Parashah 49: Ki Tetze (When you go out)
Devarim (Deuteronomy) 21:10-25:19 Psalm 32
Yesha'yahu (Isaiah) 54:1-10 1 Corinthians 5:1-5
by Messianic Teacher Dr. Daniel Boley
10 When you go out to war against your enemies, and Adonai your God hands them over to you, and you take prisoners, 11 and you see among the prisoners a woman who looks good to you, and you feel attracted to her and want her as your wife; 12 you are to bring her home to your house, where she will shave her head, cut her fingernails 13 and remove her prison clothing. She will stay there in your house, mourning her father and mother for a full month; after which you may go in to have sexual relations with her and be her husband, and she will be your wife.
Traditionally it has been the men who would go out to war, with the victors taking all that belonged to the slain enemy as plunder for themselves. This might include any survivors, who would be taken into slavery.
Preventing an occasion in which the ungodly might give way to carnal lust, the Almighty shows His care and concern for even the poor and downtrodden women of a defeated enemy, by establishing protection and provision for them.
Keil and Delitzsch Commentary on the Old Testament
When the woman was taken home to the house of the man who had loved her, she was to shave her head, and make, i.e., cut, her nails (cf. 2 Sam 19:24) – both customary signs of purification (on this signification of the cutting of the hair, see Lev 14:8 and Num 8:7) – as symbols of her passing out of the state of a slave, and of her reception into the fellowship of the covenant nation. This is perfectly obvious in her laying aside her prisoner's clothes. After putting off the signs of captivity, she was to sit (dwell) in the house, and bewail her parents, whom she had lost, that she might be able to forget her people and her father's house (Ps 45:11), and give herself up henceforth in love to her husband with an undivided heart. The intention of these laws was not to protect the woman against any outbreak of rude passion on the part of the man, [I disagree and think this was included,] but rather to give her time and leisure to loosen herself inwardly from the natural fellowship of her nation and kindred, and to acquire affection towards the fellowship of the people of Israel, into which she had entered against her will, that her heart might cherish love to the God of Israel, who had given her favour in the eyes of her master, and had taken from her the misery and reproach of slavery. But her master becoming her husband, she entered into the rights of a daughter of Israel, who had been sold by her father to a man to be his wife (Ex 21:7ff.).
This time also allows the man time to seek (and hopefully see) an inward beauty and differentiate between lust and love.
Charm can lie, beauty can vanish, but a woman who fears Adonai should be praised. (Pro 31:30)
14 In the event that you lose interest in her, you are to let her go wherever she wishes; but you may not sell her for money or treat her like a slave, because you humiliated her.
More literally this first phrase is, “if you don't delight in her”
This is a problem with the idea of “falling in love,” which most often, is more like “falling in lust.”
Physical attraction is generally what first motivates people to pursue getting to know one another better.
While physical attraction can be very strong, it is still just physical attraction.
No matter how attractive the packaging and wrapping may be, the real treasure is what lies inside.
Our physical “shell” is subject to age, disease, and accidents that can change its appearance in a moment.
If a relationship is built on physical attributes alone, it is doomed to wane and fail.
The real person, who lives inside the body others see, will live forever. That's where the focus of our relationships need to be.
If it is possible to “fall in love,” (like someone might “fall in a hole,”) what keeps that same person from “falling out of love”?
“Falling in love” can be exciting and exhilarating, like a wonderful fireworks display
times seem good, and bright, and full of color
unfortunately, like fireworks, it can quickly burn out as the beauty turns to ashes
at best it's a cheep imitation of the real thing
True love grows and builds, over time it gets deeper and stronger
it is more like a space shuttle launch, there is strength and power, but with purpose and direction
there are “fireworks” times, but real love continues to lift the other up and point them toward the LORD
True love is patient and kind; not jealous, boastful, proud, rude, self-serving, or easily angered; it keeps no record of wrongs. True love does not rejoice in sin, but delights in the truth. Love always “hangs in there” – it never gives up – it never loses faith, but is always hopeful, enduring, and persevering, love never fails (see 1 Cor 13:4-8)
because, true love, always emanates from the heart of the Father
and always points us back to the heart of God
true love always seeks the best in the other, and always want the best for them
– which is why the truest love always points to, and encourages each other in their relationship with God
When two people come together sexually, it is like sticking two pieces of duct tape together
the two become one in a special and unique way (cf e.g. Gen 2:24; Mt 19:5; Eph 5:31)
if that union is separated, it is always at a price, part of which is cohesiveness
Mt. 19:4 He [Yeshua] replied, "Haven't you read that at the beginning the Creator made them male and female, 5 and that he said, 'For this reason a man should leave his father and mother and be united with his wife, and the two are to become one flesh'? 6 Thus they are no longer two, but one. ... ("male" and "female" are both strongly emphatic in the original; I emphasized "two")
the one man and one woman -- in a unique and special way -- complete, balance, and fulfill one another so that, together, they can better reflect the love and character of their Creator
adding to that God-ordained relationship (i.e. another partner / more partners) breaks down the God-image / reflection of the relationship, and their ability to whole-heartedly love one another
in a two-part epoxy, the proper mix is an equal amount of both parts for an optimum bond (1 + 1); if the mixture is out of balance (i.e. 1 + 2 or 1 + 3), to the extent it is out of balance, not only is optimum bonding is impossible, often there is no bond at all
In another way of looking at it, I once saw a video where the speaker used duct tape to symbolize the "stick-tuitiveness" of the sexual relationship. She took a piece of duct tape and put it on her arm, pressing it down, explaining how sexual intercourse binds two people together in spirit, soul, and body. She then pulled off the tape and handed it to the first person in the audience. They were to press the tape on their forearm, then pull it off and pass it down the row, where everyone in the row was to do the same thing. It did not take long for the tape to lose its ability to stick. The more people involved, the less able the tape is to stick, because a part of each person is torn away and stays with the tape.
The LORD designed sex to be enjoyed by both within the mutually exclusive relationship of marriage between one man and one woman. Within the safety of this God honoring, loving relationship, the two are bound together in a way that God intended would last a lifetime; and He can bless it. Anything less is outside the parameters He set, and sex is degraded to lust and selfish desire.
Talking with my bride of almost 30 years about the situation, she shared a woman's perspective:
If she were the first wife and her husband took another:
What about me isn't good enough for him?
Or is no longer good enough?
Did he really love me, or was he just using me?
There will aways be questions; how could I never feel secure in our relationship, and how can I ever trust that he won't keep looking for more wives?
If she were the second wife:
What about the first wife isn't good enough for him?
Was he just using her, and is now going to simply use me?
If he really loved her, how can he really love me?
There will aways be questions; how could I never feel secure in our relationship, and how can I ever trust that he won't keep looking for more wives?
It is impossible to whole-heartedly devoted to more than one person.
18 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.
Is it okay to have the death penalty? God does!
Is it okay to make an example of someone, so others will learn? God does!
Behold, the kindness and severity of the LORD (Rom 11:22)
the severity in this case, that the man was stoned to death
the kindness, that many other lives might be saved through this example
even Kayafa (Caiaphas) recognized this principle (John 11:49-50)
For rebellion is like the sin of sorcery, stubbornness like the crime of idolatry. (1 Sam 15:23a)
22 If someone has committed a capital crime and is put to death, then hung on a tree, 23 his body is not to remain all night on the tree, but you must bury him the same day, because a person who has been hanged has been cursed by God – so that you will not defile your land, which Adonai your God is giving you to inherit.
