Deuteronomy 22 and 23—Natan’s Commentary Notes

Deuteronomy 22

Deuteronomy 22:1–4, Caring for a brother’s property. Concern for the property of others is the subject of these verses. In this respect, let us not forget the second half of the shema: You shall love your neighbor as yourself (Lev 19:18). What is the response of the wicked with respect to concern for their neighbor’s well being? (Read Gen 4:9.) On this passage of Scripture one rabbinical commentator states: “[T]he commandment to return lost property is ‘fundamental’ and that ‘all society depends upon it.’ It is not just a matter of one person taking care of another’s possessions or of ‘loving’ another. What is important here is the critical matter of ‘trust’ among human beings. A society depends upon the faith people place in one another. Without people feeling that they can rely upon one another—that others are looking out for what belongs to me and I must look out for what belongs to them—society collapses in suspicion, selfishness, and bitter contention” (A Torah Commentary For Our Time, vol. 3, p. 149).

Deuteronomy 22:9, You shall not sow your vineyards with different kinds of seed. (See notes at Lev 19:19.)

Deuteronomy 22:10, You shall not plow with an ox and with a donkey(that is, a kosher animal with a non-kosher animal). Baal Ha Turim, the ancient Jewish Torah scholar, interprets this verse to mean that a righteous person should not enter into a business partnership with a wicked person. The Mishnah states: “Distance yourself from a bad neighbor; and do not bind yourself to a wicked person (Avos 1:7, The ArtScroll Baal HaTurim Chumash, p. 2065). What does the Testimony of Yeshua say about being unequally yoked with unbelievers? (See 1 Cor 15:33; 2 Cor 6:14.)

Deuteronomy 22:5–12, Various laws. Matthew Henry in his commentary says of these various laws: “God’s providence extends itself to the smallest affairs, and his precepts do so, that even in them we may be in the fear of the Lord, as we are under his eye and care…. If we would prove ourselves to be God’s people, we must have respect to his will and to his glory, and not to the vain fashions of the world. Even in putting on our garments, as in eating or in drinking, all must be done with serious regard to preserve our own and other’s purity in heart and actions.” Let’s think and meditate on this.

Deuteronomy 22:6–7, If a bird’s nest.What does this passage teach us about caring for the environment and being good stewards of YHVH’s creation? How about showing mercy to animals and man’s role in preserving the species? What are the broader implications here? What are you doing to protect the environment, and to be good stewards of this earth? It starts at with each of us with our own home and garden—the tiny spot on earth that YHVH has given us to tend and keep.

Deuteronomy 23

Deuteronomy 23:2, A child of incest shall not. Mamzer (translated in the KJV as bastard; NKJV one of illegitimate birth) means “a child of a prohibited marriage.”Contrary to popular opinion, this is not referring to one born out of wedlock (the result of fornication or premarital relations), but rather the fruit of an incestuous or adulterous relationship (The ArtScroll Stone Edition Chumash, p. 1054). According to S. R. Hirsch, a Jewish Torah scholar, a mamzer was disadvantaged legally in no other way except that he was excluded from the assembly or congregation (qahal) of YHVH. According to The Theological Wordbook of the Old Testament, the Hebrew word qahal is equivalent to the Greek word ecclesia,which is commonly translated as church in the NT (ibid., vol. 2, p. 790). What does Torah’s treatment of a mamzer say about YHVH’s view of the sanctity of marriage and the family and the upholding of such as a cornerstone institution within the assembly of the saints? Hirsch comments on this verse, “[A] mamzer accordingly represents, by his existence, a sin against those laws by which God wishes marriage in His qahal to be elevated out of the sphere of simply physical association by that which [the Talmud in] Kiddushin [73a] expresses” (Judaica Press The Pentateuch/Deuteronomy, p. 456). 

In the Torah, premarital sex is not a capital offense. When it happened, the man was either to marry the young lady, or he had to pay a fine to her father. Incest, however, like homosexuality, was an abomination in YHVH’s eyes (Lev 18:6–18, 26–29), thus it would stand to reason that YHVH would take a harder stand on the product of such a sexual union. The point is to teach his people not to get involved in such sinful sexual practices in the first place. 

Deuteronomy 23:10–15, When the army goes out. With regard to the sanctity of the camp, the Jewish sages teach that whereas other armies triumph by force of numbers and arms, Israel’s success is in the hands of Elohim, and, therefore, its army’s most potent weapon is its righteous behavior (The ArtScroll Stone Edition Chumash, p. 1055). Holiness and righteousness (i.e. obedience to YHVH’s commands coupled with trusting faith in Yeshua and in his blood atonement) can help us defeat our enemies (see Rev 1:5; 12:11, 17; 14:12). Though the phrase, “Cleanliness is next to godliness” is not found in the Scriptures, it is nevertheless a true statement in light of this Torah passage.

