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).

 

Deuteronomy 14–16 on a Peculiar, Kosher, Generous, Feast-loving people

Deuteronomy 14

Who me? Peculiar??

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

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!

A lazy couch potato

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? 

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Natan’s Notes on Deuteronomy 11–14

Deuteronomy 11

Deuteronomy 11:1, Love YHVH … and keep…his commandments.Compare this verse with what Yeshua said in John 14:15. When we understand that Yeshua is “YHVH your Elohim” does that not give us a new perspective about not only who Yeshua was/is, but his teachings in the Gospels? Does this shed new light on the issue when Paul said to “follow me as I follow the Messiah” (1 Cor 11:1)? What did Paul mean by this? Was Paul really pro-Torah?

Deuteronomy 11:8, That you may be strong.Obeying YHVH by keeping his Torah-commandments keep us strong. Strong is the Hebrew word chazaq meaning “to be strong, grow strong, to prevail, to be firm, be caught fast, be secure; to grow stout, grow rigid, to restore to strength, give strength, sustain, encourage, make bold, encourage, to repair, to withstand.” Obedience to YHVH’s commandments make a people strong morally and spiritually, so they have the fortitude to conquer the spiritual land that YHVH has given them for their inheritance—to expand the kingdom of Elohim with boldness.

Deuteronomy 11:13, If you will hearken.Stale versus fresh manna. In the Hebrew, this phrase literally reads, “If hearken, you will hearken….” Rashi (the Medieval Jewish Torah scholar) interprets the double usage of this verb to mean, “If [you] listen to the old, you will listen to the new” meaning that if one listens to what one has already learned by taking care to review and understand it, one will gain new insights or fresh insights into the Torah (The ArtScroll Sapirstein Edition Rashi—Devarim, p. 110; The ArtScroll Stone Edition Chumash, p. 995). 

What does this teach us about studying YHVH’s Word consistently and regularly? YHVH gave the Israelites fresh (not stale) manna every day, even as he watered the land of Israel with the early (fall) and latter (spring) rains (a symbol for spiritual refreshment), so that the land would be fruitful without the need of man-made irrigation systems. Manna and rain both came from heaven and are used as figures of speech Hebraically to represent Torah-truth. 

Is your life being renewed regularly with fresh revelation and insights into the Word of YHVH, into his very heart and character? Does this not refresh, nourish and sustain the ground of your life, so that it yields an abundant spiritual crop of joy, shalom, intimacy with the Father and anointing? Is your life a place of fresh manna and constant rain, or a place of stale bread and drought? If so, what changes do you need to make in your life to change this situation?

Deuteronomy 11:14, Grain [wheat and oats]…wine…oil.(See also Gen 27:28; Ps 104:15.) These were the three most important agricultural crops in ancient Israel. These three foods represented  what are known today as the three basic nutritive elements: proteins, carbohydrates and fats. The yield of these crops were easily stored for long periods in the hot, dry climate, and kings laying in supplies at forts and strongholds for possible siege and war included these crops (e.g. 2 Chron 11:11; 22:28; Golden Jerusalem, by Menashe Har-El, p. 11).

Deuteronomy 11:18–21, Teach them to your children.Homeschooling One’s Children. This is a repeat of the second third of the shema, which is found in Deuteronomy 6:4–9. This is a reiteration of the biblical mandate for parents to give their children a Torah-based homeschooling education. This command takes precedence over that of any civil government’s laws requiring a parent to give their children a publicly sanctioned education. In fact, parents aren’t active to one degree or another in educating their own children are being disobedient to this clear Torah command and are therefore sinning. The majority of Christians in the mainstream church have egregiously missed the mark on this one!

Deuteronomy 11:18–19, Lay up these words. Read and meditate on this passage. Look at the phrases: in your heart, in your soul, between your eyes, teach and speak. How are you walking these commandments out in your life? Are you doing so with consistency, or only here and there?

