In this week’s Torah portion, Moshe writes of the importance of hearing the Word of God for the purpose of learning to fear God. Devarim / Deuteronomy 31:10-13, י וַיְצַו מֹשֶׁה אוֹתָם לֵאמֹר מִקֵּץ | שֶׁבַע שָׁנִים בְּמֹעֵד שְׁנַת הַשְּׁמִטָּה בְּחַג הַסֻּכּוֹת: יא בְּבוֹא כָל-יִשְֹרָאֵל לֵרָאוֹת אֶת-פְּנֵי יְהוָֹה אֱלֹהֶיךָ בַּמָּקוֹם אֲשֶׁר יִבְחָר תִּקְרָא אֶת-הַתּוֹרָה הַזֹּאת נֶגֶד כָּל-יִשְֹרָאֵל בְּאָזְנֵיהֶם: יב הַקְהֵל אֶת-הָעָם הָאֲנָשִׁים וְהַנָּשִׁים וְהַטַּף וְגֵרְךָ אֲשֶׁר בִּשְׁעָרֶיךָ לְמַעַן יִשְׁמְעוּ וּלְמַעַן יִלְמְדוּ וְיָרְאוּ אֶת-יְהוָֹה אֱלֹהֵיכֶם וְשָׁמְרוּ לַעֲשֹוֹת אֶת-כָּל-דִּבְרֵי הַתּוֹרָה הַזֹּאת: יג וּבְנֵיהֶם אֲשֶׁר לֹא-יָדְעוּ יִשְׁמְעוּ וְלָמְדוּ לְיִרְאָה אֶת-יְהוָֹה אֱלֹהֵיכֶם כָּל-הַיָּמִים אֲשֶׁר אַתֶּם חַיִּים עַל-הָאֲדָמָה אֲשֶׁר אַתֶּם עֹבְרִים אֶת-הַיַּרְדֵּן שָׁמָּה לְרִשְׁתָּהּ: 31:10 Then Moses commanded them, saying, ‘At the end of every seven years, at the time of the year of remission of debts, at the Feast of Booths, 31:11 when all Israel comes to appear before the Lord your God at the place which He will choose, you shall read this law in front of all Israel in their hearing. 31:12 ‘Assemble the people, the men and the women and children and the alien who is in your town, so that they may hear and learn and fear the Lord your God, and be careful to observe all the words of this law. 31:13 ‘Their children, who have not known, will hear and learn to fear the Lord your God, as long as you live on the land which you are about to cross the Jordan to possess.’ (NASB) Notice something here in the Hebrew text on these verses from Devarim / Deuteronomy 31 (verses 12 and 13):
יב הַקְהֵל אֶת-הָעָם הָאֲנָשִׁים וְהַנָּשִׁים וְהַטַּף וְגֵרְךָ אֲשֶׁר בִּשְׁעָרֶיךָ לְמַעַן יִשְׁמְעוּ וּלְמַעַן יִלְמְדוּ וְיָרְאוּ אֶת-יְהוָֹה אֱלֹהֵיכֶם וְשָׁמְרוּ לַעֲשֹוֹת אֶת-כָּל-דִּבְרֵי הַתּוֹרָה הַזֹּאת:
יג וּבְנֵיהֶם אֲשֶׁר לֹא-יָדְעוּ יִשְׁמְעוּ וְלָמְדוּ לְיִרְאָה אֶת-יְהוָֹה אֱלֹהֵיכֶם כָּל-הַיָּמִים אֲשֶׁר אַתֶּם חַיִּים עַל-הָאֲדָמָה אֲשֶׁר אַתֶּם עֹבְרִים אֶת-הַיַּרְדֵּן שָׁמָּה לְרִשְׁתָּהּ:
Moshe changed the sequence in describing the reading of the Torah to the people every 7 years using the vav (ו) and the lamed (ל). In verse 12, Moshe stated יִלְמְדוּ וְיָרְאוּ “learn and fear” and in verse 13 he writes, וְלָמְדוּ לְיִרְאָה “learn to fear.” In the first instance, Moshe writes the people will learn and the result will be to fear, and in the later, they will learn to fear. The children who are present during the reading in the midst of all the congregation will inspire the fear and respect of God and Moshe adds in verse 13 כָּל-הַיָּמִים “all the days” to remind us that when the young ones learn to fear and respect God at an early age, it will last them all the days of their lives (Or HaChaim on Devarim / Deuteronomy 31:13 Parts 1-2) The inclusion of the children suggests that even though a child may be too young to understand what they are hearing,they are not too young to understand what it means to fear the Lord as the Scriptures state that we are to train up a child in the way that he should go from an early age. (Mishley / Proverbs 22:6) These Scriptures teach us how important it is to teach our children about the Word of God no matter how young they are. The point is each person is to hear the Word of God, to store up God’s Word in his or her heart such that we do not sin before God. Moshe also wrote in Devarim / Deuteronomy 10 that we are to always be speaking of God’s word, when we raise, when we are in the home, outside the home, and when we lay down. This follows from Devarim / Deuteronomy 31:18, יח וְאָנֹכִי הַסְתֵּר אַסְתִּיר פָּנַי בַּיּוֹם הַהוּא עַל כָּל-הָרָעָה אֲשֶׁר עָשָֹה כִּי פָנָה אֶל-אֱלֹהִים אֲחֵרִים: 31:18 ‘But I will surely hide My face in that day because of all the evil which they will do, for they will turn to other gods. (NASB) The Lord is saying the people will eventually prostitute themselves to foreign gods and the Lord will hide His face due to the idols the people have established in their lives. This is a warning for us today! We read more about these things in the book of Ezekiel on what happens as the people are exiled to Babylon due to their sins doing the very things the Torah warned them about.
