christine's bible study

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

deuteronomy 24:8-9, do not bear false witness

Read Deuteronomy 24:8-9 at Bible Gateway.

Previously: deuteronomy 23:15-24:7, eighth commandment chiastic structure

(Please review the teaching tools of scripture, especially the Hebrew paragraph divisions. The paragraphs marked by an “s” at their close are weak paragraphs, which indicate a change of facet but not a change of theme or topic. The paragraphs marked by a “p” at their close are strong paragraphs, which indicate the completion of a theme or topic.)

“If My people who are called by My name will humble themselves, and pray and seek My face, and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin and heal their land.” 2 Chr 7:14

We are studying the roadmap to national restoration, and so, we are studying the Ten Commandments, the summary of God’s definition of righteousness and wickedness. By studying the Ten, we are learning what God considers wicked ways, that He is asking His people to turn from. (Here is the summary.)

The Ten Commandments are given in Deu 5. These Ten are explained in Deu 6:4-; the detailed study notes for these explanations are posted here. The Ninth Commandment, Do not bear false witness, is explained in Deu 24:8-9. There is one Hebrew paragraph in the explanation:

Deu 24:8-9 {s} Tzaraas, or the evil tongue

Take heed in an outbreak of leprosy, that you carefully observe and do according to all that the priests, the Levites, shall teach you; just as I commanded them, so you shall be careful to do. Remember what the Lord your God did to Miriam on the way when you came out of Egypt! Deu 24:8-9

The history of what the Lord did to Miriam is in Num 12. Miriam and Aaron had spoken against Moses:

… and they said, “Has the Lord indeed spoken only through Moses? Has He not spoken through us as well?” And the Lord heard it. (Now the man Moses was very humble, more than any man who was on the face of the earth.) Suddenly the Lord said to Moses and Aaron and to Miriam, “You three come out to the tent of meeting.” So the three of them came out. Then the Lord came down in a pillar of cloud and stood at the doorway of the tent, and He called Aaron and Miriam. When they had both come forward, He said, “Hear now My words: If there is a prophet among you, I, the Lord, shall make Myself known to him in a vision. I shall speak with him in a dream. Not so, with My servant Moses, He is faithful in all My household; With him I speak mouth to mouth, Even openly, and not in dark sayings, And he beholds the form of the Lord. Why then were you not afraid to speak against My servant, against Moses?” So the anger of the Lord burned against them and He departed. But when the cloud had withdrawn from over the tent, behold, Miriam was leprous, as white as snow. Num 12:2-10

Leprosy here in Deu 24:8, in Num 12:10, and in Leviticus where are found the instructions for cleansing the leper, is in Hebrew, Strong’s H6879, tsara, tsadey + resh + ayin. The ancient Hebrew pictographs are of the tsadey or the man lying down or on his side; the resh, the head of a man, and the ayin, or eye. The story the pictographs are painting are of “bringing the man (or head) down in one’s eyes.” If we reread the passage of Miriam’s leprosy in Num 12, this is the Lord’s complaint: that Moses is not only a prophet – a man who sees – but he is a steward of the Lord’s house, and the Lord speaks to him face to face and not in visions or dreams. Miriam and Aaron were speaking against him, which is to bring him down in their own eyes and in the eyes of the congregation. The tsadey furthermore enforces the concept of bringing down, as it is also the pictograph of the man lying down or hiding in wait or in ambush – as a hunter or an enemy.

Miriam’s sin was to speak against. The disease which she experienced was not the leprosy we are familiar with as an infectious disease. It is tzaraas in Hebrew, translated as “leprosy” in our English Bibles, but defined by Torah scholars as a skin disease caused by an evil tongue. In other words, as in Miriam’s case, the disease was brought on by the evil speaking, i.e., bearing false witness (not a pathogen), and gone just as quickly when her period of repentance and purification was completed.

Continued: deuteronomy 24:8-9, tzaraas or the evil tongue


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