chaos; (like water coming down stream) from, what comes from; before
The shin and mem together form the word שֵׁמ “name”
from the paleo-Hebrew we can see the idea that שֵׁמ destroys chaos
ע [ayin] is pictured by an eye, and represents:
to see; to be seen; know; understand; experience; appearance, sparkle
So we might say that to שָׁמַע is to see, know, understand, and experience “the name.”
The Hebrew word שָׁמַע shama means hear, understand and obey. The word picture describes how all of these function together. If I hear the name, I see the essence of something. If you tell a thirsty person to not drink the water in the glass and then leave the room, they will be tempted to take a drink anyway. But if you tell them that the glass is used to clean out the sewage so that they see the name or the real nature of the water in the glass, they now hear so that they understand and they will obey.
Because God is called The Name or הַשֵּׁם Ha-Shem in Hebrew, this word picture carries a stronger meaning. Job argued with God until in Job 42:5 he said, “I have heard of You by the hearing of the ear, but now my eye sees You. Therefore … I repent.” When Job saw God (The Name) he understood, who God was, who he was, and changed.
The word “faith” is only used twice in the Old Testament (KJV), but the word שָׁמַע is used 1159 times. This is a foundational Jewish concept and is found in Romans 10:17 So then faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God. Dwight Moody knew this truth when he put a sign on his pulpit to remind himself of the purpose of his preaching, it simply said “Sir, we would see Jesus”.
Faith is not about my faithfulness, nor is it about my will power, it is about God's faithfulness, about our seeing, knowing and therefore trusting (and easily obeying) Him. (Dr. Frank T. Seekins, Hebrew Word Pictures, 2012, p. 192)
29 When Adonai your God brings you into the land you are entering in order to take possession of it, you are to put the blessing on Mount G'rizim and the curse on Mount 'Eival.
• G'rizim or Gerizim is a transliteration of the Hebrew גְּרִזִים , meaning “cut up” or “cuttings off.”
• 'Eival or Ebal is a transliteration of the Hebrew עֵיבָל , meaning to be “bald,” “bare”; “stone” or “bare mountain”
• Several commentaries (including Adam Clarke's, The Biblical Illustrator, and Jamieson, Fausset and Brown) point out the idea that G'rizim physically represented God's blessings as it was fertile; its name (“cut up” or “cuttings off”) referring to harvesting its crops. Keil and Delitzsch, considering how things were in their own day, discount this view and point out instead that G'rizim was the southern most of the two mountains and relate “south” to “light.”
30 Both are west of the Yarden, in the direction of the sunset, in the land of the Kena'ani living in the 'Aravah, across from Gilgal, near the pistachio trees of Moreh.
• Some argue that this description is too detailed for Moses to have written it at the claimed time and place, but these details and more were probably common knowledge since a major trade route passed right between the two mountains.
◦ Plus the fact that the L-RD who created them could have described them to Moses or even shown them to him in a vision.
31 For you are to cross the Yarden to enter and take possession of the land Adonai you God is giving you; you are to own it and live in it. 32 And you are to take care to follow all the laws and rulings I am setting before you today.
What was the Jordan to the Israelites?
river, obstacle, barrier,
the topography of the land is such that there are is no “beach” per se, but there is the riverbank, and then the water
being at “flood stage,” not necessarily “overflowing its banks” (Josh 3:15)
the Hebrew word used in Josh 3:15 is מָלֵא [“mah-leh”] meaning:
Strong's: to fill or (intransitively) be full of, in a wide application (literally and figuratively)
BDB: (in the Qal verb form in Josh 3:15): to be full (a fullness, an abundance [participle]; to be full, to be accomplished, to be ended); to consecrate, to fill the hand
this was a real “step of faith” for the priests carrying the ark
what was the Jordan in the minds of the Canaanites?
a protective barrier from the Israelites
a provision from their god Dagon
supposed god of the rain, storm, and therefore grain and harvest
in Joshua 3, the Jordan being at flood stage would have been seen as their god's protection, a display of his might and power
Starting at Mount Hermon (9,232 ft) and ending at the Salt Sea (-1,365 ft). Being only about 200 miles long. Until the mid-1960s when the river was dammed by the modern state of Israel to help meet their water needs, the Jordan was one of the fastest flowing rivers in the world.
In fact the first letters in the word “Jordan” [יַרְדֵּן [yahr-dān]] form the Hebrew word יָרַד [yah-rahd] which means to “descend” or “go down.”
but as God's people did what He told them, and the priests carrying the ark stepped into the water, the water upstream stood piled up like an embankment for a great distance at Adam … so that the water flowing downstream … was completely cut off; and the people crossed over on dry ground until the entire nation had finished crossing the Jordan.
What would have been seen as an obstacle for Israel, when they took a step of faith and did what the LORD said, He dealt with the obstacle and the flooding water was held back out of the way.
And, the “protection,” “might,” and “power” of the enemy was seen for what it really was: nothing to the LORD!
They were to cross the Jordan.
the word “cross” here comes from the Hebrew עָבַר [ah-vahr] meaning:
Strong's: to cross over; used very widely of any transition (literal or figurative; transitive, intransitive, intensive, causative); specifically, to cover (in copulation)
BDB: to pass over or by or through, to alienate, to bring, to carry, to do away, to take, to take away, to transgress (here in the Qal):
to passover, to cross, to cross over, to pass over, to march voer, to overflow, to go over
to pass beyond
to pass through, to traverse (passers-through [participle]; to pass through [the parts of victim in covenant])
to pass along, to pass by, to overtake and pass, to sweep by (passer-by [participle]; to be past, to be over)
to pass on, go on, to pass on before, to go in advance of, to pass along, to travel, to advance
to pass away; to emigrate, to leave [one's territory]; to vanish; to perish, to cease to exist; to become invalid, to become obsolete [used of law, decree]; to be alienated, to pass into other hands
Jewish tradition tells us that the first time a word is used by the LORD in Scripture it sets the tone and meaning for all subsequent uses of the word.
The first use of עָבַר is in Genesis 8:1 there God caused a wind to pass over the earth, leading to the flood waters abating.
By the power, will, and might of Elohim, a רוּחַ [ru-ahk] (wind, breath, mind, spirit) passed over the earth and the waters abated.
In our Deuteronomy passage, as the people of God moved to cross over, by the power of God and His Spirit, the flood waters of the Jordan abated.
They were to go in
they were not to just sit and wait for the LORD to bring their Promised Land to them
they were not to camp out and look at it and enjoy the view of what God had for them
they were to move, they were to be active,
they were to step out in faith
taking God at His word
They were to go in and possess the land
“possess,” or “take possession” here comes from the Hebrew יָרַשׁ [yah-rahsh] meaning
to take possession of, to occupy, to seize, to inherit, but also
to displace, and to expel
As God's people came into the Land, they were to be actively involved in two simultaneous actions:
to displace and expel what was ungodly, or anti-God, and
to seize, take possession of, and occupy the land as an inheritance from the LORD
it was, after all, “land the LORD your God is giving you”
“giving” here is the Qal active participle of נָתַן [nah-tahn] meaning:
Strong's: to give, used with greatest latitude of application (put, make, etc.)
to give, to bestow, to grant, to permit, to ascribe, to employ, to devote, to consecrate, to dedicate, to pay wages, to sell, to exchange, to lend, to commit, to entrust, to give over, to deliver up, to yield produce, to occasion, to produce, to requite to, to report, to mention, to utter, to stretch out, to extend
to put, to set, to put on, to put upon, to set, to appoint, to assign, to designate
to make, to constitute
A Hebrew active participle is often translated into English using the “-ing” ending. It generally indicates something that is in process, or on-going.
נָתַן is spelled nun-tav-(final) nun. Looking at the ancient (paleo) Hebrew meanings of the letters,
the nun (“noon”) is pictured by a fish darting through the water, representing:
action, activity, life, to endure, continue, and flourish
the tav [tahv] is pictured by a cross, representing:
to seal; to make a covenant; finished, whole, complete; to join two things together; to make a sign, mark, or line
So we might say that true “giving” involves continuous, enduring, action of life that joins together to finish, make whole and complete, and is centered on the covenant
… You are to own it and live in it.