14:1 Then some elders of Israel came to me and sat down before me. 14:2 And the word of the Lord came to me, saying, 14:3 ‘Son of man, these men have set up their idols in their hearts and have put right before their faces the stumbling block of their iniquity. Should I be consulted by them at all? 14:4 ‘Therefore speak to them and tell them, ‘Thus says the Lord God, ‘Any man of the house of Israel who sets up his idols in his heart, puts right before his face the stumbling block of his iniquity, and then comes to the prophet, I the Lord will be brought to give him an answer in the matter in view of the multitude of his idols, 14:5 in order to lay hold of the hearts of the house of Israel who are estranged from Me through all their idols.’’ 14:6 ‘Therefore say to the house of Israel, ‘Thus says the Lord God, ‘Repent and turn away from your idols and turn your faces away from all your abominations. 14:7 ‘For anyone of the house of Israel or of the immigrants who stay in Israel who separates himself from Me, sets up his idols in his heart, puts right before his face the stumbling block of his iniquity, and then comes to the prophet to inquire of Me for himself, I the Lord will be brought to answer him in My own person. 14:8 ‘I will set My face against that man and make him a sign and a proverb, and I will cut him off from among My people. So you will know that I am the Lord. (NASB)
In this case, the people did not learn from their being sent into the diaspora; they did not learn to be in awe of the Lord God of Israel but continued in their sinful ways. The Lord God turning from the people, withdrawing His face is synonymous to withdrawing His presence from their midst. Ezekiel describes situations that continue to happen today, where men are setting up idols in their heart. God’s Word to Ezekiel states one must confess his or her guilt before God and repent, or there is the danger of being made a sign and a proverb meaning he will be cut off from God’s people. From a Torah perspective, which is the general consensus throughout Scripture, redemption will not come until the repentance described in Devarim / Deuteronomy 30:2 has become a reality. (30:2 and when you and your children return to the LORD your God and obey His voice with all your heart and all your soul according to everything I am giving you today, 30:3 then He will restore you from captivity and have compassion on you and gather you from all the nations to which the LORD your God has scattered you. BRB) The Lord God states that He Himself will circumcise their hearts, and the hearts of their children to love and obey. The idol that is in the heart Ezekiel is speaking about requires a change from the inside, something of a miraculous nature, a transformation. Midrash Rabbah describes the garments God made for Adam were not of skin, but of light (Genesis Rabbah 20), and Adam was the first to receive the promise of resurrection (Midrash Genesis Rabbah 21:7, following from Tehillim Psalms 17:15). What is interesting is that the rabbis compare the first Adam and his sons, to Jacob with his sons. We know that in many instances, children grow up to be similar to their parents. The first Adam gave birth to sinful men, the second Adam (Jacob) gave birth to righteousness and a righteous people. This alludes to the Apostle Paul’s words to the Corinthians in 1 Corinthians 15:39-52. In the Zohar