Deuteronomy 23:18, Price of a dog. The price of a dog, according to Keil and Delitzsch, is not the price paid for the sale of a dog, but is a figurative expression used to denote the gains of a male prostitute, who was called thus by the Greeks because of the dog-like manner in which homosexuals debase themselves sexually. YHVH considers homosexuality so abominable that he specifically lists dogs (along with sorcerers, murders, idolators and liars) as being excluded from the New Jerusalem (Rev 22:15).


Where are the true priests of Elohim today both in the pulpit and in the home???

Our society is falling apart. There is little or no fear of Elohim among anyone anywhere anymore. The Bible tells us that the fear of Elohim is the beginning of wisdom and knowledge. When there is no fear of Elohim, the opposite prevails: foolishness and ignorance.

Because so many people are refusing to follow even the basic tenets of Elohim’s laws, their lives are a mess. Let me give you an example of this. I own a company and I have employees. One of my employees is a young single father with a child born out of wedlock who is less than two years old. Where is the mother in the picture? The father is struggling to make ends meet financially. He is presently renting a room in a house from a gal whose fiancé—in his early 30s—just died unexpectedly a month ago. The medical authorities ruled it as a drug overdose, but no one knows for sure. My gal and the deceased fiancé both have children from previous relationships. Now the gal is alone trying to raise her children and the guy’s children. She has a medical condition, so presently she can’t work and earn any income to make the house payment. Meanwhile, the house was in the guy’s name, but now he’s dead. Who owns the house now? The guy and the gal weren’t married, so it’s not legally her house. Legally, it should go to his decedents heirs, and now a legal battle is ensuing over this. Meanwhile, my employee’s daughter’s mother just moved into the house. They’re not planning on getting married. What’s going on here? Why does the dad have custody of the baby? Why was the mom not living with them before, but now she is? If the house situation isn’t resolved, then where will they all live? In the mean time, who is paying the house payments? You get the picture…it tangled mess of issues goes on and on.

Most of these problems is a result of young unmarried people hoping into bed with each other with little or no forethought with children resulting from their fling.

The problem is that society now says that such behavior is acceptable. In fact, it’s the norm. If you don’t have sex before marriage, you’re considered bizarre. Everybody is doing it, so it must be okay. Yet no one is thinking of the consequences of sex outside of a legal family structure.

All of this is an example of the lack of the fear of Elohim resulting in foolishness and ignorance with the consequences being broken families and children being raised without moral and spiritual values. Society pays a heavy price for such egregious and thoughtless behavior. Taxes go up so big brother government can help take care of these innocent children and their miscreant parents.

Society’s moral and spiritual compass is broken. Too many people operate by their emotions of the moment without thinking of the long term consequences of their immoral and ungodly actions. And all around them, society, the media, movies, music, the educational systems, the government and their peers are telling them that evil is good and good is evil and that biblical values are ridiculous. The Bible has been thrown out, the church as discredited itself as a relevant purveyor of Truth and righteousness, and the list of the society’s fundamental ills goes on and on. Yet no one can figure out why we have such a mess on our hands!

So what is the answer? It’s time for men and women to step and become the godly priest of their own homes by teaching their children the fear of Elohim and obedience to his Word. The same is true for pastors and Bible teachers. It’s time for them to start teaching the pure word of Elohim instead of watering down the Truth and teaching the unbiblical doctrines and traditions of men. But they won’t. Preaching watered down and ear-tickling doctrines of men has been too lucrative and popular.

Numbers 3

Numbers 2:33, The Levites were not numbered. The Levites were not numbered among the counting of the Israelite warriors. Why was this? There was a likely good reason for this. The Scriptures do not tell us, so we can only speculate why this was so. 

Perhaps the reason is that the Levites were divinely commissioned to minister in the tabernacle before the altar and holy of holies, which was a symbolic earthly representation of Elohim’s heavenly throne room. As such, it was their job to act as intermediaries and intercessors between the Israelites and Elohim, even as Yeshua is now fulfilling that role at the right hand of Elohim in heaven as the saints’ Great High Priest. 

In this divinely commissioned role, the Levites were called to engage in spiritual “battle” for Israel by teaching the people to walk in YHVH’s Torah instructions in righteousness, and by spiritually cleansing the people from their sins by offering up sacrifices and incense. If they had had to spend their time fighting Israel’s physical battles, they would have had less time to fight her spiritual battles. 

Moreover, when Israel was in a right relationship with Elohim and walking obediently in his ways thanks largely to the efforts of the Levites’ spiritual leadership and example, then YHVH promised to protect that nation from her physical enemies, and so there would be little need for a physical defensive army. 

