Deuteronomy 14:2, A peculiar people.The saints are called to be the kadosh (set apart) and peculiar or treasured people of YHVH. What we eat (verse 3ff) is a key factor in being set-apart unto YHVH. After all, if we are returning to the Hebrew roots of the Christian faith and learning to study, “eat” and live YHVH’s Torah, learning to live by the “whole counsel of the Word of Elohim” (Acts 20:27), and coming away from certain paganized practices of the mainstream Christian church, how then can we still eat unclean (both physical and spiritual) food? Eating kosher spiritual food goes hand-in-hand with eating kosher physical food. Are you still eating “any abominable thing” (verse 3)? These are not the my words, but YHVH’s words—or commands! What excuses and rationalizations have you contrived in your thinking (i.e. strongholds and altars to pagan gods) to keep your belly as your god (Phil 3:19)?
Deuteronomy 14:2, You are…a peculiar/treasured people unto himself. The term treasured people/am segulah is used several times in the Torah. For example, in Exodus 19:5–6 when YHVH betrothed himself to and married the people of Israel they became his am segulah or “treasured possession among all the peoples of the nation, a kingdom of priests and a kadosh or set-apart nation.” Moses restates this same idea to the younger generation of Israelites about to enter the Promised Land in our present verse, and again in Deuteronomy 26:17–19 where he again calls them his “treasured people” and admonishes them to keep his Torah-commands that he might “make you high above all the nations which he has made, in praise, and in name, and in honor, and that you may be a set-apart people unto YHVH your Elohim.” What passage in the Testimony of Yeshua does this remind you of? (Read 1 Peter 2:9.) Note that YHVH has chosen us from among all the peoples of the earth. As A Torah Commentary For Our Times points out, “This idea that God selects or designates the people of Israel as an am segulah remains a central belief in Jewish tradition. The prophet Malachi (3:17) uses the term. So does the Psalmist who, singing in the Jerusalem temple, praises God for having ‘chosen Jacob—Israel—as a treasured possession’” (135:3–4; p. 132). With humility, contrition and gratefulness, do you own this identity? Is it a part of your innermost being? If you know that you are a special treasure and a called-out people destined for great things in the kingdom of Elohim will not the reality of who you are and whose you are and what you are to become affect your walk of righteousness here and now? Does this not inspire you to walk a little higher, a little more set-apart, a little closer to YHVH, and to be a better spiritual light through your words, thoughts and deeds to the heathens around you?
Deuteronomy 15:4, Except.The implication here seems to be that when lending to someone who is not poor, it is acceptable to expect them to pay you back after the seven year time limit. This is because the rich person doesn’t really need your money, but is likely using it like a business loan to make more money.
Deuteronomy 15:7, Among you a poor man.
Charitable Giving Vs. Government Socialistic Welfare Handouts
Multiple times, the Scriptures enjoins those who have been blessed materially to help those who are poor. In fact, YHVH even has a special place in his heart for a special class of individuals who have fallen into poverty, namely, the widows and the fatherless (Deut 14:29; 16:11, 14; 24:19; 26:12–13; 1 Tim 5:3). Let’s now discover some biblical guidelines about charitable giving.
Yeshua declared that the poor would always be among us (Matt 26:11), so there will never be a lack of opportunity for the so-called haves to help the have-nots. Furthermore, YHVH promises to bless us when we give to the poor (Ps 41:1–3) as well as to those who have dedicated their lives to serving YHVH’s people through the ministry (Deut 14:29; 16:14; 26:12–13).
In Deuteronomy 15:7, we discover that there are levels of priorities in our charitable giving. Our first responsibility is to help a poor person who is a brother, that is, who is a member of our immediate family, or someone who is like a brother to us. Second, we are to help those in need who reside in our gates, or are a member of our immediate community. Finally, and last, our charitability is to go toward those who are in need in our own land or country. The idea here is that our charitable giving is to go first to those who live the closest to us, and then go out from there geographically as we are able to do so financially. Too many churches have it backwards. They support to poor in other countries through evangelistic outreach, while neglecting the mission field or charitable giving on their own backyard.
In the Torah, there is a social welfare system in place to help the needy, but it comes with strict guidelines. For example, YHVH instructed the Israelites to set aside a certain portion of their income to help the poor. (Deut 14:28–29). For the ancient Israelites, this was a sort of social welfare system whereby those who had been blessed materially were commanded to help those who weren’t and were in need.