Volume 2, Noah 1 “Noah and the Ark” section 1.10 speaks of Noah being perfect in his generation and describes what it means to be perfect. One interpretation is that he perfected the generations which descended from him, the second interpretation is that he was perfected by the generations that descended from him. The third interpretation was that he was walking before God in perfection (Bereshit / Genesis 17:1) meaning that he was circumcised by God as being born circumcised. This describes something that is changing from within that the Lord does. (Devarim / Deuteronomy 30:6) The Zohar Volume 2, Noah 1 “Noah and the Ark” section 1.13 asks the question why Naoah’s name was repeated Bereshit / Genesis 6:9, Abraham Bereshit / Genesis 22:11, Moshe Shemot / Exodus 3:4, Jacob Bereshit / Genesis 46:2, Samuel 1 Samuel 3:10, the answer was that all righteous persons are given two souls, one that stays in this world and one that remains in the world to come. This is connected to Isaac who was not named twice being that as he lay upon the altar of sacrifice, his earthly soul left him, and what returned to him was only the heavenly one. The rabbis connect this to the resurrection, (Bereshit / Genesis 22:12) to life, and of the Lord God Almighty bringing life to those who are already considered dead. This parallels to the Lord God who dwells within, who changes us from within. Note the NT principle here. Though we struggle with sin, in this body, we want to do what is right according to God’s Word but we end up choosing to do what is wrong. Paul wrote extensively about this in the book to the Romans. If we study the midrashic literature (Midrash Tehillim) on Tehillim / Psalms 68-71 we see over and over again resurrection themes such as when the people arrived at the mountain of Sinai they all died, then the Lord God raised them up from the dead, and gave them His Torah (Instruction). All of these things lend themselves to the interpretation of the newness of life, the new man is raised up by God to walk in righteousness, holiness, justice and truth according to His Torah (Instruction). Studying the “mixed multitude” whom God delivered from Egypt provides us with a foreshadowing of what our Father in Heaven had planned from the beginning, that both Jew and non-Jew (Gentile) are grafted into one family of God (Galatians 3:28) through faith. The Scriptures state that God sanctifies both the Jew and non-Jew in the same way. He saves us in the Messiah Yeshua by faith in the same way, and the Lord wants us to live and walk before Him in the same way, in the way that brings glory to His name. This is the point of Moshe writing to the people in Devarim / Deuteronomy 31:12 and 31:13 יִלְמְדוּ וְיָרְאוּ “learn and fear” and וְלָמְדוּ לְיִרְאָה “learn to fear.” In the first instance, Moshe writes the people will learn and the result will be to fear, and in the later, they will learn to fear. We stand before a holy and righteous God and rightly so we stand in awe, fear, and trembling, believing in the One who loves us and saved us in His Son Yeshua the Messiah!
This week we are looking at the Scriptures from Devarim / Deuteronomy 31:1-29.
Devarim / Deuteronomy 31:1-29