Keil and Delitzsch Commentary on the Old Testament
If there was a sin upon a man, lit., a right of death, i.e., a capital crime (cf. Deut 19:6 and 22:26), and he was put to death, and they hanged him upon a tree (wood) [עֵץ], his body was not to remain upon the wood over night, but they were to bury him on the same day upon which he [w]as hanged; “for the hanged man is a curse of God,” and they were not to defile the land which Jehovah gave for an inheritance. The hanging, not of criminals who were to be put to death, but of those who had been executed with the sword, was an intensification of the punishment of death (see at Num 25:4), inasmuch as the body was thereby exposed to peculiar kinds of abominations. Moses commanded the burial of those who had been hanged upon the day of their execution – that is to say, as we may see from the application of this law in Josh 8:29; 10:26-27, before sunset – because the hanged man, being a curse of God, defiled the land. The land was defiled not only by vices and crimes (cf. Lev 18:24, 28; Num 35:34), but also by the exposure to view of criminals who had been punished with death, and thus had been smitten by the curse of God, inasmuch as their shameful deeds were thereby publicly exposed to view. We are not to think of any bodily defilement of the land through the decomposition consequent upon death, as [some] suppose; so there is no ground for speaking of any discrepancy between this and the old law. – (On the application of this law to Christ, see Gal 3:13.) – This regulation is appended very loosely to what precedes. The link of connection is contained in the thought, that with the punishment of the wicked the recollection of their crimes was also to be removed.
On Num 25:3-4
And the anger of the Lord burned against the people, so that Jehovah commanded Moses to fetch the heads of the people, i.e., to assemble them together, and to “hang up” the men who had joined themselves to Baal-Peor “before the Lord against the sun,” that the anger of God might turn away from Israel. The burning of the wrath of God, which was to be turned away from the people by the punishment of the guilty, as enjoined upon Moses, consisted, as we may see from vv. 8, 9, in a plague inflicted upon the nation, which carried off a great number of the people, a sudden death, as in Num 14:37, Num 17:11. [howqa] [חוֹקַע], from yaaqa' [יָקַע], to be torn apart or torn away (Ges., Winer), refers to the punishment of crucifixion, a mode of capital punishment which was adopted by most of the nations of antiquity (see Winer, bibl. R.W. i. p. 680), and was carried out sometimes by driving a stake into the body, and so impaling them (anaskolopi'zein), and the mode practiced by the Assyrians and Persians (Herod. iii. 159, and Layard's Niveveh and its Remains, vol. ii. p. 374, and plate on p. 369), at other times by fastening them to a stake or nailing them to a cross (anastaurou'n).
In the instance before us, however, the idolaters were not impaled or crucified alive, but, as we may see from the word hiraguw [הִרְגוּ from הָרַג] in v. 5, and in accordance with the custom frequently adopted by other nations (see Herzog's Encyclopaedia), they were first of all put to death and then impaled upon a stake or fastened upon a cross, so that the impaling or crucifixion was only an aggravation of the capital punishment, like the burning in Lev 20:14, and the hanging (taalaah [תָּלָה]) in Deut 21:22. The rendering adopted by the LXX and Vulgate is paradeigmati'zein [from παραδειγματίζω], suspendere, in this passage, and in 2 Sam 21:6, 9, exeelia'zein (to expose to the sun), and crucifigere. layhaaowh [לַיהוָה], for Jehovah, as satisfaction for Him, i.e., to appease His wrath. 'owtaam (them) [אוֹתָם] does not refer to the heads of the nation, but to the guilty person, upon whom the heads of the nation were to pronounce sentence.
Gal 3:10-14 For everyone who depends on legalistic observance of Torah commands lives under a curse, since it is written, “Cursed is everyone who does not keep on doing everything written in the Scroll of the Torah.” [Deut 27:26] 11 Now it is evident that no one comes to be declared righteous by God through legalism, since “The person who is righteous will attain life by trusting and being faithful.” [Hab 2:4] 12 Furthermore, legalism is not based on trusting and being faithful, but on [a misuse of] the text that says, “Anyone who does these things will attain life through them.” [Lev 18:5] 13 The Messiah redeemed us from the curse pronounced in the Torah by becoming cursed on our behalf; for the Tanakh says, “Everyone who hangs from a stake comes under a curse.” [Deut 21:22-23] 14 Yeshua the Messiah did this so that in union with Him the Gentiles might receive the blessing announced to Avraham, so that through trusting and being faithful, we might receive what was promised, namely, the Spirit. (CJB, emphasis original)
1 You are not to watch your brother's ox or sheep straying and behave as if you hadn't seen it; you must bring it back to your brother. 2 If your brother is not close by, or you don't know who the owner is, you are to bring it home to your house; and it will remain with you until your brother asks for it; then you are to give it back to him. 3 You are to do the same with his donkey, his coat or anything else of your brother's that he loses. If you find something he lost, you must not ignore it.
We can see from this passage that the saying, “finder keeper; looser weeper” and the attitude behind it, are unbiblical and ungodly.
Always treat others as you would like them to treat you; that sums up the teaching of the Torah and the Prophets (Matt 7:12)
4 If you see your bother's donkey or ox collapsed on the road, you may not behave as if you hadn't seen it; you must help him get it up on its feet again.
Many years ago this was a normal thing in the United States. Recently, however, there have been cases of robbery, kidnapping, and even murder of people when they stopped to render aid on the side of the road. Some thoughts:
Always pray for God's wisdom, protection, and direction.
If you recognize the person, feel free to pray and stop to help.
If you do not recognize the person
You might pray and return with some help: many hands make light work.
You might pray and call the police so that they can investigate the situation and help or call for a tow truck as needed.
The operative word here being “pray”!
5 A woman is not to wear men's clothing, and a man is not to put on women's clothing, for whoever does these things is detestable to Adonai your God.
For some thoughts on this verse, here is a copy of an article by Mike Schwab:
Not Wearing Pagan Apparel
Back in Yeshua’s time there were not a lot of distinctions between the clothes of women and men, but there were a few. Anything that is considered to be the clothing of the opposite sex would be explicitly prohibited by Deuteronomy 22:5. “A woman is not to wear men's clothing, and a man is not to put on women's clothing, for whoever does these things is detestable to ADONAI your God.” Deut. 22:5 CJB. Men or woman were not to dress like the opposite sex.
So, wearing of dresses and makeup that makes men look like women is prohibited. Wearing clips for a kippah wouldn’t make a man look feminine; men dying hair is accepted in our society and so that wouldn’t be wrong. Women wearing pants is accepted in our society, but women who try to look like a man would be wrong. We can draw the conclusion that the point of Deuteronomy 22:5 seems to be about not imitating the pagan homosexual dress practices of that time. This would still apply to believers of the true God today.
So, does a woman wearing a kippah or tallit violate this commandment? I personally don’t think so. Wearing a kippah or tallit does not have anything to do with demonstrating sexual orientation. Also, we have to ask ourselves if what a person is doing is violating a sexual dress code for our society, and where do we draw the line with this commandment.
It’s not okay just to wear just anything we want to and the Bible views modesty as a commandment. Rabbi Shaul said, “Likewise, the women, when they pray, should be dressed modestly and sensibly in respectable attire, not with elaborate hairstyles and gold jewelry, or pearls, or expensive clothes. Rather, they should adorn themselves with what is appropriate for women who claim to be worshipping God, namely, good deeds.” 1 Tim. 2:9-10 CJB. It’s not saying a person can’t dress up at times, but we should never be telling others by our dress that we are not modest or not sexually clean whether male or female. We should all, “be dressed modestly and sensibly in respectable attire” and in appropriate attire for each situation (implied by the context of the 1 Timothy passage). Shaul also says that we should set our aim on doing good deeds instead of dressing up.
