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Parashah 50 Ki Tavo

Deuteronomy 26:1 – 29:9(8)

By Dr. K. Blad©

Second edition 2013-14

Lucrative copying not permitted. 

Torah Readings:

  1. 26:1-11

  2. 26:12-15

  3. 26:16-19

  4. 27:1-10

  5. 27:11 – 28:6

  6. 28:7 – 29:1(28:69 Heb.)

  7. 29:2(1 Heb.) – 29:9(8 Heb.)

  8. Maftir: 29:7(6) – 9(8)

Haftarah: Isaiah 60:1-22


Ki Tavo

Means “when you come”.

The First Aliyah, 26:1-11

26:1-2 “It shall be, when you are come in to the land which HaShem your God gives you for an inheritance, and possess it, and dwell therein, that you shall take of the first of all the fruit of the ground, which you shall bring in from your land that HaShem your God gives you; and you shall put it in a basket, and shall go to the place which HaShem your God shall choose, to cause his name to dwell there.”(HNV revised) – This offering is also mentioned in Exodus 23:19a and 34:26a, where it is written,

“The first of the first fruits (resheet) of your ground (bikurim) you shall bring into the house of HaShem your God…”(HNV revised)

The Hebrew word that is translated as “the first” is resheet[1] and it is found in all three texts. The word bikurim, “firstfruits”, is not in the text in Deuteronomy. Even so, this offering is called bikurim. According to Mishnah,[2] the bikurim offering was only given of fruit from the land of Israel, more specifically of the seven kinds of fruit that are mentioned in Deuteronomy 8:8. The word honey does not refer to bee honey, but to the honey from dates. The bikurim offering is not given from other fruits. The purpose for giving the first fruits, which are the most appreciated, is to show the Eternal that He is first in our lives.

The fruits that ripened first were marked with a string. When they were ripe, they were brought to the sanctuary some time between Shavuot and Sukkot. During the temple periods, whole families, and even others from the same community, used to go together. They went by foot with their baskets full of the seven types of fruit behind a bull whose horns were covered with gold and had an olive wreath around its neck. The bull was offered as a peace offering. When they came close to Yerushalayim, the people used to come out to meet them with shouts of joy and the playing of flutes. The Levites sang Psalm 30 (which speaks of the resurrection of the Messiah that is symbolized by the first fruits, bikurim). When they came to the temple mount, they lifted up the baskets on their shoulders and they entered the court this way. The priests laid their hands under each basket and together they waved (tenufah) the baskets in all four directions in order to demonstrate that they belonged to the Eternal. Then the baskets were placed by the altar and the text from Deuteronomy 26:3, 5-10 was quoted. Afterward, the priests would eat the contents of the baskets.

According to Maimonides, the bikurim offering contains seven elements:

1.      It is carried to the place HaShem has chosen.

2.      It is carried in a basket.

3.      A declaration is made.

4.      An offering is made.

5.      There is singing.

6.      The tenufah ceremony, waving, is done.

7.      One spends the night in that place.

26:3   “You shall come to the priest who shall be in those days, and tell him, I profess this day to HaShem your God, that I am come to the land which HaShem swore to our fathers to give us.”(HNV revised) – This text teaches us the importance of identifying nationally and historically with the people of Israel. None of those who made the declaration in the temple had had the personal experience of entering the land. However, they belonged to the people who had entered the land at one point in history, and every Jew must identify with that event as if he had experienced it personally.

26:5   “You shall answer and say before HaShem your God, A Arammian ready to perish was my father; and he went down into Egypt, and sojourned there, few in number; and he became there a nation, great, mighty, and populous.”(HNV revised) – Aram was Shem’s fifth son, see Genesis 10:22. He was not Avraham’s forefather. Shem’s third son, Arfachshad (Arpaxad), was Avraham’s forefather. So, why does it say here that the Israelites’ forefather was an Arammian?

Lavan was called “Arammian”, see Genesis 25:19-20; 28:5. He was not a descendant of Aram either. It seems as though those who lived in Padan-Aram were called Arammians. Lavan’s father, Betuel, and Yitzchak were cousins. Betuel’s daughter was Rivkah. This means that Yitzchak married the daughter of his cousin. Lavan was Rivkah’s brother and he was called an “Arammian”. However, he was not a descendant of the Aram that is mentioned in Genesis 10. One of Betuel’s brothers, Kemuel, was called “Aram’s father”. This second Aram was, therefore, a cousin of Lavan. Yaakov and the second Aram were second cousins.

It is possible that the descendants of Aram, mentioned in Genesis 10, populated the land that was called Padan-Aram. The Aram that is commonly mentioned in the Scriptures is the area that is called Syria today. Padan-Aram is further north, however, in Mesopotamia. It is possible that Lavan was called Arammian because he spoke the Arammian language and lived in that area, even though he was not a descendant of Shem’s son Aram. According to Genesis 31:47, Lavan spoke the Arammian language.

Why does the Torah call Yaakov an Arammian? (Avraham was called “Hebrew”, not Arammian.) How shall we understand this sentence?

The Peshitta translation says, “My father was sent to Aram”, referring to Yaakov who was sent to the land where Lavan lived. Another translation says, “An Aramean tried to destroy my forefather.” (ArtScroll Ramban) Another translation reads, “An Aramean wanted to destroy my father” (Jumash HaMerkaz Spanish). Yet another translation reads, “An Aramean, close to ruin, was my father” (The Hirsch Chumash). Another translation says, “An Arammian was the ruin of my father” (Torá con Rashí Spanish).