31:1 So Moses went and spoke these words to all Israel. 31:2 And he said to them, ‘I am a hundred and twenty years old today; I am no longer able to come and go, and the Lord has said to me, ‘You shall not cross this Jordan.’ 31:3 ‘It is the Lord your God who will cross ahead of you; He will destroy these nations before you, and you shall dispossess them. Joshua is the one who will cross ahead of you, just as the Lord has spoken. 31:4 ‘The Lord will do to them just as He did to Sihon and Og, the kings of the Amorites, and to their land, when He destroyed them. 31:5 ‘The Lord will deliver them up before you, and you shall do to them according to all the commandments which I have commanded you. 31:6 ‘Be strong and courageous, do not be afraid or tremble at them, for the Lord your God is the one who goes with you. He will not fail you or forsake you.’ 31:7 Then Moses called to Joshua and said to him in the sight of all Israel, ‘Be strong and courageous, for you shall go with this people into the land which the Lord has sworn to their fathers to give them, and you shall give it to them as an inheritance. 31:8 ‘The Lord is the one who goes ahead of you; He will be with you. He will not fail you or forsake you. Do not fear or be dismayed.’ 31:9 So Moses wrote this law and gave it to the priests, the sons of Levi who carried the ark of the covenant of the Lord, and to all the elders of Israel. 31:10 Then Moses commanded them, saying, ‘At the end of every seven years, at the time of the year of remission of debts, at the Feast of Booths, 31:11 when all Israel comes to appear before the Lord your God at the place which He will choose, you shall read this law in front of all Israel in their hearing. 31:12 ‘Assemble the people, the men and the women and children and the alien who is in your town, so that they may hear and learn and fear the Lord your God, and be careful to observe all the words of this law. 31:13 ‘Their children, who have not known, will hear and learn to fear the Lord your God, as long as you live on the land which you are about to cross the Jordan to possess.’ 31:14 Then the Lord said to Moses, ‘Behold, the time for you to die is near; call Joshua, and present yourselves at the tent of meeting, that I may commission him.’ So Moses and Joshua went and presented themselves at the tent of meeting. 31:15 The Lord appeared in the tent in a pillar of cloud, and the pillar of cloud stood at the doorway of the tent. 31:16 The Lord said to Moses, ‘Behold, you are about to lie down with your fathers; and this people will arise and play the harlot with the strange gods of the land, into the midst of which they are going, and will forsake Me and break My covenant which I have made with them. 31:17 ‘Then My anger will be kindled against them in that day, and I will forsake them and hide My face from them, and they will be consumed, and many evils and troubles will come upon them; so that they will say in that day, ‘ Is it not because our God is not among us that these evils have come upon us?’ 31:18 ‘But I will surely hide My face in that day because of all the evil which they will do, for they will turn to other gods. 31:19 ‘Now therefore, write this song for yourselves, and teach it to the sons of Israel; put it on their lips, so that this song may be a witness for Me against the sons of Israel. 31:20 ‘For when I bring them into the land flowing with milk and honey, which I swore to their fathers, and they have eaten and are satisfied and become prosperous, then they will turn to other gods and serve them, and spurn Me and break My covenant. 31:21 ‘Then it shall come about, when many evils and troubles have come upon them, that this song will testify before them as a witness (for it shall not be forgotten from the lips of their descendants); for I know their intent which they are developing today, before I have brought them into the land which I swore.’ 31:22 So Moses wrote this song the same day, and taught it to the sons of Israel. 31:23 Then He commissioned Joshua the son of Nun, and said, ‘Be strong and courageous, for you shall bring the sons of Israel into the land which I swore to them, and I will be with you.’ 31:24 It came about, when Moses finished writing the words of this law in a book until they were complete, 31:25 that Moses commanded the Levites who carried the ark of the covenant of the Lord, saying, 31:26 ‘Take this book of the law and place it beside the ark of the covenant of the Lord your God, that it may remain there as a witness against you. 31:27 ‘For I know your rebellion and your stubbornness; behold, while I am still alive with you today, you have been rebellious against the Lord; how much more, then, after my death? 31:28 ‘Assemble to me all the elders of your tribes and your officers, that I may speak these words in their hearing and call the heavens and the earth to witness against them. 31:29 ‘For I know that after my death you will act corruptly and turn from the way which I have commanded you; and evil will befall you in the latter days, for you will do that which is evil in the sight of the Lord, provoking Him to anger with the work of your hands.’ (NASB)
א וַיֵּלֶךְ מֹשֶׁה וַיְדַבֵּר אֶת-הַדְּבָרִים הָאֵלֶּה אֶל-כָּל-יִשְֹרָאֵל: ב וַיֹּאמֶר אֲלֵהֶם בֶּן-מֵאָה וְעֶשְֹרִים שָׁנָה אָנֹכִי הַיּוֹם לֹא-אוּכַל עוֹד לָצֵאת וְלָבוֹא וַיהוָֹה אָמַר אֵלַי לֹא תַעֲבֹר אֶת-הַיַּרְדֵּן הַזֶּה: ג יְהֹוָה אֱלֹהֶיךָ הוּא | עֹבֵר לְפָנֶיךָ הוּא-יַשְׁמִיד אֶת-הַגּוֹיִם הָאֵלֶּה מִלְּפָנֶיךָ וִירִשְׁתָּם יְהוֹשֻׁעַ הוּא עֹבֵר לְפָנֶיךָ כַּאֲשֶׁר דִּבֶּר יְהוָֹה: [שני] ד וְעָשָֹה יְהוָֹה לָהֶם כַּאֲשֶׁר עָשָֹה לְסִיחוֹן וּלְעוֹג מַלְכֵי הָאֱמֹרִי וּלְאַרְצָם אֲשֶׁר הִשְׁמִיד אֹתָם: ה וּנְתָנָם יְהוָֹה לִפְנֵיכֶם וַעֲשִֹיתֶם לָהֶם כְּכָל-הַמִּצְוָה אֲשֶׁר צִוִּיתִי אֶתְכֶם: ו חִזְקוּ וְאִמְצוּ אַל-תִּירְאוּ וְאַל-תַּעַרְצוּ מִפְּנֵיהֶם כִּי | יְהוָֹה אֱלֹהֶיךָ הוּא הַהֹלֵךְ עִמָּךְ לֹא יַרְפְּךָ וְלֹא יַעַזְבֶךָּ: ס [שלישי] [חמישי כשהן מחוברין] ז וַיִּקְרָא מֹשֶׁה לִיהוֹשֻׁעַ וַיֹּאמֶר אֵלָיו לְעֵינֵי כָל-יִשְֹרָאֵל חֲזַק וֶאֱמָץ כִּי אַתָּה תָּבוֹא אֶת-הָעָם הַזֶּה אֶל-הָאָרֶץ אֲשֶׁר נִשְׁבַּע יְהוָֹה לַאֲבֹתָם לָתֵת לָהֶם וְאַתָּה תַּנְחִילֶנָּה אוֹתָם: ח וַיהֹוָה הוּא | הַהֹלֵךְ לְפָנֶיךָ הוּא יִהְיֶה עִמָּךְ לֹא יַרְפְּךָ וְלֹא יַעַזְבֶךָּ לֹא תִירָא וְלֹא תֵחָת: ט וַיִּכְתֹּב מֹשֶׁה אֶת-הַתּוֹרָה הַזֹּאת וַיִּתְּנָהּ אֶל-הַכֹּהֲנִים בְּנֵי לֵוִי הַנֹּשְֹאִים אֶת-אֲרוֹן בְּרִית יְהוָֹה וְאֶל-כָּל-זִקְנֵי יִשְֹרָאֵל: [רביעי] י וַיְצַו מֹשֶׁה אוֹתָם לֵאמֹר מִקֵּץ | שֶׁבַע שָׁנִים בְּמֹעֵד שְׁנַת הַשְּׁמִטָּה בְּחַג הַסֻּכּוֹת: יא בְּבוֹא כָל-יִשְֹרָאֵל לֵרָאוֹת אֶת-פְּנֵי יְהוָֹה אֱלֹהֶיךָ בַּמָּקוֹם אֲשֶׁר יִבְחָר תִּקְרָא אֶת-הַתּוֹרָה הַזֹּאת נֶגֶד כָּל-יִשְֹרָאֵל בְּאָזְנֵיהֶם: יב הַקְהֵל אֶת-הָעָם הָאֲנָשִׁים וְהַנָּשִׁים וְהַטַּף וְגֵרְךָ אֲשֶׁר בִּשְׁעָרֶיךָ לְמַעַן יִשְׁמְעוּ וּלְמַעַן יִלְמְדוּ וְיָרְאוּ אֶת-יְהוָֹה אֱלֹהֵיכֶם וְשָׁמְרוּ לַעֲשֹוֹת אֶת-כָּל-דִּבְרֵי הַתּוֹרָה הַזֹּאת: יג וּבְנֵיהֶם אֲשֶׁר לֹא-יָדְעוּ יִשְׁמְעוּ וְלָמְדוּ לְיִרְאָה