Parashah 48: Shoftim “Judges”
Devarim (Deuteronomy) 16:18-21:9 Psalm 17
Yesha'yahu (Isaiah) 51:12-52:12 (through 53:12 in Messianic congregations)
Mattityahu (Matthew) 3:1-17
by Messianic Teacher Dr. Daniel Boley
18 You are to appoint judges and officers for all your gates [in the cities] Adonai your God is giving you, tribe by tribe; and they are to judge the people with righteous judgement.
− the judges, elders, and occasionally, the king, would gather and “sit in the city gates” to hear cases and render judgements
− so the phrase to “sit in the city gates” meant to be a judge or leader, a person of influence in that city:
− in Genesis 19, when the two angles sent by the L-RD approached Sodom, they found Lot “sitting in the gate of Sodom” [ יֹשֵׁב בְּשַׁעַר סְדֹם ]. Apparently Lot was not simply living in Sodom, he had become a judge, a leader, a person of influence in that city.
− Joshua 20:1-4, “... anyone who kills someone by mistake and unknowingly may escape [to one of the cities of refuge].... Verse 4: He is to flee to one of those cities, stand at the entrance to the city gate and state his cause to the city leaders (or elders) who are acting as judges.
− In Ruth 4 Boaz went up to the city gate, called over the kinsman redeemer closer to Na'omi than him, then ten of the city's elders / leaders, and then presented his legal case before them.
− The judges שֹׁפְטִים (plural of שֹׁפֵט )
are to judge שָֹׁפַט
with judgment מִשְׁפַּט (law, judgment, and justice are what we get from the judge.
The prefix -מִ means “from” as does the word מִן )
that is righteous
− Fellow Hebrew students, notice how related words have the same root letters, and that words with the same root letters are related (in this case ש.פ.ט).
− The LORD is the righteous Judge (Ps 7:11(12), Jer 11:20, 2 Tim 4:8), Whose judgements are wise and right (Gen 18:25, Ps 51:4, Rom 16:27, 1 Cor 1:20-31).
19 You are not to distort justice or show favoritism, and you are not to accept a bribe, for a gift blinds the eyes of the wise and twists the words of even the upright.
− “Gifts,” “favors,” “benefits,” and “perks” can be like quicksand to judges and leaders. It looks like “normal” ground, until you take that step and get sucked into it. Extricating yourself is very difficult, if not impossible.
− They can also be like rocks in a stream: they seem “normal” but they, can change the course of the water.
− “People, like rivers, become crooked by following the path of least resistance.”
− Our judgements need to be in line with God's Word, otherwise they are distorted and / or twisted.
20 Justice, only justice, you must pursue; so that you will live and inherit the land Adonai you God is giving you.
צֶדֶק צֶדֶק תִּרְדֹּף לְמַעַן תִּחְיֶה וְיָרַשְׁתָּ אֶת
and you inherit you will live, for / to + from רָדַף x2 = emphatic justice,
you will have life, purpose, intent = to be behind, rightness,
you shall live, for the sake of, to follow, pursue, righteousness
you will live forever in view of, run after. You shall ...
on account of,
for the purpose of,
in order that
הָאָרֶץ אֲשֶׁר יהוה אֱלֹהֶיךָ נֹתֵן לָךְ
to you is your God Adonai which the land
giving / that
הָאָרֶץ (“the land”) is often used to refer specifically to the land of Israel; the promised land. It is where the Sovereign, Eternal, Omniscient L-RD chose to place His people for His purposes, honor, and glory. It is where God's people were to
− follow, pursue, run after
− justice, rightness, and righteousness
− for the sake of, in view of, on account of, for the purpose of, in order that
− they will and shall truly live
− and inherit what Adonai gave them.
− There they were to live, thrive, and influence their world for HaShem.
− Only two major north-south roadways connected the empires of Egypt in the south, with the empires of Assyria, Babylon, later Greece, and then Rome to the north and east. One roadway was the “King's Highway” just east of the Jordan River. The other was the “Via Maris” (Way of the Sea) running through the length of Israel proper.
− While some think that Israel was just a small country in an obscure place, the opposite is the truth. The L-RD placed them “front and center” on the major trade routes of the centuries where they could exert control over world trade and greatly influence the world as a kingdom of priests and a holy nation (Ex 19:6)
− They have yet to completely fulfill their mission.
