Torah Portion for September 11-17, 2016

Torah Portion for September 11-17, 2016
THIS WEEK’S TORAH PORTION:

THIS WEEK’S TORAH PORTION:

Ki Tetze (כי תצא | When you go forth)

Torah: Deuteronomy 21:10-25:19

Haftarah: Isaiah 54:1-10

Gospel: Luke 23:1-25


From ancient times there has been a weekly portion (Parashah) from the first five books of Moses (The Torah) and an ending (Haftarah) from the Prophets read on the Sabbath in synagogues around the world. This portion is given a Hebrew name drawn from the opening words of the Torah passage. An illustration of this practice appears to have been recorded in Luke 4:16 where Yeshua (Jesus) arrived in the synagogue in Nazareth and was asked to read the portion (Isaiah 61) from the Prophets. 

We have found that in perusing these weekly readings, not only are we provided opportunity to identify in the context of God’s Word with millions of Jewish people around the world, but very often the Holy Spirit will illumine specific passages pertinent that week in our intercession for the Land and people of Israel. The Haftarah, unless otherwise noted, will be that read in Ashkenazy synagogues around the world. The references for all texts are those found in English translations of the Scriptures.

The Parashah for this week September 11-17, 2016 is called Ki Tetzeh- “When You Go Out…”

TORAH: Deuteronomy 21:10—25:19

HAFTARAH: Isaiah 54:1-10 

TORAH

*Deuteronomy 21:21, 22:21, 22:22, 22:24; 24:7; 23:14. “Thus you shall purge away the evil from among you”. 

As mentioned last week, the word for “purge” may also be translated “to burn, kindle or root out”. There are many situations and circumstances dealt with in these passages (some of necessity not making for the most pleasant reading) pointing to the fact that it is of great importance that God’s people be ‘set apart’ and clean—both morally and physically, personally and as a community “since the LORD your God walks in the midst of your camp to deliver you and to defeat your enemies before you, therefore your camp must be holy; and He must not see anything indecent among you or He will turn away from you.” 

We find Psalm 101 to be especially pertinent in applying this same principle to our hearts and homes today, especially verses 2-4: “I will be careful to lead a blameless life—when will you come to me? I will walk in my house with blameless heart. I will set before my eyes no vile thing. The deeds of faithless men I hate; they will not cling to me. Men of perverse heart shall be far from me; I will have nothing to do with evil!” (NIV)

*Deuteronomy 23:5. “Nevertheless the LORD your God would not listen to Balaam, but the LORD your God turned the curse into a blessing for you, because the LORD your God loves you.”

*Deuteronomy 23:7. “You shall not abhor an Egyptian, because you were an alien in his land.” 

We believe this admonition to be still in effect today. PLEASE PRAY for a love for Egypt among the Body in Israel. Pray for the Body in Egypt to rise up in faith and love and hope…and moving in the miraculous power of the Spirit of God. Pray that relations be strengthened between the two countries! God has promised that there will one day be a highway of holiness stretching from Egypt through Israel to Assyria to the north.

HAFTARAH

*Isaiah 54:2-3. “Enlarge the place of your tent, and let them stretch out the curtains of your dwellings; do not spare; lengthen your cords, and strengthen your stakes. For you shall expand to the right and to the left, and your descendants will inherit the nations, and make the desolate cities inhabited.” 

PLEASE PRAY: That Israel will come into that place of righteousness in her Messiah which will allow God to extend her borders to encompass the territory which He has ordained for her, a territory from which she will never be plucked up.

*Isaiah 54:5. “For your Maker is your husband, YHVH of Hosts is His name; and your Redeemer is the Holy One of Israel; He is called the God of the whole earth.”

PLEASE PRAY: For revelation in Israel that God loves him in an intimate way—and has provided a “Redeemer” for him, who is One with the Father… “All things came into being through Him (i.e. Yeshua/Jesus), and apart from Him nothing came into being that has come into being” (John 1:3).

*Isaiah 54:7-8. “‘For a mere moment I have forsaken you, but with great mercies I will gather you. With a little wrath I hid My face from you for a moment; but with everlasting kindness I will have mercy on you,’ says the LORD, your Redeemer.”

*Isaiah 54:10. “‘For the mountains shall depart and the hills be removed, but my kindness shall not depart from you, nor shall My covenant of peace be removed,’ says the LORD, who has mercy on you.”

The following section is revised from what we included in the Update a year ago. We find its message pertinent each year as Jewish people around the world are making their way through these wonderful passages from the Book of Isaiah.

“WHAT HAPPENED TO JESUS’ HAFTARAH?” 

Three weeks ago, the Haftarah (the closing passage from the Prophets which follows reading of the weekly Torah Portion in Synagogues) extended from Isaiah 49:14 to 51:3. The regular reading for the next week skipped from there to Isaiah 54:11—55:5. Last week it went back to 51:12—52:12, and this week it is back again to 54:1-10 (Next week we leave this part of the book altogether and leap to Isaiah 60).  

What is mysteriously absent here is the great poem of the “Anointed Suffering Servant”, beginning with Isaiah 52:13 and extending through all of Isaiah 53. As a result of this, many Jews who are only exposed to the readings they hear in Synagogue are unaware that the message of Isaiah 53 even exists. It is in their Bibles if they looked…but often with added rabbinic commentaries carefully calculated to turn them away from any possible interpretation which might point towards identifying the “anointed servant” with Yeshua/Jesus.

“All Scripture is breathed by God” and, as such, testifies to Messiahship of Yeshua (II Timothy 3:16; Luke 24:44-45). This is one reason why we align with Jews all over the world each week in reading and praying into the Torah and Haftarah readings. But this does not mean that we consider the selection of these portions of Scripture as they are used in the weekly Parasha readings today as being “inspired” in the same way as the substance of the Scriptures themselves! The Haftarah portions have certainly been altered since the time of Yeshua. In fact, the Portion He read after entering the Synagogue in Nazareth as recorded in Luke 4:16-19—that wonderful passage from Isaiah 61:1-2 beginning “The Spirit of the Lord GOD is upon me…”—isn’t even read in the Synagogues anymore!

Prof. Hananel Mack, who teaches in the Talmud Department of Bar-Ilan University and in the Department of Hebrew Literature at the Hebrew University, suspects that it was deliberately excised from the readings by Jewish leaders because Yeshua (Jesus) claimed it as corroborating and being fulfilled in His mission on earth. Mack cites other “Christological” passages, which appear to have been left out when the Haftarah readings as used today were formalized—excised simply because of the way they were associated with Yeshua by the early Church. The most blatant of these falls within the seven Sabbaths between Tisha B’av and Rosh Hashanah, passages not primarily related to the Torah Portion at all, but devoted to speaking consolation over Israel. As mentioned above, these readings dance back and forth on either side, up to the very beginning and from the very end of the poem regarding the “suffering Servant”— Isaiah 52:13—53:12,. 1)

 Yet ancient Jewish commentaries exist which do associate the Servant here with the coming Anointed One (i.e. Messiah). Certainly, the Messianic Jews of the 1st Century knew to whom it was referring. In Acts 8:35, Philip, a deacon in the early Messianic Body of Jerusalem, “beginning at this Scripture [from Isaiah 53], preached Yeshua” to a visiting Ethiopian official. And yet, despite the exclusion of this precious passage, Yeshua’s presence may yet be discerned in almost all of the readings for these seven weeks (See especially Isaiah 50:5-7 from the Haftarah three weeks ago).

But all of Israel is starving for the truths of Chapter 53. During the past decade, Handel’s oratorio Messiah has for the first time begun to be performed annually in Hebrew in different cities in Israel. At the heart of this exalted work lies Isaiah 53, and with a clear message as to whom it refers! For many in the audiences, it comes as their first exposure to this chapter of Life from their own Scriptures. 
PLEASE PRAY: That the Holy Spirit will awaken a curiosity which will lead many Jews to this year search out and read Isaiah 52:13-53:12. Pray for the “veil” to be lifted that they may see and have understanding and believe in the one who came first to live and release Kingdom life among us, to suffer and “bear the sin of many”—to die and be buried, to be raised to see His seed and prolong His days. Pray for revelation of this righteous One, the knowledge of whom “justifies many!”

Love and War

Thought for the Week:

A popular English maxim states, “All’s fair in love and war.” The implication is that rules of proper conduct can be suspended when fighting on the field of battle and when playing on the field of romance. The Torah disagrees.

Commentary:

When you go out to battle against your enemies, and the LORD your God delivers them into your hands and you take them away captive, and see among the captives a beautiful woman, and have a desire for her and would take her as a wife for yourself … (Deuteronomy 21:10-11)

According to the Torah, not everything is fair in love or war. Last week’s Torah portion spelled out certain laws of conduct for warfare. This week’s Torah portion introduces the prospect of romance on the battlefield.

A soldier in a heathen army would have no compunction over taking, raping and disposing of a captive woman. Not so in the army of the LORD.

The Torah acknowledges that the soldiers of a conquering army are likely to be tempted to take captive women, but it forbids acting on the impulse. Instead, the Torah demands that a captive woman be granted dignity and honor. She is to be allowed to mourn her parents. She is to be given the honor of marriage. She is not to be taken forcibly; she is to be married and given the status of a wife. She cannot be treated as a slave, nor can she be sold.

Before the conquering soldier can consummate his desire and marry the woman, he has to allow her to mourn the loss of her family for a full month. During this period of time, she is to shave the hair of her head and (according to Rashi’s reading of the Hebrew) let her fingernails grow.

Shaving the head and letting the nails grow long are apparently mourning rituals of the time. However, Rashi suggests another reason for her hairless, unkempt appearance. He states that the Torah’s laws are attempting to dissuade the man from marrying the captive woman by making her appear repulsive to him. The month of mourning is like a thirty-day waiting period during which the man has time to reconsider his intentions. Does he really want to marry the weeping bald woman with the long fingernails? If at the end of the thirty days the man has decided he is not pleased with her and does not want to marry the woman after all, he is to let her go free.

The Torah’s wisdom in this matter teaches us several principles that apply to every romantic relationship. A person should never rush into marriage. Love at first sight is not real love. Before committing to marriage, a person needs to take time to see past the other person’s sexual allure and fog of lust. “Charm is deceptive, and beauty is fleeting; but a woman who fears the LORD is to be praised” (Proverbs 31:30). These laws teach us to curb our natural desires and remember that the person we are so attracted to is, after all, another human being, not a sex object. Furthermore, the laws pertaining to the captured woman teach us that sex before marriage is never sanctioned. Even the battlefield soldier had to delay gratification thirty days and wait until the wedding document was signed.

Middot U’Mitzvot (Character and Deeds)

Unequally Yoked

You shall not plow with an ox and a donkey together. (Deuteronomy 22:10)

Popular proverbial lore about love and marriage says, “Opposites attract.” Marriage counselors who have the unpleasant job of trying to reconcile polarized marriages disagree. So does the Bible. The Torah says that we are not to plow with an ox and donkey yoked together. It says that we are not to plant a field with two different types of seed. It says that we aren’t to make a garment out of two different types of linen and wool knit together. Each of these commandments illustrates an important principle about relationships.

In 2 Corinthians 6, Paul interprets the prohibition on yoking two different types of animals together metaphorically as a prohibition against partnering with an unbeliever.

Do not be [yoked] together with unbelievers; for what partnership have righteousness and lawlessness, or what fellowship has light with darkness? Or what harmony has Messiah with Belial, or what has a believer in common with an unbeliever? Or what agreement has the temple of God with idols? For we are the temple of the living God. (2 Corinthians 6:14-16)

The world says that a person should marry whomever he or she falls in love with. This is a bad plan. It is possible to fall in love with the wrong person. If you allow yourself to be emotionally invested in a person, marriage is likely to happen.

A person should be extremely reluctant to marry someone who is not of the same religious persuasion. Christians must not consider marriage to someone who is not a believer and follower of Yeshua. To do so would be to be unevenly yoked. A true disciple of Yeshua should not even consider marrying a marginal believer.

The Torah and Haftarah portions for next week (September 18-24, 2016) are called Ki Tavo—“When You Come Into…”   

TORAH: Deuteronomy 26:1—29:9

  HAFTARAH: Isaiah 60:1-22