Beth Elohim Messianic Synagogue
Parashah #46: ‘Ekev (Because) D’varim (Deuteronomy) 7:12-11:25
Haftarah: Yesha’yahu (Isaiah) 49:14-51:3
B’rit Chadashah: James 5:7-11
170 times! 170 times is the number of times in the Old and Refreshed/Renewed Covenants that G-d or His prophets and apostles refer to the need to follow His instructions. This is the if then relationship between loving obedience and observance (works) directed by G-d in tablets of stone that will results in salvation, from His presence for an eternity. So, if you think I sound like a nagging spouse, just remember 170 times the issue of obedience is addressed by our G-d. So it follows where we are going to place our focus today.
We need to get the translation of the Hebrew as close to the actual writing before we can move on. Let’s start with the first sentence of the parashah. In the Complete Jewish Bible (Sterns, 1998) D’varim 7:12 reads “ Because you are listening to these rulings, keeping and obeying them, Adonai your G-d will keep with you the covenant and mercy that he swore to your ancestors.” In the Hebrew-English Old Testament (Zondervan Publishing), it reads “ Wherefore it shall come to pass, if ye harken to these judgments, and keep, and do them, that the L-rd thy G-d shall keep unto thee the covenant and the mercy which he swore unto thy fathers.” Going to the Interlinear Hebrew-Greek-English Bible (Green, 1976) we read “ And it shall be because you hear these ordinances, and keep and do them, that Jehovah your G-d shall keep with you the covenant and the mercy which he swore to your fathers.” Finally in the Septuagint we read “ And it shall come to pass when ye shall have heard these ordinances and shall have kept and done them, that the L-rd thy G-d shall keep for thee the covenant and the mercy. Which he swore to your fathers.”
You may ask “so what is the big deal how this scripture is translated? It makes a significant difference, especially considering Hebrew is a dynamic language and the tense of the verbiage is everything in understanding the intent of the scripture. In this case we must discern the difference between Stearns translation that indicated the Israelites are already keeping G-d’s commands, listening to, and obeying them. In the Hebrew-English Old Testament we see a conditional statement including the word “if” indicating that the observance of G-d’s commands is not a given. In the Hebrew-Greek English Bible it is states that because the Israelites hear, keep, and do the ordinances of G-d. In the Septuagint there is a new translation; that when the ordinances are heard and kept. So, we have because, if, and when used in these translations. We must ask ourselves how do we choose the correct translation? One translation indicates the Israelites are already observant; another indicates a choice to be made using the word “if” as a conjunction, and still others indicate that the ordinances and commands have not yet been received.
To solve this dilemma, we must look at other scripture to place the course of event in perspective. The 10 commands had already been given (Deut. 6-21) so at least the basics had been made known to the people. This eliminates Stearns translation and the Hebrew-English Bible translation, and the Septuagint translation. We are left with the Hebrew-English Old Testament translation that places the conditional word “if” in the sentence. What support do we have that this is the correct translation? Again, we go to other scripture. Back to the first sentence in this parashah we find that 170 times G-d presents before us a condition that will place us in the category of a true believer defined by YHVH/Yahshua himself throughout His Torah. If we follow Deuteronomy 6:4-11, then we will be considered one of His people, part of the new priesthood described in 1 Peter 2:9, and the servants of G-d. If we rebel and disregard the commands of G-d we read of the consequences, some of which we are beginning to experience as a rebellious, stiff-necked nation and world.
We have another scripture in this parashah that also supports the “if-then” relationship G-d offers the Israelites which applies to anyone who wants to be counted as a true believer. In Deuteronomy 11:13 we read “ So if you listen carefully to my mitzvot (commands) which I am giving you today, to love Adonai your G-d and serve Him with all your heart and all your being, then [says Adonai] I will give your land its rain at the right seasons, including the early fall rains and the late spring rains; so that you can gather in your wheat, new wine and olive oil,; and I will give your fields ;grass for your livestock with the result that you will eat and be satisfied.” This recitation is a reiteration of what had recently been done. The people had already received the commands of G-d and now they were being admonished to follow them. So, we can see that the “if” condition translated in the Hebrew- English Old Testament is consistent with the remainder of G-d’s Torah.