− The Sovereign, Eternal, Omniscient L-RD has chosen to place us in this time, and in this place, for His purposes, honor, and glory. For us to live, thrive, and influence our world for Him.
− How well are we fulfilling our mission?
21 You are not to plant any sort of tree as a sacred pole beside the altar of Adonai your God that you will make for yourselves. 22 Likewise, do not set up a standing-stone; Adonai your God hates such things.
− The planting of trees was not the problem
− Lev. 19:23-25 talks about planting all kinds of trees for food
− Setting up a stone in honor of the LORD was not the problem
− Exo. 24:4 Moshe built an altar at the base of the mountain [Sinai] and set upright twelve large stones to represent the twelve tribes of Isra'el.
− The problem was that the pagans used “sacred poles” in the worship of their various gods and set up “standing-stones” as memorials to what their gods had supposedly done for them.
− HaShem's people are to worship Him, and Him alone; not any other gods,
− we are not to get involved in any of the pagan rituals, and
− we are not to try to combine worship of HaShem and any other god
− Ezek. 23:36-39 Adonai confronts the people for “their disgusting practices” of worshipping their idols and then coming into His sanctuary, which profaned it
− You can go to the store and buy paint that is “ultra pure white”
− but if you add even a drop of anything else, it is no longer “ultra pure white”
− HaShem is, in a sense, “ultra pure white.” If it were possible to add anything to the L-RD, He would no longer be the L-RD. He would no longer be who He is. Any admixture simply will not work; it is unacceptable in Who He is, and in our worship of Him.
1 You are not to sacrifice to Adonai your God a cow or sheep that has a defect or anything wrong with it; that would be an abomination to Adonai your God.
− a defective sacrifice could never atone for someone with the defect of sin, but more than that …
− יחוה is absolutely perfect – something our finite, sin-stained minds cannot really grasp ahold of
− what we present / offer Him is, in a sense, a reflection of our view of Him
− are we bringing the L-RD the best we have to offer
− trusting that He will view the gift and our hearts through the “filter” of all Yeshua has done for us?
− or are we offering Him something less?
2 If there is found among you, within any of your gates [in any city] that Adonai your God gives you a man or woman who does what Adonai your God sees as wicked transgressing His covenant
− our place has been given us by the L-RD
− He is our Creator, Sustainer, Provider, Shepherd, Redeemer, Owner, Master, ….
− human opinion is fickle; it changes like the tide, it is what HaShem thinks that is important
− man changes, and so do the laws of man – often by popular vote or by whim
− but, the L-RD does not change (Mal. 3:6, Heb. 13:8)
− the L-RD is the One Who established the covenant; it is His
− the people agreed to obey the L-RD and entered into covenant with Him (Exodus 19:8; 24:3, 7)
How is His covenant transgressed?
3 by going and serving other gods and worshipping them …
… וַיֵּלֶךְ וַיַּעֲבֹד אֱלֹהִים אֲחֵרִים וַיִּשְׁתַּחוּ לָהֶם
לָ + הֶם from שָׁחָה from אַחֵר from עָבַד from יָלַךְ
to, toward, to bow down another, gods to work, to come, to go,
at, in, till, until, - hence to other to serve to walk,
in order to, worship or to proceed, to live
for the purpose of, pay homage to manner of life
for, belonging to,
with respect to
+ they (them)
− we can transgress God's covenant in the manner of our lives
− the direction our lives are taking
− in what direction are we going?
− When I injured my back, our chiropractor reminded me about my nose and toes: they should always face the same direction. His application is that I should be careful not to twist and torque my body; it will affect my back, and therefore how I stand, and how I walk.
− My application here is that, in our walk, our toes will follow our nose. What we give attention to will affect what kind of a stand we are able to take, and it will affect our walk.
− To work or serve another god
− how we spend our time is how we spend our life
− in many cultures we spend time on the job to get money,
− so how we spend our money is also how we are spending our life
− just what or who is it that we are serving?
− to bow down, worship, or pay respect to them
− Worship might be equated with “worth-ship” – to what do we ascribe worth?
− 1 Cor. 15:41 There is one glory of the sun, and another glory of the moon, and another glory of the stars …
− “glory” = δόξα [doxa], where we get our word “doxology” which is a liturgical formula of praise or worship to God
− δόξα can mean: splendor, brightness, magnificence, excellence, preeminence, dignity, grace, majesty, glory
− These are all terms that describe the L-RD
− He has the greatest glory, pure splendor, magnificence, preeminence, majesty, grace and being the source of these things, He alone is worthy of our worship
− not the sun, moon, stars, nor any other created thing
− But now, quite apart from Torah, God's way of making people righteous in His sight has been made clear – although the Torah and the Prophets give their witness to it as well – 22 and it is a righteousness that comes from God, through the faithfulness of Yeshua the Messiah, to all who continue trusting. For it makes no difference whether one is a Jew of a Gentile, 23 since all have sinned and come short of the glory of God [ της δόξης του θεου ]. 24 By God's grace, without earning it, all are granted the status of being considered righteous before Him, through the act redeeming us from our enslavement to sin that was accomplished by the Messiah Yeshua. (Rom. 3:21-24, emphasis original)
− … something I have forbidden –
− Sometimes a verse, or even a portion of a verse, can catch your attention. This was the case here for me. After a bit of research, I asked for some help in understanding this:
I have a question for clarity. Devarim 17:3 ends with the words “... אֲשֶׁר לֹא־ צִוִּיתִי .” Some Bibles render this “which I have not commanded,” others, “which I have forbidden.”
According to Owens' Analytical Key to the Old Testament, צִוִּיתִי here is the Piel, perfect, first person, common singular of צָוַה : to charge, to command, to appoint, to ordain. לֹא being (with a verb) an absolute prohibition, as we see with the Ten Words (Sh'mot 20).
In any language there can be nuances of meaning that can be “lost in translation.” In English “which I have forbidden” is a permanent injunction, as in “I commanded you to never do this.” “Which I have not commanded” could be “I never commanded you to do this,” or “I never issued a command concerning this.” (Though a previous command that could apply here is Sh'mot 22:20, “Anyone who sacrifices to any god other than Adonai alone is to be completely destroyed” (CJB).)
I guess my question is, is it 'A,' or is it 'B,' or are both included in the wording HaShem chose here?
− Rabbi Roi responded: I see its more B but also A can play a part. Because its at the end of the sentence, it's to bring emphasis on that statement, I have not commanded! I do believe its more a permanent injunction. Saying not only in past present but also future! Brilliant question!
4 and it is told to you, or you hear about it; then you are to investigate the matter diligently. If it is true, if it is confirmed that such detestable things are being done in Isra'el; 5 then you are to bring the man or woman who has done this wicked thing to your city gates, and stone that man or woman to death.
− If you are told, or you hear about a case of idolatry, this is what you are to do:
− investigate the matter diligently
− if it is true and confirmed, then
− bring the guilty party out to the city gates
− before the leaders and judges of the city, and
− before the general public
− and execute them by stoning
− stones are solid, firm, lasting, enduring, etc., etc.
− stones are used to
− build roads, bridges, houses, and houses of worship
− make altars and set up monuments
− inscribe the Commandments of the LORD, and
− here to carry out His judgements and justice
6 The death sentence is to be carried out only if there was testimony from two or three witnesses; he may not be sentenced to death on the testimony of only one witness.
− “testimony from two or three witnesses” here is emphatic in the original
− This helps to prevent false testimony because of grudges, etc.
7 The hand of the witnesses are to be the first to stone him to death; afterwards, all the people are to stone him. Thus you will put an end to this wickedness among you.
− “hand of the witnesses” here is emphatic in the original
− The witnesses to the deed have to be the first begin enacting God's judgement.
− To look into the face of someone you must kill helps to bring home both the seriousness of the crime and its judgment.
− This also means that the witnesses had to have at least some familiarity with the “righteous judgements” of the L-RD (as the first verse of this parashah puts it).
− All the people are to stone him.
− All the people are to be involved, and so, you will put an end to this wickedness among you.
− This means that the general populace should also be familiar with the Word of God.