Deuteronomy 11:26–28, A blessing and a curse. Each person must choose which path he will take. This passage begins with the words, “Behold, I set before you this day a blessing and a curse; a blessing, if you will obey the commandments of YHVH your Elohim, which I command you this day; and a curse, if you will not obey the commandments of YHVH your Elohim, to go after other gods, which you have not known” (Deut 11:26–28). YHVH sets before each person two paths: the path of blessing and the path of curses. Each person individually must choose which path he will follow.

After this, in verse 29, YHVH instructs the Israelites that upon entering the Promised Land, they are to stop between the mountains of Gerizim and Ebal, which are located at the entry point of the land. The former mountain represents a blessing, while the later represents a curse. The town of Shechem is located between the two mountains. The Hebrew word shechem means “shoulder” or “back”. The shoulder supports the head, which through the disposition of the mind and the direction in which the head is pointed, determines the path a person will walk whether good or evil. 

It was at Shechem, between the two mountains representing good and evil, that Israel renewed its covenant with YHVH before entering the Promised Land (Josh 8:30–35). The power of the covenant that the people made with YHVH on that day thousands of years ago is still visible in the modern land of Israel: Mount Ebal is bare and devoid of vegetation, while Mount Gerizim is lush and green with foliage. This fact stands as a loud testimony and reminder to man today to the power of blessing and cursing, and to the reality and validity of YHVH’s Torah, its covenants and its ability to bless or curse us depending on whether we obey it or not.

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Welcome to Deuteronomy/Devarim!

Outline of Sefer Devarim/Deuteronomy: Moses’ Farewell Address

Chapter 1:1–5, Introduction

Chapters 1:6–4:40, First Discourse

Moses gives a veiled rebuke for sin and disobedience, and gives a review of the journey from Mount Sinai to Kadesh with exhortations to obedience.

Chapters 4:44–11, Second Discourse, Part 1

The religious foundations of the covenant, the spirit in which it is to be kept and the motives to right obedience are discussed. Moses shows how the covenant defines the relationship between YHVH and Israel and emphasizes the basic spiritual demands that such a relationship imposes upon Israel.

Chapters 12–26, Second Discourse, Part 2

  • The code of law dealing with:
  • Worship, Chapters 12:1–16:17
  • Government, Chapters 16:18–18
  • Criminal Law, Chapters 19:1–21:9
  • Domestic Life, Chapters 21:10–25
  • Rituals and the Sanctuary, Chapter 26

Chapters 27–30, Third Discourse

The enforcement of the Torah-law with its blessings and curses; establishment of a fresh covenant between YHVH and Israel (i.e. the younger generation).

Chapters 31–34, The Last Days of Moses

  • Chapter 31, Committal of the law to the keeping of the priests.
  • Chapter 32, The Song of Moses (a prophecy about Israel’s future).
  • Chapter 33, Moses’ patriarchal blessing over the tribes of Israel.
  • Chapter 34, The death of Moses.

Overview of the Book of Deuteronomy/Devarim from Various Commentators

This last book of the Torah starts out with “These are the words which Moses spoke ….” The Hebrew name for Deuteronomy is Devarim meaning “words,” which is the plural form of devar meaning “word, speech, a matter or thing, a commandment, a report, a message, promise.” Note the similarity in meaning between the Hebrew word devar and the Greek word logos from John 1:1 (“In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with Elohim, and the Word was Elohim.”). Logos means “speech, word or thing.” From this connection, we see that Yeshua was the Word of both the Old Testament (OT or Tanakh) and the New Testament (NT or Testimony of Yeshuah). He is the message of the entire Bible (Spirit Filled Life Bible, from the “Word Wealth” at Deut 1:1).

Deuteronomy is written similarly to the vassal-treaties formulated between captor and captive nations prior to 1000 B.C. It contains historical information, enumerates laws, and concludes with threats and promises (Hebrew Greek Key Study Bible, from the Introduction to Deuteronomy). From a general survey of Deuteronomy, it is sufficiently evident that the exposition of the commandments, statutes, and rights of the law had no other object than this: to pledge the nation in the most solemn manner to an inviolable observance, in the land of Canaan, of the covenant, which YHVH had made with Israel at Horeb (Deut 28:29Keil and Delitzsch Commentary of the Old Testament, from the introductory note to Deut).


In Deuteronomy, Moses speaks like a dying father giving a farewell song to his children, all the while he celebrates Elohim as the spiritual Rock of Israel. While the eyes of the Israelites may have fixated too much upon Moses their physical leader (instead of Elohim) for forty years, Moses now attempts to redirect their eyes, trust and allegiance heavenward and onto YHVH, their real spiritual Leader who had been behind Moses—a mere human leader—all the time.

Deuteronomy is Moses’ last word and final admonition to Israel before his death. It is a review of the main points found in the first four books of the Torah. This review is for the benefit of the younger generation who has been born and/or grown up in the wilderness and who are about to enter the Promised Land. The first few  chapters of Deuteronomy includes several themes that are mentioned over and over again underscoring their importance in YHVH’s eyes. They are:

  • Teach the children YHVH’s instructions in righteousness (i.e. the Torah).
  • Teach the children about their historical and spiritual roots.
  • Fear YHVH.
  • Remember the giving of the Torah at Mount Sinai and the supernatural occurrences surrounding that event.
  • Do not allow yourself to become involved in idolatry and the practices of the heathen nations.
  • Keep Torah and all will be well with you.
  • YHVH’s Torah commandments are eternal.
  • Don’t forget YHVH nor turn from the Torah—YHVH’s instructions in righteousness.

Consider these admonitions of YHVH to his people. Are we heeding these instructions and grounding our people in these things? What are you doing in your own life to take YHVH’s wise admonitions seriously?

The words of Deuteronomy are earnest and impressive. Moses looks back over the whole of the forty years of Israel’s wandering in the desert, reminds the people of all the blessings they had received, of the ingratitude with which they had so often repaid Elohim, and of the grace, mercy, love and judgments of Elohim. Furthermore, Moses explains the laws of Torah again and again, and adds to the Torah some 70 new laws, which were necessary to complete it. He never wearies of urging obedience to the Torah in the warmest and most emphatic words, because the very life of the nation was bound up with this; he surveys all the storms and conflicts which they passed through, and, beholding the future in the past, takes a survey also of the future history of the nation, and sees, with mingled sorrow and joy, how the three great features of the past—that is to say, apostasy, punishment, and pardon—continue to repeat themselves in the future also (Keil and Delitzsch Commentary on the OT, from the introductory note to Deut).

Deuteronomy is a unique book—distinct from the narrative and historical, the legal, prophetic, and devotional writings of the Scriptures, though it has affinities with each of them. In its literary aspect, it is an oratory; and as such it is unsurpassed in its rush of rhythmic sentences, its ebb and flow of exalted passion, its accents of appeal and denunciation: Moses’ speech shines as well as his face. And this noble language gives utterance to truths which are always and everywhere sovereign—that Elohim is one, and that man must be wholly his; that Elohim is righteous and faithful, merciful and loving. Elohim’s proclamation in Deuteronomy stands in relation to Israel and humanity not merely as Judge or Ruler, but as Friend and Father. “And thou shalt love YHVH your Elohim with all thy heart, and with all they soul, and with all they might.” This whole-soul love and devotion to Elohim is to be accompanied by a large-hearted benevolence towards man, and indeed towards all sentient beings; by the recognition of the retributive righteousness of El; and by the insistence on the vital importance of family life, and of religious instruction within the home. The influence of the Book of the Farewell Discourses of Moses on both domestic and personal religion in Israel throughout the millennia has never been exceeded by that of any other book in the Scriptures (Soncino Edition of the Pentateuch and Haftorahs, from the introductory note to Deuteronomy).