If we understand the text to mean that Yaakov was an Arammian, then it has to be referring to the geographic location of Padan-Aram, where he lived for twenty years of his life, between the age of 77 and 97. It is possible that Yaakov was called Arammian because he lived there for such a long time, just as Lavan was, who lived in that land without being a descendant of Aram, Shem’s son.

According to Rashi, the word Aramean is not referring to Yaakov, but to Lavan, who tried to destroy Yaakov, which we have also seen in some translations.

26:6-9 “us… us… us… we… ours… our… ours… us… us… us…” – The one who said this had not experienced these things. But he was identifying with the national body of Israel. At Pesach every Israelite must consider himself to have gone out of Egypt. Here we see the importance of corporate thinking to the people. We are not individualists, but we are part of a whole.

26:11 “and you shall rejoice in all the good which HaShem your God has given to you, and to your house, you, and the Levite, and the foreigner who is in the midst of you.”(HNV revised) – According to Mishnah[3] and Gemarah,[4] these words were only spoken between Shavuot and Sukkot, since that is the time of the year with the most joy. The bikurim offering can also be presented after Sukkot, but then verses 5-10 are not spoken. A proselyte does not speak these words since he is not a descendant of those who inherited the land.

The Second Aliyah, 26:1-12

26:12 “When you have made an end of tithing all the tithe of your increase in the third year, which is the year of tithing, then you shall give it to the Levite, to the foreigner, to the fatherless, and to the widow, that they may eat within your gates, and be filled.”(HNV) – This mention of the third year can mean the third and sixth years of the seven year cycle, when the second tithe was given to the poor. This is the most common interpretation.

“the year of tithing” – According to Rashi, this means that during the third and the sixth years one does not give two tithes, “the first tithe” and “the second tithe”, (as during the first, second, fourth, and fifth years), but only one tithe, “the first tithe”. During the third and sixth year, “the second tithe” was replaced by “the tithe to the poor”. During those years, two tithes were given, however, that which is traditionally called “the second tithe”, was not given.

26:13 “You shall say before HaShem your God, I have put away the consecrated things out of my house, and also have given them to the Levite, and to the foreigner, to the fatherless, and to the widow, according to all your command which you have commanded me: I have not transgressed any of your commandments, neither have I forgotten them”(HNV revised) – According to Rashi, this was spoken on the eve of Pesach. The declaration of having fulfilled the commandment of tithing and other commandments helps a Jew to be careful in everything that he does. He knows that he will stand before the Eternal to declare that he has been faithful and this keeps him from being careless so that he will not have to lie before the Eternal. This practice during every third year is a preparation for standing before the throne on the Day of Judgment when the Eternal will reward everyone according to his actions. When one is aware of having to stand before the Eternal and give account for every action, one thinks twice before doing anything. Are you aware that you are going to stand before the throne where everything will be revealed?

26:15 “Look down from your sacred habitation, from heaven, and bless your people Yisra'el, and the ground which you have given us, as you swore to our fathers, a land flowing with milk and honey.”(HNV revised) – After having given the whole tithe, one asks for a blessing over the people of Israel, not over oneself. This teaches us not to be egoists. “I have fulfilled my part, and therefore I pray that you would bless the people of whom I am a part”. How beautiful it is not to seek one’s own success, but the success of the whole nation!

According to tradition, a Jew ought to make the declaration of having fulfilled all the commandments with a low voice so that it will not sound like prideful boasting, but as an utterance made in humility.

The Third Aliyah, 26:16-19

26:17 “You have declared HaShem this day to be your God, and that you would walk in his ways, and keep his statutes, and his commandments, and his ordinances, and listen to his voice”(HNV revised) – First we see that the people declare their love and dedication to the Eternal.

26:18 “and HaShem has declared you this day to be a people for his own possession, as he has promised you, and that you should keep all his commandments;”(HNV revised) – Here, HaShem gives his reply. There is a renewal of the covenant found in these words. According to R. Munk,[5] there are three covenants with Israel in the Chumash,

1.      The covenant by Mount Sinai

2.      The covenant by the tabernacle.

3.      The covenant on the plains of Moav.

This passage contains the third of these covenants, the covenant on the plains of Moav.

“a people for his own possession… that you should keep all his commandments” – A person’s identity is what determines his behavior. One who feels rebellious, will behave like a rebel. If someone identifies himself as a thief, he will steal. If a person has a rejection complex, then he will reject others. If one has the identity of being a people for His own possession, one will behave in a consecrated manner, and keep the commandments. In order to be able to behave properly, it is very important to think correctly of yourself.

In Proverbs 23:7a, it is written,

“For as he thinks in his soul, so is he.”(Translated from the Hebrew)

The way you think about yourself is the way that you are. HaShem created an identity for his people so that they would be able to act according to that identity. One of the first things that evil spirits attack in a person’s life is his identity. They will try to tell you that you are worthless and good for nothing, that you are a failure. If you receive thoughts like this, you will act according to them and the enemy has accomplished his goal of destroying you. On the other hand, the demons will try to tell you that you are very good, very important, the best, so that you will become prideful and fall, just as satan fell. In contrast to these two extremes, the Torah teaches you who you really are according to the Eternal, so that you will act according to his point of view, according to your true identity as a child of God.

It is very important that parents instill a proper identity in their children. Parents who tell their children that they are rebellious will create rebellion in their children. Children will behave according to the picture and the identity that their parents project to them, whether good or bad.

Do not let feelings of guilt continue to plague you if you have repented of your sin. You are loved. You are forgiven. The Eternal has lifted you up in the Messiah. You have been chosen. You have an inheritance, a future. You are a beloved child. You are a king and a priest. You are a part of the consecrated people. You are a part of the heavenly Israel. Do not remain in self pity, but rise up and act like the person you really are!

The Fourth Aliyah, 27:1-10

27:2 “It shall be on the day when you shall pass over the Yarden to the land which HaShem your God gives you, that you shall set yourself up great stones, and plaster them with limestone”(HNV revised) – According to Talmud,[6] there are three kinds of memorial stones: Moshe raised twelve stones in the land of Moav, see Deuteronomy 1:5, Yehoshua raised twelve stones in the river Yarden, see Joshua 4:9, and in Gilgal, see Joshua 4:20, which are the same as those first raised on Mount Eval.

27:4 “It shall be, when you are passed over the Yarden, that you shall set up these stones, which I command you this day, in Mount `Eval, and you shall plaster them with limestone.”(HNV) – There are two different interpretations of this text. One says that they wrote on the stones and then applied lime on the text. The other says that the stones were plastered with lime (plaster) and then the Torah was written on the plaster.

Talmud[7] says that they translated the Torah and wrote it in the 70 languages so that all nations could partake of the revelation from heaven. Even though this might not be true, it still shows us the idea that the Torah is not only for Israel. The Torah reveals to the nations the role of Israel and also which commandments they themselves have to fulfill to be able to connect with Heaven and please the Eternal.

An Israeli archeologist, Adam Zertal, has found an enormous altar on Mount Eval.[8] It has the same measurements as the altar in the temple. It is made of large stones. Around the altar, there have been found remains of plaster on which Yehoshua wrote the Torah, see Joshua 8:30-35.

27:9b “this day you are become the people of HaShem your God.”(HNV revised) – First it talks about who you are; the identity of the people of HaShem.

27:10 “You shall therefore obey the voice of HaShem your God, and do his commandments and his statutes, which I command you this day.”(HNV revised) – Next we see the obedience that comes as a result of that identity. Several of the commandments were given just so that the people of Israel would have an identity that is separate from all other nations on the earth. That is why the Jew is very aggressive toward anything that would remove his identity as a Jew. Every movement, which tries to change his identity, is therefore considered as one of the greatest threats to Jewish existence. The Jew is right when he comes against movements, which teach doctrines that oppose the Torah of Moshe.

The Fifth Aliyah, 27:11 – 28:6

27:12 “These shall stand on Mount Gerizim to bless the people, when you are passed over the Yarden: Shim`on, and Levi, and Yehudah, and Yissakhar, and Yosef, and Binyamin.”(HNV) – According to Talmud,[9] six tribes went up to the top of each mountain. The priests and the Levites remained in the valley between the two mountains around the ark. They uttered the blessings toward Gerizim and then the curses that are written in the Torah toward Eval. The first blessing read, “Blessed is the man who does not make an idol…” and so on. After each blessing the six tribes answered, “Amen”. The other six tribes did the same after each curse was uttered.

It is interesting to note that the tribe of Shimon was placed on Gerizim to bless, when his anger was cursed by his father, see Genesis 49:7. The curse had not come over him, but over his anger only. As he was put into place to declare a blessing, it was so that he could make tikun, restoration.

Mount Gerizim has an elevation of 880 meters above sea level, and Eval is 940 meters above sea level. The mountain of cursing is higher than the mountain of blessing. There are more curses in the Torah than blessings. The Torah was to be written on Eval, the mountain of cursing, not on Gerizim. This teaches us that the cursed written in the Torah would come over Israel and the nations abundantly, because of their sins, that is disobedience of the Torah. The Torah reveals and condemns sin, and it also shows the way to reconciliation. Thus the sinner can repent and come back to the Eternal to ask for help. Through the Messiah, he can become a new creation. The Torah prepares the way for the sinner to partake of the grace that is given through the Messiah Yeshua, as it is written in Galatians 3:24,

“So that the Torah has become our tutor to bring us to Messiah, that we might be justified by faith.”(HNV revised)

The sin in us used the commandments to bring about our death. Therefore the ministry of Moshe was called the “service of death” and “the service of condemnation”, not because the Torah is something evil, but because man is a sinner.

In 2 Corinthians 3:7-9, it is written,

“But if the service of death, written engraved on stones, came with glory, so that the children of Yisra'el could not look steadfastly on the face of Moshe for the glory of his face; which was passing away: won't the service of the Spirit be with much more glory? For if the service of condemnation has glory, the service of righteousness exceeds much more in glory.”(HNV

These words were not written in order to disqualify Moshe’s ministry, but to show us the true consequences of the giving of the Torah on account of the sin that is in man. The Torah is given for blessing and life. But sin causes the Torah to produce curse and death. Sin in man takes advantage of the Torah to bring death to man, see Romans 7:7-14. When man sees his need for grace and life, he partakes of the Messiah’s work and relates to the Torah in a new way. Instead of bringing about sin, the commandments become a description of the nature of the Messiah, which fulfills the commandments with joy, see Romans 6:17-18; 8:4. We have not been set free from the Torah in the Messiah, but only from the condemning function of the Torah, because in Him we can live in victory over sin.

27:15 “Cursed be the man who makes an engraved or molten image, an abomination to HaShem, the work of the hands of the craftsman, and sets it up in secret. All the people shall answer and say, Amen.”(HNV revised) – All these curses came as a result of the sins that are committed in secret. When the people said “amen” it meant that a protection was created from this type of sin. If you fear the curse you will be careful not to do these things in secret.

In Deuteronomy 29:29a, it is written,

“The secret things belong to HaShem our God; but the things that are revealed belong to us and to our children forever, that we may do all the words of this Torah.”(HNV revised)

The sins that are committed in secret are judged directly by HaShem through the curse that comes over the person who commits these sins. However, sins that are evident must be judged by the judges of the people. Judges do not have the right to judge sins that were committed in secret since there is no proof. However, when there is proof, the judges must condemn the guilty one so that the curse will not come over them and the people.

27:16 “Cursed be he who has disdain for his father or his mother. All the people shall say, Amen.”(HNV revised) – Disdain is an inner attitude that is not visible outwardly.

27:18 “Cursed be he who makes the blind to wander out of the way. All the people shall say, Amen.”(HNV) – This also includes giving deceptive counsel to an ignorant person.

27:24 “Cursed be he who strikes his neighbor in secret. All the people shall say, Amen.”(HNV) – One way of harming one’s neighbor in secret is to speak ill of him, lashon ha-rah.

27:26 “Cursed be he who doesn't confirm the words of this law to do them. All the people shall say, Amen.”(HNV) – This is speaking of an attitude of “confirming” or “keeping to” the words of the Torah in one’s heart. One who says in his heart that the commandments no longer apply, will be cursed. On the other hand, one who holds fast to them in his heart will be blessed. Therefore, Romans 8:3-4 says,

“For what the Torah couldn't do, in that it was weak through the flesh, God did, sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh and for sin, he condemned sin in the flesh; that the ordinance of the Torah might be fulfilled in us, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit.”(HNV revised)

The demands of the Torah are fulfilled in us. It does not say by us, but in us. This is something hidden, an attitude, a willingness, a readiness. The Messiah came to give us a right attitude toward the commandments by filling us with the Spirit. A spirit that leads a person to reject the commandments of the Torah is not of the Eternal, it is not the Spirit of the Messiah, but the spirit of the anti-messiah, see 1 John 4:3; 2 Timothy 2:7; Daniel 7:25.

In Galatians 3:10, it is written,

“For as many as are of the works of the law are under a curse. For it is written, ‘Cursed is everyone who doesn't continue in all things that are written in the book of the law, to do them.’"(HNV)

Here this quote from Deuteronomy 27:16 is used to describe the result of relating to the Torah in a wrong way, by using it as a means to self-justification. This is called “works of the law”, which is a theological term meaning “legalism”. If the Torah is used in this way, it will not bring anything other than a curse, for without faith, and in one’s own strength, it is impossible to fulfill the commandments the right way. This means that if you believe that you can obtain salvation by fulfilling the commandments in a legalistic, obligatory manner, you will be under a curse, for you do not have the ability to do it in your own strength. You need HaShem’s grace to receive forgiveness for mistakes. The expression “works of the law” does not mean to obey the Torah, but it is talking about a wrong way of fulfilling the commandments, by doing it to receive merit and earning approval for salvation on a scale where the good deeds on one side outweigh the bad deeds on the other side. This is a deceptive way of thinking. Salvation is not earned by works.

If you break some commandments you will come under a curse that cannot be undone totally by a good deed or by giving money to the poor. That is like one who murders his neighbor, and the following day gives all his possessions to the widow of the man he murdered and believes that by doing so he is rid of the guilt for what he has done. That guilt is not removed by good deeds. Righteousness must be meted out; there must be a judgment and a settlement.

The only way to be totally rid of the condemnation of your sin is that someone takes your place. In the sacrificial system that is described in VaYikra (Leviticus), we see how innocent animals had to carry the guilt of man. By this the Eternal, through his great compassion, forgave the people who were repentant.

However, animals cannot replace man totally. They are all shadows of the true sacrifice that was given once and for all, as a substitute, so that we could be forgiven on a judicially righteous basis. HaShem is righteous and he forgives us on account of the Messiah Yeshua’s death. The animal sacrifices activate the effects of the Messiah’s death.

Those who received forgiveness for their sins through the temple sacrifices received it because of the eternal sacrifice of the Messiah in the heavenly world, which is reflected in the temple sacrifices in this world. Without the sacrifice of the Messiah, the temple sacrifices would not have any value, see Romans 3:25-26.

If a person tries to replace his evil deeds with good deeds, even though the good deeds are in line with the Torah, he cannot remove all the curse that came because of the disobedience. He needs to come to the Eternal for forgiveness.

According to R. Munk,[10] the expression “amen” means three things:

1.      An oath over oneself, Numbers 5:22.

2.      An acceptance of a fact, Deuteronomy 27:26.

3.      A confirmation of an act, 1 Kings 1:36.

Let us look at three examples of sins committed in secret. In these cases they were the sins of theft and lying. The first example is Akan, in Joshua 7, who stole of the things that were dedicated to the Eternal and hid them in his tent. HaShem said that all of Israel had stolen and lied. Because of this sin, 36 men died in the battle against Ai. After that, the spirit of prophecy revealed that there had been theft and lying among them. Since Akan did not show any form of repentance in time, he was stoned to death together with his children.

The second case is Gechazi, the servant of the prophet Elishah, in 2 Kings 5, who lied in order to get a lot of money and expensive clothing from a generous man who was healed from a mortal plague. Since he lied and stole, the same plague came over him.

The third case is found in the book of Acts chapter 5, where we see how a couple, Chananyah and Shapirah, had agreed to lie about a sum of money. They had subtracted a sum from a payment and then said that the payment contained the full amount, evidently in order to receive more honor in their congregation. The spirit of prophecy revealed the sin and they fell down dead in front of everyone.

In Zechariah 5:1-4, it is written,

“Then again I lifted up my eyes, and saw, and, behold, a flying scroll. He said to me, ‘What do you see?’ I answered, ‘I see a flying scroll; its length is twenty cubits, and its breadth ten cubits.’ Then he said to me, ‘This is the curse that goes out over the surface of the whole land; for everyone who steals shall be cut off according to it on the one side; and everyone who swears falsely shall be cut off according to it on the other side. I will cause it to go out,’ says HaShem of Hosts, ‘and it will enter into the house of the thief, and into the house of him who swears falsely by my name; and it will remain in the midst of his house, and will destroy it with its timber and its stones.’”(HNV revised)

This text teaches us that the curse will enter and destroy the home of one who steals and lies.

In Revelation 21:8b, it is written,

“all liars, their part is in the lake that burns with fire and sulfur, which is the second death."(HNV)

It does not say “some liars”, but “all liars”.

In Revelation 21:27, it is written,

“There will in no way enter into it anything profane, or one who causes an abomination or a lie, but only those who are written in the Lamb's book of life.”(HNV)

One who practices falsehood does not have the right to enter the new Yerushalayim.

In John 8:44, it is written,

“You are of your Father, satan, and you want to do the desires of your father. He was a murderer from the beginning, and doesn't stand in the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he speaks a lie, he speaks on his own; for he is a liar, and the father of it.”(HNV)

Satan is the father of lies. This means that he is the source of lies. Lies are an open door for the enemy. One who does not repent of being a liar, will suffer the same fate as the father of lies.

In Titus 1:2, it is written,

“…God, who can't lie…”(HNV revised)

In Hebrews 6:18, it is written,

“…it is impossible for God to lie…”(HNV revised

It is impossible for God to lie, for lying is a part of satan’s nature.

In John 14:6, it is written,

“I am the truth…”

Yeshua is the truth, and therefore he never lies and neither can he lie. This means that his disciples do not lie either. Satan’s children lie because they belong to the father of lies. The children of the Eternal do not lie because they belong to the truth and they are light.

In 1 John 1:5-10, it is written,

“This is the message which we have heard from him and announce to you, that God is light, and in him is no darkness at all. If we say that we have fellowship with him and walk in the darkness, we lie, and don't tell the truth. But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Yeshua the Messiah, his Son, cleanses us from all sin. If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, he is faithful and righteous to forgive us the sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. If we say that we haven't sinned, we make him a liar, and his word is not in us.”(HNV revised)

The only way to be set free from lying is by repenting and living in the light, which means that you always tell the truth, when you must speak, and always live in the truth. But it does not mean that you always have to say all the truth, see Esther 2:10.

 Chapter 28 speaks of blessings and curses. It is an extension of chapter 26 in Leviticus. The main difference between these two texts, not considering their length, is the use of the plural form in Leviticus 26, which is speaking to the whole assembly, and the use of the singular form in Deuteronomy 28, which is speaking to the individual and to the assembly as one united nation.

Another difference is that at the end of Leviticus 26, there is a conditional promise of the restoration of Israel, verses 40-43. There is also an unconditional promise saying that the whole remnant of Israel will not be rejected, verses 44-45. However, in Deuteronomy 28, there is no promise of Israel’s restoration. Chapter 28 ends with the deportation to Egypt, which is the most tragic thing of all; to have to go back to the land where they once were slaves and had been set free from. However, there is a conditional promise of restoration in chapter 30, “and shall return… then HaShem will… regather…”, verses 2-3.

According to Nachmanides, Leviticus 26 is speaking of the destruction of the first temple and the exile to Babylon, and chapter 28 of Deuteronomy is speaking of the destruction of the second temple and its consequences. On the one hand it is true that there are certain things that could point to this interpretation, but other interpreters, such as for example Yitzchak Abarbanel, do not share Nachmanides opinion, since there are references to the first exile and the destruction of the first temple found in Deuteronomy 28 as well, see verses 25, 29, 36, 68.

28:1-2 “It shall happen, if you shall listen diligently to the voice of HaShem your God, to observe to do all his commandments which I command you this day, who HaShem your God will set you on high above all the nations of the earth: and all these blessings shall come on you, and overtake you, if you shall listen to the voice of HaShem your God.”(HNV revised) – The blessings are a result of obedience to the commandments, and the curses are a result of disobedience to the commandments.

28:3 “Blessed shall you be in the city, and blessed shall you be in the field.”(HNV) – First, there is a personal blessing.

28:4a “Blessed shall be the fruit of your body”(HNV) – Next, there is a blessing over the family. This is the Eternal’s second priority, your family.

28:4b “and the fruit of your ground, and the fruit of your animals, the increase of your cattle, and the young of your flock.”(HNV) – The blessing over the work is third.

28:5 “Blessed shall be your basket and your kneading-trough.”(HNV) – Food comes in fourth place

28:6 “Blessed shall you be when you come in, and blessed shall you be when you go out.”(HNV) – According to Talmud,[11] this is speaking of coming into the world and leaving this world. It can also be understood as speaking of travels, when going from one place to another. According to Yonatan’s Targum, it means being blessed when going into the Beit HaMikdash, the Temple, and when going out to do business.

It can also be interpreted as a reference to the priestly ministry of coming into the presence of the Eternal and to the royal ministry that rules over circumstances.

The Sixth Aliyah, 28:7 – 29:1 (28:69 Heb.)

28:7 “HaShem will cause your enemies who rise up against you to be struck before you: they shall come out against you one way, and shall flee before you seven ways.”(HNV revised) – The blessings of obedience include victory in wars.

28:9 “HaShem will establish you for a consecrated people to himself, as he has sworn to you; if you shall keep the commandments of your God, and walk in his ways.”(HNV revised) – The greatest blessing is to be near HaShem.

28:10 “All the peoples of the earth shall see that you are called by the name of HaShem; and they shall be afraid of you.”(HNV revised) – The greatest impression on the gentile nations is made when the people of Israel obey. This text teaches us that Israel was placed to make an impression on the nations. HaShem wants his salvation to reach the outermost corners of the earth so he has created the people of Israel to be a channel for this, as it is written in Isaiah 49:5-6,

“Now says HaShem who formed me from the womb to be his servant, to bring Ya`akov again to him, and that Yisra'el be gathered to him - for I am honorable in the eyes of HaShem, and my God is become my strength - yes, he says, It is too light a thing that you should be my servant to raise up the tribes of Ya`akov, and to restore the preserved of Yisra'el: I will also give you for a light to the gentiles, that you may be my salvation to the end of the earth.”(HNV revised) 

28:13 “HaShem will make you the head, and not the tail; and you shall be above only, and you shall not be beneath; if you shall listen to the commandments of HaShem your God, which I command you this day, to observe and to do them,”(HNV revised) – The only way to win victory over satan and to be in a position of authority over evil spirits, is by submitting to the Eternal in humility and to obey his commandments, see James 4:7; 1 Peter 5:6, 9. Whoever does not submit cannot resist the enemy. We can only be on top if we obey the commandments. There is no real and lasting success without obedience.

28:14 “and shall not turn aside from any of the words which I command you this day, to the right hand, or to the left, to go after other gods to serve them.”(HNV) – Here it says “this day”. If it is in your power to obey today but you still put it off for tomorrow, then you have not fulfilled the commandments. The commandments are made to be fulfilled today, not tomorrow or yesterday. Now is the opportunity that we have to obey. If you do not obey today, you won’t do it tomorrow either. Don’t allow yourself to be deceived!

 HaShem works with us today and we must have fellowship with him today, not yesterday or tomorrow, but right now. Make things right with HaShem today and do not leave it for tomorrow.

 In this passage, there are approximately 12 positive results of obedience mentioned, but approximately 98 afflictions that come as a result of disobedience. Why are there so many more words that speak of curses than there are that speak of blessings?

On the one hand it is to create a fear of the consequences of sin and thus cause people to avoid sin. On the other hand, we can see prophetically, in this chapter together with chapter 30, the whole history of Israel. The history of Israel began with things looking up, until the time of King Shelomo, when all these blessings were on the people. Then the king and the people began to turn aside from the way of obedience and from then on, things went downhill. One after another of these curses were fulfilled until the time came for the restoration, which the first verses of chapter 30 speak of. We are now living in the time of chapter 30!

In Deuteronomy 30:1-2, it is written,

It shall happen, when all these things are come on you, the blessing and the curse, which I have set before you, and you shall call them to mind among all the nations, where HaShem your God has driven you, and shall return to HaShem your God, and shall obey his voice according to all that I command you this day, you and your children, with all your heart, and with all your soul”(HNV revised)

We are living in this now. The Hebrew revival among assimilated Jews, lost Israelites, and gentiles, is part of the fulfillment of these words in the Torah. This text teaches us that the return to Moshe’s Torah is the result of having come back to the Eternal in the end times, after all these blessings and curses have come on Israel throughout the course of history.

You are a part of something very significant. When you join this movement of restoration, you are united with the Eternal’s plan of redemption for the end times.

28:16 “Cursed shall you be in the city, and cursed shall you be in the field.”(HNV) – The first curse is personal.

28:17 “Cursed shall be your basket and your kneading-trough.”(HNV) – The food comes second.

28:18 “Cursed shall be the fruit of your body, and the fruit of your ground, the increase of your cattle, and the young of your flock.”(HNV) – Family is third, and work is fourth. The order of the curses is not the same as the order of the blessings.

28:19 “Cursed shall you be when you come in, and cursed shall you be when you go out.”(HNV) – Yonatan’s Targum translated it this way, “Cursed shall you be when you come into the theaters and the circuses, and cursed shall you be when you go out to do business”.

28:21-22a “HaShem will make the pestilence cleave to you, until he have consumed you from off the land, where you go in to possess it. HaShem will strike you with consumption, and with fever, and with inflammation, and with fiery heat”(HNV revised) – Sicknesses are identified as results of different curses, see 27-28, 34-35, 59-61. Sicknesses are not blessings. However, HaShem can use curses to bring about positive results in people. Any curse at all can be turned into a blessing, but the curse in itself is not a good thing. Sickness in itself is not good. It attacks human life. We ought to have a hostile attitude towards sicknesses. Diseases are not our friends, we do not want them, and we do not accept them in our bodies. We resist them physically, through our bodies’ immune system, psychologically, by an attitude of rejection, and spiritually, by proclaiming words of Scripture that speak of heavenly healing, by praying and asking for healing, and by healing in the name of Yeshua.

In Deuteronomy 28:61, it is written,

Also every sickness, and every plague, which is not written in this Torah scroll, them will HaShem bring on you, until you are destroyed.”(HNV revised)

If the Messiah Yeshua took the curses of the Torah, according to Deuteronomy 21:23 and Galatians 3:13, then he also took all sicknesses, which are curses. Sicknesses are curses! They are not mentioned among the blessings. Yeshua took all sickness upon himself in order to give healing to those who are faithful to the Eternal, see Isaiah 53:4-5; Matthew 12:15.

28:29 “and you shall grope at noonday, as the blind gropes in darkness, and you shall not prosper in your ways: and you shall be only oppressed and robbed always, and there shall be none to save you.”(HNV) – Theft is a result of the curse. If you have been robbed, you have been affected by a curse. If we live in obedience to the commandments we have protection even from theft. If everyone obeys the commandments, there would be no theft.

28:30 “You shall betroth a wife, and another man shall lie with her: you shall build a house, and you shall not dwell therein: you shall plant a vineyard, and shall not use the fruit of it.”(HNV) – Here we find these three things in reverse order, woman, house, vineyard, see 20:5-7. The curse comes first over the wife, then over the house, and finally over the vineyard.

28:36 “HaShem will bring you, and your king whom you shall set over you, to a nation that you have not known, you nor your fathers; and there shall you serve other gods, wood and stone.”(HNV revised) – This text teaches us, primarily, that the Torah predicts that there will be a king in Israel. It also shows us prophetically what would happen to a certain king, see 2 Kings 24:15 and 2 Chronicles 36:5-6; see Talmud Yoma 52b.

 “a nation” – Here it is speaking of one nation, not several. This is referring to the deportation to Babylon, which was to one single nation. Further on, when the second temple is destroyed, the Jews were dispersed to all the nations of the earth.

         “wood” – This could refer to the cross that is worshipped by many Christians.

         “stone” – This can also refer to Qaba, the black stone in Mecca.

28:37 “You shall become an astonishment, a proverb, and a byword, among all the peoples where HaShem shall lead you away.”(HNV revised) – This has been fulfilled in all the lands where Jews are mocked and despised.

28:39 “You shall plant vineyards and dress them, but you shall neither drink of the wine, nor gather the grapes; for the worm shall eat them.”(HNV) – Worms eating the vegetables and fruit are a result of the curse that comes when the commandments are not obeyed.

28:47-48 “Because you didn't serve HaShem your God with joyfulness, and with gladness of heart, by reason of the abundance of all things; therefore shall you serve your enemies whom HaShem shall send against you, in hunger, and in thirst, and in nakedness, and in want of all things: and he shall put a yoke of iron on your neck, until he has destroyed you.”(HNV revised) – If we do not serve the Eternal with joy and a glad heart, we will have lack in everything and a yoke of iron will be placed on us.

This leads us to question whether we are really showing gratefulness when we have abundance of everything. Or do we complain about what we do not have? If we complain about the food, clothes, and other things that the Eternal gives us, we will loose what we have. When we are lacking things, could it be because we have not learned this lesson? Do we praise the Eternal with joy and a glad heart after meals or do we leave the table without giving thanks?

According to Yerushalayim’s Talmud,[12] the yoke of iron means dark thoughts and worries. The yoke can also mean spiritual oppression and psychological depression. One way of winning victory over this oppression is by praising the Eternal with joy. If you are tempted to be depressed, you ought to dance before the Eternal and sing with a loud voice so that the oppression will not come over you. If you are already depressed you can use the same method in order to get victory.

28:49-50 “HaShem will bring a nation against you from far, from the end of the earth, as the eagle flies; a nation whose language you shall not understand; a nation of fierce facial expressions, that shall not regard the person of the old, nor show favor to the young”(HNV revised) – This text speaks, among other things, about the Roman Empire, which had the eagle as its symbol, see Jeremiah 49:14-16; Obadiah, (a descendant of Edom established Rome). Nachmanides points out that the word goy, which means “nation”, is mentioned three times in these verses. This is referring to the three crucial wars between Rome and Israel. The first war was when Pompeius took Yerushalayim and made an end to the Chashmonite kingdom. The second war was when Herod fought Aristobolus’ son, Antigonus, who was the last Chashmonite ruler. Herod called for Emperor Antonio, who conquered Yerushalayim. The third war was when Vespasian and Titus destroyed the Jewish kingdom. The consequences of that war are prophesied in the rest of the text that we are studying now.

The Sixth Aliyah, 28:58 – 29:1 (28:69 Heb.)

28:58 “If you will not observe to do all the words of this Torah that are written in this book, that you may fear this glorious and fearful name, HASHEM YOUR GOD”(HNV revised) – The curses will affect those who do not fear the Eternal, since fear of the Eternal will lead us to obey him. Our fear of the Eternal is a very important part of our love for him. One who fears the consequences of sin, which are HaShem’s anger, will avoid much evil. The eternal gospel that has always been preached and that will be preached unto the end, encourages us to fear, honor, and worship the Eternal, as it is written in Revelation 14:6-7,

I saw an angel flying in mid heaven, having an eternal gospel to proclaim to those who dwell on the earth, and to every nation, tribe, language, and people. He said with a loud voice, ‘Fear God, and give him glory; for the hour of his judgment has come. Worship him who made the heaven, the earth, the sea, and the springs of waters!’”(HNV revised)

28:64 “HaShem will scatter you among all peoples, from the one end of the earth even to the other end of the earth; and there you shall serve other gods, which you have not known, you nor your fathers, even wood and stone.”(HNV revised) – This has already been fulfilled. There are descendants of the twelve tribes among all the peoples of the earth. This is the result of a sowing that the Eternal has done, and it is beginning to bring a harvest in our days. The movement that is called “Messianic”, “Hebrew roots”, and “Netzarite” is the beginning of this great harvest among the descendants of the tribes who were sown among all the nations. The time for them to be handpicked one by one is now, as it is written in Amos 9:9,

“For, behold, I will command, and I will sift the house of Yisra'el among all the nations, as grain is sifted in a sieve, yet not the least kernel will fall on the earth.”(HNV)

In Isaiah 27:12, it is written,

“It shall happen in that day, that HaShem will harvest his fruit from the flood of the River to the brook of Egypt; and you shall be gathered one by one, you children of Yisra'el.”(HNV revised)

28:68 “HaShem will bring you into Egypt again with ships, by the way of which I said to you, You shall see it no more again: and there you shall sell yourselves to your enemies for bondservants and for bondmaids, and no man shall buy you.”(HNV revised) – This was done by the Romans after the fall of Yerushalayim. They took Jewish slaves to Gaza who were then brought by ship to Egypt and sold for terrible prices.

The Seventh Aliyah, 29:2(1 Heb.) – 29:9(8 Heb.

29:9(8) “Keep therefore the words of this covenant, and do them, that you may prosper in all that you do.”(HNV) – Success is dependent on covenant obedience. These words are repeated in Joshua 1:8, where it is written,

“This Torah scroll shall not depart out of your mouth, but you shall meditate thereon day and night, that you may observe to do according to all that is written therein: for then you shall make your way prosperous, and then you shall have good success.”(HNV revised)

What should we do in order to prosper and have good success in everything? Let us then do it with joy!

The Mashiach in this Parashah

Beyond the texts that we have already mentioned, (26:2; 28:30), in this Parashah we can find an allusion to the Messiah in 29:4-6 where it is written,

“but HaShem has not given you a heart to know, and eyes to see, and ears to hear, to this day. I have led you forty years in the wilderness: your clothes have not grown old on you, and your shoe has not grown old on your foot. You have not eaten bread, neither have you drunk wine or strong drink; that you may know that I am HaShem your God.”(HNV revised)

There is not enough power in the Sinai covenant to change man on the inside. This is symbolized by the lack of bread and wine in the desert.

This passage is saying that the Eternal will one day give the people of Israel a heart to understand, eyes to see, and ears to hear. This will happen when they enter the renewed covenant.

During Jewish feasts, the same order is always observed; first the wine is taken and then the bread. Here, however, it is talking about bread first and then wine. This is a reference to the occasion when the Messiah took the matzah bread (without yeast) at the Pesach table, and then said that the bread represents his body that would be given for all. Then he took the third cup of wine of the Seder meal and said that this cup was the renewed covenant in his blood. First bread and then wine.

This renewal of the Sinai covenant, which was made through Yeshua, has the power to change man so that he will have a heart to understand, with spiritual eyes and ears that can understand and be led by the Spirit of the Sacred One, as it is written in Jeremiah 31:33-34,

“But this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Yisra'el after those days, says HaShem: I will put my Torah in their inward parts, and in their heart will I write it; and I will be their God, and they shall be my people: and they shall teach no more every man his neighbor, and every man his brother, saying, Know HaShem; for they shall all know me, from the least of them to the greatest of them, says HaShem: for I will forgive their iniquity, and their sin will I remember no more.”(HNV revised)

In 1 Corinthians 2:9-10, 15, it is written,

“But as it is written, ‘Things which an eye didn't see, and an ear didn't hear, which didn't enter into the heart of man, these God has prepared for those who love him.’ But to us, God revealed them through the Spirit. For the Spirit searches all things, yes, the deep things of God... But he who is spiritual discerns all things, and he himself is judged by no one.”(HNV revised)

If a spirit causes you to turn away from the written Torah that was given through Moshe and pulls you away from the Messiah Yeshua, the living Torah, it is a false spirit. God’s Spirit will always lead you to Torah obedience as it was expressed through Moshe and explained by the Messiah Yeshua.

This Parashah contains commandments number 606 – 611 of the 613 commandments.

  1. The command to make a declaration over the first fruits (bikurim), Deuteronomy 26:5.

  2. The command to make a declaration over the tithe (maaser), Deuteronomy 26:13.

  3. The command to act like God, Deuteronomy 28:9.

  4. The prohibition of eating the second tithe (maaser sheni) during a period of mourning, Deuteronomy 26:14.

  5. The prohibition of eating the second tithe while unclean, Deuteronomy 26:14.

  6. The prohibition of using the money from the second tithe for anything other than food and drink, Deuteronomy 26:14.

[1]     Strong H7225 rê'shîyth, ray-sheeth', From the same as H7218; the first, in place, time, order or rank (specifically a firstfruit): - beginning, chief (-est), first (-fruits, part, time), principal thing.

[2]     Bikurim 1:3.

[3]     Pesachim 36b.

[4]     Bikurim 1:4, 6.

[5]     La voz de la Torá.

[6]     Sotah 35b.

[7]     Sotah 32a

[8]     http://ebal.haifa.ac.il/ebal06.html.

[9]     Sotah 32a.

[10]    La voz de la Torá (The Torah’s Voice).

[11]    Babah Metsiah 107a.

[12]    Rabí El’azar I Jer. Shabbat 14:3.