− The reason given for this public execution was to “put an end to this wickedness among you”
− to help put the “fear of God” in them, as some have put it, cf
− If a malicious witness comes forward and gives false testimony against someone, 17 then both the men involved in the controversy are to stand before Adonai, before the cohanim and the judges in office at the time. 18 The judges are to investigate carefully. If they find that the witness is lying and has given false testimony against his brother, 19 you are to do to him what he intended to do to his brother. In this way, you will put an end to such wickedness among you. 20 Those who remain will hear about it, be afraid and no longer commit such wickedness among you. 21 Show no pity: life for life, eye for eye, tooth for tooth, hand for hand, foot for foot. (Deut. 19:16-21, emphasis added)
− Many seem to think the “eye for eye” concept is dealing with retribution; it is not. In context we see that it is dealing with a malicious witness and false testimony. This malicious witness is wanting the judges to wrongfully do something to an innocent person. Here the L-RD is saying, whatever judgement this malicious witness was wanting to be met out to an innocent, that judgement should be given to him or her.
− As Yeshua said, “For the way you judge others is how you will be judged – the measure with which you measure out will be used to measure to you” (Matt 7:2)
− Not that we should not judge, (context tells us that, and that God gave us brains which He intends that we should use), but that our judgements need to be godly and righteous, and as His judgements are toward us, seasoned with mercy.
− If a man has a stubborn, rebellious son who will not obey what his father or mother says, and even after they discipline him he still refuses to pay attention to them; 19 then his father and mother are to take hold of him and bring him out to the leaders of his town, at the gate of that place, 20 and say to the leaders of his town, 'This son of ours is stubborn and rebellious, he doesn't pay attention to us, lives wildly, gets drunk.' 21 Then all the men of his town are to stone him to death; in this way you will put an end to such wickedness among you, and all Isra'el will hear about it and be afraid. (Deut 21:18-21, emphasis added)
8 If a case comes before you at your city gate which is too difficult for you to judge, concerning bloodshed, civil suit, personal injury or any other controversial issue; you are to get up, to to the place which Adonai your God will choose, 9 and appear before the cohanim, who are L'vi'im, and the judge in office at the time. Seek their opinion, and they will render a verdict for you.
• Moses had appointed leaders to judge the easier cases:
◦ But you should choose from among all the people competent men who are God-fearing, honest and incorruptible to be their leaders, in charge of thousands, hundreds, fifties and tens. 22 Normally, they will settle the people's disputes. They should bring you the difficult cases; but ordinary matters they should decide themselves. In this way, they will make it easier for you and share the load with you. 23 If you do this – and God is directing you to do it – you will be able to endure; and all these people too will arrive at their destination peacefully. (Ex 18:21-23)
• When they entered the Land, and spread throughout it, they were to continue the practice.
◦ Dispensing godly justice in their own localities, and, when necessary,
◦ to seek godly wisdom and justice in “the place which Adonai you God will choose” to put His name.
• We should seek to do the same
◦ Whenever we have opportunity, choosing for leaders and judges that are godly in word and deed.
◦ Whether or not we have a choice in the matter, to pray for them.
▪ First of all, then, I counsel that petitions, prayers, intercessions and thanksgivings be made for all human beings, 2 including kings and all in positions of prominence; so that we may lead quiet and peaceful lives, being godly and upright in everything. 3 This is what God, our Deliverer, regards as good; this what meets His approval. (1 Tim 2:1-3)
10 You will then act according to what they have told you there in that place which Adonai will choose; you are to take care to act according to all their instructions. 11 In accordance with the Torah they teach you, you are to carry out the judgment they render, not turning aside to the right or the left from the verdict they declare to you.
• When we go to godly leadership, prayerfully seeking an answer from the L-RD, we should “take care to act according to all their instructions.”
◦ It brings us back to the fact that we need to be continually, constantly, faithfully praying for those in leadership: This includes their marriages and families.
◦ And prayerfully submit to their authority, because, in this capacity, they are speaking for G-d (and are, themselves, accountable to G-d for what they counsel).
• In accordance with the Torah they teach you
◦ If leaders are not teaching G-d's Word, they are amiss and the L-RD will deal severely with them (see e.g. Ezekiel 34).
◦ Leaders and followers alike need to be well versed in Scripture so that none are led astray.
▪ The term “scholar” refers to someone who is “a specialist in a particular branch of study.” Although it has now been labeled “archaic” or “chiefly archaic” the term also refers to “a person who is highly educated or has an aptitude for study,” “a student.”
• Sha'ul (Paul) was used by the L-RD to pen more than half of His New Covenant writings. The man's credentials were unparalleled, and yet the people of Berea checked out what Sha'ul was teaching them. Acts 17:11 says,
Now the people here were of nobler character than the ones in Thessalonica; they eagerly welcomed the message, checking the Tanakh every day to see if the things Sha'ul was saying were true.
• Do NOT take anyone's word for what the Bible says, check it out for yourself!
◦ Many years ago when I was being trained as a CPR instructor, the instructor-trainer said, if you do CPR wrong you will mess up one persons chance for life. If you teach CPR wrong you will mess up countless peoples chance for life, so you better get it right.
▪ How much more so when dealing with the Word of Life; Scripture.
• We all need to be students of G-d's Word, because the safest place for any Bible teacher, preacher or rabbi to be, is in a room full of Bible scholars.
◦ This brings up the question, what if I think the teacher is wrong?
▪ Pray, pray and pray.
• Examine me, God, and know my heart; test me, and know my thoughts. 24 See if there is in me any hurtful way, and lead me along the eternal way. (Ps 139:23-24)
▪ Yeshua gives us guidance in Matthew 18:15 that may also apply here, go to him or her humbly and privately.
• It must be something you are personally aware of, not hearsay, rumor, or gossip.
◦ If someone shares a complaint with you about a leader, it might be good to take that person by the hand and say, “that is a concern, let's talk with pastor about that right now,” and walk that way.
◦ Gossip and slander spread like cancer and may kill all involved.
▪ A deceitful person stirs up strife, and a slanderer can separate even close friends. (Pro 16:28)
▪ A gossip goes around revealing secrets, so don't get involved with a talkative person. (Pro 20:19)
▪ If there's no wood, the fire goes out; if nobody gossips, contention stops. (Pro 26:20)
▪ Sha'ul names gossip along with several other unwanted and harmful activities in 2 Cor 12:20-21 – quarreling, jealousy, anger, rivalry, slander, gossip, arrogance, disorder, impurity, fornication and debauchery.
• It might be a misunderstanding that can easily be cleared up.
• It might be a matter of opinion, rather than a clear teaching of Scripture in context.
◦ Opinions are like armpits: personal, everyone has a couple, and they usually stink!
◦ Even though the lessons of Scripture transcend time and culture, considering things “in context” includes being mindful of both as well as the fact that
▪ every word comes from a phrase
▪ every phrase from a sentence
▪ every sentence from a paragraph
▪ every paragraph from a page
▪ every page from a chapter
▪ every chapter from a book
▪ every book from the Bible as a whole: that is “context.”
▪ If it is a clear teaching of Scripture in its whole context, and the issue was not resolved privately, meet with them with two or three others, (i.e. associate rabbis / pastors or elders).
• Never listen to any accusation against a leader unless it is supported by two or three witnesses. (1 Tim 5:19)
◦ “Never listen to” (or “do not receive” in some translations) is emphatic in the original Greek of this letter,
◦ as well as a negated present imperative
▪ a Negated present imperative “in the original text means, 'This action must be constantly avoided (keep on resisting it)!' – or 'Stop if it is already underway!' The context can indicate both senses apply at the same time. [Ongoing action is involved in both aspects of this prohibition. This typically requires continuing vigilance, enduring resistance, etc.] (The Discovery Bible)
• Be humble, respectful and prayerful, because complaints against G-d's leaders is complaining against Him (see e.g. Ex 16:8).
• The leaders who lead well should be considered worthy of double honor, especially those working hard at communicating the Word and at teaching. 18 For the Tanakh says, “You are not to muzzle an ox when it is treading out the grain,” in other words, “The worker deserves his wages.” (1 Tim 5:17-18, emphasis original)
▪ After all else has been exhausted, it may be necessary to bring it before the congregation (Matt 18:17, 1 Tim 5:20)
• The congregation needs to be biblically literate (“a room full of Bible scholars”) to understand the issue(s) at hand and the seriousness of the situation.
• The issue must not be a personal issue, grudge, vendetta, etc., lest we find ourselves fighting G-d and facing His wrath, e.g.:
◦ Miryam and Aharon in Numbers 12, and
◦ Korach, Datan and Aviram in Numbers 16
• The matter must be serious enough to warrant such an action,
◦ understanding that if we are in the wrong, we are inviting G-d's judgement upon ourselves
◦ our concern must be
▪ for correct teaching and leading of G-d's people in His ways by His Word, and
▪ restoration of the one(s) in error
▪ never personal gain or glory
▪ For the One we know is the One Who said, “Vengeance is My responsibility; I will repay,” and then said, “Adonai will judge His people.” 31 It is a terrifying thing to fall into the hands of the living God! (Heb 10:30-31)
▪ For indeed, “Our God is a consuming fire!” (Heb 12:29; cf Deut 4:24; 9:3)
▪ Our standard as to whether something is “right” or “wrong” is not human opinion of any form or fashion, but strictly the written Word of God.
• Personal experience is not the standard against which things are to be judged.
• Popular or celebrity opinion is not the standard.
• Scholarly opinion is not the standard.
• Political correctness is not the standard.
• ONLY the unchanging, uniquely inspired, inerrant in the original autographs, written Word of the Eternal, Omniscient, Omnipotent, Sovereign, L-RD of All.
12 Anyone presumptuous enough not to pay attention to the cohen appointed there to serve Adonai your God or to the judge – that person must die. Thus you will exterminate such wickedness from Isra'el – 13 all the people will hear about it and be afraid to continue acting presumptuously.
• “presumptuous” here comes from the Hebrew word זָדוֹן [zah-dōn] meaning
◦ Strong's: arrogance
◦ BDB: pride, insolence, presumptuousness, arrogance
▪ Other verses where זָדוֹן is used include
• Pro 11:2 First comes pride, then disgrace; but with the humble is wisdom.
• Pro 13:10 Insolence produces only strife, but wisdom is found with those who take advice.
• Jer 49:16 “Your capacity to terrorize has deceived you and made you arrogant. You make your home in the rocky crags and seize the top of the mountain; but even if you build your next high as an eagle's, from there I will drag you down,” says Adonai.
• Jer 50:31-32 “I am against you, arrogant [one],” says Adonai ELOHEI-Tzva'ot. “For your day has come, the time for you to be punished. 32 The arrogant [one] will stumble and fall, and no one will lift him up again. I will set his cities on fire, and it will devour everything around him.”
◦ from זוּד [zūd] meaning
▪ Strong's: to seethe; figuratively, to be insolent
▪ BDB: to boil, to boil up, to seethe, to act proudly, to act presumptuously, to act rebelliously, to be presumptuous, to be arrogant, to be rebelliously proud
• Anyone who seeks an answer from the L-RD through His spiritual leader and then presumptuously fails to act on that word is guilty of a capital offense, it is that wicked in the eyes of G-d.
◦ Those in leadership need to be very careful and prayerful so as not to frustrate and hurt those in their care.
◦ Those not in leadership need to be very careful to pray for, lift up, encourage and strengthen those who are leadership in G-d and in the things of the L-RD so that they can lead, guide and judge rightly with godly wisdom and insight.
14 When you have entered the land Adonai your God is giving you, have taken possession of it and are living there, you may say, 'I want to have a king over me, like all the other nations around me.' 15 In that event, you must appoint as king the one who Adonai your God will choose. He must be one of your kinsmen, this king you appoint over you – you are forbidden to appoint a foreigner over you who is not your kinsman.
• G-d was their king, and in wanting to have a king like all the other nations, they were rejecting G-d as their King. (1 Sam 8:6-7)
• Foreigners do not have the same vested interest in the land and people as those who are native born should have.
◦ Unfortunately, some “foreigners” have a greater working knowledge of, and greater vested interest in, the land than the native born.
• Either through interest or intrigue of one type or another, foreigners may have undo influence from those in power in their former homeland which could prove harmful to the country and people where they now reside. Having a foreigner as king could be problematic on multiple levels.
16 However, he is not to acquire many horses for himself or have the people return to Egypt to obtain more horses, inasmuch as Adonai told you never to go back that way again. 17 Likewise, he is not to acquire many wives for himself, so that his heart will not turn away; and he is not to acquire excessive quantities of silver and gold.
• For being such a wise guy, Shlomo (Solomon) failed in all three areas.
◦ Shlomo also had 40,000 stalls for the horses used with his chariots and 12,000 horsemen. (1 Kings 5:6, emphasis added)
◦ All King Shlomo's drinking vessels were of gold; and all the utensils in the House of the L'vanon Forest were of pure gold; none was of silver, for in Shlomo's time it was regarded as having little value. (1 Kings 10:21, emphasis added)
▪ The king made silver and gold in Yerushalayim as common as stones, and he made cedars as abundant as sycamore-fig trees in the Sh'felah. (2 Chr 1:15, emphasis added)
• The number six in Scripture points to both man and animals since both were created on the sixth day. At times various writings equate the number six with evil because it was when man listened to the serpent (an animal) in the Garden that evil, sin, sickness, death, etc. entered the world.
◦ When something is doubled or tripled it is emphatic. When the number six is doubled or tripled it is doubly or triply evil, as we see in Rev 13:18 where we are told that the number of the beast is 666.
◦ In 2 Chr 9:13 we are told the weight of the gold that came to Solomon each year was 666 talents (שֵׁשׁ מֵאוֹת וְשִׁשִּׁים וָשֵׁשׁ כִּכְּרֵי). We know it was recorded specifically in this way because the very next verse adds to the amount saying, “besides that which came from customs duties and sales taxes ….” An inter-Scripture commentary on the evil influence this wealth was having on King Solomon.
◦ King Shlomo loved many foreign women besides the daughter of Pharaoh. There were women from the Mo'avi, 'Amoni, Edomi, Tzidoni and Hitti – 2 nations about which Adonai had said to the people of Isra'el, “You are not to go among them or they among you, because they will turn your hearts away toward their gods.” But Shlomo was deeply attached to them by his love. 3 He had 700 wives, all princesses, and 300 concubines; and his wives turned his heart away. (1 Kings 11:1-3, emphasis added)
18 When he has come to occupy the throne of his kingdom, he is to write a copy of this Torah for himself in a scroll, from the one the cohanim and L'vi'im use. 19 It is to remain with him, and he is to read in it every day, as long as he lives; so that he will learn to fear Adonai his God and keep all the words of this Torah and these laws and obey them; 20 so that he will not think he is better than his kinsmen; and so that he will not turn aside either to the right or to the left from the mitzvah. In this way he will prolong his own reign and that of his children in Isra'el.
• “When he has come to occupy the throne ….”
◦ Although the L-RD gives us choice (free will), being Omniscient (all-knowing) He is well aware of the choices we will make.
• Writing our own copy of G-d's Word helps to focus our attention on what it says and helps to drive it's message toward our heart: all of which is for our best.
1 The cohanim, who are L'vi'im, and indeed the whole tribe of Levi is not to have a share or an inheritance with Isra'el. Instead, their support will come from the food offered by fire to Adonai and from whatever else becomes His. 2 They will have no inheritance with their brothers, because Adonai is their inheritance – as He has said to them.
• Each of the other tribes were allotted specific geographical areas as their inheritance. The Levites, on the other hand, as G-d's representatives and intermediaries, were to be “salted” throughout the Land.
◦ This would aid in their preservation and strength as a kingdom of priests and a holy nation whose design and commission was to be a light to the nations of the world.
◦ Under the New Covenant, all who have a saving relationship with Jesus are “a chosen people, the King's cohanim, a holy nation, a people for God to possess! Why? In order for you to declare the praises of the One Who called you out of darkness into His wonderful light.” (1 Pet 2:9)
• The priests' inheritance was the L-RD Himself, and their support would come to them by way of the tithes and offerings of the people as they served G-d.
◦ When the people served G-d, His ministers were provided for; when the people did not serve G-d, His ministers suffered lack.
◦ A tithe, or tenth, represents the whole.
▪ We see this in the minyan prayer before services.
▪ We see this in the financial tithes being returned to the L-RD Who gave them.
▪ As the Great and Mighty L-RD and Creator of All, G-d does not “need” “our money.”
• G-d allows us to work and get money to use. He wants us to return to Him tithes and offerings so that the money and the power it represents does not entangle us and draw our hearts away from Him.
◦ There is a mystical connection between our money and our heart in that whatever touches one will touch the other.
◦ Because we “spend” our lives working for a living, (for money to provide for our needs, wants, and desires,) whatever we do with that money indicates what we are “spending” our lives on.
▪ For our own benefit, good, well-being, G-d wants us to return the first fruits of our labor to Him.
• It is in that act of faith and loving obedience that He promises to open the floodgates of heaven and pour out a blessing far beyond our needs. (Mal 3:10)
◦ Throughout Scripture we are warned not to test the L-RD. Malachi 3:10 is the only place in His Word where G-d says, “put Me to the test”: in dealing with the tithes and offerings.