In this book, YHVH can also be viewed as a husband asking his bride to give her whole heart to him, to follow him and to obey him. Sadly, in the rest of the story (after Joshua), we see chronicled the sad saga of a bride having a difficult time being a good wife. In the end, Israel becomes a rebellious and adulterous wife to the point that YHVH was forced to divorce her despite his patience and mercy. Then YHVH promised to do a new thing and comes in a human form (namely, Yeshua) like Moses—so that his people would learn to relate better to him. He wanted to set his people back on the right and good path (of Torah), and to restore them as his bride. He has now betrothed himself to his people (the saints) once again (this occurred with Yeshua at the last supper), given them his Holy Spirit as their engagement ring (on the Day of Pentecost), and since then it has been a long betrothal period (2000 years), so that those saints (i.e. redeemed Israel or the one new man; Eph 2:11–19) through trials and tribulations can be spiritually refined so that she can be a good wife for him. YHVH wants to see what is actually in her (our) heart. He wants a faithful companion forever.

Moses was the first to prophesy the coming of the Messiah (Deut 18:15), and Moses is the only person to which Yeshua compared himself (John 5:46–47).

Yeshua often quoted from Deuteronomy. When asked what was the most important commandment in the Torah, he quoted Deuteronomy 6:5 and included this verse as part of his summation of the whole Torah. In his temptation in the wilderness, he quoted exclusively from Deuteronomy when resisting the devil (Deut 8:36:166:1310:20).

Deuteronomy teaches more of the heart and spirit of the Torah, and that the relationship of Elohim to his people encompasses much more than just a legalistic observance of the Torah. Israel’s covenant relationship with Elohim involves obedience and loyalty as well as love, affection and devotion, which should be the true foundation of all of our action. Success, victory, prosperity and happiness all depend upon our obedience to YHVH. The book is a must-read for an understanding of man’s obedience to Elohim based on love and fear (Deut 10:1213Spirit Filled Life Bible, from the introductory note to Deut).

In a sense, Deuteronomy is not only a synopsis, but a commentary on the first four books of the Torah. This book along with the Epistle to the Hebrews contain the best comment on the nature, design, and use of the Torah (Adam Clarke’s Commentary on Deuteronomy, from the introductory note to Deut).

The Book of Deuteronomy contains not so much a recapitulation of the things commanded and done as related in Exodus, Leviticus and Numbers, as it is a compendium and summary of the whole law and wisdom of the people of Israel, wherein those things that related to the priests and Levites are omitted, and only such things are included as the people are generally required to know. Much more than a being a repetition of what preceded it, Deuteronomy is an oratory description, explanation, and enforcement of the most essential contents of the covenant revelation and covenant laws, with emphatic prominence given to the spiritual principle of the law and its fulfilment, and with a further development of the ecclesiastical, judicial, political, and civil organization, which was intended as a permanent foundation for the life and well-being of the people of Israel in the Promised Land of Canaan. There is not the slightest trace throughout the whole book of any intention whatever to give a new or second law (Keil and Delitzsch, from the introductory note to Deut).

The covenant of Deuteronomy contains all these parts.  The first eleven chapters are generally a summary of the adventures of Israel beginning from the covenant they confirmed at Mt. Sinai.  The actual stipulations or terms of this new covenant start with chapter 12 and go to chapter 26.  Chapter 27:10-28 detail the blessings and punishments that will come depending on Israel’s compliance.  Later chapters instruct how the covenant will be perpetuated. 

As part of their compliance Moses instructed Israel to write this law on large stones when they crossed into the Promised Land.  Likely they wrote only the instruction of chapters 12-26:15.  Since they recited the blessings and curses of chapter 27-28 they probably didn’t write those or anything following with the law (Deu 27:11-14).

More Insights About the Book of Deuteronomy

In stark terms, YHVH warns the Israelites in Deuteronomy of the struggles Israel will have as it walks between two world: the lower world that attaches itself to man’s soul and attempts to pull him downward, and the upper world that pulls the spirit in man heavenward.

Deuteronomy presents Torah (as does Ps 119) as the way to be spiritually, physically, mentally, emotionally, materially elevated before Elohim and in the eyes of the surrounding nations (Deut 4:6). 

