Shalom All, Welcome to this week’s Torah / Bible study section. “Ki Tetze” (When You Go Out) “When you go forth [ki tetze] to battle against your enemies, and Yahweh delivers them into your hands …” (Deuteronomy 21:10).
Last week, section “Shoftim” focused rather broadly on the system of worship, judicial procedures and the administration of the nation. This week’s section of Scripture, “Ki Tetze”, includes 74 of the 613 commandments contained in the Torah. These commandments include miscellaneous criminal, civil, and family laws as well as moral and religious duties of the Israelites. I remind you to read Exodus 20:18-21 to see, if these verse were taken out, i.e. the people had not got afraid and moved, Yahweh’s instructions would have continued uninterrupted to Ex 23:33. Moses wrote ALL these words in the book of Ex 24:4 to which the people agreed and the covenant was made in 24:7-8. THEN Moses goes up to the Mount to get the sacrificial forgiveness of sin system for if and when they broke any of the 613 commandments in the covenant. For a more comprehensive study read or listen to a sermon titled “What was written on Stone”.
The Curse and Death on a Tree. This Torah portion is a very practical compilation of teachings that squarely deals with most real-life situations: from inheritance rights of the firstborn to how to deal with stubborn, rebellious children; from returning lost objects to their owner to building safety fences around the roof of a home in order to prevent loss of life. From protection of the living to how to treat the body of the deceased.
The ethical treatment of a corpse extends to criminals hung on a tree after being convicted of a capital offence. They have to be taken down and buried on the same day. Bodies could not be left overnight, since anyone hung on a tree is considered cursed by God. Joh 19:31 The Jews therefore, because it was the preparation, that the bodies should not remain upon the cross on the sabbath day, (for that sabbath day was an high day,) besought Pilate that their legs might be broken, and that they might be taken away.
“If a man guilty of a capital offense is put to death and you hang him on a tree [וְתָלִ֥יתָ אֹתֹ֖ו עַל־עֵֽץ], his corpse shall not remain on the tree overnight. You must bury it the same day; anyone who is hanged is a curse of God.” (Deuteronomy 21:22–23). Act 5:30 The God of our fathers raised up Yahshua, whom ye slew and hanged on a tree. Act 10:39 And we are witnesses of all things which he did both in the land of the Jews, and in Jerusalem; whom they slew and hanged on a tree: Act 13:29 And when they had fulfilled all that was written of him, they took him down from the tree, and laid him in a sepulchre. (Note not a cross).
The Hebrew word for tree is etz (עֵץ); the phrase “hang him on a tree” refers to death as a result of hanging on a tree or gallows, or to displaying a corpse on a tree after his execution. Either way, the sight of a hung man on a wooden pole is a curse of God. This is at least partly why a rich man named Joseph asked to take Yahshua’s body down from the execution stake. Or it was the intervention of God through Joseph.
“As evening approached, there came a rich man from Arimathea, named Joseph, who had himself become a disciple of Yahshua. Going to Pilate, he asked for Yahshua’s body and Pilate ordered that it be given to him. Joseph took the body, wrapped it in a clean linen cloth, and placed it in his own new tomb that he had cut out of the rock." (Matthew 27:57–60).
Yahshua was not guilty of a capital offense, so why was he put to death on a tree? According to Jewish priestly legal interpretation found in the halakhah (literally, the way) the one who is guilty of treason or blasphemy would be hanged to death on a tree in full display before the people he has betrayed and the God he has blasphemed. This interpretation of Deuteronomy 21:22–23 is found in early Aramaic translations of the Bible and rabbinical literature. Since that time and to today, Jewish leaders therefore saw Yahshua’s hanging as “proof” that He blasphemed Yahweh God by claiming to be the Messiah. In their interpretation, no true Messiah would hang on a tree and become a curse of God.
However, this Torah / Bible section helps us see how Yahshua took the full measure of the curse on our behalf by hanging on a tree. Gal 3:10 For as many as are of the works of the law are under the curse: for it is written, Cursed is every one that continueth not in all things which are written in the book of the law to do them. Gal 3:13 Christ hath redeemed us from the curse of the law, being made a curse for us: for it is written, Cursed is every one that hangeth on a tree: Hopefully, this would help a proper understanding of Galatians and other epistles. In many cases, the penalty for sin, transgression of some of the 613 covenant instructions, was death. [Rom 6:23 For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Yahshua our master. Jas 1:15 Then when lust hath conceived, it bringeth forth sin: and sin, when it is finished, bringeth forth death. Jas 5:20 Let him know, that he which converteth the sinner from the error of his way shall save a soul from death, and shall hide a multitude of sins. Rom 5:12 Wherefore, as by one man sin entered into the world, and death by sin; and so death passed upon all men, for that all have sinned: Rom 6:16 Know ye not, that to whom ye yield yourselves servants to obey, his servants ye are to whom ye obey; whether of sin unto death, or of obedience unto righteousness? Rom 8:6 For to be carnally minded is death; but to be spiritually minded is life and peace. 1Cor 15:56 The sting of death is sin; and the strength of sin is the law].
"Yahshua HaMashiach (the Messiah), who gave himself for us to redeem us from all wickedness and to purify for himself a people that are his very own, eager to do what is good." (Titus 2:13–14).
In the early days of the gospel preaching, Orthodox Jews rejected Yahshua as the promised messiah because the law said “cursed of God is anyone who hanged on a tree”. Reflecting on this matter, Paul wrote to the Corinthians, “I make known to you that no one speaking by the Spirit of God says, ‘Jesus is accursed’; and no one can say, ‘Jesus is Lord,’ except in the Holy Spirit” (1 Corinthians 12:3). He also brought it up in the book of Galatians. In Galatians 3, Paul returned to his old anti-Yahshua attitude and cited Deuteronomy 21:22-23 in reference to Yahshua again. That passage was always popular with the anti-Yahshua crowd, but in Galatians 3, Paul put a new spin on it:
Christ redeemed us from the curse of the law by becoming a curse for us, for it is written, [in Deuteronomy 21:23] “Cursed is everyone who is hanged on a tree” so that in Yahshua the blessing of Abraham might come to the Gentiles, so that we might receive the promised Spirit through faith (Galatians 3:13-14). There on the tree, Yahshua took on Himself the curse that was meant for us (salvational death, separation from God), accepting the penalty for our sins and experiencing for the first time what it felt like to be separated from God because of transgression. This is what the Prophet Isaiah referred to when he wrote:
“Surely He took up our pain and bore our suffering, yet we considered Him punished by God, stricken by Him, and afflicted. But He was pierced for our transgressions, He was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was on Him, and by His wounds we are healed.” (Isaiah 53:4–5).
Paul, a former Pharisee, also referred to the curse when he wrote: “Messiah redeemed us from the curse of [not the law nor one’s guilt] the law by becoming a curse for us, for it is written: 'Cursed is everyone who is hung on a pole'” (Galatians 3:13). There on the tree, Yahshua took all our curses so that we could experience His blessings. Those who follow Yahshua are no longer alienated from God; but have His laws inscribed on their hearts.
Holiness and the Laws of God: Having the laws of God written on our hearts means that God’s character and nature are known to us in a very personal way, not through external laws written in a covenant book, but internally in our very souls. Do you carry around your work manual once you have learnt and practiced what it said, no, you now have the knowledge in your head and / or heart. According to your job and its theory, you now have faith in those theories. Like getting into a two plus ton piece of metal flying in the sky. Gal 3:24 Wherefore the law was our schoolmaster to bring us unto Christ, that we might be justified by faith. Rom 2:14 For when the Gentiles, which have not the law, do by nature the things contained in the law,… Not many people know the physics of how aeroplanes fly and stay up in the sky, yet through watching others, they have attained the same faith as those who do; the designers and engineers.
Having the laws written in our conscience, does not mean we can turn our backs on the Torah (written instructions), which helps us to better understand holiness and God's nature. Like any driver or worker who forgets or breaks the driving laws or work practices, they are reminded of it by the written law; i.e. for a driver they are sent on a refresher driver awareness course.
Stoning Rebellious Children.
There is a saying “Children will be children”. That is true; but they do not have to be bad kids. "Children, obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right" (Ephesians 6:1), the Apostle Paul says. In the Bible, obeying one's parents is a big deal. So much so that a rebellious and disobedient son was supposed to be stoned to death.
Did the ancient Israelites really stone their rebellious children to death? The rabbis placed strict conditions and limitations on the scope and application of this law. The Talmud states, "There never has been a case of a 'stubborn and rebellious son' brought to trial and never will be" (b.Sanhedrin 71a).
Nevertheless, the law is a fair warning to all parents. Some parents look the other way when their children disobey and misbehave. The Torah wants us to realize that permissive parenting is not an option for the people of God. Many parents today tolerate disobedience and regard teenage rebellion as an ordinary part of growing up. It may be ordinary, but that does not make it permissible. The Didache says, "You shall not remove your hand from your son or from your daughter, but from their youth you shall teach them the fear of God" (Didache 4:9).
The book of Proverbs says that a man who does not discipline his son hates his son, but a man who loves his son disciplines him diligently. Discipline teaches a child wisdom, "but a child who gets his own way brings shame to his mother" (Proverbs 29:15). Another proverb states that disciplining a child will not kill him, but warns that withholding discipline could both kill him and doom his soul to hell:
Do not hold back discipline from the child, although you strike him with the rod, he will not die. You shall strike him with the rod and rescue his soul from Sheol. (Proverbs 23:13-14).
Parents are responsible for bringing up their children in a godly manner. If we do not, our children will inevitably pay the consequences, whether in this world or in the world to come. The commandment of stoning a rebellious teenager seems unreasonably harsh, but the story of Eli’s or even David's sons illustrates that a parent who does not discipline a child is actually taking the child's life. King David did not fulfil the responsibility of training his children. David loved his sons too much to properly discipline them while they were growing up, or so it seems. The Proverbs say, "He who withholds his rod hates his son, but he who loves him disciplines him diligently" (Proverbs 13:24). As a result of permissive parenting, several of David's sons met tragic and grisly ends.
His son Amnon raped his step-sister Tamar. David did nothing about it. David's son Absalom (Tamar's brother) murdered Amnon as vengeance for the rape. David did not properly deal with Absalom's vigilante action. He merely exiled him temporarily. Absalom led a rebellion against David and was eventually speared by David's men. David's son Adonijah attempted to usurp the throne. Solomon had him struck down with the sword for his rebellion. The Bible says that David never crossed his sons at any time. He never asked them, "Why have you done so?" (1 Kings 1:6). In other words, he never held them accountable for their behaviour. Had David disciplined his sons when they were young, rebuking misbehaviour and punishing disobedience, he might have saved their lives.
We see in this study section that sin has a very heavy cost. For instance, while the Commandments commands us to honour our parents, this portion specifies that sustained disobedience to parents is a capital offence, Deu 21:18 below. If a man have a stubborn and rebellious son, which will not obey the voice of his father, or the voice of his mother, and that, when they have chastened him, will not hearken unto them: Deu 21:19 Then shall his father and his mother lay hold on him, and bring him out unto the elders of his city, and unto the gate of his place; Deu 21:20 And they shall say unto the elders of his city, This our son is stubborn and rebellious, he will not obey our voice; he is a glutton, and a drunkard. Deu 21:21 And all the men of his city shall stone him with stones, that he die: so shalt thou put evil away from among you; and all Israel shall hear, and fear.
In today’s society parents are not legally permitted to physically reprimand their children. Disobedient children result in parents being fined, or ASBO’s (Anti Social Behaviour Orders) levied on the child. Which does not curb most. Lastly, they end up in juvenile and later adult prisons costing the society millions of money.
I am told, the punishment for breaking this law was never carried out in Israel, but became more of an ideal law that emphasized the respect of parents. It is also said that this law seems to describe a son who is a grown man, which indicates that God holds we are never too old to revere our parents. Pro 22:6 Train up a child in the way he should go: and when he is old, he will not depart from it. Pro 13:24 He that spareth his rod hateth his son: but he that loveth him chasteneth him betimes. Pro 22:15 Foolishness is bound in the heart of a child; but the rod of correction shall drive it far from him. Pro 23:13 Withhold not correction from the child: for if thou beatest him with the rod, he shall not die. Pro 23:14 Thou shalt beat him with the rod, and shalt deliver his soul from hell. This parallels God’s relationship with us, who he loves he chastises. However, if as an adult or parents have adopted pagan traditions or false understanding of scripture, it does not mean we have to obey them in following such instructions. God comes first.
As we read this Bible section, we see that God is concerned with holiness, compassion, and justice. For instance, Hebrew escaped slaves seeking refuge were not to be turned back over to their masters; but were to be given a place of refuge. Paul was using this Deut 23:15 law in his epistle to Philemon. God not only cares about the dignity of slaves, He even cares about the birds He created, saying:
“if, while walking along, you come across a bird’s nest with young birds or eggs in it, in any tree or on the ground, and the mother bird is sitting on them, you shall not take away the mother bird along with her brood. You must let the mother go, taking only her brood, in order that you shall prosper and have a long life.” (Deuteronomy 22:6–7).
Yahshua tells us that if our Heavenly Father cares and provides for the birds of the air, then we can rest assured in knowing that He will provide for our needs too. “Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they?” (Matthew 6:26).
The ethical and moral laws provided in section “Ki Tetze” cover several instances of marriage. Among them is the case of a woman whose second husband has died or divorced her. Her first husband cannot remarry her (Deuteronomy 24:4). Reason being, as usual; “… for that is abomination before the LORD: and thou shalt not cause the land to sin, which the LORD thy God giveth thee for an inheritance”.
An example of God’s compassion and understanding is Deu 24:5 When a man hath taken a new wife, he shall not go out to war, neither shall he be charged with any business: but he shall be free at home one year, and shall cheer up his wife which he hath taken. Another instance of marriage is the levirate marriage (yibbum). If a man dies leaving a childless widow, the man’s brother has the responsibility of marrying the widow in order to continue his brother’s line so that the deceased can inherit through the levirate son his share in the inheritance of property. Also outlined is the prohibition of a son marrying his father’s former wife, as well as other violations of marriage law. The laws in Ki Tetze also include paying workers promptly, and allowing those who work for you to eat while they work (not muzzling the ox, as some interpret that phrase). As well, those lending money to a fellow Jew were forbidden from charging interest on their loan.
LOVE AND WAR.
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 Yahweh. 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. “When you go out to battle against your enemies, and Yahweh 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 in times of war.
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 honour. She is to be allowed to mourn her parents. She is to be given the honour 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. 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.
Ki Tetze continues to be relevant in our world today. Although in our modern society, transgenderism and cross-dressing is becoming more accepted and common, this Bible teaching clearly states that those who practice these are an abomination to God: “A woman shall not wear a man’s garment, nor shall a man put on a woman’s clothing; for anyone who does such things is an abomination to Yahweh, your God.” (Deuteronomy 22:5).
There seems to be so much confusion in our day with regards to gender and sexual identity; it is good to have the solid rock of God’s Word to show us where to stand on these controversial issues. Sadly though, even proclaimed religious figures are either following or endorsing modern transgressions. Despite what some may believe, women are traditionally well treated in Judaism. Even foreign captive women were to be given respect including time to mourn the loss of her parents. The law ensures their dignity, and provides for their ethical treatment and legal protection.
“If you notice among the captives a beautiful woman and are attracted to her, you may take her as your wife. Bring her into your home and have her shave her head, trim her nails and put aside the clothes she was wearing when captured. After she has lived in your house and mourned her father and mother for a full month, then you may go to her and be her husband and she shall be your wife” (Deuteronomy 21:11–13).
If the Israelite man decides that he no longer wants her as his wife, he must allow her to go free and cannot sell her as a slave to another. In a multiple wife situation, a man's firstborn son born of an unloved wife must receive his inheritance of the double portion. In other words, the father may not give his birthright to the son of the loved wife.
Isa 54:10 For the mountains shall depart, and the hills be removed; but my kindness shall not depart from thee, neither shall the covenant of my peace be removed, saith the LORD that hath mercy on thee.
I always advocate, if one became expert in the Old Testament (laws and prophets) they would better understand the advice given in the New Testament epistles. I have above mentioned Deut 23:15 and the epistle to Philemon. In 1Corinthian 5:1 we read Paul’s instruction is based on Deu 22:30 A man shall not take his father's wife, nor discover his father's skirt., 27:20 and Lev 18:8.
Have a read or listen to the chapters in this week’s study as I cannot comment on all. I hope you are blessed and encouraged to get or stay on the true path that leads to Yahweh God.
Ecc 12:13 Let us hear the conclusion of the whole matter: Fear God, and keep his commandments: for this is the whole duty of man.
Other verses to read: Deu 22:13 – 30 regarding sex and marriage. Deu 23:2 children born out of wedlock. Deu 23:13, 18 holiness of the camp. Deu 23:25 being hungry on the Sabbath i.e. Matthew 12:1, Mark 2:23, Luke 6:1. Deu 24:16 The fathers shall not be put to death for the children, neither shall the children be put to death for the fathers: every man shall be put to death for his own sin. Deu 25:10 and Ruth 4:7, 11.