Moreover, the Torah had other social mechanisms whereby those who had fallen into poverty had the means to work themselves out of that economic state. There was no such thing as sitting idly and expecting a handout from society! For example, a poor person could sell themselves into servitude for a period of time until they worked themselves out of debt (Exod 21:2; Lev 25:39–55). Every seven years, debts were forgiven (Deut 15:1–2). Those who had an abundance financially and were in position to loan money to a poor person were forbidden from charging the lender any interest (Lev 25:35–38). Moreover, a poor person who had land could also sell their land to raise money; however, at the end of the 50 year jubilee cycle, that land would be given back to them (Lev 25:8–17).
Laws were in place where the poor wouldn’t starve to death. Two Torah laws insured this. Those who had agricultural lands were neither to glean their fields after their initial harvest, nor were they to reap the corners of their fields. The poor were allowed to come back into the fields after the harvest and to reap anything that remained (Lev 19:10; 23:22; Deut 24:19–21), and to eat freely of the agricultural produce every seventh year (Exod 33:11). In fact, the entire book of Ruth is the story of how this system worked such that the well-to-do helped the poor. There was no system in place where the government gave a person vouchers to receive free food; you still had to go out and work for it.
There is one key fact stands out in the Torah’s social welfare system however. The poor had to work for their food. In fact, most Bible students are aware of the fourth commandment, which tells us to rest on the seventh day of the week—the Sabbath. However, many people overlook the rest of this command; namely, everyone is to work for the six days prior to resting on the seventh-day Sabbath. Working is a biblical command. In the Bible, there was no such thing as retirement, or sitting back idly and waiting for a government welfare check to show up in your mailbox while you sat around watching television, playing video games or doing social media!
The idea of sitting back and collecting public assistance for doing nothing was unheard of in the Bible and is contrary to the Torah. This is a socialistic and an evil Marxist concept and a form of wealth redistribution, which is a form legalized theft, and disincentives one from working. This is not “a workers paradise” despite the propaganda that tells us otherwise. This concept is anathema to the biblical concept of hard work, personal responsibility, and thievery. In fact, socialism, which Karl Marx, the father of modern socialism, is considered to be one of the steps to a complete communist “utopia.” Such a system has proven to be a miserable failure everywhere it has been tried: the Soviet Union, Cuba, Communist China, North Korea Cambodia, Venezuela and many more countries. Who wants to live in such places? It it’s so great there, why Marxist-socialistic governments have to construct walls to keep their people in, and why do people risk their lives trying to escape?
Moreover, so called “democratic socialism” has not proven to be a great success either but has resulted in high taxes, loss of personal liberties, highly regulated societies, high costs of living and massive debts in the countries where it has been tried.
Socialism and communism are a failure in part because they disincentivize people from working hard and enjoying the fruits of their labors. Socialism also promote laziness, stifle creativity, free enterprise and ingenuity. This is because the more you work, the more the government takes from you and gives to those who do not work. Why work hard and be creative under such a system when the rewards for your work will just get taken from you anyway? That is why socialistic economies eventually go to ruination and result in the devolution of societies.
Socialism is a system that is based on theft, the love of money, greed and covetousness. The devil is the father of this and these are the fruits of a Satanic system, for as Yeshua declared, Satan comes to steal, kill and destroy (John 10:10). Why should his economic system of choice, started by a Karl Marx, a God-hating Luciferian, not be a reflection of this? Socialism operates an the basis of government mandated legalized theft and destroys free enterprise, one’s incentive to work hard and the desire for self-improvement. Such a system is ungodly and Satanic and brings about the destruction of society and personal well-being.
Above and beyond all of this, socialism does not encourage a man to work to provide for his own household as the Bible commands. If one doesn’t work to support his family, according to Paul, he “has denied the faith and is worse than an unbeliever [or a heathen]” (1 Tim 5:8). This is a serious indictment against socialism and those who live on social welfare! In fact, with regard to the church helping those who were poor, Paul declared that those who refused to work shouldn’t eat (2 Thess 3:10). The idea here is that if one get’s hungry enough, he’ll go out and find a job, for hunger is a powerful motivator to find work!