“own it” here again comes from יָרַשׁ, emphasizing the point
part of “possessing” or “owning” something is
being able to enjoy the benefits of whatever it is we own
if we “own” a vehicle,
we can enjoy having transportation when we want it
we can enjoy the freedom it gives us
we can enjoy the labor it can save us
like carrying groceries home from the store, or
supplies for some project
if we “possess” some land
we can enjoy the fruits of our labor – literally
we can enjoy having a place of our own
to build, to grow, to raise a home and family
if we “own” a home,
we can enjoy having the sense of security it gives us
we can enjoy having a place to call our own
we can enjoy the freedom it gives us to paint and decorate to fit our taste, style, and function
but, along with every privilege is responsibility
if we “own” a vehicle,
we have to keep fuel in it
we have to maintain it
checking and changing the oil and filter,
transmission and brake fluids,
rotating the tires, etc., etc., etc.
if we “possess” some land
we have to keep after the weeds
be vigilant so birds, squirrels, and other animals don't eat your produce
be watchful that dangerous animals multiply
if we “own” a home,
we have to keep “wood rot” at bay
we have to keep up with repairs
we have have to dust and clean
How much more when we “possess” a relationship, like a marriage?
Do we show the other person love in ways that speak love to them?
Do we guard that relationship from harm?
Are we vigilant to keep pests and dangers at bay?
Do we regularly consider the blessings of the relationship?
Rather than focusing on the difficulties or inconveniences?
What about our relationship with the LORD?
Do we talk with Him throughout the day?
Do we regularly spend time reading His love-letters to us?
Are we careful about what thoughts we allow our minds to entertain?
About what we look at?
About what we watch?
About what we listen to?
They were to “live in” the land. This comes from יָשַׁב [yah-shahv] meaning:
Strong's: properly, to sit down (specifically as judge, in ambush, in quiet); by implication, to dwell, to remain; causatively, to settle, to marry
BDB: to dwell, to remain, to sit, to abide
here in the Qal: to sit, to sit down; to be set; to remain, to stay; to dwell, to have one's abode
After they had crossed over the Jordan, entered the land, and taken possession of all that the LORD
1 Here are the laws and rulings you are to observe and obey in the land Adonai, the God of your ancestors, has given you to possess as long as you live on earth.
• God's Word was given to the Children of Israel to observe and obey
◦ as well as those who join themselves to the commonwealth of Israel through a personal, redeeming faith in Messiah
• Adonai gave the land to the Children of Israel to possess as long as they were living on earth
◦ Since there are still those of the Children of Israel living on earth, it seems that those who would dispute that the land belongs them are placing themselves at odds with God and His Word.
2 You must destroy all the places where the nations you are dispossessing served their gods, whether on high mountains, on hills, or under some leafy tree. 3 Break down their altars, smash their standing-stones to pieces, burn up their sacred poles completely and cut down the carved images of their gods. Exterminate their name from that place.
• It was the worship and practices of these demon-gods that had led the people to the depths of depravity the merited total destruction as their judgment. Leaving them in place would spark curiosity
◦ which leads to thoughts,
◦ which leads to actions,
◦ which leads to habits,
◦ which leads to lifestyles,
◦ which leads to destinies
▪ It is a slippery slope best left alone.
• There were numerous “gods” and numerous places where they were worshipped.
4 But you are not to treat Adonai your God this way. 5 Rather, you are to come to the place where Adonai your God will put His name. He will choose it from all your tribes; and you will seek out that place, which is where He will live, and go there. 6 You will bring there your burnt offerings, your sacrifices, your tenths [that you set aside for Adonai], the offerings that you give, the offerings you have vowed, your voluntary offerings, and the firstborn of your cattle and sheep. 7 There you will eat in the presence of Adonai your God; and you will rejoice over everything you set out to do, you and your households, in which Adonai your God has blessed you.
• There is only one true God, Adonai, and He would choose the one place to put His name.
• Whatever your religious act of service or worship, it is to be done in God's way and on His terms.
8 You will not do things the way we do them here today, where everyone does whatever in his own opinion seems right;
• Judges 17:6 In those days there was no king in Israel; everyone did what was right in his own eyes. (See also Jdg 21:25)
• Pro 12:15 The way of a fool is right in his own eyes, but he who heeds counsel is wise.
• Pro 21:2 Every way of a man is right in his own eyes, but the L-RD weighs the hearts.
◦ Fallen, sin-natured man doing “whatever in his own opinion seems right” is what has gotten most individuals, marriages, families, societies, and nations heading high speed to hell.
▪ So then, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us, too, put aside every impediment – that is, the sin which easily hampers our forward movement – and keep running with endurance in the contest set before us, 2 looking away to the Initiator and Completer of that trusting, Yeshua – Who, in exchange for obtaining the joy set before Him, endured execution on a stake as a criminal, scorning the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. (Heb 12:1-2, emphasis added)
▪ Unless Adonai builds the house, its builders work in vain. Unless Adonai guards the city, the guard keeps watch in vain. (Ps 127:1)
9 because you haven't yet arrived at the rest and inheritance which Adonai your God is giving you.
• There was an earthly rest and inheritance the L-RD was giving them, as well as a heavenly rest and inheritance that He had for them. The same holds true for us in Christ.
10 But when you cross the Yarden and live in the land Adonai your God is having you inherit, and He gives you rest from all your surrounding enemies, so that you are living in safety; 11 then you will bring all that I am ordering you to the place Adonai your God chooses to have His name live – your burnt offerings, sacrifices, tenths, the offering from your hand, and all your best possessions that you dedicate to Adonai
• “... when …” G-d abundantly blesses in so many ways, “... then ...” remember to honor Him with tithes and various offerings in “the place Adonai your God chooses to have His name live.”
◦ In whatever fellowship the L-RD has planted us, bring our tithes and offerings there.
▪ That is where we are being spiritually fed.
▪ That is ministry our “first fruits” should support.
• Then, as the L-RD blesses, bless others ministries as He leads.
12 and you will rejoice in the presence of Adonai your God – you, your sons and daughters, your male and female slaves and the Levi staying with you, inasmuch as he has no share or inheritance with you.
• There is a joy in the blessings of G-d and doing things His way – even extreme joy!
◦ The Hebrew word here is שָׁמַח [sah-mahk] meaning
▪ Strong's: probably to brighten up, i.e. (figuratively) be (causatively, make) blithe or gleesome
▪ BDB: to rejoice; to rejoice (arrogantly), to exult (at); to rejoice (religiously)
• According to my computer's onboard dictionary “rejoice” means to “feel or show great joy or delight.” Its origin is “Middle English (in the sense 'cause joy to'): from Old French rejoiss-, lengthened stem of rejoir, from re- (expressing intensive force) + joir 'experience joy.'”
▪ The Discovery Bible points out that this is a conjunctive perfect
Conjunctive perfect is a reading-cue embedded in the original text. It underlines information that is certain-and-solemn significance to the passage. This brings storyline-unity, paragraph-coherence, and keeps readers in-line with the original intent of the passage. is filled out in translation with auxiliary terms like certainly, indeed, solemnly, significantly, certainty (of certain importance).
Through the eyes of the original author . . .
underscores information that is "surely-and-solemnly" significant in the passage. This reading-asset keeps readers on-pace with the progress of the original message/storyline of the paragraph. The Discovery Bible flags all appearances of this form (roughly 6,300 times in the OT).
[ conjunctive perfect – i.e. with prefixed waw [vav] (called wqtl [“vayq-tol”]) – is relatively rare in the OT. It sets off material of key importance, unifying the message of the passage.]
(1 Chron 10:4) "And-indeed make sport of me."
This form then underlines key content, integral to the heart of the passage. It causes certain/solemn information to stand out so readers can apply surrounding terms (i.e. in their relative importance).