אֶת-יְהוָֹה אֱלֹהֵיכֶם כָּל-הַיָּמִים אֲשֶׁר אַתֶּם חַיִּים עַל-הָאֲדָמָה אֲשֶׁר אַתֶּם עֹבְרִים אֶת-הַיַּרְדֵּן שָׁמָּה לְרִשְׁתָּהּ: פ יד וַיֹּאמֶר יְהֹוָה אֶל-מֹשֶׁה הֵן קָרְבוּ יָמֶיךָ לָמוּת קְרָא אֶת-יְהוֹשֻׁעַ וְהִתְיַצְּבוּ בְּאֹהֶל מוֹעֵד וַאֲצַוֶּנּוּ וַיֵּלֶךְ מֹשֶׁה וִיהוֹשֻׁעַ וַיִּתְיַצְּבוּ בְּאֹהֶל מוֹעֵד: טו וַיֵּרָא יְהוָֹה בָּאֹהֶל בְּעַמּוּד עָנָן וַיַּעֲמֹד עַמּוּד הֶעָנָן עַל-פֶּתַח הָאֹהֶל: טז וַיֹּאמֶר יְהוָֹה אֶל-מֹשֶׁה הִנְּךָ שֹׁכֵב עִם-אֲבֹתֶיךָ וְקָם הָעָם הַזֶּה וְזָנָה | אַחֲרֵי | אֱלֹהֵי נֵכַר-הָאָרֶץ אֲשֶׁר הוּא בָא-שָׁמָּה בְּקִרְבּוֹ וַעֲזָבַנִי וְהֵפֵר אֶת-בְּרִיתִי אֲשֶׁר כָּרַתִּי אִתּוֹ: יז וְחָרָה אַפִּי בוֹ בַיּוֹם-הַהוּא וַעֲזַבְתִּים וְהִסְתַּרְתִּי פָנַי מֵהֶם וְהָיָה לֶאֱכֹל וּמְצָאֻהוּ רָעוֹת רַבּוֹת וְצָרוֹת וְאָמַר בַּיּוֹם הַהוּא הֲלֹא עַל כִּי-אֵין אֱלֹהַי בְּקִרְבִּי מְצָאוּנִי הָרָעוֹת הָאֵלֶּה: יח וְאָנֹכִי הַסְתֵּר אַסְתִּיר פָּנַי בַּיּוֹם הַהוּא עַל כָּל-הָרָעָה אֲשֶׁר עָשָֹה כִּי פָנָה אֶל-אֱלֹהִים אֲחֵרִים: יט וְעַתָּה כִּתְבוּ לָכֶם אֶת-הַשִּׁירָה הַזֹּאת וְלַמְּדָהּ אֶת-בְּנֵי-יִשְֹרָאֵל שִֹימָהּ בְּפִיהֶם לְמַעַן תִּהְיֶה-לִּי הַשִּׁירָה הַזֹּאת לְעֵד בִּבְנֵי יִשְֹרָאֵל: [ששי] כ כִּי-אֲבִיאֶנּוּ אֶל-הָאֲדָמָה | אֲשֶׁר-נִשְׁבַּעְתִּי לַאֲבֹתָיו זָבַת חָלָב וּדְבַשׁ וְאָכַל וְשָֹבַע וְדָשֵׁן וּפָנָה אֶל-אֱלֹהִים אֲחֵרִים וַעֲבָדוּם וְנִאֲצוּנִי וְהֵפֵר אֶת-בְּרִיתִי: כא וְהָיָה כִּי-תִמְצֶאן ָ אֹתוֹ רָעוֹת רַבּוֹת וְצָרוֹת וְעָנְתָה הַשִּׁירָה הַזֹּאת לְפָנָיו לְעֵד כִּי לֹא תִשָּׁכַח מִפִּי זַרְעוֹ כִּי יָדַעְתִּי אֶת-יִצְרוֹ אֲשֶׁר הוּא עֹשֶֹה הַיּוֹם בְּטֶרֶם אֲבִיאֶנּוּ אֶל-הָאָרֶץ אֲשֶׁר נִשְׁבָּעְתִּי: כב וַיִּכְתֹּב מֹשֶׁה אֶת-הַשִּׁירָה הַזֹּאת בַּיּוֹם הַהוּא וַיְלַמְּדָהּ אֶת-בְּנֵי יִשְֹרָאֵל: כג וַיְצַו אֶת-יְהוֹשֻׁעַ בִּן-נוּן וַיֹּאמֶר חֲזַק וֶאֱמָץ כִּי אַתָּה תָּבִיא אֶת-בְּנֵי יִשְֹרָאֵל אֶל-הָאָרֶץ אֲשֶׁר-נִשְׁבַּעְתִּי לָהֶם וְאָנֹכִי אֶהְיֶה עִמָּךְ: כד וַיְהִי | כְּכַלּוֹת מֹשֶׁה לִכְתֹּב אֶת-דִּבְרֵי הַתּוֹרָה-הַזֹּאת עַל-סֵפֶר עַד תֻּמָּם: [שביעי] כה וַיְצַו מֹשֶׁה אֶת-הַלְוִיִּם נֹשְֹאֵי אֲרוֹן בְּרִית-יְהוָֹה לֵאמֹר: כו לָקֹחַ אֵת סֵפֶר הַתּוֹרָה הַזֶּה וְשַֹמְתֶּם אֹתוֹ מִצַּד אֲרוֹן בְּרִית-יְהוָֹה אֱלֹהֵיכֶם וְהָיָה-שָׁם בְּךָ לְעֵד: כז כִּי אָנֹכִי יָדַעְתִּי אֶת-מֶרְיְךָ וְאֶת-עָרְפְּךָ הַקָּשֶׁה הֵן בְּעוֹדֶנִּי חַי עִמָּכֶם הַיּוֹם מַמְרִים הֱיִתֶם עִם-יְהֹוָה וְאַף כִּי-אַחֲרֵי מוֹתִי: [מפטיר] כח הַקְהִילוּ אֵלַי אֶת-כָּל-זִקְנֵי שִׁבְטֵיכֶם וְשֹׁטְרֵיכֶם וַאֲדַבְּרָה בְאָזְנֵיהֶם אֵת הַדְּבָרִים הָאֵלֶּה וְאָעִידָה בָּם אֶת-הַשָּׁמַיִם וְאֶת-הָאָרֶץ: כט כִּי יָדַעְתִּי אַחֲרֵי מוֹתִי כִּי-הַשְׁחֵת תַּשְׁחִתוּן וְסַרְתֶּם מִן-הַדֶּרֶךְ אֲשֶׁר צִוִּיתִי אֶתְכֶם וְקָרָאת אֶתְכֶם הָרָעָה בְּאַחֲרִית הַיָּמִים כִּי-תַעֲשֹוּ אֶת-הָרַע בְּעֵינֵי יְהֹוָה לְהַכְעִיסוֹ בְּמַעֲשֵֹה יְדֵיכֶם: ל וַיְדַבֵּר מֹשֶׁה בְּאָזְנֵי כָּל-קְהַל יִשְֹרָאֵל אֶת-דִּבְרֵי הַשִּׁירָה הַזֹּאת עַד תֻּמָּם:
As we have seen, there is a principle that is being drawn out from the Torah text on the importance of the Lord God changing us from the inside out. This principle is taught according to both the Torah text (all of the Tanach) and the rabbinic literature. This belief in the resurrection was not just derived from the biblical story of Isaac in Bereshit / Genesis 22. Right here in this week’s Torah portion we read something very interesting in the Hebrew text of what the Lord is going to do to those who are His after they die. We read the following in Devarim / Deuteronomy 31:16.
Devarim / Deuteornomy 31:16
וַיֹּ֤אמֶר יְהוָה֙ אֶל־מֹשֶׁ֔ה הִנְּךָ֥ שֹׁכֵ֖ב עִם־אֲבֹתֶ֑יךָ וְקָם֩ הָעָ֨ם הַזֶּ֜ה וְזָנָ֣ה ׀ אַחֲרֵ֣י ׀ אֱלֹהֵ֣י נֵֽכַר־הָאָ֗רֶץ אֲשֶׁ֨ר ה֤וּא בָא־שָׁ֙מָּה֙ בְּקִרְבּ֔וֹ וַעֲזָבַ֕נִי וְהֵפֵר֙ אֶת־בְּרִיתִ֔י אֲשֶׁ֥ר כָּרַ֖תִּי אִתּֽוֹ׃
31:16 The LORD said to Moses: You are soon to lie with your fathers. This people will thereupon go astray after the alien gods in their midst, in the land that they are about to enter; they will forsake Me and break My covenant that I made with them.
Now if we divide this Hebrew sentence in the following way [וַיֹּ֤אמֶר יְהוָה֙ אֶל־מֹשֶׁ֔ה] [הִנְּךָ֥ שֹׁכֵ֖ב עִם־אֲבֹתֶ֑יךָ וְקָם֩] [הָעָ֨ם הַזֶּ֜ה וְזָנָ֣ה ׀ אַחֲרֵ֣י ׀ אֱלֹהֵ֣י נֵֽכַר־הָאָ֗רֶץ אֲשֶׁ֨ר ה֤וּא בָא־שָׁ֙מָּה֙ בְּקִרְבּ֔וֹ וַעֲזָבַ֕נִי וְהֵפֵר֙ אֶת־בְּרִיתִ֔י אֲשֶׁ֥ר כָּרַ֖תִּי אִתּֽוֹ׃] The text reads [“and the Lord spoke unto Moshe”] [“behold you will lay down with your fathers and raise”] [“this people will prostitute themselves after foreign gods of the land…”] Here it is possible to read the text to say that Moshe will lay down with his fathers, meaning that he will die, and raise (וְקָם) suggesting the God of Israel is capable of raising to life one who was dead (resurrection). The rabbis recognize this and discuss this in the Talmud Bavli Sanhedrin 90b.
Talmuid Bavli Sanhedrin 90b:14
The Romans asked Rabbi Yehoshua ben Ḥananya: From where is it derived that the Holy One, Blessed be He, revives the dead, and from where is it derived that He knows what is destined to be? Rabbi Yehoshua ben Ḥananya said to them: Both of those matters are derived from this verse, as it is stated: “And the Lord said to Moses, Behold, you shall lie with your fathers and arise; this people will go astray” (Deuteronomy 31:16). This indicates that Moses will die and then arise from the dead and that the Holy One, Blessed be He, knows what the children of Israel are destined to do.
In the Talmud, the rabbis conclude the word “arise” (קָם) is a part of the previous phrase. The context however indicates that the word is part of the latter, otherwise, how then could one make sense out of the following words, this people will prostitute themselves after foreign gods of the land…etc? (Ibn Ezra on Devarim / Deuteronomy 31:16 Part 1) These words from Devarim / Deuteronomy 31:16 are used to prove that resurrection is promised in the Torah. Other commentaries reason the word הִנְּךָ֥ may allude to the life of the souls, the words שֹׁכֵ֖ב וְקָם֩, “lie down and arise,” are an allusion to this life after the period of the resurrection when both body and soul are reunited. (Rabbeinu Bahya, Devarim / Deuteronomy 31:16 Parts 1-2) In Midrash Tehillim 68-71, the resurrection is connected to the people of God, as when they met the Lord at the mountain of Sinai, the Midrash states all of the people died, then they were resurrected again in order to be capable of receiving God’s Torah! (If you want to read more see the studies on Tehillim / Psalms 68-71) The Midrashic literature describe the necessity of transformation before being capable of receiving God’s Word. This is an important concept for us today to understand we too must be transformed, changed on the inside (see Devarim / Deuteronomy 30:6) this is a work of God in us, and it is only when we are changed on the inside that we are able to receive God’s work, believe God’s word, and apply God’s word to our lives! The Scripture from Devarim / Deuteronomy 31:16 speak of the resurrection of the dead according to the rabbinic sources. This is coupled to “the Akedah,” back in Bereshit / Genesis 22 the rabbis interpret that Abraham believed in the resurrection due to his willingness to sacrifice his son based upon the Word of the Lord (God’s command to do so).