At the same time, the church was to help those truly and legitimately in need, especially widows. However, before a widow could become dependent upon the church, the widow’s family was to support her financially (1 Tim 5:4). For widows over the age of 60, there were stringent requirements before she could receive any financial help from the church; namely, she had to be performing acts of service to members of the church (1 Tim 5:9–10). A widow who was younger was required to work or to marry someone who could support her financially (1 Tim 5:11–14). There is not even a mention here of the church or society having to care for a single man over the age of 60! Evidently, Paul expected him to work.
One thing is clear in the Bible with regard to the poor, there are no examples of lazy, pan-handlers or able bodied people receiving financial assistance from society, and there are no requirements for the saints to help such people.
Moreover, the global trend and march toward socialism and Marxism encourages the very things that the Bible denounces and will result in everyone being in poverty except the super-rich who control everything. Such a system enveloping and strangling the earth was prophesied long ago to occur in the last days before the second coming. Go read Revelation chapters 13 and 18.
Deuteronomy 15:9, Your eye be evil.This is a Hebraic idiom for one who is covetous. (This phrase is also found in Prov 23:6; 28:22; Matt 6:23; 20:15; Mark 7:22; Luke 11:34.)
Deuteronomy 15:10, Elohim will bless you.Here we see the law of reciprocity revealed: What goes around comes around. When we give charity to those who are unable to repay us, YHVH insures that we will be blessed.
Deuteronomy 15:17, Take an awl…door.The permanent hole in the door will be a visible proof and silent testimony to all who enter that house that the servant has chosen to remain and to serve that family forever.
Deuteronomy 16:1ff, Keeping the biblical feasts. How important are YHVH’s feast days (annual set-apart times or moedim) to you? The ancient Israelites and first-century Book of Acts saints planned their entire year’s schedule around them. That’s how important YHVH’s annual festivals were to them. Do we travel halfway across the country to take a vacation or to go to a conference, and yet do not set apart the time to obey YHVH’s voice by keeping his appointed times? Do we let our jobs, school or other secular activities dictate how and whether we keep the feasts or not? If so, what does this say about the status of our spiritual priorities? What does Elohim think about our excuses about why we can’t keep his feasts has he has commanded us to do?
The feast days are the skeletal framework of YHVH’s entire plan of redemption (salvation) of Israel. One cannot in good conscience, be true to biblical truth and keep the weekly Sabbath without keeping YHVH’s annual Sabbaths.
In the final analysis, jobs, schooling, friends and the praises and acceptance of men will all pass away, but our relationship with Elohim will determine our eternal destiny. Isn’t it time that we got serious about putting him first in our lives?
Deuteronomy 16:9, Sickle to the grain.Can a barley farmer reap his field before the wavesheaf offering is made on Firstfruits Day? According to the first century Jewish historian Flavius Josephus, the Jews didn’t cut their barley harvest prior to Firstfruits Day.
But on the second day of unleavened bread, which is the sixteenth day of the month, they first partake of the fruits of the earth, for before that day, they do not touch them. And while they suppose it proper to honour God, from whom they obtain this plentiful provision, in the first place, they offer the first-fruits of their barley, and that in the manner following: They take a handful of ears the ears, and dry them, then beat them small, and purge the barely from the bran; they then bring deal to the altar, to God: and, casting one handful of it upon the fire, they leave the rest for the use of the priest; and after this it is that they may publicly or privately reap their harvest” (Antiquities of the Jews, book 3, 10:5, emphasis added).
Based on Josephus’ testimony and Deuteronomy 16:10), some people take the position that the Israelites could neither harvest their spring barely crop, nor eat it until the priests first offered the wavesheaf offering. But this Jewish tradition actually line up with the Torah? Not all Jewish traditions do (Mark 7:9).
In the past, I have written that a farmer could neither reap nor eat of his barley before Wavesheaf Day. Upon closer examination of the Torah scriptures relating to this subject, I have changed my position on this point. This is because the Torah doesn’t actually prohibit a farmer from reaping his barley field should it come ripe prior to Wavesheaf Day, just as long as he doesn’t eat of it.
The Torah mandates that one can’t eat any barley from their crop until the Firstfruits Day offering is made (Lev 23:14). But what if a farmer’s field of barley came ripe before Firstfruits Day? Could he harvest his crop as long as he didn’t eat of it until the omer offering was made? There is no prohibition in the Torah from doing this. Some may point to Deuteronomy 16:9 as such a prohibition to cutting one’s barley before Firstfruits Day.
You shall count seven weeks for yourself; begin to count the seven weeks from the time you begin to put the sickle to the grain.
Now let’s compare this passage to a more detailed instruction found earlier in the Torah and one which is more specific to Firstfruits Day.
Speak to the children of Israel, and say to them: ‘When you come into the land which I give to you, and reap its harvest, then you shall bring a sheaf of the firstfruits of your harvest to the priest. ‘He shall wave the sheaf before YHVH, to be accepted on your behalf; on the day after the Sabbath the priest shall wave it. And you shall offer on that day, when you wave the sheaf, a male lamb of the first year, without blemish, as a burnt offering to YHVH.’ (Lev 23:10–12)
In this scripture, we find two action occurring: reaping the barley harvest and subsequently bringing that harvest to the local priest who lived in the farmer’s village or region. Nowhere does this verse say that the reaping of the grain and the day the priest must make the wave offering (on Firstfruits Day) are on the same day. That is to say, if a farmer’s field of barley comes ripe earlier than Firstfruits Day, he is not prohibited from reaping it; he simply is prohibited from eating the barley before Firstfruits Day (Lev 23:14). Therefore, the barley farmer has the Torah’s permission to reap his crop before Firstfruits Day (as long as he doesn’t eat from it). This insures that he won’t lose his crop (i.e. the barley seed won’t fall to the ground), while he is waiting for the omer offering to be made on First Fruits Day.
This is important because even though Israel is a small country, because of its extreme elevations and topographical variations as well as climate differentials, there is a wide time frame in which the barley in different regions comes ripe. For example, the barley in warmer regions at lower elevations tends to come ripe before the barley in higher elevation. And because there are so many microclimates, grain may come ripe in one valley, while in the next valley it may still be green. Therefore, the farmer needs to have the liberty to reap his grain, if necessary, before the wavesheaf offering is made, for fear the grain will come ripe and drop the ground, while the farmer is waiting for Wavesheaf Day to occur. Farmers couldn’t afford to lose their crops then any more than they can today.
Since the Leviticus 23:10–12 passage is the primary command pertaining to Firstfruits Day and gives us more specific information and occurs prior to the Deuteronomy 16:9 passage, the basic rules of biblical interpretation (or hermeneutics) require use to interpret the latter passage in light of the former passage and not vice versa. Moreover, Deuteronomy 16:9 is a general rule as to when the barley harvest generally was to commence, and not a specific command stating when or when not an individual farmer could begin harvesting his barley grain. This is why Deuteronomy 16:9 cannot be cherry-picked as a stand-alone verse without the previous context of Leviticus 23:10–14.
Deuteronomy 16:13, After that.How was it possible to keep the Feast of Tabernacles only after all the crops had been gathered in? Understanding the Hebrew resolves the question. The KJV reads:
Thou shalt observe the feast of tabernacles seven days, after that thou hast gathered in thy corn and thy wine.
The word corn in Hebrew goren (Strong’s H1637/TWOT 383a) meaning “barn, barn floor, corn floor.” Hirsch in his commentary on this verse translates it as follows:
The Festival of Sukkoth shalt thou make unto thyself seven days, by gathering up from thy barn and they wine-press.
Other translations render it accordingly:
…when you gather in from your threshing flow and from your wine vat. (ASET)
…after you have gathered in from your threshing floor and your wine vat (NAS95, NKJV)
On the meaning of this verse, Hirsch comments that you are to keep the Festival of Sukkot when you gather up from your barn and your wine press, and not from that which as rcUjN (still joined to the ground), and still belongs to nature.
Deuteronomy 16:16, Three times in a year … in the place which he shall choose.The imminent Jewish sage of the nineteenth century, Samson Raphael Hirsch, as to why we separate ourselves from the world during the three pilgrimage or aliyah festivals, said in his commentary on Deuteronomy 16:16: “[T]hree times in the year all the individual members of the nation [of Israel] are to appear out of all isolation personally before the Presence of the One God of the nation in the circle around the one common Sanctuary and thereby become conscious of each one being in connection with all the others, with God, and with His Torah.”