16 As for the towns of these peoples, which Adonai your God is giving you as your inheritance, you are not to allow anything that breathes to live. 17 Rather you must destroy them completely – the Hitti, the Emori, the Kena'ani, the P'rizi, the Hivi and the Y'vusi – as Adonai your God has ordered you; 18 so that they won't teach you to follow their abominable practices, which they do for their gods, thus causing you to sin against Adonai your God.
− These people were depraved and wicked, committing every sort of perversion and sin, even burning their own children alive as sacrifices to their gods.
− Ezekiel 33:11 “... As surely as I live, declares the Sovereign LORD, I take no pleasure in the death of the wicked, but rather that they turn from their ways and live. Turn! Turn from your evil ways! ...”
− The LORD had given them ample time to turn from their ways
− When HaShem was making a covenant with Abram in Genesis 15, He told him that his descendants would be in another land for over 400 years. Verse 16, “In the fourth generation your descendants will come back here, for the sin of the Amorites has not yet reached its full measure.”
− Now the LORD was about to use the children of Israel as His instrument of judgement.
− These people dwelling in Canaan can represent sin living in us. God is giving us time to repent and turn to Him. Every bit of it needs to be destroyed so we don't become hooked and re-entangled in it. HaShem had told His people, if they let the people of the land remain, they would become like thorns in their eyes and stings in their sides. (Num. 33:55)
− Writing about sin in 1 Corinthians 5, Rabbi Sha'ul uses an analogy in verses 6-8: Your boasting is not good. Don't you know the saying, “It takes only a little hametz to leaven a whole batch?” 7 Get rid of the old hametz, so that you can be a new batch of dough, because in reality you are unleavened. For our Pesach lamb, the Messiah, has been sacrificed. 8 So let us celebrate the Seder not with leftover hametz, the hametz of wickedness and evil, but with the matzah of purity and truth. (emphasis original)
− Hebrews 12:1-2 Therefore, since we have so great a cloud of witnesses surrounding us, let us also ay aside every encumbrance and the sin which so easily entangles us, and let run with endurance the race that is set before us, 2 fixing our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of faith, who for the joy set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. (emphasis original)
Haftarah: Yesh'yahu (Isaiah) 51:12- 52:12 (Messianic adaptation: conclude at 53:12)
12 I, yes I, am the one who comforts you! Why are you afraid of a man, who must die; of a human being, who will wither like grass? 13 You have forgotten Adonai, your maker, who stretched out the heavens and laid the foundations of the earth. Instead, you are in constant fear all day because of the oppressor's rage, as he prepares to destroy! But where is the oppressor's rage? 14 The captive will soon be set free; he will not die and go down to Sh'ol; on the contrary, his food supply will be secure.
• Human tendency is to look only with our physical eyes and miss the reality of what is happening spiritually.
• John Lawrence is buried at Westminster Abbey. Part of the inscription on his gravestone reads, “He feared Man so little, because he feared God so much.”
• G.K. Chesterton: “We fear men so much, because we fear God so little. One fear cures another. When man's terror scares you, turn your thoughts to the wrath of God.”
15 For I am Adonai your God, who stirs up the sea, who makes it waves roar – Adonai-Tzva'ot is my name.
• Adonai = יהוה the holy name of the LORD, the All-Sufficient, Self-Sufficient, Eternal, All-Knowing, Never Changing, Creator, and Preeminent Sovereign of all
◦ all the other “names” and titles of God can be seen as aspects / facets of יהוה
• Adonai-Tzva'ot = יהוה צְבָאוֹת , [b צְבָאוֹת being the plural of צָבָא ] it is often translated “LORD of Hosts” but includes:
◦ an army, a host: used of an organized army; of angels; of sun, moon, and stars; of whole creation
◦ a war, warfare, service, go out to war
▪ if nothing else, this reminds us that
• we are engaged in a battle which is a small part of a war that has already been won
• our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the powers, against the world forces of this darkness, against the spiritual forces of wickedness in the heavenly places (Eph. 6:16, emphasis added), and
• the battle is the LORD's (e.g. Ex. 14:14; Dt. 1:30, 3:22; 1 Sam. 17:47)
• it has been won in Yeshua (e.g. Col. 2:15; Jn. 12:31; 1 Cor. 15:24)