In Deuteronomy, YHVH lays out two extremes: blessings for obedience and curses for disobedience; curse for following the ways of this world, and blessings for following the Word of YHVH. But seldom do individuals find themselves in one extreme or the other, for few are either totally worldly or totally heavenly in the orientation of their lives. They are usually caught up somewhere in the middle ground between the two: not totally evil and not totally good. Their lives are a mixed bag of good and evil, blessings and curses, and a double-orientation toward the heaven and the world. The Bible calls this double-mindedness (Jas 1:84:8), and Yeshua decries such an individual (Matt 6:24, “one can’t serve both God and mammon”). The Bible also calls this being lukewarm­—being neither hot nor cold, and YHVH hates this as well (Rev 3:15–16). Such an individual, if he isn’t careful, can find himself feeding spiritually more from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil rather than the tree of life.

YHVH lays out the highest spiritual ideal for Israel: to be wisdom in the sight of the nations (Duet 4:6), to be the head and not the tail, to be the greatest and not the least, and to be the lender and not the borrower. Such a position of status is possible thanks to following the Torah. He wants the best for his people, but achieving such is conditional on their obeying him. Many people make claim to believe in the God of the Bible, to love him and many even claim to follow and to obey him—just ask them! But in reality, do they? What are the fruits of their lives? Their true spiritual status is based on what they do, not what they profess with their mouths!

Deuteronomy affirms the sufficiency of Torah. The Torah is the Word of Elohim and nothing more needs to be added to it. It is the full revelation of YHVH when it says not to add to the Word of Elohim (Deut 4:212:32). It is the bedrock of the Scriptures and the bedrock of truth. If Torah is the bedrock of YHVH’s word, then the Ten Commandments are the cornerstone in that foundation of truth, which Moses reiterates in Deuteronomy five. The rest of the Scriptures are just commentary or elucidations on Torah, or admonitions for YHVH’s people to return to Torah. The truths of the Testimony of Yeshua (the New Testament) stand firmly on the Torah and never once contradicts Torah. The Torah is the flower bud that contains the full flower, while the Testimony of Yeshua is the open flower in its full glory.

Torah keeps YHVH’s people on the straight and narrow path­ and from falling into the ditches on either side of the road. Those ditches are legalism and license, the letter and the spirit of the law (Deut 5:32).

Deuteronomy stresses man’s need to fear Elohim. Though loving, personal, merciful, and full of bountiful goodness, he is at the same time a consuming fire of jealousy, wrath and judgment against those who disobey him, and he will bring all men to account for their wickedness and sin (Deut 4:246:159:3). He warns his people not to tempt or to push him (Deut 6:16). He is also a consuming fire against Israel’s enemies (9:3).

The absolute preeminence of YHVH is stressed again and again in Deuteronomy.Putting him first in our lives starts with fearing him always (Deut 6:24), and doing what is right and good in his sight that you may be blessed and live victoriously (Deut 6:18). All this is based on YHVH’s love for his people and vice versa.

Deuteronomy defines and elucidates the true meaning of love. The Shema of Deuteronomy 6:5 declares that man is to love YHVH 1000 percent. Likewise, YHVH set his love unconditionally upon his people (Deut 7:7–9). That love is inviolate for 40,000 years, or 1000 generations (Deut 7:9).

Deuteronomy stresses the importance of relationship. Numerous passages in Deuteronomy enumerate the importance of relationships at all levels: between humans and between humans and Elohim. The horizontal and vertical aspects of love come together at the seven annual biblical feasts where YHVH’s people are commanded to gather together where he has placed his name and at the times he has set to celebrate and rejoice before him (Deut 1214:23ff16:1ff).

Deuteronomy constantly repeats and stresses Israel’s history and emphasizes the importance of understanding our history including both the defeats and victories of our forefathers. History is a great teacher, and many mistakes can be avoided by having a thorough understanding of and a healthy respect for history, and by learning the lessons of history.

Deuteronomy instructs men to circumcise or cut way the barriers of their hearts(Deut 10:1630:6; see also Lev 26:41). Deuteronomy is the first place YHVH commands his people to circumcise their hearts.

Deuteronomy emphasizes the need to teach Torah to our children. We are not only to be concerned about our past history, but to be future-minded people also by passing on our legacy (YHVH’s Torah instructions from heaven) to future generations (Deut 6:711:19).

Deuteronomy is a song or poem where the Creator passionately woos his creation. It almost sometimes seems that YHVH is pleading with his people to follow him, to keep his commands, to enter into a forever love relationship with him so that they can be blessed abundantly and victorious, though he forcefully stresses their need for him, the curses that will come upon them if they turn away from him, the fact remains that the choice to follow him is still up to them (Deut 11:2630:15). The only thing over which man remains sovereign is his own heart; therefore, man has to choose to love and serve YHVH with his whole heart.

 

Deuteronomy 30—”Return to Me!”

Deuteronomy 30:1, It shall come to pass. This is an end time prophecy concerning the people of YHVH.

Deuteronomy 30:1–5; 31:16, Returning to Elohim. Israel’s departure from her covenantal agreements with YHVH was assured. Moses prophesied it. But repentance (verse 2) was always an option—an open door of return back to right relationship with YHVH. Have you repented of straying from his Torah-commands whether out of ignorance or purposely?

Deuteronomy 30:2, You will return unto YHVH. The word return is shuv/CUA, which means “to come back, turn back.” Bear in mind that one cannot turn back to what one never had in the first place. This prophecy says that those who YHVH has scattered because of their disobedience to his Torah-covenants will return to him. To whom is this referring? In Hosea 3:4–5, we find similar language:

For the children of Israel shall abide many days without a king, and without a prince, and without a sacrifice, and without an image, and without an ephod, and without teraphim: afterward shall the children of Israel return, and seek YHVH their Elohim, and David their king; and shall fear YHVH and his goodness in the latter days. (emphasis added)

Relate this to Revelation 18:4 and Malachi 4:4–6 along with Jeremiah 16:19 (read verses 15–21 for context).

Let us not forget that, “Ideal repentance is motivated by the desire to return to [Elohim], not because one seeks to rid oneself of suffering, and benefit from Divine blessings” (The ArtScroll Stone Edition Chumash p, 1091).

With all your heart. Moses makes the heart of man a major focal point in this chapter (see also vv. 6, 10, 17. The subject here is about returning to Elohim after having turned away from him, but this can only happen when the heart of man is willing disposed to do so, and not a minute before that. Repentance is all conditional on the heart of each individual person.

This scriptural passage presents the view that if YHVH’s people will return to him with all their heart and soul from the places he has scattered them because of their disobedience and that of their forefathers (v. 2) that he will begin to gather them together in their foreign lands (vv. 3–4). Eventually this will result in his people returning to the promised land of their inheritance (v. 5). In the process, after his people have inclined their hearts to following YHVH, he will respond by circumcising their hearts and that of their children to love him more, so they can walk in harmony with him by keeping his Torah commands, so he can bless them. This is all predicated upon his people making a choice to obey him (v. 19). Once the choice is made, he will pour out his grace upon his people, so they can continue to obey him with all their hearts. 

Deuteronomy 30:3, From all the nations to which YHVH … has scattered you. The Scriptures over and over again record that the house of Israel (Ephraim) would be scattered over the face of the whole earth (Ezek 34:6, 12; 36:19; 37:21; John 11:52), and that YHVH will regather them in the end times and return them to the land of Israel (Deut 30:3–5). Deuteronomy 32:26 says, “I said, I would scatter them into the corners …” The ArtScroll Stone Edition Chumash comments, “This refers to the exile of the ten tribes who were scattered to an unknown place where they have never been heard from again.

On the phrase of the same verse, “I would make the remembrance of them to cease from among men. …” the same Chumash states, “This is a reference to the exile of Judah and Benjamin, the Davidic kingdom from which today’s known Jews are descended.” It goes on to say that though nations would seek to destroy Israel entirely, YHVH would never allow Israel to become extinct or disappear. Israel’s perpetual existence is a constant reminder of YHVH’s plan and eventually Israel will thrive and fulfill YHVH’s intention for it” (pp. 1105–1106). 

Nineteenth orthodox Jewish scholar S. R. Hirsch in his commentary on the same verse translates the phrase, “I would scatter them into the corners …” as, “I would relegate them into a corner …,” and then says that the Hebrew here refers to the “extreme end of a surface, the side or corner ….” He, too, relates this fate to the Ten Tribes who would be scattered “to some distant corner of the world, where, left entirely to themselves, they could mature towards serious reflection and ultimate return to Me …” (p. 650). 

Some in the Christians deny that these Scriptures passages pertain to the ten tribes of the Northern Kingdom of Israel and instead insist that they are speaking about Judah (the Jews) only. They insist that the return of the Jews to the land of Israel starting in 1948 is the fulfillment of these prophecies and the ten tribes of Israel are lost forever. How can this a correct understanding in light of the Scriptures and the Jewish sages interpretations of those scriptures that states again and again that the ten tribes will return at the end of the age to be reunited with the Jews under the reign of Messiah Son of David (Ezek 37:15–28)?

Deuteronomy 30:6, Circumcise your heart.Obedience to YHVH is all about the heart, all about love and relationship between him and us. Are his commandments too difficult to keep? (See verses 11–14.) Ultimately obedience is about our making choices. What are those choices and what are both the long-term and short-term results of those choices? (Compare verses 29:27–28; 30:9, 20 with 30:15–16, and relate this to what Yeshua told the rich, young ruler in Matthew 19:16–19.)

Deuteronomy 30:6, Will circumcise your heart…and of your seed. This is a prophecy concerning the Renewed Covenant, to which Jeremiah makes reference (Jer 31:31, 33) as does Ezekiel (Ezek 36:26–27), and the writer of Hebrews (Heb 8:8).

 

Deuteronomy 27—Ye stiffnecked “Christian” rebels, why do you refuse to obey the Word of Elohim?

Deuteronomy 27:2–10, Set up for yourselves. Immediately upon crossing the Jordan and upon entering the Promised Land, YHVH instructed the Israelites to set up a stone monument containing the Torah and to construct an altar for burnt sacrifices. What is the significance of these and why was it so important that this be Israel’s first order of business upon entering the Land of Promise? Matthew Henry states in his commentary that the Word of YHVH (the Torah) and prayer (the altar) must always accompany each other. Discuss this and relate it to Psalms 51:16–19 and Hosea 6:6 and the believer’s spiritual walk. Also, why did YHVH command the Israelites to construct the altar of uncut and whole stones? To whom does this prophetically point? (Read Dan 2:35, 45; Ps 118:22; Matt 21:42; Luke 20:17.) The stones of the altar were rough and uncut. To whom does this point who became our Living (spiritual) Altar and Sacrifice? (See Isa 53:2.)

Mount Ebal

Deuteronomy 27:2, 4, 8, Set up great stones. On Mount Ebal on whole, un-cut stones, the Israelites were to write the Torah-law and then coat these stones with lime plaster. Elohim also told them to build an altar there where they were to make burnt and peace offerings. Why was the Torah written on stones on Mount Ebal—the mountain of the curses? Why not on Mount Gerizim, the mountain of blessing? Certainly this cannot mean that the Torah is a curse, for Paul calls it kadosh (holy), just and good in Romans 7:12. What could these stones represent symbolically? First, this symbology tells us that those who don’t follow the Torah will come under a curse, for to violate it is sin (1 John 3:4) and the wages of sin is death (Rom 6:23) and all have sinned (Rom 3:23). Second, Who is the Chief Cornerstone, the Stone the builders rejected (Ps 118:22; Matt 21:42; Acts 4:11; Eph 2:20), and the stone cut without hands (Dan 2:34)? What was the purpose of these offerings and to whom do the burnt and peace offerings point? Could white lime plaster symbolically represent the saints, the bride of Messiah, being clothed in robes of righteousness (see Rev 19:7–8)? Who is  the King of Righteousness through whom redeemed sinners become righteous? Who is clothed in robes of righteousness once their sins have been atoned for? (Read Heb 7:2, 20–28 cp. Rev 19:7–8 cp. 3:5, 18; Isa 61:10.) Who was wounded for our ­transgressions and bruised for our iniquities, had laid on him the iniquities of us all, and was made an offering for sin (Isa 53:5,  6,  10)? Who was the Living Torah, the Word of Elohim made flesh (John 1:1, 14)? Who redeemed us from the curses of the law (Gal 3:13), which came upon us as a result of our sinning (sin is the violation of YHVH’s law, 1 John 3:4), and thus bringing a death penalty upon us (the wages of sin is death, Rom 6:23)? Is it now making sense why the Torah and the altar were placed on Mount Ebal? This is another one of the many prophetic shadow pictures in the Torah pointing to the redemptive work of Yeshua at the cross. Give glory to Elohim who knows the beginning from the end and to Yeshua the Messiah, the Lamb of Elohim, who was slain from the foundation of the world! Does this strengthen your faith that Yeshua is indeed the Messiah, the Lamb of Elohim slain from the foundation of the earth? Who else could have fulfilled these prophecies?

