*All Scripture References from The Orthodox Jewish Bible- Referred To As OJB- unless otherwise noted
Joe Snipes (Torah Teacher) Gates To Zion Ministries
We now come to our second parasha of our sefer/book Devarim/Deuteronomy. It is entitled Va’etchanan meaning ‘And I Pleaded’. As we will see in the opening verse there is another very interesting use of the Hebrew word structure that is not seen in our English translations. We have seen this in other places in our studies through the Torah, but here in our sefer/book of Devarim/Deuteronomy we seem to be encountering these anomalies more often. But, before we do, let us take a moment to review from our previous Torah parasha so we may keep up with where we are in Moshe’s last speech to Am Yisrael. In our previous Torah parasha Devarim, we discussed the fact that the sefer/book of Devarim/Deuteronomy is in actuality a speech that Moshe was giving to Am Yisrael as they were poised on the eastern banks of the Yarden/Jordan River in the land of Moab. We gave an outline of the order of this speech and I want to give it again here.
1) The Introduction- Chapters 1-4
2) The Main Body- Chapters 5-26
3) The Covenant- Chapters 27-28
4) The Call to Repentance- Chapters 29-30
As you can see from the above list, our present parasha picks up in the midst of the Introduction of Moshe’s speech, and continues on into the first portion thereof, the Main Body. It helps to keep our focus as to what is being discussed, so we can be aware of where we are as Moshe moves along.
This parasha contains two of the most recognizable parts of the Torah: The Asaret HaDevarim/The Ten Words and the Sh’mah/Hear O Yisrael. We will look briefly into both to get an overview, and continue to examine other important points that need to be repeated for us today, even as it was needed for Yisrael then.
The Alef/Tav In Moshe’s Beseeching YHWH
“And I besought Hashem [YHWH] at that time, saying…” (Devarim/Deuteronomy 3:23a OJB- definitions mine)
In the above verse, we have Moshe beginning to plead with YHWH concerning his being allowed to go into The Land. Before we go further let’s touch on one thing here. The title to our parasha is Va’etchanan. That word is most times transliterated as pleaded. However, Moshe is not asking for mercy. He is asking YHWH on the ground of grace. What’s the difference? One asks for mercy when he desires something because he has failed, and therefore realizes that he no longer deserves to receive what he had hoped for. In the pleading process he may resort to listing certain events that show, that though he certainly fell short, there were plenty of times where he didn’t.
Moshe does none of this in his approach to YHWH. Instead, he approaches YHWH on the ground of grace. When grace is in view, one is looking for a gift. This gift may not be a reward based on merit. It may be sought solely out of one’s desire to receive the gift based on the hope that he will receive it by obtaining favor in the eyes of the one who has what is needed. This is the difference between pleading and beseeching. It is why in our opening verse the Orthodox Jewish Bible follows this line of thought by using the word besought rather than pleaded.
There is another consideration that is touched on in the Jewish Traditional Writings. Moshe, at this point has come to realize that though he is still on the other side of the Yarden/Jordan River opposite Cana’an, he is actually standing on land given to Gad, Reuven and the half tribe of Menasheh. So, this land has now been annexed to be considered a part of The Land of Yisrael’s inheritance. As a result, since he is standing on this land, that technically has come to belong to Yisrael, might it be possible that YHWH would be willing to allow him to cross over with Yisrael?
Now while we are pondering the above, let us move on to consider some further interesting aspects of our opening verse. There are a few things peculiar to this verse as it appears in the Hebrew. We don’t see this in our usual English translations. It is not evident even here in the Orthodox Jewish Bible. It appears only in the actual Torah scroll or Jewish Chumash. [The Torah scroll in book form] YHWH does this because there is something very specific He wants us to see.
First of all, the way ‘and I besought’ is regularly written when transliterated from Hebrew phonetically into English is ‘Va’ani chanan’. But here in our p’suk/verse it is written Va’ETchanan [emphasis mine]. In the actual Hebrew the is (read right to left) which are the letters alef/tav. These are the first and last letters of the Hebrew Alef-Bet. Now when you find alef/tav together in the Torah scroll there is no actual word that is produced in Hebrew. It is a sign that is meant to point to the Mashiach! So, in other words Moshe is trying to get across that in his prayer, it was a reaching out from the depth of himself. It was coming out of his ruach/spirit, literally, from the Ruach HaKodesh/Spirit of Holiness. It was the anointing or more specifically, the Anointed One, The Mashiach, who was praying through him! This is how intense this prayer was.
Second, the word for besought in Hebrew is chanan, whose root is chen, which is one of the words in Hebrew for grace. We touched on this above. The intensity of Moshe’s prayer was using YHWH’s grace to lean upon, or as a support. How wonderful is that? Moshe, YHWH’s very own beloved servant, chosen by Him, prepared by Him, anointed by Him, uses that standing in order, if possible, to have his Master change His mind. To allow him to go into The Land! The rabbis say that Moshe asked 515 times! This comes from the gematria of the word va’etchanan which equals 515. They site this as to why YHWH’s final word on the subject was with such seemingly harsh inflection…‘ENOUGH…speak no more to Me on this matter’! Whether it was actually 515 times he asked, or only a few, Moshe had some chutzpah to bring it up to YHWH at all. He pressed YHWH’s grace to its full end. Finally, YHWH would not relent and brought the episode to an abrupt end.
The last thing to bring out here is again something that doesn’t appear in our English translations. We find in the Hebrew Moshe calls upon YHWH in a special manner,
“O Adonoi Hashem…” (Devarim/Deuteronomy 3:24a OJB)
Most translations in English read, O Lord God, but that’s not what is being said. In the actual Hebrew what is being said is literally, ‘my Master YHWH’. Moshe addresses his Mighty One as Master, and then follows this with His Memorial Name, YHWH. The Name YHWH is the Name of mercy. Moshe is using everything at his disposal to make this one last plea to be allowed to enter The Land. Those who say that there is NO grace in the Torah are wrong! The Hebrew Scriptures (TaNaKh) are full of YHWH’s mercy and grace. The book of Devarim is itself a love letter to His Am Segulah/Treasured People, Yisrael. I wanted to bring the above out to you in order to show so clearly that the Torah is NOT about mere Law. It is about love, the love of YHWH for His people, and the call for His people to respond in love to His Loving Instructions…His Torah.
YHWH Does Respond In A Measure Of Grace To Moshe
“Get thee up into the top of Pisgah, and lift up thine eyes westward, and northward, and southward, and eastward, and see it with thine eyes; for thou shalt not go over this Yarden [Jordan]. But commission Yehoshua [Joshua], and encourage him, and strengthen him: for he shall go over before this people, and he shall cause them to inherit ha’aretz [the land] which thou shalt see.” (Devarim/Deuteronomy 3:27-28 OJB- definitions mine)
YHWH, while still not allowing Moshe to enter The Land does show him His grace in measure. He instructs him to go up to Pisgah and lift up thine eyes. That latter phrase is a Hebraic idiom. It is a lifting up into the spirit as in a prophetic vision or revelation. YHWH spoke this way to Abraham after he and Lot separated. (B’resheet/Genesis 13) Wherever Abraham looked, this was to be his land, and the land of his generation’s inheritance. For Moshe, it was a prophetic vision, not only of The Land itself, but even of the future times. The Jewish Traditional Writings say that Moshe was allowed to see by the Ruach HaKodesh/Spirit of Holiness Yisrael’s entrance into The Land. He saw, in that divine moment where eternity broke into time, Yisrael’s history, yet future. He saw their conquests, failures, their captivities and scatterings. He was also allowed to see Yerushalayim/Jerusalem, the Temple and even the Mashiach! It was said to be like a panoramic scene that YHWH caused to pass before his eyes. It included the Acharit HaYamim/Latter Days when Yisrael would be re-gathered and enter the time of the Great Shabbat/The Millennial Kingdom. The time when M’lech Mashiach/King Messiah would be seated on His throne.
Another interesting point in this prophetic revelation is that the word Pisgah which is normally translated cleft or cliff, comes from a root word pasag, meaning to divide or pass between. This again brings to mind Abraham [Abram at the time], when YHWH [the Word of YHWH] cut covenant with him. [B’resheet/Genesis 15] Just after the korbanot/animal offerings had been cut, divided, laid out, something happened to Abram/Abraham. He fell into a deep sleep. Then, a smoking furnace and a burning lamp appeared. This was in fact, a manifestation of YHWH as Abba/Father, and a manifestation of Himself, as the Pre-Incarnate Son, The Word, who later, physically became manifest as the Son…Yeshua. They were passing between the korbanot as a surety/guarantee for the covenant of The Land to be ratified. So, in a sense, YHWH was doing the same for Moshe here on Pisgah. In this vision, He was passing between Moshe and The Land, in manifestation, to assure him that He would keep His promise to bring Yisrael into their inheritance!
YHWH then instructs Moshe to encourage Yahushua/Joshua. He is the one chosen to lead Am Yisrael into The Land, and obtain their inheritance. We learn something in this. The Torah of Moshe is what PREPARES us to receive our inheritance, but it takes Yeshua HaMashiach [of whom Yahushua/Joshua is the type] to bring us into actually POSSESS it!
The Torah Gives Validity To The Gospel
There is a very interesting concept given to us in chapter four of our parasha. I am going to go all the way round to make a connection between the Besorah/Gospel and the Torah. We are all very familiar with the words of our blessed Master Yeshua to his talmidim/disciples following His resurrection.
“And he came up and spoke to them, saying, All samchut (authority) has been given to me in Shomayim [The Heavens] and on HaAretz [The Earth]. Go, therefore, make talmidim [disciples] for Rebbe, Melech HaMoshiach [Teacher, King The Messiah] of all the nations, giving them a tevilah [immersion] in a mikveh mayim [a gathering of living/fresh, moving waters] in Hashem [YHWH], in the Name of HaAv [The Father], and HaBen [The Son], and HaRuach Hakodesh [The Spirit of Holiness] **(the Name of Yeshua is what all three manifestations of YHWH recognize), Teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And hinei [behold]! I [Moshiach] am with you always, even unto the Ketz HaOlam Hazeh [End of The Present World].” (Mattityahu/Matthew 28:18-20 OJB- emphasis/definitions mine)
I am going to make few statements concerning what has been termed The Great Commission, and its understanding from within a Hebraic mindset. It should simply be noted that what religion has made of the above words is not, in reality, what our blessed Master Yeshua was actually instructing His talmidim/disciples to undertake. Traditionally, the theology of the church of Christendom has made the emphasis of preaching the Gospel one basic endeavor. To bring the lost to a saving knowledge of YHWH’s plan of redemption through His Son, Jesus. Those termed lost, in general, are made up of those within all of humanity within a global setting. While this is commendable, we must ask, “Is this what our Master was really instructing?”
Scripturally, according to the passage quoted above, Rebbe Yeshua first empowers those talmidim/disciples who were present hearing His words. They, in turn, were to do a very concise list of instructions.
- He authorizes these talmidim/disciples who are gathered, with the authority of the Malchut Shomayim/Kingdom of the Heavens to go, and take the message of His redemptive work into ALL the earth
- In turn, as those who heard their message, and believed upon Master Yeshua, and His redemptive work, these too were to be made talmidim/disciples of Him, as Melech HaMashiach/King Messiah of Yisrael, and ALL the nations of the earth
- As a part of that process of believing, those who had made that choice were to then be immersed in a mikvah (a traditional ritual bath of mayim chayim/living waters)- this immersion was a sign of covenantal relationship with YHWH, release from all other unions with other false elohim/mighty ones, and all other nations, to be joined wholly, and solely to the nation of Yisrael. As such, they were to sanctify, and purify themselves through the Torah, and by the power of the Ruach HaKodesh/Spirit of Holiness, to be made ready as The Bride/Yisrael, to be joined to YHWH, through His manifestation as The Son, Yeshua HaMashiach. Together, they are to rule, and reign together with Him in His Kingdom on earth. First, in Yerushalayim/Jerusalem, and then, ultimately, over ALL the earth, until, "The Malchut of the Olam Hazeh [Kingdom of the Present World] became the Malchut of Adoneinu and of His Moshiach [the Kingdom of our Master YHWH and of His Messiah], and He will reign l'Olemei Olamim [Forever and Ever].” [Revelation/Hitgalut 11:15- OJB definitions mine]
- These talmidim/disciples were to be immersed literally ‘into the Name of Yeshua’, declaring His lordship over their lives to the glory of YHWH. [As we go into the sefer/book of Ma’aseh/Acts, we see Master Yeshua’s talmidim carrying out these instructions. It was the Name of Yeshua which was used in this process (2:38-41; 8:12-13; 10:47-48; 19:1-5; 22:16)]
- Afterward, all who believed through the ministry of these talmidim/disciples by trusting faithfulness, were then to DO ALL the commandments Master Yeshua had given them. What were those commandments? They were the true words of YHWH, the Torah Sh’bichtav/written Torah, as given to Moshe Rabbeinu/our Teacher *Note [This was minus the added words of the Torah Sh’be’al Peh/Oral Torah of that day…The Traditions of the Elders- this was the precursor to the later efforts of rabbinical Judaism’s codified volumes of Oral Traditions: Mishna and Talmud]
Beloved, let the above sink down into your hearing. There is nothing in the above, which in any way says that those who believed upon Master Yeshua were to become a part of another entity, organization called church. What am I saying? The Besorah/Gospel was a redemptive message, but it was meant, in and of itself, intrinsically, for the nation of Yisrael. It was not meant for the world in general. Our blessed Master Yeshua ministered as a Yisraeli Jewish Rabbi. He taught His talmidim/disciples in that tradition. Now that the redemptive aspects of His ministry were accomplished, it was time to broaden the impact of that message to ALL the nation of Yisrael wherever they were to be found in the world!
Yisrael, as we have learned through this call for the restoration of the Whole House of Yisrael, is made up of two houses, southern and northern. The southern house, which is Jewish, is made up of two tribes. The northern house, which is non-Jewish, is made up of ten tribes. The northern house, historically, was the first to be taken into captivity into Assyria in judgment for their paganism, idolatry, and sexual immorality. There, they became assimilated into the Assyrian culture, which was itself a hybrid of its own origin, as well as the multi-ethnic origins of the nations they had conquered. In time, these northern, non-Jewish Yisraelites, fully became lost to their Hebraic identity and culture. Finally, they became scattered among ALL of the nations of the earth. From this point, they became further assimilated into the foreign cultures of those nations into which they settled. Along the way, historically, the southern, Jewish house also became scattered in judgment among the nations for their own sins, but they were able to retain their Hebraic identity and culture. So, all of the nations of the earth became filled with Yisraelites from both houses, but the majority of these were from the northern, non-Jewish house. YHWH NEVER lost these Yisraelites. The navi/prophet Amos speaks to this,
“For, hinei, I will command, and I will sift Bais Yisroel [House of Yisrael-Yosef-Ephraim] among all Goyim [Nations], like as grain is sifted in a sieve, YET SHALL NOT THE LEAST GRAIN FALL UPON HA'ARETZ [THE LAND].” (Amos 9:9 OJB- emphasis/definitions mine)
The last phrase that is emphasized is a Hebraic idiom meaning, the grains (House of Yisrael- the northern house) though scattered, not one would be lost) YHWH ALWAYS knew where His Am Segulah/Treasured People from the northern house were at all times. He also had, within His redemptive plan accomplished by Yeshua HaMashiach for ALL of Yisrael’s deliverance from the penalty of sin and its power, a plan for the future recovery of both houses of Yisrael, and their end-time promised restoration as ONE…WHOLE…House again. (Yeshayahu/Isaiah 11:11-13)
This restoration was known by our blessed Master Yeshua. He was also aware of the timing. He spoke plainly about this fact in Matthew 10, when He was about to send out the original twelve talmidim/disciples to preach the Gospel of the Kingdom of Heaven,
“These Shneym Asar (Twelve) did Rebbe, Melech HaMoshiach [Teacher, King the Messiah] send out with the following directives, saying: In the Derech HaGoyim (Way of the Gentiles, Gentile territory) do not go, and do not enter into any Shomron [Samaritan] town, but go rather to the Seh Oveid Beis Yisroel (the Lost Sheep of the House of Israel).” (Mattityahu/Matthew 10:5-6 OJB- definitions mine)
Notice that Master Yeshua purposefully forbids His talmidim/disciples from going into any territory of the Gentiles [more clearly the Nations], or the regions of the Shomron, the northern mountainous areas of Samaria in Yisrael. Why? The time for ministry to the Nations was not yet. Neither was it time for ministry to the inhabitants of northern Yisrael. This area proper, of northern Yisrael, is the home of the ten tribes of Yosef-Ephraim, the house of Yisrael. For the most part, at this time, those ten tribes had been taken captive into Assyria, assimilated, and then scattered further into the rest of the nations, as we discussed earlier. The other inhabitants of the Shomron/Samaria were basically a people of mixture. They were Yisraelis who had become mixed with non-Yisraeli peoples, considered Gentiles/of the nations. Accordingly, by Jewish rabbinic law, it was forbidden to have any contact with them.
Master Yeshua in the above passage uses the term ‘Lost Sheep’. To whom is this reference made? Scripturally, the phrase is used of both the northern, scattered non-Jewish house of Yisrael, Yosef-Ephraim, but also of the southern, Jewish house of Yahudah/Judah, the Jewish people. We learn this from the prophecy of YHWH given through Yirmeyahu/Jeremiah the navi/prophet. Here he speaks of Jewish Yisrael’s judgment in being taken captive by the armies of Nebuchadnetzar/Nebuchadnezzar into Babylon.
“In those yamim [days], and in that time [the time of return back to The Land], saith Hashem [YHWH], the Bnei Yisroel [Sons of Yisrael– reference to the northern house of Yosef-Ephraim] shall go, they AND the Bnei Yehudah [Sons of Yahudah/Judah- the southern house of Jewish Yisrael] together, in tears weeping; they shall go, and seek Hashem Eloheihem [YHWH their Mighty One]. They [both houses] shall ask the derech [path/way/return] to Tziyon with their faces turned toward it, [teshuvah/repentance] saying, Come, and let us join ourselves to Hashem [YHWH] in a Brit Olam [Everlasting Covenant] that shall not be forgotten. My people hath been tzon ovedot (lost sheep); their ro'im (shepherds) have caused them to go astray, they have turned them away on the harim [mountains]; they have wandered from har [mountain] to givah (hill), they have forgotten their resting place. [definite reference to the northern house of Yosef-Ephraim-Yisrael]” (Yirmeyahu/Jeremiah 50:4-6 OJB- emphasis/comment/definition)
In the above passage, notice the reference to the B’nei/Sons of Yahudah’s/Judah’s return from their captivity in Babylon. Yet, notice also the reference to the B’nei/Sons of Yisrael [those of the house of Yisrael, Yosef-Ephraim], and their return from their captivity, after having been scattered among the nations. So, the term ‘Lost Sheep’ refers to BOTH of these houses. Jewish Yisrael, who have actually become lost to the simplicity of the words of the Torah Sh’bichtav/Written Torah given through Moshe; and the house of Yosef-Ephraim-Yisrael, who have become lost among the nations.
Now I know for most, outside the current restoration of Hebraic understanding that is flowing today, understanding what is being said here may be hard to grasp. It is nonetheless true. For those of us who are in this restoration, it is imperative that we are clear on what exactly the implications involved truly mean. Let me ask a question. What do you think Master Yeshua meant when He spoke those words, ‘Go and make talmidim/disciples…teach them to observe ALL that I have commanded you?’ Where was He calling those who would become talmidim/disciples through the ministry of those being sent forth? Were they being called to some other entity? Some other organization? Something other than to be a living, life giving joint that supplies life to the rest of the Body of Mashiach? Beloved, this is not about religion. What is the Body of Mashiach? A true understanding of that question will change everything??? It IS about…has ALWAYS been about…will CONTINUE to be about YHWH’s nation…YISRAEL!!!
What did Rebbe Yeshua in fact teach? He came teaching the Torah, and calling Jewish Yisrael back from the weightiness of the fences which the professional Torah teachers (Scribes/Pharisees) of the day had set up around the Torah. These Scribes and Pharisees had forgotten the words of Torah which Moshe was speaking here in our sefer/book of Devarim.
“YE SHALL NOT ADD UNTO THE WORD which I command you, NEITHER SHALL YE TAKE ANYTHING FROM IT, that ye may be shomer mitzvot [guard the judgments] of the commandments of Hashem Eloheichem [YHWH Your Mighty One] which I command you.” (Devarim/Deuteronomy 4:2 OJB- emphasis/definitions mine)
Rebbe Yeshua taught the Torah in its true spirit and simplicity. He also showed by the example of His own life, what a life lived FULL of the commandments looked like. (Mattityahu/Matthew 5:17-18) It’s true our entrance into eternal salvation has nothing to do with our own effort. It is solely based upon the finished work of our blessed Master Yeshua’s redemptive work. But, is that all? Is that where it ends? We just say we believe and that’s it? Beloved, that’s not the end…it’s ONLY the beginning! It’s not enough to simply say I believe and stop there. That was not the message of our Master. It’s not the testimony of Scripture as a whole either.
Ya’akob/James tackles this issue in his letter. There are some who misunderstand his intent, and think he, and Rav Sha’ul/Paul are at odds. Rav Sha’ul says we are saved [eternal salvation– there are at least seven different types of salvation spoken of in the Scriptures- we have to know which one we’re speaking of] through grace + faith + nothing. (Ephesians 2:8) Then we run into the words of Ya’akob/James,
“Even so faith, if it has no works, is dead, being by itself. But someone may well say, “You have faith and I have works; show me your faith without the works, and I will show you my faith by my works.” You believe that God is one. You do well; the demons also believe, and shudder. But are you willing to recognize, you foolish fellow, that faith without works is useless?” (Ya’akob/James 2:17-20 NASB- New American Standard Bible)
Ya’akob/James is clear. Words are not enough. Just to say a person believes means nothing. Why even the demons believe in the ONE Elohim/Mighty One, and they tremble, but that does not give them access to YHWH’s eternal salvation. Words are cheap. Any one can say anything. Words mean nothing, without the addition of corresponding actions. What we say is justified by what we do! This is Ya’akob’s/James’ message. Does that mean he and Rav Sha’ul are at odds with one another? Rav Sha’ul says grace alone plus faith. Ya’akob/James says faith must have works. Who is right?
They both are! It is two sides of the same coin. On one side, you have Rav Sha’ul who says our eternal salvation is provided totally through the grace of YHWH, and the once-and-for all redemptive work of Yeshua HaMashiach. On the other side, you have Ya’akob/James saying works are a needed part of the equation. To understand Ya’akob’s/James’ words you must grasp WHERE the works he is speaking about come in. He is not speaking of works ‘for’ eternal salvation. That work was provided for us through Mashiach Yeshua on the physical execution stake. Ya’akob/James is talking about the works we do from the point where we received entrance into eternal salvation. Our eternal salvation is a gift that comes simply by the fact we have believed upon Master Yeshua’s death, burial and resurrection. BUT…if we say we believe, then there MUST be some proof that what is in our heart is valid. We say we have believed. We say we stand in the righteousness provided for us by faith in Master Yeshua as our Savior. Then, it is our works ‘of’ not ‘for’ righteousness that validates what we say we believe is true. We give birth to the manifestation of Mashiach who is being formed in us by the works we add to our faith. (Galatians 4:19)
As a further witness to the above. The word for faith in Greek is pistis. It is a noun in the feminine case. Why is this important? Ya’akob/James says faith without works is dead, (vs.17) so, what’s his point? A woman cannot become pregnant by herself. You need the male, and the female in the equation. Yet, even with these added parts, pregnancy is not guaranteed. The male sperm/seed has to penetrate the egg of the female. That is what causes the woman to become pregnant. Even so, in the spirit, though there is our faith/female and the Word/Yeshua/the Male/Seed that alone is not enough. There must also be works or corresponding actions that validates/germinates the Seed and the egg. Otherwise, no matter what a woman claims/says about being pregnant, time will prove her wrong. Unless the seed is allowed to germinate the egg, she will never show her pregnancy. Her words are just dead air!
Now comes the next question. What kind of works are we talking about? Going to church meetings? Going to congregation? Reading the Bible? Prayer? Witnessing? This is leading us to the point I want to make in all of this. Rebbe Yeshua gave it to us in His words from our passage in Mattityahu/Matthew, the so-called Great Commission. He told us: ‘Go make disciples from among all the nations. Once they have been immersed in My Name, THEN teach them ALL that I have commanded you.’ You’ve got to understand that to the Jewish mind of our Master’s hearers, that meant only one thing…TEACH THEM THE TORAH! He warned His own disciples not to teach the Torah like the professional legalistic Torah teachers of the day. (Mattityahu/Matthew 23) No, teach them as He did, the true, pure simplistic spirit of the written Torah. This Torah was not burdened down with the added commandments and traditions of men. The Torah of Moshe that Rebbe Yeshua taught was one that all who loved YHWH could keep by the power of the Ruach HaKodesh/the Spirit of Holiness. (Mattityahu/Matthew 11:28-30) The true Torah of YHWH is NOT bondage. It is the way to true freedom in every level of our lives. This is why Ya’akob/James in his letter calls the Torah, HaCherut, or the Torah of Freedom! (Ya’akob/James 1:25; 2:12) Keeping YHWH’s Torah, by the power of the Ruach HaKodesh/Spirit of Holiness, IS the way to complete freedom in every area of our lives! Now let’s return to our Torah parasha and look at the following passage,
“Behold, I have taught you chukkim [ordinances] and mishpatim [judgments], even as Hashem Elohai [YHWH our Mighty One] commanded me, that ye should do so in ha’aretz [the land] whither ye go to possess it. Be shomer [on guard] therefore and do them; for this is your chochmah [wisdom] and your binah [understanding] in the sight of the peoples, which shall hear all these chukkim [ordinances], and say, Surely HaGoy HaGadol [This Great Nation (Yisrael)] is a wise and understanding people. For what nation is there so great, who hath elohim [mighty ones] so near unto them, as Hashem Eloheinu [YHWH their Mighty One] is in all things for which we call upon Him? And what nation is there so great, that hath chukkim [ordinances] and mishpatim [judgments] tzaddikim [righteousnesses] as all this torah [teaching/ instruction], which I set before you today? Only be shomer [be on guard] over thyself, and be shomer [on guard] over thy nefesh [soul/life] diligently, lest thou forget the things which thine eyes have seen, and lest they depart from thy lev kol yamim [heart all the days] of thy life; but teach them to thy banim [children], and the banim [children] of thy banim [children/grandchildren];” (Devarim 4:5-9 OJB- definitions mine)
Do you see what is being said? When Yisrael, lives out the Torah before the nations, the nations will notice. These nations will see the wisdom, and understanding which is revealed in their works. It will cause the nations to actually give praise to YHWH! Our Mighty One will be glorified because they will SEE His greatness expressed in our daily worship by guarding His Torah and our lives. The blessing on our lives will cause them to want WHO, not simply WHAT we have. That is YHWH! Beloved, the Besorah/Gospel, coupled with guarding, and obeying the Torah in our lives, is the greatest tool we have for influencing the world around us. They will see Mashiach in us! That is true evangelism!
YHWH He Is The Mighty One And There Is No Other
“Unto thee it was showed, that thou mightest know that Hashem [YHWH] He is HaElohim [The Mighty One]; there is none else beside Him.” (Devarim/Deuteronomy 4:35 OJB- definitions mine)
“Know therefore today, and consider it in thine lev [heart], that Hashem [YHWH] He is HaElohim [The Mighty One] in Shomayim [the Heavens] above, and upon Ha’Aretz [The Earth] beneath: there is no other.” (Devarim/Deuteronomy 4:39 OJB- definitions mine)
The rest of chapter four is spent by Moshe making the case that YHWH alone is THE Mighty One in the heavens above, and on the earth beneath. Besides Him there is NO other! There is a phrase in Hebrew that says, ‘ein od milvado’. It means concerning YHWH: There is nothing but Him! He goes through a number of the experiences that make up the history of Yisrael from their deliverance from Mitzrayim/Egypt to their journeys through the wilderness to show this fact. Let us look at some of these points.
1) Vs.s 10-12- Yisrael stood at the foot of the mountain (Mt. Sinai) and saw the manifestations as YHWH came down. They saw the darkness, the cloud and the fire. They heard His voice, but they saw no form or shape
2) Vs.s 13-19- YHWH declared to Yisrael His covenant, and wrote His Words upon stone tablets. Moshe was instructed to teach YHWH’s ordinances, and judgments to Yisrael in order that they might be able to go into The Land and possess it. Yisrael was warned again that through all of the manifestations of YHWH upon the mountain they saw no shape. This was a clear warning that they were to make nothing to represent Him. This was also a clear repetition hearkening back to the incident of the Golden Calf. There was to be NO physical representations of Him made for worship. It was also a warning against when they went into The Land that they were NOT to learn the ways of the nations there by worshipping their idols.
3) Vs. 20- Yisrael was meant to be YHWH’s inheritance
4) Vs.s 21-24- Yisrael has always had a deep seated penchant toward idolatry, sexual sinfulness and paganistic practices. Again in these verses YHWH warns His people against idolatry. They are His betrothed and as such YHWH tells them one of His titles is El Kanah…The Jealous Mighty One. He will not tolerate unfaithfulness on their part with any other false mighty one. This will bring His judgment.
5) Vs.s 25-28- Moshe prophesies of Yisrael’s future unfaithfulness because they have a habit of continuing to fail to heed YHWH’s commandments against idolatry. As a result, they will be taken out of The Land, and scattered among the nations. They will be given over to idolatry in those foreign lands.
6) Vs.s 29-31- again YHWH is greater than all other false mighty ones, because though Yisrael has been unfaithful, if they will begin to seek Him with all their heart and soul, they will find Him. In the Acharit HaYamim/Latter Days, YHWH will not utterly abandon, destroy or forsake Yisrael. He promises to remember His covenant with their avot/fathers. Even in the midst of the Great Tribulations of the latter portions of the Latter Days, He will reveal Himself to Yisrael by the title El Rachamim…The Merciful Mighty One, who will re-gather them.
7) Vs.s 32-40- there is no other mighty one beside YHWH! He loved the avot/fathers of His people Yisrael, and chose their seed after them to bring them into The Land of Promise. He went before them, and removed those inhabitants of that Land who were greater and stronger than they were.
The Repetition Of The Ten Words
In Chapter five Moshe begins the repetition of the Asaret HaDevarim or The Ten Words as they are known in Hebraic thought. These Ten Words are not just a list of Ten Commandments. They are instead, in fact, like headings under which all of the mitzvot/commands, and chukkim/ordinances of the Sinaitic Covenant may be placed in relation to their purpose. We do not have the space here to do an in-depth study of this, but I would like to make a few important points.