This process of resurrection, the renewing of the heart, mind, and soul, by the power of God by His presence, His dwelling in each of us by His Holy Spirit, is how He accomplishes these things. God’s presence in our lives is what draws us away from the idolatry and false gods that are set up or established in our lives. In the context of the reason the Torah speaks of אֱלֹהֵ֣י נֵֽכַר־הָאָ֗רֶץ from Devarim / Deuteronomy 31:16, the rabbis describe this refers to all kinds of idolatry which are alien to Israel and to the land. They say anyone practicing idolatry in that land is seen as if he were trying to expel the king of that country from his palace. This is one of the ways in which the rabbis say the land of Israel is superior to all other countries. (Rabbeinu Bahya, Devarim / Deuteronomy 31:16 Part 3)
The weightiness of these things of the necessity of being made new, of turning from idolatry, seeking the Lord, and resurrection are connected to this idea that the Lord God has set up His sanctuary in the land. The midrash Petichta Rabbah to Lamentations 22 states, “How long (did they relentlessly introduce more and more idolatry)? Until they introduced idolatry into the Sanctuary itself.” The Midrash refers to a verse in Jeremiah 11:6 in which the proliferation of idolatry in the towns of Judah is described and the word חוצות describes the innermost part of Jerusalem. It adds a verse from Ezekiel 8:5 describing penetration by idolatry of the Sanctuary itself as the ultimate act of rebellion against the Lord. (Rabbeinu Bahya, Devarim / Deuteronomy 31:16 Part 4) Ezekiel 8:5 describes an idol standing at the entrance of the North gate of the temple. The Lord speaks to Ezekiel about the abominations the people of Israel are committing which cause to drive the presence of God from the sanctuary. This is a very important concept as we learn from the Apostle Paul that the sanctuary of God is in our hearts, where His presence dwells by the Holy Spirit. David refers to the areas described as חוצות as אהלי רשע, “the tents of the wicked.” (Tehillim / Psalms 84:11) The whole verse there reads, “Better one day in Your courts than a thousand anywhere else; I would rather stand on the threshold of God’s House than dwell in the tents of wickedness.” This speaks to us today about turning from unrighteousness and turning towards the presence of God in our lives. When compared to Jerusalem, the city of righteousness, the Lord is looking for us to walk in His ways, to seek His face, and to bear His testimonies. This is why Paul wrote in 1 Corinthians 3:1 Brothers and sisters, I could not address you as people who live by the Spirit but as people who are still worldly—mere infants in Christ. 3:2 I gave you milk, not solid food, for you were not yet ready for it. Indeed, you are still not ready. (NIV) Paul speaks to those who do not consider the spiritual consequences of their actions, in fact, they do not seem to have a desire to seek the Lord and His ways based upon what he is saying, they are infants knowing only of Yeshua the Messiah but not remaining “in” him because they continue to walk in their sinful ways. He goes on to say, 1 Corinthians 3:16 Don’t you know that you yourselves are God’s temple and that God’s Spirit dwells in your midst? 3:17 If anyone destroys God’s temple, God will destroy that person; for God’s temple is sacred, and you together are that temple. (NIV) This parallels to the one who has been transformed from the inside out. Only the Lord is able to prepare the sanctuary of the heart, and these things are teaching us that if we hold on to idols, sin, and wickedness, this will drive the presence of God from us as opposed to drawing Him near. This is illustrated from the Zohar in the following way:
Zohar Volume 2 Noach 7 “And Elohim looked on the earth”
7.40 But the people corrupt their ways, do not observe the commandments of the Torah, and sin before its Master, then it is as if they drive the Shechinah out of the world. Then the earth is left corrupt, for the Shechinah is repelled by it and does not dwell on it. Then the earth is corrupt. And why should the earth be corrupt? Because a different spirit rests upon it, causing the corruption.
The point being drawn out in the Zohar is wickedness, corruption, sin, drives the presence of God (Shechinah) from the earth. Because of the corruption of sin, a different spirit rests upon it causing its continuing in its corrupt ways. So the idea being put forward here is entering into a covenant relationship with God, we are to walk in His righteous ways, and seek God’s help to do so by the transformation from within and by His presence in our lives. If we choose to disregard God’s word, to neglect our sins, live unrepentant lives, this will drive the presence of God from our lives. These things are a warning to us, and Paul taught something very similar to the Corinthians in relation to the temple of God in our hearts. Paul spoke of the power of the resurrection in his life (Philippians 3:10-11). Knowing the power of the resurrection of Yeshua to overcome sin is what all of these things are speaking about. Each day ask if the Lord is working in your life in a tangible way? Do you see His work? Do you see His influence? This is what the Torah teaches us, a loving God that is coupled to a practical faith seeing the power of God in our lives each day! This is how the Torah and the Gospel Message go hand in hand!