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Deuteronomy 21–25—The Torah pertains to everyone in all areas of life

Boy reading from a gevil parchment scroll. This one is written on goat skin.

This section of the Torah (Deut 21:10–25:19) contains 72 commandments, which is more than in any other Torah portion. In this passage there are rules pertaining to all aspects of human relations showing that the “Torah deals with the real world. It does not present a world where all people get along with one another or rush to take care of one another’s property. Instead, it ‘takes into account the grim reality that people do not achieve the desired observance of “you shall not hate others in your heart”’” (A Torah Commentary For Our Time vol. 3, p. 150). 

In studying this portion, one can easily miss the point of a particular command if one views it strictly in its pashat (most literal) meaning. For these commands to have relevance in our day, one must view them as principles that have a broad range of applications. The specific examples Torah gives are merely representative of one of but many life situations to which the principle behind the example could apply. Keeping this in mind, this Torah portion will give you much to ponder pertaining to your day-to-day walk (or halakhah).

In these chapters we see a plethora of laws concerning many seemingly small details regarding human life. Many people in the church have the tendency to broadly sweep away these commandments with such dismissive cliches as, “We’re now under grace …” or “We’re not under the law anymore …..” But please observe how many of the civil laws of our nation regulating actions between various members of society are based upon YHVH’s laws found in the Torah. 

As many of us make our way back to a more biblically-based lifestyle and orientation, we begin to see that (a) YHVH cares about the details of our lives and (b) these laws, while sometimes hard to understand, are for our own well-being and blessing. Do you still nurse a “pick and choose” or “have it your own way” mentality with regard to YHVH’s biblical commandments choosing to follow the ones you want and making excuses why you can’t (or don’t want to) follow the rest? By doing so, what blessings are you depriving yourself of, and how are you hindering your love relationship with YHVH?

Some of the laws in these chapters may be hard to observe nowadays. With others, due to our church background, we may have the tendency to spiritualize them away, thus, in essence, rendering them of non‑effect in our lives and thereby placing ourselves above YHVH’s Torah-law and thus becoming a law unto ourselves. Is this not humanism: every man doing what is right in his own eyes instead of obeying YHVH whatever the cost? Who is the Master of your life? You or YHVH? 

How do you view laws about women wearing men-type clothing, wearing fringes on the corners of your garments, mixed certain types of fibers in clothing, lending without interest, caring for the widows and orphans, personal hygiene, family purity laws (e.g. men not having sexual relations with their wives during their monthly cycles), removing blood from all meat before eating it, men wearing beards, faithfully tithing, following the biblical dietary laws, and observing YHVH’s Sabbaths (weekly and annual), etc.? These are lifestyle-changing laws, many of which go contrary to the mores of our society. 

Are we not called to be a kadosh, set-apart, special and peculiar (i.e. treasured) people before YHVH? Following these laws to the best of our ability will help us to be the people that YHVH has called us to be. What progress are you making to bring your life into conformity to his standards of righteousness?