These Words comprise what is known as the Ketubah or Betrothal. The Hebraic idea of marriage is a process. The first step is the betrothal. The bridegroom and the bride are at this point enjoined one to another, and are no longer allowed to entertain any outside parties for affection or sexual intimacy. They are vowed one to another alone. After a period of time, and preparation on both parties’ behalf, then the wedding is inaugurated. The ceremony is fulfilled, and the couple then consummates their betrothal by sexual intimacy. Afterwards, they begin to make their lives together and build a family.
The Ketubah/Torah, is not just a cold document of legalistic demands. It is YHWH’s offer to Yisrael to become His Bride. It is about love. If you go back to the sefer/book of Shemot/Exodus chapter 20, you will find that the Torah, in the form of the Ten Words, was not forced upon Yisrael. YHWH gave it to them, and they had the right to accept or reject the offer. This Ketubah was made after the order of all such contracts of that region in its day. This included the offer of betrothal. This listed out the benefits which the Bridegroom vowed to do if the proposal was accepted. Following the blessings, the curses were listed that could be expected if the marriage was later broken by infidelity. In the offering of this Ketubah, Am Yisrael fully accepted YHWH’s offer with the words: As He has spoken; so shall we do. They actually did this with such anticipation that they did not even let Moshe finish with reciting the whole contract! Yisrael immediately responded with affirmation. The one underlying stipulation of the contract was that the Bride vowed to love the Bridegroom solely and forever. In return, the Bridegroom would love her, protect her, and provide for her every need. Those who see the Torah as a source of bondage and fear, are completely ignorant of the love that permeates every word of that covenant, and the blessings that are reaped by both of those involved.
An Important Point To Repeat
We have already discussed this, but it bears repeating here again. The Ten Words, along with the fullness of Torah as a whole, was NEVER meant to be a means to obtain eternal salvation. There is an aspect of salvation that accompanies the Torah, but no one can earn eternal salvation by keeping the commandments. Eternal salvation comes ONLY through the finished, once-for-all, redemptive work of our Go’el/Kinsman Redeemer, Yeshua HaMashiach.
This is what Sha’ul/Paul found out when he encountered the Living Mashiach on the Damascus Road. As a Pharisee, he believed in the prevalent mindset of those within that system of religion at the time. It was believed that eternal salvation could be attained by works, by diligently keeping the Torah. The need for a suffering Mashiach (Mashiach Ben Yosef) was not essential. The encounter on the Damascus Road changed everything for Sha’ul/Paul. It was there that he realized that there was NO eternal salvation apart from the redemptive, once-for-all work provided through Yeshua HaMashiach, and His blood. It took fourteen long years for YHWH to work that reality out in Sha’ul’s/Paul’s life. (Galatians 2:1; Romans 7) It required death. The self-confident concept of the pharisaical ideal of attaining personal salvation by one’s own efforts must go. On that Damascus Road, concept gave way to reality. The commandments of Torah were meant to bring those who embraced them into heart union with the One who gave them. A real relationship with the living, resurrected Mashiach, combined the reality of eternal salvation through grace plus faith into Sha’ul’s life. This, along with the proper placement of Torah, gave a complete picture of how the process of eternal salvation was to be realized.
This resultant revelation, caused considerable consternation among Sha’ul’s/Paul’s Jewish brethren there in Yerushalayim/Jerusalem. Many of the Pharisees, who had supposedly become believers upon Yeshua as Mashiach, accused Sha’ul/Paul of forsaking Moshe and the Torah. Which of course he never did. He had simply learned YHWH’s proper order in learning to walk in obedience to His commands. It is always Abraham first (salvation BY faith), THEN Moshe (sanctification BY works). These works OF righteousness validated/justified the testimony of those who said they had become believers. These works produced a continuous manifestation of daily deliverance. It resulted in maintaining a present testimony of having received the eternal redemption they had originally entered by faith in Yeshua HaMashiach. Once having accepted that work by trusting faithfulness, then the believer is made a part of the household of faith. (Ephesians 2:19). He becomes a member of the commonwealth nation of Yisrael. (Ephesians 2:12) Once IN the house, THEN one begins to learn the rules that govern both LIVING IN and STAYING IN the house. Again, the Torah is for sanctification, not eternal salvation.
One last point on this and we’ll move on. YHWH never intended for Yisrael, or us to keep the Torah by systematically and perfectly keeping His commandments. He understands that for us, there is always the possibility of falling short. That’s why He instituted the animal korbanot system of obtaining atonement/covering for sins through the blood of the sacrificial animals. Even so, under the ReNewed Covenant, provision is made for all believers if we sin. We may come to YHWH and confess our sins with true sorrow. In turn, we may be forgiven, and the blood of Yeshua HaMashiach is applied to those sins. (Yochanon Alef/1 John 1:7) His blood not only atones/covers, it blots out, wipes away, and takes away our sins. (Colossians 2:14; 1:20) As a result, there is therefore now no condemnation, because our sins are taken away. (Romans 8:1)
While the rabbis have established a precise list of 613 positive and negative commandments that are said to make up the Torah, there is no place in the actual Torah that you find such a systematic list. In fact, if commandments were the crux of the Torah, then it seems starting with the sefer/book of B’resheet/Genesis you would find that list being given. Instead the Torah opens as a commentary. You do not really encounter such commandments until you are well into the second book of the Torah, Shemot/Exodus. In fact, you have to read the entire Torah proper (First five seferim/books of the TaNaKh- Hebrew Scriptures) to discover where all of YHWH’s commandments are. Why? Because it’s about our relationship FIRST by trusting faithfulness, THEN the working out of that relationship through obedience as we mature. Keeping Torah is conceptual not systematic. It is about a relationship of faithful obedience in love, not a cold checklist of 613 commandments we must do.
“Shema Yisroel [Hear Yisrael] Adonoi Eloheinu Adonoi Echad. [YHWH is our Mighty One YHWH is One]” (Devarim/Deuteronomy 6:4 OJB- definitions mine)
Our last consideration will be the most holy affirmation that Jewish Yisraelites, and those from the returning house of Yosef-Ephraim-Israel can make. It is known as The Sh’mah. It is spoken three times a day by those from Jewish Yisrael who are considered to be observant of YHWH’s Torah. It is the last words that are uttered by brother Judah as he is dying. It should be the pledge of dependence to YHWH’s Kingdom for all Yisraelites indeed. Again, we don’t have the space here in our commentary to do an in-depth study of the Sh’mah, and the chapter in which it is found. However, I will make some important comments as we close.
The word sh’mah, literally encompasses both hearing and doing. In the Hebraic mind, if you do not follow through with action with what has been heard, then accordingly, you cannot be said to have heard! This is where Ya’akob’s/James’ statement in his letter comes from,
“But prove yourselves doers of the word, and not merely hearers who delude themselves.” (Ya’akob/James 1:22 NASB)
The Sh’mah is the declaration of the ONENESS of YHWH. The Torah reveals YHWH as one unit of Divinity. The Christian ideal of the Trinity is simply flawed because it is an attempt to define YHWH apart from the very Torah He gave to do so. The term Trinity is not a biblical term at all. It is a theological term. While I do not believe that it was the church of Christendom’s initial intention to separate YHWH into a plurality of three separate gods, it is nonetheless an unwitting consequence of their rejection of Torah. It is one of the basic reasons why Jewish Yisrael rejects Christianity. By the very definition of the systematic theology of Christendom, while it may not have been the initial intention, it has become the unfortunate result. When you say YHWH is three in one, and then add to that the words, God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit, you have effectively divided YHWH into three separate Personages. Consequently, that is a complete violation of YHWH’s revealed understanding of Himself as being One in the Torah language of the Sh’mah. In the eyes of Jewish Yisrael any other declaration, or definition is idolatry!
We must keep in mind that rabbinical Judaism is a reaction against Master Yeshua. They use Christianity’s definition of the Trinity as a means to discredit the belief system of the church. They say either what is worshipped by Christians is another god, or He became another god. Nothing is further from the Truth. Yeshua IS a continuous physical manifestation of YHWH as His Word in the flesh. He is not separate from YHWH’s essence as Elohim/The Mighty One. He is merely distinct having changed His mode of existence from a solely non-corporeal spirit to that of a physical body of sinless flesh. As an ultra-Orthodox Jewish rabbi once said, when asked how the Torah, which is said to be eternal, could then be put into a physical form as a book? His reply is very interesting. He said to the one asking the question, “You do not know what you are saying. HaShem is Great! He alone is God, and as such, He can do whatever He wills!”
Well, by that exact premise, YHWH is indeed GREAT! He alone is the Mighty One, and therefore, if He decided to take on human flesh, then He can certainly do whatever He wills! YHWH did not say that He would NEVER manifest Himself as a man. He said, He would not be like sinful men, constantly changing His mind. He would not say one thing, and then do another. (M’lakhi/Malachi 3:6)
I will close with the following statement. We need to understand, if YHWH had intended to reveal Himself as ONE, and only ONE, then there is a Hebrew word that He could have used. It is yachid. It is not used often in the biblical record, but when it is, it means one and only one. YHWH instead chose to use the word echad, because it defines Himself as He truly is…a compound unity of Divinity. Beloved, when we get this right, and we begin to worship YHWH in the Hebraic truth of His true essence, something wonderful will happen. We too will begin to be healed of the fragmentation of our soul which sin has caused. What we worship we become! YHWH is ONE. We too will become ONE with Him in true unity, as we experience Him in the glory of Hebraic Oneness. Amein
We say the following blessing as we continue each week’s study of Torah:
Strength and Blessings
**Please Note- There are two articles that have been on our website for some time: The Mystery Of Godliness and The Fellowship Of The Ministry. Both were written in an effort to give insight into the Hebraic revelation of YHWH’s Oneness, and His manifestation in human flesh as The Son, our blessed Mashiach Yeshua. At present, both of those articles have been taken down, and are being re-written in order to update, and give further insight into this all important subject. They should be re-posted soon. I encourage you, if you have read them before, then please re-read them when they are re-posted. You will find them under the Foundation Series on our website under the Torah tab. If you have never read these articles, then I greatly encourage to take some time to do so. I believe that they will be of great help in understanding this all important revelation of YHWH.Joe Snipes
Gates To Zion Ministries