One command by Shaul concerning apparel has caused some confusion among believers because of a mistranslation according to some scholars. Some translations of 1 Cor. 11 use the word head covering instead of veil. The Complete Jewish Bible is translated, “For a man indeed should not have his head veiled.” 1 Cor. 11:7 CJB. In verse three it says, “Every man who prays or prophesies wearing something down over his head brings shame to his head.” The down (the Greek word “kata” means “down”) refers to wearing a veil over the head and in the KJV and some other versions they miss that it is talking about a veil; a woman’s head covering. We should understand that Shaul is speaking from the Torah (Deut. 22:5). Veils are for women to wear and not men. Also, it is not referring to covering our heads with tallit for prayer as this is acceptable for both men and women. In 1 Cor. 11 it is referring to appropriate attire based on the command in Deut. 22:5.
We may find it interesting that Shaul still seems to be saying here that the Torah is still to be followed in this instance. Shaul often quoted from the Tanakh and therefore he deeply respected its writings and we know that he followed the Torah as a believer in Yeshua all his life. Also, perhaps after reading this you could see how some deviant dress practices could be wrong. What is our clothing communicating? We should be communicating that we are a good, modest and kind people by how we dress and act. I am writing this in the hope that this answers a few questions on appropriate dress and I hope this has been helpful.
6 If, as you are walking along, you happen to see a bird's nest in a tree or on the ground with chicks or eggs, and the mother bird is sitting on the chicks or the eggs, you are not to take the mother with the chicks. 7 You must let the mother go, but you may take the chicks for yourself; so that things will go well with you, and you will prolong your life.
If you take the mother (e.g. for food)
then the mother bird is dead and can not reproduce; you have cut off a possible future food source
any chicks and eggs will die; you have wasted a present food source as well as a possible future food source
you remove a link from the food chain which may allow certain insects to multiply unchecked,
which in turn may devastate your crops or otherwise become problematic for you
If you leave the mother bird
she can still reproduce to maintain the species
and eat her fill of insects
Some see this as more than just a caution against being short sighted, but also against being mean.
Don't delude yourselves: no one makes a fool of God! A person reaps what he sows. 8 Those who keep sowing in the field of their old nature, in order to meet its demands, will eventually reap ruin; but those who keep sowing in the field of the Spirit will reap from the Spirit everlasting life. 9 So let us not grow weary of doing what is good; for if we don't give up, we will in due time reap the harvest. 10 Therefore, as the opportunity arises, let us do what is good to everyone, and especially to the family of those who are trustingly faithful. (Gal 6:7-10)
A mother will protect her young; she can't quietly watch the demise of her young. But if she is young enough she can still reproduce.
We need to be careful not to take two generations at the same time.
8 When you build a new house, you must build a low wall around your roof; otherwise someone may fall from it, and you will be responsible for his death.
Think ahead, plan ahead.
When I taught first aid, CPR, and life-guarding classes I would tell my students to feel free to ask questions about anything they didn't understand, telling them, “I want to be sure you understand and get it right. The life you safe might be mine!”
Building a parapet may save your own life or the life of a loved one.
9 You are not to sow two kinds of seed between your rows of vines; if you do, both the two harvested crops and the yield from the vines must be forfeited. 10 You are not to plow with an ox and a donkey together. 11 You are not to wear clothing woven with two kinds of thread, wool and linen together.
One thought Rabbi Carl shared related this verse to sending mixed signals to our children, i.e. saying one thing, yet doing another.
There is an old saying that with children, “more is caught than taught.”
What we do needs to match what we say and visa versa.
12 You are to make for yourself twisted cords on the four corners of the garment you wrap around yourself.
• This verse, along with Numbers 15:37-41, constitute to commandment to wear tassels (tzitziyot)
◦ Num 15:37 Adonai said to Moshe, 38 “Speak to the people of Isra'el, instructing them to make, through all their generations, tzitziyot on the corners of their garments, and to put with the tzitzit on each corner a blue thread. 39 It is to be a tzitzit for you to look at and thereby remember all of Adonai's mitzvot and obey them, so that you won't go around wherever your own heart and eyes lead you to prostitute yourselves; 40 but it will help you remember and obey all My mitzvot and be holy for your God. 41 I am Adonai your God, Who brought you out of the land of Egypt in order to be your God. I am Adonai your God.”
▪ Rashi: The blue dye was obtained from the blood of the chalozon (a kind of fish or snail). (The Soncino Chumash, p. 874)
▪ Abraham Ibn Ezra, Nachmanides: Blue, say the Rabbis, suggests the sea; the sea suggests the heavens; and the heavens suggest the Throne of Glory. Hence the fringes are a reminder of one's duties to God. (ibid.)
• When one's earthly duties to follow G-d and His commandments has ended the tzitziyot are cut off. This would explain part of David's remorse at cutting off the corner of Saul's garment, which would have symbolized his death (see 1 Samuel 24). The action being equivalent to saying, “you're as good as dead!”
• While the typical garments worn in Western cultures do not have “four corners,” there are some that still attachment “tzitzits” to their clothes, e.g. by the belt-loops of their pants, through holes sewn into their shirts, or buttons sewn onto their shirt-tails, etc.
◦ Because of persecution throughout the centuries, many only wear tzitziyot on their tallit (prayer shawl) while in worship, e.g. in the synagogue.
◦ The expressed purpose of the tzitzit was as a visual reminder for the individual, and others,
▪ of G-d's commandments; to obey them, so that
▪ we won't go wherever our own heart and eyes might lead us to prostitute ourselves,
▪ and be holy for G-d
• Our gaze proceeds our gate; our nose our toes. We need to be careful what we allow our eyes to look at and allow our noses to point at, lest we end up prostituting ourselves before our holy G-d.
• Many believers have visual reminders around the house of their relationship with G-d, such as a menorah, mezuzah, cross, or a plaque with a Scripture verse on it.
◦ Reminders help us remember, which can cause us to think and lead us to act.
13 If a man marries a woman, has sexual relations with her and then, having come to dislike her,
• The Hebrew here might be more literally translated, “If he takes a man, a wife and go to her and hate her”
◦ “hate” here comes from the Hebrew שָׂנֵא [sah-neh] meaning “to hate, to be hateful”
▪ This appears to be a case of a man looking for a sexual conquest without honestly being willing to take on the responsibility for the love and care of a wife; to the point he is willing to have her killed, which seems to be born out by the next verses.
14 brings false charges against her and defames her character by saying, 'I married this woman, but when I had intercourse with her I did not find evidence that she was a virgin'; 15 then the girl's father and mother are to take the evidence of the girl's virginity to the leaders of the town at the gate. 16 The girl's father will say to the leader, 'I let my daughter marry this man, but he hates her, 17 so he has brought false charges that he didn't find evidence of her virginity; yet here is the evidence of my daughter's virginity' – and they will lay the cloth before the town leaders. 18 The leaders of that town are to take the man, punish him, 19 and fine him two-and-a-half pounds of silver shekels, which they will give to the girl's father, because he has publicly defamed a virgin of Isra'el. She will remain his wife, and his is forbidden from divorcing her as long as he lives.
4 No 'Amoni or Mo'avi may enter the assembly of Adonai, nor may any of his descendants down to the tenth generation ever enter the assembly of Adonai …
• 'Amoni and Mo'avi are simply translated “Ammonite or Moabite” most times, but both are in the masculine form
◦ This may explain why Ruth (a Moabitess) and Naamah (an Ammonitess wife of Solomon and mother of Rehoboam) were accepted into people of Israel
◦ also they gave up their pagan practices (Ruth for sure)
Yesha'yahu (Isaiah) 54:1-10
1 “Sing, barren woman who has never had a child! Burst into song, shout for joy, you who have never been in labor! For the deserted wife will have more children than the woman who is living with her husband,” says Adonai. 2 Enlarge the space for your tent, extend the curtains of your dwelling; do not hold back, lengthen your cords, make your tent pegs firm. 3 For you will spread out to the right and the left, your descendants will possess the nations and inhabit the desolated cities.
