Parashah 49: Ki Tetze (When you go out)
Deuteronomy 21:10 - 25:19
Parashah 49: Ki Tetze (When you go out) - Deuteronomy 21:10 through 25:19.
Haftarah reading: Isaiah 52:13 - 54:10.
B'rit Hadasha suggested reading: Matthew 5:31-32, 19:3-12, 22:23-32; Mark 10:2-12, 12:18-27; Luke 20:27-38; 1 Corinthians 9:4-18; Galatians 3:9-14; 1 Timothy 5:17-18.
(Tanach Scriptures are from Stern's Complete Jewish Bible; B'rit Chadash Scriptures from the AENT.)
In today's lesson, much of what YHWH said seems foreign and even sometimes nonsensical - until you consider it all in context and try to view it through the eyes of the Israelites of long ago who were learning to rely totally on YHWH for their every decision! While much of what was written might sound foreign and no longer applicable today, it shows how very adamant YHWH was and still is about purity and holiness in every aspect of our lives.
This week's Torah portion features 74 commandments, more than any other Torah portion. Some of the commandments discussed include the law of the rebellious son, the obligation to bury the dead without undue delay, the requirement to return a found object, the prohibition against causing pain to any living creature, the prohibition against prostitution, the laws of marriage and divorce, the procedure of the Levirate marriage, and the obligation to eradicate the memory of Amalek.
Regardless as to how YHWH's commands sounds to "modern ears", we must always remember that, throughout the Torah, we are exhorted by God through Moshe/Moses to "cleave" to YHWH our Elohim who was attempting to show His people the necessity and benefits of being holy from the inside-out. The repeated emphasis should cause us to stop and think about the meaning and importance of cleaving to/holding fast to Him and behaving according to HIS desires!
Today's lesson starts off with instructions on what to do with prisoners taken by YHWH's people as they begin to take over the Land of Israel:
Deuteronomy 21: 10 "When you go out to war against your enemies, and ADONAI your God hands them over to you, and you take prisoners, 11 and you see among the prisoners a woman who looks good to you, and you feel attracted to her and want her as your wife; 12 you are to bring her home to your house, where she will shave her head, cut her fingernails 13 and remove her prison clothing. She will stay there in your house, mourning her father and mother for a full month; after which you may go in to have sexual relations with her and be her husband, and she will be your wife. 14 In the event that you lose interest in her, you are to let her go wherever she wishes; but you may not sell her for money or treat her like a slave, because you humiliated her.
In the above we can clearly see YHWH's attempts to get His people to think about their every action - even when it came to the proper way to handle female prisoners (remember, in those days, women had no real way to support themselves and were basically dependent upon men for just about everything). As strange as these passages might sound, they show that a Hebrew man who saw "wife material" in a female prisoner taken in a "war against your enemies," was to allow the woman to mourn her parents for a full month, before approaching her in any way.
Further into the reading, we see how a man is to treat the children of his multiple wives. Now, let's remember that YHWH never condoned the taking of additional wives, in the first place! MAN started doing that on his own (we see the first example in one of Cain's descendants, Lemekh, in Genesis 4:19). But, once men began taking additional wives, YHWH gave rules to protect those wives. For instance, YHWH wasn't going to say, "Hey, you can't have two wives!" because then the "added wives" would be considered "divorced" and have no husband to take care of them; plus, they would be considered "tainted goods" because they had been married....Consequently, YHWH gave commands such as the one below, in order to protect not only the "unloved" wife, but also the birthright of the firstborn child:
Deuteronomy 21: 15 "If a man has two wives, the one loved and the other unloved, and both the loved and unloved wives have borne him children, and if the firstborn son is the child of the unloved wife; 16 then, when it comes time for him to pass his inheritance on to his sons, he may not give the inheritance due the firstborn to the son of the loved wife in place of the son of the unloved one, who is in fact the firstborn. 17 No, he must acknowledge as firstborn the son of the unloved wife by giving him a double portion of everything he owns, for he is the firstfruits of his manhood, and the right of the firstborn is his.
It is important to remember that YHWH never told man he could have more than one wife! But after men began to practice polygyny for whatever reason (including perhaps that the infant mortality rate was high in those days and men needed many children to help with the chores of building their homes, growing food, killing animals, making their own clothing, etc.), YHWH began to provide rules to protect women.
Since He gave man free will, He also provided a certain amount of leeway, recognizing that man would "go off on tangents" and engage in some activities that led away from Torah. That is why He provided so many detailed instructions! A simple example would be: A parent tells his/her toddler to stop pulling the dog's tail because it hurts the doggie. Moments later, the toddler is seen pulling the dog's ears. Why? The parent said "tail"; not "ears." Humans seem to be born to take liberties whenever and wherever they can!
Next, check this out and see if it doesn't sound familiar:
Deuteronomy 21: 20 and say to the leaders of his town, 'This son of ours is stubborn and rebellious, he doesn't pay attention to us, lives wildly, gets drunk.' 21 Then all the men of his town are to stone him to death; in this way you will put an end to such wickedness among you, and all Isra'el will hear about it and be afraid.
Atheists and the "lukewarm" who don't know YHWH and His Torah, will argue that "the OT God was mean and when Jesus came, we started being under grace." (Under grace to do what? Ignore the Word and do whatever we want?) They don't recognize that YHWH's purpose in telling His people to KILL the rebellious and the unbelievers was so that they wouldn't get a chance to "infect" others with their anti-God ideas.
Bad leaven permeates our society today! Back in "OT" times and up until approximately the 19th Century, people in civilized society were expected to obey their teachers and elders who held them to higher standards. The rebellious were punished and/or ostracized. Today, because we are basically a godless world, children are allowed to run wild and do whatever they wish. It seems today we idolize rebellious people and put them on national TV where they have a chance to "infect" us all with their decadence!
But take a look at what YHWH expects: The following verses reveal how He feels about honesty and integrity. While reading them, ask yourself how many people you know that you can actually trust! Chances are, you can count those particular people on one finger....
Deuteronomy 21: 1 "You are not to watch your brother's ox or sheep straying and behave as if you hadn't seen it; you must bring them back to your brother. 2 If your brother is not close by, or you don't know who the owner is, you are to bring it home to your house; and it will remain with you until your brother asks for it; then you are to give it back to him. 3 You are to do the same with his donkey, his coat or anything else of your brother's that he loses. If you find something he lost, you must not ignore it.
Moving on to the next chapter, we are reminded via SEVERAL in-depth examples that YHWH's people are NEVER supposed to allow wickedness to take hold and grow:
Deuteronomy 22: 20 "But if the charge is substantiated that evidence for the girl's virginity could not be found; 21 then they are to lead the girl to the door of her father's house, and the men of her town will stone her to death, because she has committed in Isra'el the disgraceful act of being a prostitute while still in her father's house. In this way you will put an end to such wickedness among you.
"If a man is found sleeping with a woman who has a husband, both of them must die -the man who went to bed with the woman and the woman too. In this way you will expel such wickedness from Isra'el. 23 "If a girl who is a virgin is engaged to a man, and another man comes upon her in the town and has sexual relations with her; 24 you are to bring them both out to the gate of the city and stone them to death - the girl because she didn't cry out for help, there in the city, and the man because he has humiliated his neighbor's wife. In this way you will put an end to such wickedness among you.
Now, here is something VERY important: An in-your-face reminder that there is a DIFFERENCE between men and women! As everyone knows, "the world" today is attempting to integrate "unisex" and homosexuality as "normal"...However, there are several scriptures throughout the Bible where we can see the importance YHWH placed on genders, including this one in the Torah portion, along with a few others from the various other Books of the Bible:
Deuteronomy 22: 5 A woman is not to wear men's clothing, and a man is not to put on women's clothing, for whoever does these things is detestable to ADONAI your God.
In today's society where "unisex" clothing is in style, we can only surmise that we are not to wear clothing made for the opposite sex in order to "act" or "look" like we're trying to BE other than what we were born. Women are still women, whether or not they wear pants, but to wear pants in order to "look like" men (and vice-versa) is an abomination to YHWH (Lev. 18:22; Lev. 20:13; Deut. 23:17; 1 Cor, 6:9-10). Let's view some scriptures wherein we are told in no uncertain terms that YHWH has certain expectations for both genders:
Leviticus 18: 22 - You are not to go to bed with a man as with a woman; it is an abomination.
1 Corinthians 6: 9. Or don't you know, that the unrighteous will not inherit the Kingdom of Elohim? Make no mistake! Neither sexual sinners, nor idol-worshippers, nor adulterers, nor the corrupt, nor men who lay down with other men, 10. Nor the oppressors, nor thieves, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor extortioners, will inherit the Kingdom of Elohim.
Romans 1: 22 Claiming to be wise, they have become fools! 23 In fact, they have exchanged the glory of the immortal God for mere images, like a mortal human being, or like birds, animals or reptiles! 24 This is why God has given them up to the vileness of their hearts' lusts, to the shameful misuse of each other's bodies. 25 They have exchanged the truth of God for falsehood, by worshiping and serving created things, rather than the Creator - praised be he for ever. Amen. 26 This is why God has given them up to degrading passions; so that their women exchange natural sexual relations for unnatural; 27 and likewise the men, giving up natural relations with the opposite sex, burn with passion for one another, men committing shameful acts with other men and receiving in their own persons the penalty appropriate to their perversion.
28 In other words, since they have not considered God worth knowing, God has given them up to worthless ways of thinking; so that they do improper things. 29 They are filled with every kind of wickedness, evil, greed and vice; stuffed with jealousy, murder, quarreling, dishonesty and ill-will; they are gossips, 30 slanderers, haters of God; they are insolent, arrogant and boastful; they plan evil schemes; they disobey their parents; 31 they are brainless, faithless, heartless and ruthless. 32 They know well enough God's righteous decree that people who do such things deserve to die; yet not only do they keep doing them, but they applaud others who do the same.
Revelation 22: 14. Blessed are they who do His (Master YHWH's) Mitzvot, that they may have a right to the tree of life and may enter through the gates into the city. 15. Without (will be) dogs and sorcerers, and whoremongers and manslayers and idolaters, and everyone that loves and does falsehood.
Very important! In Revelation 22, Y'shua is talking, so these are YHWH's Mitzvot (Commandments), not his. This is also the original reading in Revelation. The "wash your robes" line was substituted later, as a way to downplay the obvious pro-Torah message at the end of the NT. This is, in effect, the last speech Y'shua gives to the world. There are actually two ancient Greek witnesses that are split on the matter, and one may have arisen as a scribal error to the other between poiountes tas entolas (do his commandments) and plunontes tas stolas (wash their robes).
In Deuteronomy 23 we see another "oddity": This one refers to the importance YHWH placed upon the holiness of His assembly, and on man's sexuality - the sex organs which YHWH created for man to procreate:
Deuteronomy 23: 1 "A man with crushed or damaged private parts may not enter the assembly of ADONAI. 2 "A mamzer may not enter the assembly of ADONAI, nor may his descendants down to the tenth generation enter the assembly of ADONAI. 3 "No 'Amoni or Mo'avi may enter the assembly of ADONAI, nor may any of his descendants down to the tenth generation ever enter the assembly of ADONAI, 4 because they did not supply you with food and water when you were on the road after leaving Egypt, and because they hired Bil'am the son of B'or from P'tor in Aram-Naharayim to put a curse on you.
5 But ADONAI your God would not listen to Bil'am; rather, ADONAI your God turned the curse into a blessing for you; because ADONAI your God loved you. 6 So you are never to seek their peace or well being, as long as you live. 7 "But you are not to detest an Edomi, because he is your brother; and you are not to detest an Egyptian, because you lived as a foreigner in his land. 8 The third generation of children born to them may enter the assembly of ADONAI. 9 "When you are in camp, at war with your enemies, you are to guard yourself against anything bad. 10 If there is a man among you who is unclean because of a nocturnal emission, he is to go outside the camp; he is not to enter the camp. 11 When evening arrives he is to bathe himself in water, and after sunset he may enter the camp.
If it hadn't been for Yeshua's atoning death, NONE of us would be "clean" or holy enough to enter an assembly! Doesn't this shed a bright, neon light on the awesome thing Yeshua did for us?
"The world" today reflects nothing of what YHWH's Torah demands. He gave us thorough rules for sex and marriage and even remarriage, yet today's young people are allowed to watch movies that show explicit sex of all kinds (including homosexual sex), as if these things were completely normal....And then - instead of being encouraged to practice abstinence until they are married - parents allow them to "date" completely unsupervised and encourage them to "practice safe sex" in case they can't control themselves.
As a matter of fact, actual dating relationships seem to be a thing of the past, and many don't even bother "dating" anymore, preferring to employ the contemporary "buzz words" of "hooking up" and having "friends with benefits." And oftentimes, those same people run to church to warm the pews on Sunday....
Times may have changed, but the rules for maintaining our purity in every aspect of our lives NEVER changed, regardless of what Hollywood says! Yes, the Torah contains many rules that seem outdated or don't make sense to us today, but when viewed in context, we can certainly see why YHWH put them in place. The death of Yeshua didn't change the context of those rules; it merely freed us from our PAST sins and the "stuff" we used to do before we found our way to God. Once we accept the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, though, we are expected to be "set apart" for Him, just as our forefathers were; putting off our old ways and living a clean and decent life for God, so that (among other things) we won't be considered "lukewarm" on Judgment Day.
Now, take a look at the following scripture which is extremely powerful because it shows exactly how adamant YHWH is about our being clean in every possible way:
Deuteronomy 23: 12 Also you are to have an area outside the camp to use as a latrine. 13 You must include a trowel with your equipment, and when you relieve yourself, you are to dig a hole first and afterwards cover your excrement. 14 For ADONAI your God moves about in your camp to rescue you and to hand over your enemies to you. Therefore your camp must be a holy place. [ADONAI] should not see anything indecent among you, or he will turn away from you.
Did these expectations of holiness REALLY change after "Jesus" died?
Backing up for a moment to Deuteronomy 24:7 we see YHWH reiterating that people are to get rid of all evil in their midst, even killing those who willfully sin. (Today, that job would be expected of our legal system - which, unfortunately, is very lax and liberal, along with most "bleeding hearts" who vote liberal judges, etc. into office, who allow hardened criminals back on the streets to re-offend!)
Why did YHWH order the death of criminals? Because, unless they accepted the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob and did everything in their power to ignore the whispers of Satan in their lives, chances are, they would continue to sin/do evil, and influence anyone with whom they came into contact. Examples today are the pedophiles and others who are "out on parole" thanks to lax laws and who, rather than "straighten up," go right back to their old ways! We are reminded of this in Jeremiah 17:
Jeremiah 17: 9 The human heart is more deceitful than anything else and mortally sick. Who can fathom it? 10 I test inner motivations; in order to give to everyone what his actions and conduct deserve."
It all boils down to: Will we obey YHWH or not? If not, then whom are we serving? Our job as His People is to OBEY! We don't always have to know the reasons why....Deuteronomy 25:14-15 sums it up, especially the last half of that verse: Therefore your camp must be a holy place. ADONAI should not see anything indecent among you, or he will turn away from you.
Let's briefly check out some of the other things YHWH ordered. Please read Deuteronomy 23-25 keeping these things in mind:
Deuteronomy 23:16 in no way refers to slavery as we know it today. Back in "OT" times, people usually became slaves on a voluntary basis in order to work off debts, or because they were unable to care for themselves for whatever reasons.
Deuteronomy 23:18 refers to pagan practices wherein people voluntarily had sex for some ritual purposes. Please note also the reference to no "homosexual" sex: 17 "No woman of Isra'el is to engage in ritual prostitution, and no man of Isra'el is to engage in ritual homosexual prostitution. 18 Nothing earned through heterosexual or homosexual prostitution is to be brought into the house of ADONAI your God in fulfillment of any vow, for both of these are abhorrent to ADONAI your God.
Deuteronomy 23:20-21 - Today's banks could learn a lot from this!
Deuteronomy 24:5 - How many soldiers come home from war to babies who were conceived before they left for war? Children who don't know the meaning of "Daddy"; wives who had to endure their pregnancies and the birth of their children alone....
Deuteronomy 24:6 - What is a general practice today? We put up our businesses for collateral!
Deuteronomy 24:14-15 - People like Bernie Madoff and his ilk are in HUGE trouble with YHWH!
Deuteronomy 24:16 - "Every person will be executed for his own sin!" We are not responsible for the sins of our spouses, children, or even our friends. Every one of us is responsible for what we do!
Let's take a hard look at how Isaiah foreshadowed Yeshua!
Isaiah 52: 13 "See how my servant will succeed! He will be raised up, exalted, highly honored! 14 Just as many were appalled at him, because he was so disfigured that he didn't even seem human and simply no longer looked like a man, 15 so now he will startle many nations; because of him, kings will be speechless. For they will see what they had not been told, they will ponder things they had never heard."
Isaiah 53: 1 Who believes our report? To whom is the arm of ADONAI revealed? 2 For before him he grew up like a young plant, like a root out of dry ground. He was not well-formed or especially handsome; we saw him, but his appearance did not attract us. 3 People despised and avoided him, a man of pains, well acquainted with illness. Like someone from whom people turn their faces, he was despised; we did not value him.
4 In fact, it was our diseases he bore, our pains from which he suffered; yet we regarded him as punished, stricken and afflicted by God. 5 But he was wounded because of our crimes, crushed because of our sins; the disciplining that makes us whole fell on him, and by his bruises we are healed. 6 We all, like sheep, went astray; we turned, each one, to his own way; yet ADONAI laid on him the guilt of all of us. Or: and in fellowship with him 7 Though mistreated, he was submissive - he did not open his mouth. Like a lamb led to be slaughtered, like a sheep silent before its shearers, he did not open his mouth.
8 After forcible arrest and sentencing, he was taken away; and none of his generation protested his being cut off from the land of the living for the crimes of my people, who deserved the punishment themselves. 9 He was given a grave among the wicked; in his death he was with a rich man. Although he had done no violence and had said nothing deceptive, 10 yet it pleased ADONAI to crush him with illness, to see if he would present himself as a guilt offering. If he does, he will see his offspring; and he will prolong his days; and at his hand ADONAI's desire will be accomplished.
11 After this ordeal, he will see satisfaction. "By his knowing [pain and sacrifice], my righteous servant makes many righteous; it is for their sins that he suffers. 12 Therefore I will assign him a share with the great, he will divide the spoil with the mighty, for having exposed himself to death and being counted among the sinners, while actually bearing the sin of many and interceding for the offenders."
Traditional Jews view the above passages as referring to Israel, but how can Israel "die" for Israel? How can Israel not be "well-formed or especially handsome" or have an "appearance that did not attract us?" How can Israel be "a man of pains, well acquainted with illlness" or bear "our diseases" or be "forcibly arrested and taken away," or "given a grave among the wicked?"
While we're at it, let's take a look at a wonderful passage in Isaiah 54:
Isaiah 54: 9 "For me this is like Noach's flood. Just as I swore that no flood like Noach's would ever again cover the earth, so now I swear that never again will I be angry with you or rebuke you. 10 For the mountains may leave and the hills be removed, but my grace will never leave you, and my covenant of peace will not be removed," says ADONAI, who has compassion on you.
The above is YHWH telling His people He will never again destroy them for their lack of knowledge or obedience...In essence, He is saying that He will give us the choice to decide either belong to Him and obey Him, or not! If not, goodbye; you've lost a chance to have eternal life because those who reject Him have nothing to look forward to except death.
Brit Chadasha reading:
Quickly turning to our Brit Chadasha reading for this week, we see Yeshua knocking a hole in the God wants man to have multiple wives nonsense, such as the junk Rabbi Moshe Koniuchowsky of "Your Arms to Israel" espouses!
Mark 10: 2. And the Pharisees drew near tempting him and asking if it is Lawful for a man to divorce his wife. 3. He said to them, What did Moshe command you? 4. And they said, "Moshe allowed us to write a letter of divorce and to send her away." 5. Y'shua answered and said to them, On account of the hardness of your heart, he wrote to you this Commandment. 6. But from the beginning Elohim made them male and female. 7. Because of this, a man will leave his father and his mother and cling to his wife. 8. And the two of them will be one flesh. Thus, they are not two, but one flesh. 9. Therefore, the thing that Elohim has joined, man should not separate. 10. In the house, his disciples asked him again concerning this teaching. 11. And he said to them, Anyone who divorces his wife and takes another commits adultery.
"Letter of divorce" was highlighted because some people have written to The Refiner's Fire to suggest people in biblical times weren't formally married because we don't really see scriptures to suggest there were wedding ceremonies. First of all, that is an untrue statement because of passages such as we see in Judges 14:20; Song of Solomon 3:11; Matthew 22:2-8 and 25:10; Luke 14:8; John 2:1-11; and Revelation 19:9. These were all proof that in biblical times people were legally wed, and legally divorced, according to Torah law. Today, people marry and divorce at will, but the bottom line is, Yeshua told us that the only legal reason for divorce is if one of the parties commits adultery....
There is so much more that could be said about today's study, and we wholeheartedly urge you to read the cited scriptures through, if you haven't already done so. If you have any questions or comments, please don't hesitate to write! Thank you for reading our Torah study notes for this week, and we pray for you a blessed week ahead, that may you ever grow in your knowledge of YHWH. And, as always, please let us know if you ever see anything in our studies that sounds "off the mark"! Nobody has the market cornered on absolute Truth; we are all learning and obeying to the best of our abilities....
The next Parashah reading will be:
Parashah 50: Ki Tavo (When you come); Deuteronomy 26:1 through 29:8.
Haftarah reading: Isaiah 60:1-22.
B'rit Hadasha suggested reading: Matthew 13:1-23; Luke 21:1-4; Acts 28:17-31; Romans 11:1-15.