Shoftim שֹׁפְטִים - Judges
Haftarah: Isaiah 51:12-52:12
Apostolic Reading: John 14:9-20
Reading #7 - Deuteronomy 20:10–21:9
This is where the instructions from Hashem get difficult. The Israelites are about to enter the Promised Land and Hashem is instructing them how to take it from the pagan worshipers. All so that, “...that they not teach you to follow all their abominations (verse 20:18).” We may not understand why total cities had to be wiped out, but Hashem has His purposes. This is hard. But, we either believe our one true Elohim knows the Way or He does not. And I believe He does. He does not want His people, and those who join Him -- to be contaminated. He doesn’t want to lose them to false religions. He wants them to only worship Him. And He seems to want to “decontaminate” the Land. It was like He was reclaiming what was His, before evil took it over. Something to study and ponder.
Verses 10-12 describe what seems to be a fair plan of attack for the Israelites in the new Land. They are first to go to the inhabitants and proclaim a peace treaty. However, there is a contingency. If the resident people agree to peace, then they are to become forced laborers for the Israelites. We know from previous Torah verses that slaves were to be treated fairly and generously. I’m sure this was going to be true for these “forced laborers” also. If the people did not agree to a peaceful takeover, then they would be attacked, but spare the livestock, women and children. Everything and everyone else would be wiped out.
I guess my challenge to you today about all of this is to think about your disagreements with others. Do you offer a “peace plan” to them? If we are to glean from today’s study, I think it is important to think about approaching people we are having difficulty with -- with a peaceful approach. Come to them first with kind and generous solutions, instead of “fighting”. An additional challenge. Start thinking about the "Olam Haba" the "World to Come". This will NOT be a place of fighting, killing - sin. It will be a place of total shalom peace. That is hope we have for the future.
Reading #7 - Deuteronomy 20:10–21:9
Deuteronomy 20:10 When you draw near to a city to fight against it, then proclaim peace to it. 11 It shall be, if it gives you answer of peace and opens to you, then it shall be that all the people who are found therein shall become forced laborers to you, and shall serve you. 12 If it will make no peace with you, but will make war against you, then you shall besiege it. 13 When Hashem your Elohim delivers it into your hand, you shall strike every male of it with the edge of the sword; 14 but the women, the little ones, the livestock, and all that is in the city, even all its plunder, you shall take for plunder for yourself. You may use the plunder of your enemies, which Hashem your Elohim has given you. 15 Thus you shall do to all the cities which are very far off from you, which are not of the cities of these nations. 16 But of the cities of these peoples that Hashem your Elohim gives you for an inheritance, you shall save alive nothing that breathes; 17 but you shall utterly destroy them: the Hittite, the Amorite, the Canaanite, the Perizzite, the Hivite, and the Jebusite, as Hashem your Elohim has commanded you; 18 that they not teach you to follow all their abominations, which they have done for their gods; so would you sin against Hashem your Elohim 19 When you shall besiege a city a long time, in making war against it to take it, you shall not destroy its trees by wielding an ax against them; for you may eat of them. You shall not cut them down, for is the tree of the field man, that it should be besieged by you? 20 Only the trees that you know are not trees for food, you shall destroy and cut them down. You shall build bulwarks against the city that makes war with you, until it falls.
21:1 If someone is found slain in the land which Hashem your Elohim gives you to possess, lying in the field, and it isn’t known who has struck him, 2 then your elders and your judges shall come out, and they shall measure to the cities which are around him who is slain. 3 It shall be that the elders of the city which is nearest to the slain man shall take a heifer of the herd, which hasn’t been worked with and which has not drawn in the yoke. 4 The elders of that city shall bring the heifer down to a valley with running water, which is neither plowed nor sown, and shall break the heifer’s neck there in the valley. 5 The priests the sons of Levi shall come near, for them Hashem your Elohim has chosen to minister to him, and to bless in Hashem’s name; and according to their word shall every controversy and every assault be decided. 6 All the elders of that city which is nearest to the slain man shall wash their hands over the heifer whose neck was broken in the valley. 7 They shall answer and say, “Our hands have not shed this blood, neither have our eyes seen it. 8 Forgive, Hashem, your people Israel, whom you have redeemed, and don’t allow innocent blood among your people Israel.” The blood shall be forgiven them. 9 So you shall put away the innocent blood from among you, when you shall do that which is right in Hashem’s eyes.
In verse 52:8 we read of a wonderful prophecy, “Your watchmen lift up their voice. Together they sing; for they shall see eye to eye when Hashem returns to Zion.” What a great day will that be when Hashem’s glory reigns from Jerusalem! And how wonderful that mankind will be seeing “eye to eye”. That means they will be in agreement. As far as I can tell, mankind has not been in agreement - ever. This is only what can happen in the Olam Haba. No wonder everyone begins to sing. There will be awesome worship when people are together in unity. How good and pleasant that will be!
What a wonderful promise in verse 52:12, “...for Hashem will go before you; and the Elohim of Israel will be your rear guard.” This is something we can believe in today. That Hashem does go before us, and He is also our rear guard. This is our comfort. He really is ahead of us and behind us. Protecting us wherever we go, and watching “our back”. My challenge to you is to spend a minute thinking about how Hashem watches over you. How at times when you may think He isn’t there, He really is. How He really does care about us and protects us. If you are going through a difficult time or even a good time, praise Him for His care and protection.
Haftarah: Isaiah 51:12-52:12
“I, even I, am He who comforts you.
Who are you, that you are afraid of man who shall die,
and of the son of man who will be made as grass?
13 Have you forgotten Hashem your Maker,
who stretched out the heavens,
and laid the foundations of the earth?
Do you live in fear continually all day because of the fury of the oppressor,
when he prepares to destroy?
Where is the fury of the oppressor?
14 The captive exile will speedily be freed.
He will not die and go down into the pit.
His bread won’t fail.
15 For I am Hashem your Elohiim, who stirs up the sea
so that its waves roar.
Hashem of Armies is His name.
16 I have put My words in your mouth
and have covered you in the shadow of My hand,
that I may plant the heavens,
and lay the foundations of the earth,
and tell Zion, ‘You are my people.’”
17 Awake, awake!
Stand up, Jerusalem,
you who have drunk from Hashem’s hand the cup of His wrath.
You have drunken the bowl of the cup of staggering,
and drained it.
18 There is no one to guide her among all the sons to whom she has given birth;
and there is no one who takes her by the hand among all the sons whom she has brought up.
19 These two things have happened to you—
who will grieve with you?—
desolation and destruction,
and famine and the sword.
How can I comfort you?
20 Your sons have fainted.
They lie at the head of all the streets,
like an antelope in a net.
They are full of Hashem’s wrath,
the rebuke of your Elohim.
21 Therefore now hear this, you afflicted,
and drunken, but not with wine:
22 Your Hashem Adonai,
your Elohim who pleads the cause of His people, says,
“Behold, I have taken out of your hand the cup of staggering,
even the bowl of the cup of my wrath.
You will not drink it any more.
23 I will put it into the hand of those who afflict you,
who have said to your soul, ‘Bow down, that we may walk over you;’
and you have laid your back as the ground,
like a street to those who walk over.”
52:1 Awake, awake! Put on your strength, Zion.
Put on your beautiful garments, Jerusalem, the holy city:
for from now on the uncircumcised and the unclean will no more come into you.
2 Shake yourself from the dust!
Arise, sit up, Jerusalem!
Release yourself from the bonds of your neck, captive daughter of Zion!
3 For Hashem says, “You were sold for nothing;
and you will be redeemed without money.”
4 For Adonai Hashem says:
“My people went down at the first into Egypt to live there:
and the Assyrian has oppressed them without cause.
5 “Now therefore, what do I do here,” says Hashem,
“seeing that my people are taken away for nothing?
Those who rule over them mock,” says Hashem,
“and My name is blasphemed continually all day long.
6 Therefore my people shall know My name.
Therefore they shall know in that day that I am he who speaks.
Behold, it is I.”
7 How beautiful on the mountains are the feet of him who brings good news,
who publishes peace,
who brings good news,
who proclaims salvation,
who says to Zion, “Your Elohim reigns!”
8 Your watchmen lift up their voice.
Together they sing;
for they shall see eye to eye when Hashem returns to Zion.
9 Break out into joy!
Sing together, you waste places of Jerusalem;
for Hashem has comforted his people.
He has redeemed Jerusalem.
10 Hashem has made His holy arm bare in the eyes of all the nations.
All the ends of the earth have seen the salvation of our Elohim.
11 Depart! Depart! Go out from there! Touch no unclean thing!
Go out from among her!
Cleanse yourselves, you who carry Hashem’s vessels.
12 For you shall not go out in haste,
neither shall you go by flight:
for Hashem will go before you;
and the Elohim of Israel will be your rear guard.
In verse 10 we read, “Don’t you believe that I am in the Father, and the Father in me? The words that I tell you, I speak not from Myself; but the Father who lives in Me does His works.” Many different Christians have different views on the deity of Yeshua. I believe He is an “emanation” of Hashem. Hashem is Elohim of the universes, of everything. How can we possibly understand Him? So, He generously sends His “only begotten Son” so that we can understand Hashem better. It is almost like He presents us a way to get to know Him and His heart -- through Yeshua. That’s what I believe, what do you believe?
In verse 15 we read, “If you love Me, keep My Commandments.” That’s pretty simple. Even though the Christian church teaches something different. Yeshua consistently taught Torah, lived Torah and was Torah. If we are to “follow” Yeshua, then that’s what we are to do. You are to follow and obey Torah. It is very clear. And Yeshua always pointed to the Father, and encouraged people to return their hearts to Him. The challenge today is that if you are following Yeshua, then think about committing to Israel and to Torah. Join them. It is all about Hashem and His Torah.
Apostolic Reading: John 14:9-20
14:9 Yeshua said to him, “Have I been with you such a long time, and do you not know me, Philip? He who has seen Me has seen the Father. How do you say, ‘Show us the Father?’ 10 Don’t you believe that I am in the Father, and the Father in me? The words that I tell you, I speak not from Myself; but the Father who lives in Me does His works. 11 Believe Me that I am in the Father, and the Father in Me; or else believe Me for the very works’ sake. 12 Most certainly I tell you, he who believes in Me, the works that I do, he will do also; and he will do greater works than these, because I am going to my Father. 13 Whatever you will ask in My name, I will do it, that the Father may be glorified in the Son. 14 If you will ask anything in My name, I will do it. 15 If you love Me, keep My commandments. 16 I will pray to the Father, and He will give you another Counselor, that He may be with you forever: 17 the Spirit of truth, whom the world can’t receive; for it doesn’t see Him and doesn’t know Him. You know Him, for He lives with you, and will be in you. 18 I will not leave you orphans. I will come to you. 19 Yet a little while, and the world will see Me no more; but you will see Me. Because I live, you will live also. 20 In that day you will know that I am in my Father, and you in Me, and I in you.