B'rit Chadasha: suggested readings include Galatians 3:9-14; 4:21-31; 1 Cor 5:1-5
Galatians 3:9-14 and 4:21-31
In the original Greek of the B'rit Chadasha word-form indicators tell the reader if a word is emphatic or strongly emphatic. Emphasis can make subtle changes in meaning. (NOTE: bold = emphatic, and bold italics = strongly emphatic in the original, see Discovery Bible New Testament)
9 So then, those who rely on trusting and being faithful are blessed along with Avraham, who trusted and was faithful. 10 For everyone who depends on legalistic observance of Torah-commands lives under a curse, since it is written,
“Cursed is everyone who does not keep on doing everything written in the Scroll of the Torah.”
11 Now it is evident that no one comes to be declared righteous by God through legalism, since
“The person who is righteous will attain life by trusting and being faithful.”
12 Furthermore, legalism is not based on trusting and being faithful, but on [a misuse of] the text that says,
“Anyone who does these things will attain life through them.”
13 The Messiah redeemed us from the curse pronounced in the Torah by becoming cursed on our behalf; for the Tanakh says,
“Everyone who hangs from a stake comes under a curse.”
14 Yeshua the Messiah did this so that in union with him the Gentiles might receive the blessing announced to Avraham, so that through trusting and being faithful, we might [all] receive what was promised, namely, the Spirit.
21 Tell me, you who want to be in subjection to the system that results from perverting the Torah into legalism, don't you hear what the Torah itself says? 22 It says that Avraham had two sons, one by the slave woman and one by the free woman. 23 The one by the slave woman was born according to the limited capabilities of human beings, but the one by the free woman was born through the miracle-working power of God fulfilling his promise.
24 Now, to make a midrash on these things: the two women are two covenants. One is from Mount Sinai and bears children for slavery – this is Hagar. 25 Hagar is Mount Sinai in Arabia; she corresponds to the present Yerushalayim, for she serves as a slave along with her children. 26 But the Yerushalayim above is free, and she is our mother; 27 for the Tanakh says,
“Rejoice, you barren woman who does not bear children! Break forth and shout, you who are not in labor! For the deserted wife will have more children than the one whose husband is with her!”
28 You, brothers, like Yitz'chak, are children referred to in a promise of God. 29 But just as then, the one born according to limited human capability persecuted the one born through the Spirit's supernatural power, so it is now. 30 Nevertheless, what does the Tanakh say?
“Get rid of the slave woman and her son, for by no means will the son of the slave woman inherit along with the son of the free woman!”
31 So, brothers, we are children not of the slave woman, but of the free woman.
Over the years many have taken these verses to mean that
Hagar, Sinai, Judaism, Torah observance, and the “Old” Testament are bad and
Sarah, the New Jerusalem, Christianity, and the “New” Testament are good
trying to artificially divide God's Word and His people.
Keeping in mind the first three rules of Bible study (context, Context, and CONTEXT), let's take a closer look.
A careful study of the B'rit Hadasha and other historical documents shows that Yeshua and His talmadim were Torah observant their whole lives. So there is no difficulty with being a “disciple of Jesus” and obeying the “Old Testament.” (It was the only Bible they had.) We need to remember, too, that being a talmid or disciple in Yeshua's day meant not only knowing what their rabbi knew, but also doing what he did, and being what their rabbi was.
Yeshua upheld the validity and authority of the Tanakh, but He often took issue with all the man-made ritualistic laws and customs of the elders that people had elevated above God's Word.
Galatia was a Roman province in what is now Turkey. Under Roman law people were required to worship their pantheon of gods, including worshipping Caesar as a god. The only exemption was for someone who was legally Jewish.
Within the churches of Galatia were some that were born Jewish, but the majority had come to faith in Yeshua out of paganism. Of these some had gone through the ritual and legal requirements to become Jewish proselytes, benai Avraham, and put themselves under not just the Law of God, but all the laws of Judaism. Most people in the churches of Galatia were what many translations call “God-fearers” who loved the LORD but had no exemption from the idolatry required by Roman law.
Considering all the context of this passage, Sha'ul seems to be addressing the two groups of Messianic believers that had come out of paganism: proselytes who had legally converted to Judaism, and the “God-fearers” who had not. Some of the proselytes were trying to convince the “God-fearers” to undergo ritual conversion to Judaism just as they had.
Some of the “God-fearers” were considering it. To them Sha'ul writes, verse 21,
Tell me, you who want to be under law, do you not listen to the law?
Or as the Complete Jewish Bible differentiates:
Tell me, you who want to be in subjection to the system that results from perverting the Torah into legalism, don't you hear what the Torah itself says? 22 It says that Avraham had two sons, one by the slave woman and one by the free woman. 23 The one by the slave woman was born according to the limited capabilities of human beings, but the one by the free woman was born through the miracle-working power of God fulfilling his promise.
Both sons were benai Avraham! The issue here is “flesh” verses “promise.” One son was born out of human wisdom and effort; the other by an act of God.
To Paul, the God-fearing Gentile who remained a Gentile was a child of the promise God made to Abraham: All nations will be blessed in your seed (Genesis 26:4) – All goyim.
Verse 28: You, brothers, like Yitz'chak, are children referred to in a promise of God.
29 But just as then, the one born according to limited human capability persecuted the one born through the Spirit's supernatural power, so it is now.
Have you ever wondered what Ishmael was mocking Isaac about? The Jewish sages relate a story in which Ishmael claimed to be more loved than Isaac because he was circumcised at the age of 13: as an “adult” who had a choice. “... But you were circumcised as a baby and had no choice in the matter.”
Now in Galatia, those adults who had made the choice to undergo a circumcision of the flesh and put themselves under all the laws of Judaism were persecuting, taunting, pressuring the “God-fearers” to follow suit.
Sha'ul was not saying that those Messianics who converted to Judaism had lost their salvation, but he broke their doctrine, and identified the “God-fearers” as benei Avraham, sons of Abraham, children according to the promise. A point he had made at the end of chapter 3, saying:
… If you belong to the Messiah, you are seed of Avraham and heirs according to the promise.
We need to keep in mind that, in these verses, Sha'ul is making an analogy, a midrash, an illustration that is not to be taken too literally. Usually a midrash only attempted to illustrate one point. His point here is that there are two ways for a Gentile to enter “Abraham's family”:
the normal way, according to the flesh, and
the other, by faith in the promise that God is going to bless all nations
Through those who choose the later route, Abraham became, becomes, the father of many nations.
This passage contrasts two types of proselytes, if you will: the legal proselyte and the spiritual. One becomes part of Abraham's family by natural conversion, the other through faith in Messiah, the promised Seed of Avraham, in whom all nations find blessing.
The passage does NOT contrast
Old Testament against New Testament
Old Covenant against New Covenant
Christians against Jews, or
Christianity against Judaism
nor does it equate Judaism and Torah with slavery.
It means that if you are a Jewish believer in covenant relationship with Yeshua Mashiach, you should be proud of being Jewish because you are a child of Avraham, legally, physically, and spiritually.
If you are a Gentile believer who has come into covenant relationship with Yeshua the Jewish Mashiach, you, too, are part of the people, a spiritual son or daughter of Avraham. A child of the promise that God made to Avraham some 4,000 years ago.
Midrash is an interpretive act, seeking the answers to religious questions (both practical and theological) by plumbing the meaning of the words of the Torah. (http://www.myjewishlearning.com/texts/Rabbinics/Midrash/midrash_101.shtml)
Drash (derash, d'rash, drosh) as a noun: a sermon, interpretation of a text; as a verb: give a sermon, discuss an interpretation of the text. (http://www.jewish-languages.org/jewish-english-lexicon/words/134)