The crowing scripture to pull this concept together is found in Deuteronomy 10:12: “ So now, Israel, all that Adonai your G-d asks from you is to fear Adonai your G-d; follow all his ways, love him and serve Adonai your G-d with all your heart and all your being; to obey for your own good, the mitzvot and regulations of Adonai which I am giving you today.”
I hope this dissection of scripture helps to reiterate the importance of not taking one translation or one opinion to heart without further investigation. If we love YHVH/Yahshua as we profess, should we not find joy in taking the time to delve into His Word carefully and methodically with a humble heart, asking for knowledge and wisdom to be used for His glory?
Haftarah: Yesha’yahu (Isaiah) 49:14-51:3
This is the second of the seven “prophecies of comfort” read between the Fast of the Ninth of Av and Rosh Hashanah. Our Haftarah begins with the words, “The prophet guarantees that a new and improved B’nai Yisrael will soon be united in the Land of Yisrael”, and YHVH will “turn her ruins into a paradise and her wilderness into a garden of YHVH.” Exile in any form does not mean divorce or a broken covenant. Israel was divorced at one time by G-d (Israel being the 10 Northern tribes) (Jer. 3:8) and Judah was punished (the Southern kingdom). We also know that a man cannot remarry a divorced wife. But G-d in the role of the Son, Yahshua, will marry a repentant Israel (all true believers) as the Bride of Yahshua mentioned in Revelation. The bride is NOT the Christian Church. Israel has not been replaced by Christianity as taught in that religion. G-d is One, a complex unity and not a Trinity. He manifests Himself in the context of what He wants to do. He is able to express Himself as Father (G-d) and Son (Yahshua) at the same time for He created the universe and can manipulate natural laws any way he wishes.
B’rit Chadasha: Ya’akov (James) 5:7-11
7 Be patient therefore, brethren, unto the coming of the L-rd. Behold, the husbandman waiteth for the precious fruit of the earth, and hath long patience for it, until he receives the early and latter rain.
8 Be ye also patient; stablish your hearts: for the coming of the L-rd draweth nigh.
9 Grudge not one against another, brethren, lest ye be condemned: behold, the judge standeth before the door.
10 Take, my brethren, the prophets, who have spoken20in the name of the L-rd, for an example of suffering affliction, and of patience.
11 Behold, we count them happy which endure. Ye have heard of the patience of Job and have seen the end of the L-rd; that the L-rd is very pitiful, and of tender mercy.
James continues the thought of chapter 4: 13-17. The reference to the early and latter rain is the acharit-hayamim (“the end of days”). The verse refers to the climatic pattern of Israel where the bulk of the rain comes between October and March. The early rain (yoreh) comes in October and the latter rain, which is rare, comes in April (malkosh) A spiritual application of this term is that the early rain (yoreh) came at Shavuot (Acts 2) and the malkosh is coming soon at the L-rd’s return.
Verse 9 repeats the warning of 4:11-12.
Verses 10-11 is an example of suffering and mistreatment and being patient giving us an example of the prophets and the perseverance of Job. Here we encounter the phrase “and you have seen the end of the L-rd.” We should understand that this phrase means “and you know what the purpose of YHVH was.” What is that purpose? To justify the ways of YHVH to man! As Milton wrote in his “paradise Lost,” Job’s trouble began when YHVH chose to answer hasatan’s challenge by permitting him to touch Job’s possessions and person, except that he could not take Job’s life. Job preserved in the face of all his losses and pain. In the end YHVH vindicated Himself and proved to Job and to us that only YHVH has the power and wisdom to deal with HaSatan. We are forever dependent upon YHVH Elohim in our spiritual battles and for our very existence.
“And you will know with your heart that like a man who rebukes his son, so too, YHVH rebukes you.” (8:5)
Rabbi Shimshon Rafael Hirsch asks why the verse uses the term “with you heart”, as opposed to the more common term “in your heart?” He explains that there is an important difference between the two. To know “your heart” is to understand something by using your heart as an organ of perception of thought. However, to know “with your heart” is not just to understand, but also to take that understanding with you in whatever you do. An Israelite is meant to take the experiences of reward and punishment that YHVH has given him and carry them forward throughout his life.
Rabbi Tamah Davis-Hart