The same is true in our day. When the ministers of Elohim, who are leaders of the present day “royal priesthood” of Yeshua (1 Pet 2:9), are preaching the Truth to their people and instructing them in the ways of Torah-righteousness, then YHVH will protect his people from enemies foreign and domestic, and there will be little need for physical militaries. 

Similarly on a smaller scale, the same is true for a righteous father who is called to be the priest of his own home. As such, it is his duty to cover his family spiritually under a protective shield of prayer, intercession, confession of sin and by leading them spiritually in the ways of Elohim, so that they will be less vulnerable or even impervious to the attacks of the world, the flesh and devil.

Numbers 3

Numbers 3:11–13, I myself have taken. Here YHVH chooses the tribe of Levi instead of the firstborn male of each Israelite family to be Israel’s spiritual leaders. When the Israelites exited Egypt, YHVH chose and sanctified the firstborn male of each family to the be spiritual leader of his home in what is called the law of the firstborn (Exod 13:2, 11–16). As it had been the responsibility of the firstborn to lead his family spiritually, and, as the patriarch of his family, to pass down the family legacy and spiritual traditions to the next generation, YHVH now placed this mantle on the shoulders of the Levites. It was now their responsibility to teach the Israelites what YHVH had commanded them to do (Deut 24:8). They became the Torah teachers in Israel (Deut 33:10; Neh 8:7, 9, 13; 2 Chron 30:22) along with the priests (Lev 10:11; Mal 2:7). They were scattered throughout the land of Israel for this purpose (2 Chron 17:8–9). The reason that YHVH gave this responsibility over to the sons of Levi was because the firstborn of each family had failed to lead their families in YHVH’s paths of righteousness, and they failed to prevent the Israelites from golden calf worship (Exod 32). Only Levi remained faithful to YHVH during the golden calf incident, and thus YHVH granted them the blessing of the priestly service (Exod 32:26–29).

Originally, it had been YHVH’s intent for the entire nation of Israel to be a kingdom of priests (Exod 19:6) in order to be a light to the nations and lead the nations to YHVH and his Torah by their righteous example (Deut 4:6–8). This is why YHVH placed the land of Israel, and specifically Jerusalem, at the center of the major trade routes of the ancient world between Africa, Asia and Europe.

The Levitical priesthood (along with the elaborate tabernacle sacrificial system) was a temporary institution that YHVH added (Gal 3:19 cp. Jer 7:21–22) to the nation of Israel’s legal system because of the firstborn’s failure to prevent Israel from worshipping the golden calf idol. In a general sense, YHVH didn’t give the Israelites the Torah at this time—the principles of which they and their forefathers already had been given (e.g., Gen 26:5). So what other law was added? At Mount Sinai, the Torah was codified into a legal system (with civil penalties including the institution of a sacrificial system as a penalty for sin) and became the constitution of the nation of Israel, and YHVH also gave them the institution of the Levitical priesthood and the sacrificial system (Gal 3:19), which (along with the rest of the Torah) pointed them to Yeshua (Gal 4:16, 2). The sacrificial and Levitical systems were completely fulfilled by the Messiah as the writer of Hebrews goes into great detail to explain to us (Heb 5–11).

As already noted, it was YHVH’s intention for all Israel to become a kingdom of priests (not just the tribe of Levi) to teach the nations his spiritual truths. YHVH’s original purpose for Israel is now being fulfilled in the royal priesthood of all redeemed believers to which Peter makes reference in his first epistle (1 Pet 2:9). When the Romans destroyed the temple in Jerusalem, the Levitical priesthood along with the sacrificial system ceased to exist. This occurred some forty years after the death and resurrection of Yeshua who, at that time, became man’s sacrifice for sin once and for all and is now in heaven officiating as our Great High Priest as the writer of Hebrews reveals to us. When the temple priesthood was destroyed, YHVH’s royal priesthood of all believers was ready to take its place. In a sense, the present priesthood model defaults to the original priesthood model where the leader of each family was the priest of his home. The only difference is that the patriarchal priesthood model has been expanded and now all redeemed believers have the opportunity to become a priest in Yeshua’s eternal kingdom regardless of gender and family birth order.

Presently, the saints are preparing to be a kingdom of priest as they learn to live out and to teach others YHVH’s Torah truths. This learning process is preparing them to become kings and priests (or a kingdom of priests, Exod 19:6) in Yeshua’s millennial kingdom after his second coming where they will teach the nations the truth of YHVH (Rev 1:6; 5:10; 20:6), even as the Levites of old taught the nation of Israel YHVH’s Torah.


It is your divine mandate and highest calling to teach YOUR children!

YHVH Elohim literally commands parents to instruct their children in his ways. This is not the job of the church or someone else. Now more than ever with the leftist bent of the public school systems, with the constant barrage of ungodly, even God-hating messaging that is constantly assaulting us from every direction and from numerous electronic platforms and devices, it is more important than ever to teach our children the ways and truth of Elohim as found in the Bible. If we fail to do so, what hope do our children have of surviving spiritually in the swirling seas of unrighteous darkness that surrounds us attempting to overtake the saints of the Most High?

Listen up parents! Teaching your children may mean changing your lifestyle. Yes, that’s right. Maybe you’ll have to settle for a little lower standard of living, so that mom can stay home to help homeschool your children. Dad, maybe you’ll have to spend more time at home too and less time pursuing the almighty dollar to help mom homeschool the children. Dad, maybe you’ll need to turn off the television or whatever else you waste your time doing in the evenings and on the weekends and spend more time instructing your children about the Bible. In fact, mom and dad, maybe you’ll have to get up a little earlier each day actually to spend time studying the Word of Elohim, so that you’ll know it well enough to be able to teach your children about it. Am I talking hypocritically out of the top of my hat, so to speak, on this issue? NO! This is exactly what my wife and I did with our four children. If we can do it, YOU can too.

May YHVH bless you in your God-given divine mandate to instruct your children in his way as well YOUR grandchildren or any other children YHVH brings into your life. Taking the time and effort to teach our children is the best investment we can make make bar none in the future; the rewards are far better than any material possessions and riches or anything else the world has to offer!

Deuteronomy 6:7, 10–16, 20–25, Instruct your children in the Torah, so they don’t fall into idolatry. YHVH is constantly warning his people against idolatry; idol worship is anything that gets in the way of our relationship with him. 

If you’re not sure whether you have idols in your life, then ask yourself this question: What is of higher priority in your life than serving YHVH? What in your life takes more of your time, energy and money than serving YHVH? What draws your heart away from the study of his written Word, from prayer and fellowship? What or who hinders you from moving forward in your spiritual walk? What in your life keeps YHVH from getting out of a spiritual box in your life? This is idolatry!

Our children follow our example more than our words. By our actions, if YHVH isn’t first in our life our children will follow our example and will be prone to perpetuate our idolatrous ways down the generational line.

Several times YHVH instructs the children of Israel to be certain to instruct their children in the ways of Torah-righteousness. In the Shema, YHVH commands, “And you shall teach them [i.e. his Word] diligently to your children, and talk of them when you sit in your house, and when you walk by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise up” (6:7). Then in verses 20–25 of the same chapter we read, 

“When your son asks you in time to come, saying, ‘What is the meaning of the testimonies, the statutes, and the judgments which YHVH our Elohim has commanded you?’ Then you shall say to your son: ‘We were slaves of Pharaoh in Egypt, and YHVH brought us out of Egypt with a mighty hand; and YHVH showed signs and wonders before our eyes, great and severe, against Egypt, Pharaoh, and all his household. Then He brought us out from there, that He might bring us in, to give us the land of which He swore to our fathers. And YHVH commanded us to observe all these statutes, to fear YHVH our Elohim, for our good always, that He might preserve us alive, as it is this day. Then it will be righteousness for us, if we are careful to observe all these commandments before YHVH our Elohim, as He has commanded us.’”

Too often in the church-system the children have had to take the backseat when it comes to discipleship and ministry. They get a few table scraps thrown at them called “Vacation Bible School” (once a year) and a little psychological pep talk Jonah and the Whale-type teaching on Sunday morning accompanied by some, often inane, craft project. Seldom does the head pastor of the church bother with the children’s ministry. Usually, this function is relegated to the younger associate pastor. Typically, the position of “Youth Pastor” is viewed as nothing more than a stepping stone to the “top dog” position of “Head Pastor.” Furthermore, seldom do parents spend any meaningful time during the week instructing their children in the ways of YHVH. As redeemed Israelites, it is our opportunity to follow the Torah and to place the highest ministry priority on instructing our children in the truths of the written Torah, in the truth of Yeshua the Living Torah, and in the fundamentals of who they are as members of the commonwealth of Israel (Eph 2:12) and in preparing them for the kingdom of Elohim. If we don’t, who will? As parents, what are you doing on a regular basis to diligently instruct your children all day, every day? As grandparents, aunts and uncles and members of gospel-orientated Torah community, what are you doing to help in teaching the children? What was the attitude of the disciples when they attempted to shoo the children away from Yeshua. What was Yeshua’s response? Read and compare Matthew 19:13–15 with 18:1–5 and go and do likewise, for they are our future and our legacy!

Torah Explorers Bible Study Program

Do you need a little help teaching your children the Bible? How about a free Torah and gospel-based Bible study program for young people—one lesson for each week of the year? Many years ago, while homeschooling our children and pastoring a local church congregation, I developed Torah Explorers for homeschooling and for churches. This is a good Bible study program for adults as well. Check it out here: