This week's lesson is terrific - consisting of YHWH's instructions to Moshe which underscores, in no uncertain terms, man's need for obedience. YHWH made it perfectly clear that life devoid of the understanding of, and obedience to Him will result in sheer hell on earth....
Parashah 32 is all about the following: Set something right. Restore someone’s property. Give something back. Fix something that was broken. Trust YHWH....It starts out with YHWH discussing with Moshe (Moses) everything from commerce to land, and home and slave ownership. In Leviticus 25:1-13, we can see that YHWH even commands that the land itself is to observe Shabbat rest:
Leviticus 25: 1 ADONAI spoke to Moshe on Mount Sinai; he said, 2 "Tell the people of Isra'el, 'When you enter the land I am giving you, the land itself is to observe a Shabbat rest for ADONAI. 3 Six years you will sow your field; six years you will prune your grapevines and gather their produce. 4 But in the seventh year is to be a Shabbat of complete rest for the land, a Shabbat for ADONAI; you will neither sow your field nor prune your grapevines. 5 You are not to harvest what grows by itself from the seeds left by your previous harvest, and you are not to gather the grapes of your untended vine; it is to be a year of complete rest for the land. 6 But what the land produces during the year of Shabbat will be food for all of you - you, your servant, your maid, your employee, anyone living near you, 7 your livestock and the wild animals on your land; everything the land produces may be used for food.
The passage then goes on to reiterate the importance of "yovel" - years of jubilee, wherein everything is to be returned to its rightful owner:
Leviticus 25: 8 "'You are to count seven Shabbats of years, seven times seven years, that is, forty-nine years. 9 Then, on the tenth day of the seventh month, on Yom-Kippur, you are to sound a blast on the shofar; you are to sound the shofar all through your land; 10 and you are to consecrate the fiftieth year, proclaiming freedom throughout the land to all its inhabitants. It will be a yovel for you; you will return everyone to the land he owns, and everyone is to return to his family. 11 That fiftieth year will be a yovel for you; in that year you are not to sow, harvest what grows by itself or gather the grapes of untended vines; 12 because it is a yovel. It will be holy for you; whatever the fields produce will be food for all of you. 13 In this year of yovel, every one of you is to return to the land he owns.
14 "'If you sell anything to your neighbor or buy anything from him, neither of you is to exploit the other. 15 Rather, you are to take into account the number of years after the yovel when you buy land from your neighbor, and he is to sell to you according to the number of years crops will be raised. 16 If the number of years remaining is large, you will raise the price; if few years remain, you will lower it; because what he is really selling you is the number of crops to be produced. 17 Thus you are not to take advantage of each other, but you are to fear your God; for I am ADONAI your God. 18 "'Rather, you are to keep my regulations and rulings and act accordingly. If you do, you will live securely in the land. 19 The land will yield its produce, you will eat until you have enough, and you will live there securely.
Both Leviticus 25 and 26, when read in context, reveals the remarkable social pattern our God set up - the underlying message being: Fair treatment and honesty, with everyone obeying the rules so that everyone is "on the same sheet of music; and, everything belongs to YHWH!
Whenever we borrow from what has been consecrated to Him, it must be returned with with an addition (one-fifth). In this way, the society of our Creator is self-sustaining. Compare this to today's world governments which oppress the poor with high costs, punish the productive with great taxes on their productivity, and emphasize massive debt and double-digit growth over self-sustaining growth which renews itself every 50 years! Oh! If only we would all obey YHWH's guidance!
Note that properties were treated differently in Tanach ("Old Testament") times:
Leviticus 25: 29 "'If someone sells a dwelling in a walled city, he has one year after the date of sale in which to redeem it. For a full year he will have the right of redemption; 30 but if he has not redeemed the dwelling in the walled city within the year, then title in perpetuity passes to the buyer through all his generations; it will not revert in the yovel. 31 However, houses in villages not surrounded by walls are to be dealt with like the fields in the countryside - they may be redeemed [before the yovel], and they revert in the yovel.
In Leviticus 25:32-34 we are reminded of the importance of the Levites and the fact that they had no paid jobs. Their job was to take care of the Temple and everything in it, and to minister to YHWH's people. The people, in turn, had to take care of the Levites:
Leviticus 25: 32 "'Concerning the cities of the L'vi'im and the houses in the cities they possess, the L'vi'im are to have a permanent right of redemption. 33 If someone purchases a house from one of the L'vi'im, then the house he sold in the city where he owns property will still revert to him in the yovel (jubilee); because the houses in the cities of the L'vi'im are their tribe's possession among the people of Isra'el. 34 The fields in the open land around their cities may not be sold, because that is their permanent possession.
This parashah also touched on the issue of slavery - a term which, over the years, has gained quite negative connotations in that it denotes "forced labor". Back in Biblical, times, however, people voluntarily sold themselves into slavery for various reasons; the main one being that it was sometimes the only way to "make a living." YHWH gave certain rules to ensure the fair treatment of people as we see in passages such as Leviticus 25:35-55:
Leviticus 25: 35 "'If a member of your people has become poor, so that he can't support himself among you, you are to assist him as you would a foreigner or a temporary resident, so that he can continue living with you. 36 Do not charge him interest or otherwise profit from him, but fear your God, so that your brother can continue living with you. 37 Do not take interest when you loan him money or take a profit when you sell him food. 38 I am ADONAI your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt in order to give you the land of Kena'an and be your God. 39 "'If a member of your people has become poor among you and sells himself to you, do not make him do the work of a slave. 40 Rather, you are to treat him like an employee or a tenant; he will work for you until the year of yovel. 41 Then he will leave you, he and his children with him, and return to his own family and regain possession of his ancestral land.
42 For they are my slaves, whom I brought out of the land of Egypt; therefore they are not to be sold as slaves. 43 Do not treat him harshly, but fear your God. 44 "'Concerning the men and women you may have as slaves: you are to buy men- and women-slaves from the nations surrounding you. 45 You may also buy the children of foreigners living with you and members of their families born in your land; you may own these. 46 You may also bequeath them to your children to own; from these groups you may take your slaves forever. But as far as your brothers the people of Isra'el are concerned, you are not to treat each other harshly. 47 "'If a foreigner living with you has grown rich, and a member of your people has become poor and sells himself to this foreigner living with you or to a member of the foreigner's family, 48 he may be redeemed after he has been sold. One of his brothers may redeem him; 49 or his uncle or his uncle's son may redeem him; or any near relative of his may redeem him; or, if he becomes rich, he may redeem himself.
50 He will calculate with the person who bought him the time from the year he sold himself to him to the year of yovel; and the amount to be paid will be according to the number of years and his time at an employee's wage. 51 If many years remain, according to them will he refund the amount for his redemption from the amount he was bought for. 52 If there remain only a few years until the year of yovel, then he will calculate with him; according to his years will he refund the amount for his redemption. 53 He will be like a worker hired year by year. You will see to it that he is not treated harshly. 54 "'If he has not been redeemed by any of these procedures, nevertheless he will go free in the year of yovel -he and his children with him. 55 For to me the people of Isra'el are slaves; they are my slaves whom I brought out of the land of Egypt; I am ADONAI your God.
We have to remember, back in those days, there were no "fortune 500" firms, Walmarts or fast-food restaurants, etc., where one could find simple work for pay. Work was hard to come by and those who weren't "born rich" often had to hire themselves out to others, sometimes committing themselves as "slaves" who exchanged labor for bed and food...It was basically a symbiosis in which two parties agreed to barter with each other. Also, remember, the Isra'elites had just come from 400 years of oppressive slavery in Egypt and had, within their society, incorporated many of the societal norms of the Egyptians. YHWH therefore had to establish rules of behavior for a people accustomed to many poor practices.
Moving on to Leviticus 26 where the first thing we see is YHWH telling His people "not to make any idols, erect a carved statue or a standing-stone, or place any carved stone anywhere in your land in order to bow down to it" (Lev. 26:1). Here, He is clear that HE alone is God! Note, this is not referring to the hanging of pictures of our children on the walls, or putting a carved image of a horse or whatever on our living room tables; it refers directly to idols - things which are worshiped.
This would include statues or images of things borrowed from other religions, such as Bhudda or Krishna or whatever else some people consider "god." In all honesty, we shouldn't put up crosses, either, because crosses in Yeshua's day symbolized pagan death devices....Not to mention, hanging Jesus hanging on a cross on your living room wall, or dangling from your rearview mirror denotes DEATH; you're showing the world that you worship a "dead god"....Yes, Yeshua died on our behalf, but it's the RESURRECTION that matters, not the brutal and inhumane way in which He was killed.
Leviticus 26:2 says, "Keep my Shabbats and revere my sanctuary; I am ADONAI." Note "Shabbats" is plural, indicating not just the seventh Day Sabbath, but ALL of his holy Feasts. If you worship Him, you MUST OBEY His "forever" commands....Yeshua's death on the stake did not in any way supersede or negate that fact!
May the Ruach haKodesh (Holy Spirit) continue to work in all of us to not only help us better understand YHWH's Word so that we can keep striving for holiness in our lives, but also to keep us humble and ever willing to keep learning and obeying so that we may one day stand before Him to hear Him say: "Well done, good and faithful servant!"
The Haftarah reading unfolds to reveal the importance of obedience and "doing what's right" in the eyes of YHWH...a continuation of what we just discussed above...of "keeping our word" and getting involved. (Set something right. Restore someone’s property. Give something back. Fix something that was broken. Trust YHWH....) In this particular case you'll note it was something very important:
Jeremiah 32: 6 Yirmeyahu said, "This word of ADONAI came to me: 7 'Hanam'el, the son of your uncle Shalum, will approach you and say, "Buy my field at 'Anatot; you have next-of-kin's right to redeem it; so buy it."'" 8 AS ADONAI had said, my cousin Hanam'el came to me in the guards' quarters and said, "Please buy my field at 'Anatot, in the territory of Binyamin; because you will inherit it, and you have next-of-kin's right to redeem it, so buy it for yourself." Then I was certain that this was ADONAI's word. 9 So I bought the field at 'Anatot which belonged to my cousin Hanam'el and weighed out the money for him, seven ounces of silver shekels. 10 I signed on the purchase contract, sealed it, called witnesses and weighed out the money for him on a balance scale.
11 I took the purchase contract, both the sealed copy with the terms and conditions, and the unsealed copy, 12 and gave the purchase contract to Barukh the son of Neriyah, the son of Machseyah, in the presence of my cousin Hanam'el, the witnesses who had signed the purchase contract and the people from Y'hudah sitting by the guards' quarters. 13 In their presence I instructed Barukh as follows: 14 "Here is what ADONAI-Tzva'ot, the God of Isra'el, says: 'Take these contracts, both the sealed and unsealed copies, and place them in a clay jar, so that they can be preserved for a long time.' 15 For ADONAI-Tzva'ot, the God of Isra'el, says that one day homes, fields and vineyards will again be bought in this land."
16 After giving the purchase contract to Barukh son of Neriyah, I prayed to ADONAI: 17 "ADONAI, God! You made heaven and earth by your great power and outstretched arm; nothing is too hard for you. 18 You display your grace to thousands but also repay the guilt of the fathers into the lap of their children who follow them. Great, powerful God, whose name is ADONAI-Tzva'ot, 19 great in counsel, mighty in deed! Your eyes are open to all the ways of human beings in order to repay each one according to his ways, according to the consequences of what he does. 20 You gave signs and performed miracles in the land of Egypt which continue to this day, also in Isra'el and among other people; thus you made yourself the reputation you have today. 21 You brought your people of Isra'el out of the land of Egypt with signs and miracles, with a strong hand and an outstretched arm and with great terror.
22 Then you gave them this land, which you had sworn to their ancestors that you would give them, a land flowing with milk and honey. 23 They entered and took possession of it; but they did not pay attention to your voice, did not live according to your Torah, and did nothing of all you ordered them to do. Therefore you made this complete disaster befall them - 24 the siege-works are already there; they have come to the city to capture it; and the city, by means of sword, famine and plague, is being handed over to the Kasdim fighting against it. What you foretold is being fulfilled; here, you see it, yourself. 25 Yet you, ADONAI, God, have said to me, 'Buy the field for money, and call witnesses; even as the city is being turned over to the Kasdim!'" 26 Then this word of ADONAI came to Yirmeyahu: 27 "Look, I am ADONAI, the God of every living creature; is there anything too hard for me?