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Daily manna from the Torah by Dr Ketriel Blad

VaYelech 52-7

And (he) walked

Deuteronomy 31:25-30

For I know how rebellious and stiff-necked you are. If you have been rebellious against the LORD while I am still alive and with you, how much more will you rebel after I die!"

Deut. 31:27 NIVUK

Do you know the first rule of interpretation?

In this verse there is an example of what became the first rule of interpretation of the Torah named kal va-chomerקל וחומר, “simple and complex” or “light and heavy”. This rule extracts from a simple argument another argument of greater weight.

Moshe said that even though he was present among the people, they had been rebellious and stiff-necked. From this fact, it is assumed with kal va-chomer that when Moshe is indeed not among them anymore, they will have more reason to be rebellious and stiff-necked, and therefore it will be so.

This kind of logical inference is very common throughout the Scriptures. The rule of kal va-chomer could be expressed in the following way: If A is so in relation to B, then it will be even more (or less) in relation to C.

Let's see some examples of how this kind of argumentation has been used in the Scriptures:

 “Naaman's servants went to him and said, "My father, if the prophet had told you to do some great thing, would you not have done it? How much more, then, when he tells you, 'Wash and be cleansed'!" (2 Kn. 5:13 NIV)

“Sheol and Abaddon lie open before the LORD; how much more the hearts of the children of man! (Prov. 15:11 ESV)

“If you have raced with men on foot, and they have wearied you, how will you compete with horses?” (Jer. 12:5a ESV)

“Behold, when it was whole, it was used for nothing. How much less, when the fire has consumed it and it is charred, can it ever be used for anything!” (Ez. 15:5 ESV)

“But will God indeed dwell with man on the earth? Behold, heaven and the highest heaven cannot contain you, how much less this house that I have built!” (2 Chron. 6:18 ESV)

"Now, therefore, do not let Hezekiah deceive you or mislead you in this fashion, and do not believe him, for no god of any nation or kingdom has been able to deliver his people from my hand or from the hand of my fathers. How much less will your God deliver you out of my hand!” (2 Chron. 32:15 ESV)

Our great Rabbi Yeshua used the principle of kal va-chomer in many of his teachings. Here are some examples:

“Look at the birds of the air: they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they?” (Matt. 6:26 ESV)

“If you then, who are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will the heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him!" (Luke 11:13 ESV)

“He said to them, "Which one of you who has a sheep, if it falls into a pit on the Sabbath, will not take hold of it and lift it out? Of how much more value is a man than a sheep! So it is lawful to do good on the Sabbath.” (Matt. 12.11-12 ESV)

“If then you have not been faithful in the unrighteous wealth, who will entrust to you the true riches? And if you have not been faithful in that which is another’s, who will give you that which is your own?” (Luke 16:11-12 ESV)

Paul's letters contain many, many arguments extracted from the rule of kal va-chomer. Here are some examples:

“For if while we were enemies we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son, much more, now that we are reconciled, shall we be saved by his life.” (Rom. 5:10 ESV)

“But if their slipping away is the riches of the world, and their default is the riches of the nations, how much more their fullness?.. For if their casting away is the reconciling of the world, what is the reception except life from the dead?.. For if you were cut out of the natural wild olive tree, and were grafted contrary to nature into a good olive tree; how much more these being according to nature will be grafted into their own olive-tree?” (Rom. 11:12, 15, 24 MKJV)

“Do you not know that we are to judge angels? How much more, then, matters pertaining to this life!” (1 Cor. 6:3 ESV)

“If others share this rightful claim on you, do not we even more?” (1 Cor. 9:12a ESV)

The letter to the Hebrews also contains several examples of kal va-chomer:

“For if the blood of goats and bulls, and the sprinkling of defiled persons with the ashes of a heifer, sanctify for the purification of the flesh, how much more will the blood of Yeshua, who through the eternal Spirit offered himself without blemish to God, purify our conscience from dead works to serve the living God?” (Heb. 9:13-14 ESV revised)

“See that you do not refuse him who is speaking. For if they did not escape when they refused him who warned them on earth, much less will we escape if we reject him who warns from heaven.” (Heb. 12:25 ESV)

Learn to use this rule in your personal life and it will be useful to come to the right conclusions. For example: If a man needs to eat and drink every day to keep a healthy body, how much more would he need to pray and read the Scriptures every day to keep his spiritual life in order? If you didn't surrender to the Eternal when you were in trouble, how much less will you do it when you prosper in this world? If you keep your mind from thinking ill of someone, how much more will you keep your tongue from speaking ill? If you didn't teach your son obedience in his first three years of life, how do you think he is going to obey now that he is a teenager?

If you don't take a real break in Shabbat, how can you think you'll have strength for the rest of the week? If you had a rich spiritual life before celebrating the Eternal's feasts, how much richer will it be now that you do?

Shabbat shalom!


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