christine's bible study

The grass withers, the flower fades, but the word of our God stands forever. Isa 40:8

deuteronomy 11:26-16:17, parashah re’eh (see)

I study the Torah every year using the teaching tools of Scripture. (Why?)

Today is the 44th Sabbath of the annual Torah cycle. The Torah reading (parashah) is Re’eh (see), Deu 11:26-16:17.

The paragraph divisions for Re’eh are as follows:

Deu 11:26-28 {s} Blessing for obedience + curse for disobedience
Deu 11:29-12:19 {s} Israel shall worship YHVH in the way He commands
Deu 12:20-28 {s} Ditto, even when you must travel some distance to the LORD’s place
Deu 12:29-32 {p} Israel shall not serve YHVH in the manner of the nations
Deu 13:1-5 {s} Death for the prophet who tries to turn Israel from YHVH
Deu 13:6-11 {s} Death for the loved one who tries to turn Israel from YHVH
Deu 13:12-18 {s} Death for the city in Israel who turns from YHVH
Deu 14:1-2 {s} Do not mourn for the dead in the manner of the nations
Deu 14:3-8 {s} Do not eat unclean animals
Deu 14:9-10 {s} Do not eat unclean sea creatures
Deu 14:11-21 {p} Do not eat unclean flying things + do not boil a kid in its mother’s milk
Deu 14:22-27 {s} Annual tithe is YHVH’s
Deu 14:28-29 {s} Tithe of the third year is YHVH’s
Deu 15:1-6 {s} Seventh (Sabbath) year release of debts
Deu 15:7-11 {s} Lend generously to the poor even when the Sabbath year approaches
Deu 15:12-18 {p} Seventh (Sabbath) year release of servants
Deu 15:19-23 {p} Firstborn are holy to YHVH
Deu 16:1-8 {s} Passover is holy to YHVH
Deu 16:9-12 {p} Weeks (Shavuot) is holy to YHVH
Deu 16:13-17 {s} Tabernacles is holy to YHVH

Last week we put forward the idea that, instead of Deuteronomy just consisting of a list of random laws, Moses is explaining this Torah (Deu 1:5), and the Torah that he is explaining, is the meaning of keeping the Ten Commandments. The Lord did not give Israel 613 laws. He gave Israel Ten Laws, and then explained what it meant to keep those Ten. Anyone who studies Moses’ speech following the list of the Ten Commandments in Deu 5, can see how the Ten are being expounded upon. These are my notes on the explanations, based on the Hebrew paragraph divisions given by the Spirit of God:

EXPLANATION OF THE FIRST COMMANDMENT: WORSHIP YHVH ONLY (through Deu 11:25)

Deu 6:4-9 {s} Listen to YHVH’s commandments
Deu 6:10-15 {s} Pay careful heed to YHVH’s commandments
Deu 6:16-19 {s} Observe YHVH’s commandments
Deu 6:20-25 {s} Teach YHVH’s commandments to your children
Deu 7:1-11 {p} YHVH has set His love upon Israel
YHVH desires Israel to obey His commandments because He loves Israel!

Deu 7:12-16 {s} Obedience to YHVH’s commandments = life and blessing for Israel
Deu 7:17-26 {p} Disobedience to YHVH = death and destruction for the nations
Obedience means life and blessing + disobedience means death and destruction

Deu 8:1-18 {p} Remember YHVH, obey Him, and live
Deu 8:19-20 {p} Forget YHVH, disobey Him, and die
Deu 9:1-29 {p} Israel cannot enter the Land by self- righteousness
Deu 10:1-11 {p} Israel enters the Land by the mediator of the covenant

Deu 10:12-11:9 {s} Fear, love and obey YHVH always for our good
Deu 11:10-12 {s} The goodness of the Land
Deu 11:13-21 {s} Listen, pay heed, observe, and teach YHVH’s commandments
Deu 11:22-25 {s} Carefully keep His commandments that Israel may possess the Land
Deu 11:26-28 {s} Blessing for obedience + curse for disobedience

EXPLANATION OF THE 2nd –3rd COMMANDMENTS: DO NOT PROFANE YHVH’s WORSHIP OR NAME (through Deu 14:29)

Deu 11:29-12:19 {s} Israel shall worship YHVH in the way He commands
Deu 12:20-28 {s} Ditto, even when you must travel some distance to the LORD’s place
Deu 12:29-32 {p} Israel shall not serve YHVH in the manner of the nations
(The strong paragraph begins in Deu 10:12) Israel shall worship YHVH in the manner He commands, for her good, to possess the Land

Deu 13:1-5 {s} Death for the prophet who tries to turn Israel from YHVH
Deu 13:6-11 {s} Death for the loved one who tries to turn Israel from YHVH
Deu 13:12-18 {s} Death for the city in Israel who turns from YHVH
Deu 14:1-2 {s} Do not mourn for the dead in the manner of the nations
Deu 14:3-8 {s} Do not eat unclean animals
Deu 14:9-10 {s} Do not eat unclean sea creatures
Deu 14:11-21 {p} Do not eat unclean flying things + do not boil a kid in its mother’s milk
Israel shall not turn from YHVH to go after idols

Deu 14:22-27 {s} Annual tithe is YHVH’s
Deu 14:28-29 {s} Tithe of the third year is YHVH’s

EXPLANATION OF THE FOURTH COMMANDMENT: HONOR THE SABBATH (through Deu 16:17)

Deu 15:1-6 {s} Seventh (Sabbath) year release of debts
Deu 15:7-11 {s} Lend generously to the poor even when the Sabbath year approaches
Deu 15:12-18 {p} Seventh (Sabbath) year release of servants
(Strong paragraph begins in Deu 14:22) The tithe and Sabbath year of release are holy to YHVH

Deu 15:19-23 {p} Firstborn are holy to YHVH

Deu 16:1-8 {s} Passover is holy to YHVH
Deu 16:9-12 {p} Weeks is holy to YHVH
The spring feast days are holy to YHVH

Deu 16:13-17 {s} Tabernacles is holy to YHVH

There are many many chiastic structures in this section and I hope to post some of them tomorrow. But notice how interesting it is, that the weak and strong paragraph divisions do not always neatly wrap up a section explaining one of the commandments. There are loose ends all over the place. God is brilliant, I just have to say. He is smarter than we are. We would have all the strong paragraphs wrap up a section on one of the commandments, with a nice neat bow, and then go on to the next. But, God, by doing it this way, is able to teach more than one thing out of Deuteronomy! His layout of the book teaches layers upon layers of things.

For one thing, the paragraph divisions as they are help reveal chiastic structures, and we know by now that chiastic structures teach layers of things. Not only the central axis teaches, but the matching pairs teach. Is it not amazing to anyone else, that God can so thoroughly lay out a point by point linear progression and perfect explanation of what it means to keep His Ten Commandments, and at the same time embed within that linear progression, smaller and larger and overlapping chiasms which do not hinder the flow or logic of the narrative at all, and yet nevertheless are like wheels within wheels teaching truths?

Let’s just look at one other possibility: in the explanation of the 2nd – 3rd commandments, Do not profane YHVH’s worship or His name, Deu 11:29-14:29, we see commands that we might expect to see in an explanation of what it means to worship YHVH alone: Israel shall worship YHVH in the way He commands; Israel shall not serve YHVH in the manner of the nations; The death penalty for the prophet who tries to turn Israel from the worship of YHVH.

But then we see something that seems out of place: dietary laws (Deu 14:3-21). The dietary laws end in a strong paragraph that began with the death penalty for the prophet who tries to turn Israel from the worship of YHVH. The paragraph divisions tell us that these two seeming disparate things are part of a single overarching topic to God.

I think the key is this: YHVH is setting Himself apart from the idols of the nations. He is setting His people apart from the nations, and their practices apart from the nations. We have to remember that at this time in history, every nation on the face of the earth worshiped false idols, thanks to Nimrod and the rebellion at Babel (Gen 11:1-9). There was only one nation who worshiped the Lord God, and that was Israel.

Now it was the practice of the nations to offer every animal killed before they consumed it, on the altar to some false god or another. There were altars in every home, every community, and under every green tree (evergreen tree — they were considered unique and blessed by the gods since they did not shed their leaves in the winter with the rest of the trees). And then when the animal had been offered in thanksgiving to the false god, they ate it.

So God is teaching His nation, listen, you are not to worship Me the way the nations worship the false gods. Not every animal is an acceptable sacrifice, so make a distinction among what is an acceptable sacrifice and what is not. Furthermore, you are not to eat every animal as the nations do. These animals are clean and you may eat them; these animals are unclean and you may not eat them. Why does God do this, because He is a kill joy? Because He delights to burden His people with commandments? NO! The purpose of Torah, remember, is to promote PHYSICAL LIFE to those who obey it. (The written word gives physical life. The living Word gives spiritual life. They are not at odds.)

But that is why the dietary laws are among the explanation of Do not profane the worship of YHVH — my humble opinion.

Advertisements

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: