News Letter 5846-034
8th day of the 7th month 5846 years after creation
The 7th Month in of the first year of the third Sabbatical Year
The Third Sabbatical Year of the 119th Jubilee Cycle
September 18, 2010
Shabbat Shalom Family,
This will be my last News Letter until I return from Israel after Sukkot; which means we have 5 weeks of studies to keep on top of during this time. It is of course up to you whether or not you continue your study of Yahovah’s awesome book. I will try to read the next 5 sections and offer my views. But at the same time I have teachings to prepare for when I am away and time is short.
It is because of the shortness of the time before our King comes that I encourage you to continue these studies whether or not I send them out to you. It is does not depend on me, but it does totally depend on you. It will be you who stands before Yahovah to answer Him on judgment day.
“During times of universal deceit, telling the truth becomes a revolutionary act.” – George Orwell
On Saturday evening or Sunday morning depending on where you are in the world I will be speaking on http://www.truth2u.org/ with Jono so I hope you are able to tune in. This should be about 10:15 Eastern Standard time.
In last weeks News Letter I shared a letter I received about the pill and how one Doctor in South Africa came to learn of the truth of that pill. At Yom Teruah our host Ron Buhler gave me an article from the book of Jasher. I want you all to see this and know what Yahovah thinks of the modern day pill. Yes they had birth control before the flood and when they used it, it was considered a trespass sin. You can read this online at http://www.dubroom.org/download/pdf/ebooks/the_book_of_jasher.pdf
Jasher chapter 2; 14 And Cainan reigned over the whole earth, and he turned some of the sons of men to the service of God.
15 And when Cainan was seventy years old, he begat three sons and two daughters.
16 And these are the names of the children of Cainan; the name of the first born Mahlallel,
the second Enan, and the third Mered, and their sisters were Adah and Zillah; these are the
five children of Cainan that were born to him.
17 And Lamech, the son of Methusael, became related to Cainan by marriage, and he took
his two daughters for his wives, and Adah conceived and bare a son to Lamech, and she
called his name Jabal.
18 And she again conceived and bare a son, and called his name Jubal; and Zillah, her
sister, was barren in those days and had no offspring.
19 For in those days the sons of men began to trespass against God, and to transgress the
commandments which he had commanded to Adam, to be fruitful and multiply in the earth.
20 And some of the sons of men caused their wives to drink a draught that would render
them barren, in order that they might retain their figures and whereby their beautiful
appearance might not fade.21 And when the sons of men caused some of their wives to drink, Zillah drank with them.
22 And the child-bearing women appeared abominable in the sight of their husbands as
widows, whilst their husbands lived, for to the barren ones only they were attached.
23 And in the end of days and years, when Zillah became old, the Lord opened her womb.
24 And she conceived and bare a son and she called his name Tubal Cain, saying, After I
had withered away have I obtained him from the Almighty God.
25 And she conceived again and bare a daughter, and she called her name Naamah, for she said, After I had withered away have I obtained pleasure and delight.
Luke 17: 26 “And as it came to be in the days of Noah?, so also shall it be in the days of the Son of Ad?am: 27 “They were eating, they were drinking, they were marrying, they were given in marriage, until the day that Noah? went into the ark, and the flood came and destroyed them all. 28 “And likewise, as it came to be in the days of Lot: They were eating, they were drinking, they were buying, they were selling, they were planting, they were building, 29 but on the day Lot went out of Sed?om it rained fire and sulphur from heaven and destroyed all.
Also last week as we looked for the Crescent moon, Elizabeth Corrales was also watching for the moon and telling us about her labour pains. We now know she gave birth to Baby Aliyah who was born Friday at 12:25. May Yahovah bless their new baby and all their family.
Shabbat Shuva falls on the Sabbath that comes between the Feast of Trumpets and the Day of Atonement during the Ten Days of Awe. That Sabbath is today.
When you go to the charts at https://sightedmoon.com/sightedmoon_2015/files/jubilees_corrected.pdf you will see on the opening page the current Jubilee cycle.
We are currently in the year of 2010 which is the begining of the next Sabbatical cycle of 2010 to 2015 which is the cycle of pestilences and famines and earthquakes according to Lev 26:21.
This is followed by the Sabbatical cycle of war which I have coloured in black and is from 2017 to 2022. These are the war years according to Lev 26:23 It is when all the tribes of Israel will be defeated by the Beast power. This is what I have been warning from this site and on the DVD at https://sightedmoon.com/sightedmoon_2015/?page_id=251 If you have not watched the DVD, now is good time to do so.
After this war the survivors will go into captivity for 7 years. It is during this Sabbatical cycle that the annual fall Holy Days begin to be played out. Once Israel is sent into captivity, then the First Holy Day is played out. That is in the year of 2024 the Feast of Trumpets is represented. It is the beginning of Judgment on the rest of the world.
Israel has already been judged and found wanting. This is why all the tribes of Israel are defeated and placed in captivity.
When you look at the chart you will see that the year of 2030 is a Sabbatical year and it comes after the years of captivity. This is the year which is represented by Shabbat Shuva. It is the year or the day of return. The return to the land of Israel.
Shabbat Shuva is the Shabbat between Rosh Hashana, The Feast of Trumpets and Yom Kippur, the Day of Atonement. It is called thus after the Haftara from Hoshea 14 which reads:
“Shuva Yisrael – Return, O Israel, unto Hashem your G-d.”
During these days we are obligated to do tshuva, to repent. In fact, some people call this Shabbat Tshuva since it is the Shabbat of the Ten Days of repentance. It is customary in all congregations for the Rabbi to give a sermon calling upon the people to repent before Yom Kippur. He also reviews the laws of Yom Kippur.
And this is what each of us needs to do at this time of year as we approach the Day of Atonement.
Hoshea 14:2-10; Yoel 2:11-27; Micha 7:18-20
This Shabbos is known as Shabbos Shuva – the Shabbos of Return because the Haftorah begins with the words, “Shuva (Return) Yisroel to G-d” Gleaned from both Hoshea and Yoel, the prophets describe G-d’s desire to forgive His children, if only they will repent. The fast of Yom Kippur is mentioned as well as the rewards awaiting us if we proclaim G-d in our midst.
The Shabbat that occurs in this period is known as Shabbat Shuvah (the Sabbath of Return). This is considered a rather important Shabbat.
HOS 14:1 O Israel, return unto the LORD thy God; for thou hast fallen by thine iniquity.
We have sinned and been removed from the land for our sins. Yahweh is now calling for us to return to Him. To return to the land of Canaan, to our promised land. He then tells us what to bring;
Verse 2 Take with you words, and turn to the LORD:
That is we are to bring the Torah Scrolls with us when we come back to the land
We are told in Joel when this occurs. At the Feast of Trumpets, Blow the trumpet, and at the Day of Atonement, sanctify a fast. Notice where, in Zion. JOEL 2:15 Blow the trumpet in Zion, sanctify a fast, call a solemn assembly:16 Gather the people, sanctify the congregation, assemble the elders, gather the children, and those that suck the breasts: let the bridegroom go forth of his chamber, and the bride out of her closet.
Again looking at the chart you can see that after this Shabbat Shuva there are only three days left which represent the last 3 ½ years before Satan is locked away on the Day of Atonement in 2033.
Again for some of you this is all new and others may want to review it in the following articles at
News Letter 5844-011 3517 Captivity and Cannibalism The Fifth Curse
News Letter 5844-012 3578 Understanding the 10 Days Of Awe
News Letter 5844-013 3601 Exactly when are the Two Sticks of Israel joined together? 2030!
News Letter 5844-014 3696 Why Israel Returns to the Land in 2030 and Why they Leave Again, and How the Two Witnesses Cause this to Happen
Here are the next 5 weeks of our 3 ½ year torah study. From https://sightedmoon.com/sightedmoon_2015/files/TriennialCycleBeginningAviv.pdf
18/09/2010 Gen 29 1 Sam 14-15 Ps 63 Mark 6:33 – 7:23
25/09/2010 Gen 30 1 Sam 16-17 Ps 64 Mark 7:24 – 8:38
02/10/2010 Gen 31 1 Sam 18-19 Ps 65-67 Mark 9
09/10/2010 Gen 32 1 Sam 20-21 Ps 68 Mark 10
16/10/2010 Gen 33 1 Sam 22-24 Ps 69 Mark 11 – 12:17
In Genesis we have some extremely prophetic teachings here. So at the detriment to the other chapters I will focus on these while I have time.
Jacob goes to Laban and works for 7 years to marry Rachael. Laban tricks Jacob and give him Leah instead. Leah is not loved and Rachael is. Then Leah give birth to her first four sons. They were Reuben born1645 BC, Simeon, born 1644 BC, Levi born 1643 and then Judah is born in 1642 BC and in the next chapter we will see that Dan was born to Bilhah in this same year. This is the competition between the two women.
But I would like to point out the deception of Jacob that Laban does to him. In the book The Prophecies of Abraham I show you that Satan will at the exact same time period in the Jubilee cycle as Jacob was deceived, All the Tribes of Israel will be deceived.
By over lapping this teaching with the teaching of the two Witnesses which also takes place in the 5th Sabbatical cycle as does this deception on Jacob you are then able to see how Israel will be brought back to the land of Israel from the captivity to which they have just gone into in the previous Sabbatical cycle. That previous Sabbatical cycle is the very next one to come in just 6 ½ years time from now. It is the Sabbatical cycle of war which we will loose.
From Captivity The Two Witnesses call for no rain to fall on all the earth. As a result one fourth of all men die from the lack of food and water and heat. One fourth of the population on earth dies.
In order to get it to rain they must bring the captured Israelites back to the Promised Land. They do this in the year 2030. But when they get there, they all think the terror is over and they begin to worship Yahovah and do sacrifices. But Satan has another plan. Once they are all brought back to the land then the martyrdom of the saints takes place at Passover. This is the deception that is taught to us from the life of Jacob.
We are going to read in the next few chapters the time known as Jacob’s trouble which has direct bearing on us today as we enter the time of Jacobs trouble. If you have not yet read The Prophecies of Abraham you can do so by ordering it at https://sightedmoon.com/sightedmoon_2015/?page_id=601
The competition is now on and Rachael has given Bilhah as a surrogate mother. Dan is the first born to her as we said in the year 1642 BC. Leah retaliates with her maid Zilpah who births Gad in 1641 but Leah also gives birth to Issachar in 1641BC. Then in 1640 BC Zilpah gives birth on behalf of Leah to Asher and she herself again gives birth to Zebulon.
In 1639 BC which was a Sabbatical year Leah again gave birth to Dinah the first daughter. And Bilhah gave birth to Naphtali.
Finally Rachel gives birth to her first son Joseph in the year 1638 BC. And later in 1628 BC Rachel gives birth to Benjamin and dies in childbirth.
Each of these children grew up to be a modern day nation that some of us live today.
Reuben is associated with the French
Simeon and Levi are scattered amongst the other tribes.
Judah is both the Jewish people around the earth as well as those who rule England and also in Scotland
Dan is Denmark and Ireland,
Gad is mainly in Germany but not all of Germany as it is also made up of the Assyrian peoples,
Issachar is Finland,
Asher is South Afrrica
Zebulon is Holland
Naphtali is Sweden
Joseph is The English and America and Canada and Australia and New Zealand.
Benjamin is Norway
To research this in depth go to Steven Collins book Israel’s Tribes Today or Yair Davidiys site of Brit-Am to learn more about the migrations and how to prove where they went.
In Genesis 30 we read of how Jacob had become wealthy by the blessing of Yahovah although Jacob thought it was by his craftiness with the bulrushes.
Just as Israel today is one of the wealthiest nations on earth and most of the Ten Lost Tribes are amongst the most desired nations to live in, the rest of the world, just a Laban did, is starting to turn against us.
Then in verse three is a message to us today as well. 3 And ???? said to Ya?aqob?, “Return to the land of your fathers and to your relatives. And I am with you.” In this year of 2010 the curse of 390 x 7 years is over and we can now return to the land of our fathers. But will you? Again in verse 13 ‘I am the ?l of B?yth ?l, where you anointed the standing column and where you made a vow to Me. Now rise up, get out of this land, and return to the land of your relatives.’
Notice also that Rachael in verse 19 stole the idols she her Father had worshiped just like modern Ten Tribers still have a host of false gods to get rid of as they go back home.
In verses 22 & 23 we are told that Laban heard that Jacob had three days before and it took Laban 7 days to catch up to him. I am not yet sure but I suspect this to be another prophecy about Jerusalem and or Judah which will have war in three years time and in seven years from them Israel will be captured. Again I am speculating out loud here and just do not know. Again with the 20 years mentioned in verse 41 I also suspect a tie into the Sabbatical cycles. As the end of that 20 years was a 49th Sabbatical year 1632 BC.
is the time of Jacob’s trouble when Esau his brother comes against him with 400 men. Jacob is on his way south towards Edom. Jacob wrestles with El and does not lose. His name is then changed to Israel, because he struggled with men and Yahovah and prevailed.
I find this hard to picture because of the traumatic things that Jacob, Israel now does. He places each of the maidservants and those children born to them in front. So picture this. Esau is coming towards you with 400 men. You send out first the maidservant of Leah, Zilbah along with her chidren Gad and Asher, today known as part of Germany and South Africa. You next send out Bilhah with Dan and Naphtali, or Ireland and Denmark and Sweden. Then Israel sent out Leah with her children, Reuben, Simeon, Levi, Judah, Issachar, Zebulun and Dinah. These are the nations today of France, The State of Israel, Finland, and Holland.
Last Israel goes with Rachel and Joseph who represents the UK and her commonwealth of nations and the USA. Benjamin was not yet born.
Is this prophetic to how Islam is going to overtake the tribes of Israel in these last days? Again this is speculation on my part.
Esau wanted Israel to come to Seir but Israel led him to believe he was coming there and turned and went to Shechem and settled there.
Now imagine how each of the children feel knowing that they were considered expendable by their father and that Joseph was the most favoured of them all. Does this spell trouble ahead, you know it does.
1 Samuel 14-24
4 And between the passages, by which Jonathan sought to go over unto the Philistines’ garrison, there was a sharp rock on the one side, and a sharp rock on the other side: and the name of the one was Bozez, and the name of the other Seneh. The forefront of the one was situate northward over against Michmash, and the other southward over against Gibeah.
Why mention these things? The names of the rocks and where they were situated?
The information we have here is of military significance. It explains how dangerous the approach was to the garrison, it explains where the battle took place, and it also explains how two men were able to hold their own on that approach – a narrow pass which would provide a tactical advantage for a small force, because Jonathan and his armor bearer would only have to face a couple of men at a time.
Thousands of years later, during World War 1, British forces under the command of General Allenby were to face the Turks at the same location. One night, major Vivian Gilbert of the British army was contemplating the situation against the Ottoman forces, he remembered a town by the name of Michmash written somewhere in the Bible. He found the verses, and discovered that there was supposedly a secret path around the town. Incredibly, he managed to find that secret path, and with the British forces using this path to out maneuver the Ottomans, the British took the town. Therefore, it seems that Jonathan’s strategy long ago ultimately helped decide the battle of Michmash in two completely different ages, a complete phenomenon, to say the least.
In 1 Samuel 14:32 we read of the people slaughtering animals and not draining the blood but they were eating it and this was a sin.
But Saul said that no one was to eat until evening whilst they fought the Philistines. But Jonathan did not knowing the proclamation that Saul had made. Then upon hearing it he told the people they would have done better had they been nourished and so they ate with the blood in it. Saul sacrificed and bled the blood from the animals so the people would not eat the blood.
When Saul did not get an answer back from the Priest about going back to war he perceived sin in the camp and it came down to Jonathan. Even after Jonathan’s great victory by the hand of Yahovah Saul was going to kill him and it was the people who saved him.
This shows you the mind of Saul. First he uttered a stupid oath and did not repent of it even after the great thing Jonathan had done.
In 1 Samuel 15 Saul was told to annihilate the Amalekites. Men women and Children and all the animals. This is genocide and yet Saul did not kill all the animals as he was told to do. He did not obey Yahovah, and because he would not obey the Kingdom was taken from him and in chapter 16 we read of the anointing of King David.
Seven of Jesse’s sons were passed over in favour of young David the eighth one. In Leveticus when something was being cleansed it is washed or cleaned for 7 days and then on the eighth day the object is clean. This was for the priesthood, and leprosy uncleanness. And this is similar to how David was chosen.
We are also introduced the David’s skill at playing the harp. King David also traveled to Ireland and was king over Ireland and his ancestors would return and continue the dynasty of Zarah which we covered in our series at https://sightedmoon.com/sightedmoon_2015/?page_id=595 We now quote from the article.
A strange event had occurred in the family of Judah, when Tamar bore him twin sons. During the delivery, a hand of one of the twins came out first, around which the midwife tied a scarlet thread to identify the firstborn—who was customarily preeminent when it came to inheritance rights (Genesis 38:27-28). But the baby pulled his hand back in and his brother came out first.
The midwife exclaimed: “How did you break through? This breach [or breaking out] be upon you!” (verse 29). In other words, “You are to be identified with this from now on.” And to ensure it the child was named Perez (or Pharez), meaning “Breach.” Then the baby with the scarlet thread on his hand was born—and he was named Zerah (or Zarah), meaning “Rising” or “Appearing,” perhaps because his hand had appeared first (verse 30).
This surely seems a rather odd occurrence to record in the Bible if it were to have no further significance. The implication is perhaps that Perez, who forced himself into the firstborn position, would need to eventually be reconciled with Zerah. And we will later see that this appears to have actually happened.
1 Samuel 17
we will be standing in the very valley of Elah, in the very riverbed that David picked up his stones from and reading this during our tour in Israel. It is amazing how this has come along at the time we will be there.
In chapter 18 we read of David winning the hand of Michal who loved David as we are told a number of times. All David had to do was retrieve 100 foreskins of the Philistines as a dowry which he promptly did by bringing 200. How would you feel if this was the price paid for you?
We read of how Saul sought to kill David in Chapter 19 and then in Chapter 20 even though David is Yahovah’s anointed he still fears for his life. We now come to verse 5 And David said unto Jonathan, Behold, to morrow is the new moon, and I should not fail to sit with the king at meat: but let me go, that I may hide myself in the field unto the third day at even. 6 If thy father at all miss me, then say, David earnestly asked leave of me that he might run to Beth–lehem his city: for there is a yearly sacrifice there for all the family.
Many people have tried to use this verse to say that the months were calculated and thus a conjunctured moon. This is simply not true. Anyone who gets up early in the morning will be able to see the last phases of the moon just before sunrise as the month ends. Once the moon is not seen then it is a simple understanding that the new moon will be seen in just a couple of days. David and Jonathan as well as all of Israel knew this.
In chapter 22 we read how Doeg the Edomite on orders from Saul killed 85 priests who wore the Ephod. And then he killed all that lived in the village of Nob.
In chapter 24 we read of David cutting off the corner of Sauls robe. We have in years past been to these very caves of En Gedi.This corner of Sauls robe is none other than his tzit tzit. And you can read of this and the importance of it in https://sightedmoon.com/sightedmoon_2015/?page_id=129
[1-Samuel 24:5] AND IT CAME TO PASS AFTERWARD, THAT DAVID’S HEART SMOTE
HIM, BECAUSE HE HAD CUT OFF SAUL’S SKIRT.
It says in Hebrew “Canaf (Corner of the) Ma-il (Coat)” and the Midrash
Shocher Tov says that this included the Tsitits cf. Numbers 15:38.
[Numbers 15:38] SPEAK UNTO THE CHILDREN OF ISRAEL, AND BID THEM THAT
THEY MAKE THEM FRINGES [tsitits] IN THE BORDERS OF [Hebrew: “Canfei”
i.e. “corners of] THEIR GARMENTS THROUGHOUT THEIR GENERATIONS, AND THAT
THEY PUT UPON THE FRINGE OF THE BORDERS A RIBBAND OF BLUE:
In its introductory note on Psalm 63, The Expositor’s Bible Commentary says, “In spirit it is close to Psalm 42:1-2 [given the reference to thirsting for God and longing to be in His presence] and fits well with Psalms 61 and 62 as a collection of psalms bound by a common concern for closeness and fellowship with the Lord.”
According to its superscription, Psalm 63 was written when David “was in the wilderness of Judah”-and verse 6 tells us that people were then seeking to kill him. The setting is likely when he was living in the Judean wilderness while on the run from Saul, and we earlier read this psalm in that context (see the Bible Reading Program comments on 1 Samuel 23:1-14; Psalm 63). It is possible, however, that it was written much later, when David fled during Absalom’s rebellion and stayed for a brief period in the wilderness (see 2 Samuel 25:23-28; 16:2, 14; 17:16, 29). Advocates of this view cite David’s reference to himself in Psalm 63:11 as king. Yet, as was pointed out in the earlier Bible Reading Program comments, even as Saul pursued him, David knew he was the rightful king, having already been anointed so by Samuel. Moreover, he was looking to the future in this verse.
At the opening of the song, David expresses his faith in God and how earnestly he desires to be in His presence. The NKJV translation of the second line of verse 1 reads, “Early will I seek You,” while the NIV reads, “Earnestly I seek you” (as does Green’s Literal Translation). The Jewish Tanakh just has “I search for you.” Expositor’s explains that the phrase “earnestly I seek” (NIV) is derived from a root word related to the word for “dawn.” This relatedness “gave rise to the tradition of treating Psalm 63 as a morning psalm with the translation ‘early will I seek You’ [but] The NIV correctly emphasizes the eagerness rather than the time of the ‘seeking,’ as the verb [elsewhere] denotes a diligent search for godly wisdom as most important to life (cf. Prov. 2:1-4; 8:17-21)” (footnote on Psalm 63:1, emphasis added).
It is also interesting in verse 1 to note the parallelism of “soul thirsts” and “flesh longs” or “body longs” (NIV). Expositor’s states: “The longing for God consumes the whole being. The NIV rendering ‘soul…body’ reflects the M[asoretic] T[ext], but it should be remembered that the Hebrew for ‘soul’ (nepesh) signifies one’s whole being, as does ‘body’ (lit[erally], ‘flesh’; cf. 84:2)” (same footnote). Note that the word “soul” or nephesh here does not refer to some inner immortal spirit personage, as many today imagine, but the whole living being. While other verses do refer to a spiritual component within human beings-which together with the workings of the physical brain forms the human mind-that spirit is not conscious apart from the body. This is why a future resurrection is required for an awakening of consciousness.
David compares his longing to enter the sanctuary of God with his continuing thirst for water in the desert, again recalling Psalm 42. God’s lovingkindness (hesed, also meaning loyal love, covenant faithfulness or mercy) is “better than life” (verse 3), so David finds great satisfaction in praising and blessing Him (verse 5).
David refers to his meditations during the “night watches.” Among the ancient Israelites, the night was divided into three watches of four hours each, and at times David focused his thoughts on God to pass sleepless hours (verse 6). Because God had helped him in the past (verse 7), David trusts that he will continue to remain sheltered under God’s wings (as in 61:4) and even rejoice there (63:7). And he will go forward with God as a little child whose parent holds his hand while walking to keep him from falling (verse 8).
David declares that his enemies will not succeed in killing him because they will die instead (verses 9-10). Everyone who “swears by” God (verse 11)-in this broad context meaning that they live by promissory commitment to God and follow through (see Deuteronomy 6:13)-will receive honor. But those who live by deceit-including those who are hypocritical in their faith-will be silenced.
In Psalm 64, last in the group of four psalms here, David prays for protection from those plotting against him and meditates on the sudden judgment that awaits the wicked.
The rebels “encourage themselves” by scheming and coming up with the “perfect plan” (compare verses 5-6). By saying that the inward thought and heart of man are “deep” (verse 6), David seems to be saying that they are hidden deep down where no one would see, following the question in verse 5. But Someone does see. The Nelson Study Bible states: “The arrogance of the wicked in their plots against the righteous is a continuing theme in the Psalms (Ps. 9;10; 12). Who will see [they think to themselves]: The wicked do not know, or do not care, that there is One who sees (73:11), and who will repay (75:7)” (note on Psalm 64:5-6). Jeremiah quoted God as saying: “The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked; who can know it? I, the Lord, search the heart, I test the mind, even to give every man according to his ways, according to the fruit of his doings” (Jeremiah 17:9-10).
Indeed, David believes that God will punish the wicked based on the principle of just retribution. Their “arrows” or “bitter words” (verses 3-4) God will shoot back at them (verse 7). “He will make them stumble over their own tongue” (verse 8) is not a reference to stuttering but that their own words will ultimately trip them up and bring them down. In essence, what they plan to do to others will “come back to bite them” and bring about their own downfall (compare Galatians 6:7).
This will be a lesson to all (Psalm 64:9). In addition to fearing God, they will “declare the work of God,” passing on to others what they have witnessed, and “wisely consider” what He has done (same verse). In light of God’s faithfulness, David in verse 10 encourages the godly to trust and rely on Him.
The Zondervan NIV Study Bible says in its introductory note to Psalms 65-68 that these are “four psalms dominated by the theme of praise and linked by the shared recognition that God’s ‘awesome’ deeds evoke the wonder of ‘all the earth’ to join Israel in singing the praise of her God…. In these four psalms, the occasions-and reasons-for this universal praise include (1) God’s mighty acts in maintaining the creation order and making it fruitful so that humans are richly blessed, and (2) God’s saving acts in behalf of his people. These are significantly brought together here by alternating the focus; Ps 65 and 67 speak of the former, and Ps 66 and 68 speak of the latter. Thus, in this short series all of God’s benevolent acts are brought into purview, and the whole human race is encompassed in the community of praise.”
The framing psalms of this section, 65 and 68, are attributed to David. The interior psalms, 66 and 67 are anonymous. These are two of only four anonymous psalms in Book II. Yet since the first, Psalm 43 (attributed to David in the Septuagint), was most likely part of Psalm 42, there are probably only three anonymous psalms in Book II-66, 67 and 71. However, given their placement and the fact that Book II ends a few chapters later by referring to previous psalms as “prayers of David” (Psalm 72:20), it seems likely that these are all Davidic psalms-or at least ones he collected and used. The Septuagint attributes Psalm 71 to David.
as The Nelson Study Bible says, “is a wisdom psalm and more particularly a creation psalm (as Ps. 19). It celebrates rainfall, sharing the mood of Ps. 104 in this regard. But this is also a prophetic psalm, although it is not always regarded as such. The prophetic element is signaled in the first verse, the vow of praise yet to be paid-that is, all creation is waiting to praise the Lord when He finally appears in glory (see Rom. 14:10, 11; Rev. 19:5). [See also the next psalm, 66:1-4.]….
“In the background of this psalm  is an idea not far from that of Paul in Rom. 8:22, the groaning of creation for its release from the curse brought on it by humanity’s [sin in the Garden of Eden] (Gen. 3:17). The point of the psalm is twofold: (1) Every good rain and every full harvest is a blessing from God, showing His delight in His creation. (2) A day of God’s goodness is coming in which good rains and harvests will be greater than ever before” (introductory note on Psalm 65 and note on verse 1).
Yet there is more to it still. For in juxtaposing atonement for sin (verse 3), entry into God’s temple courts (verse 4) and the abundance of rain and harvest to crown the year (verses 9-13), David seems to picture here the observance of the fall festival season in thanksgiving for the late summer and fall harvest as figurative of the future coming of God’s Kingdom and the great spiritual harvest of humanity at that time. In Jewish interpretation, the crowning of the year (verse 11) refers to the civil new year, Rosh Hashanah or the Feast of Trumpets. As ancient Israelite coronations were accompanied by the blowing of the shofar or ram’s horn, the blowing of the ram’s horn at the Feast of Trumpets was seen as the crowning the year-and indeed this festival begins the sacred year’s seventh month, which celebrates the fall harvest and pictures the culmination of God’s plan for humanity’s redemption and salvation.
Verses 2-3 refer to God providing atonement for all flesh-all people. The Nelson Study Bible notes on these verses: “David speaks of a coming day when sin will be dealt with fully, when redemption will be completely paid. This took place in the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ (see Eph. 1:7).” However, Christ’s sacrifice will not be generally applied to all mankind until the world at large repents, commencing after Jesus’ return as symbolized in the Day of Atonement, which comes just nine days after the Feast of Trumpets. And Atonement itself serves as a prelude to the Feast of Tabernacles beginning five days later-also known as the Feast of Ingathering to emphasize its harvest theme (and to prefigure the ingathering of all humanity into a relationship with God, into His temple courts to dwell with Him forever).
When Jesus Christ returns, God will truly be “the confidence of all the ends of the earth” (verse 5). All mankind will understand His plan and His awesome and righteous deeds to save all people.
Even now God’s power as displayed through nature elicits awe: “Those living far away fear your wonders” (verse 8, NIV). Yet this may also foretell the humbling of mankind at Christ’s return through a series of global natural catastrophes He will bring. But even these will be to produce a harvest-a harvest of repentant people.
In verses 9-13 David cites God’s comprehensive care for the earth-the rain (verses 9-10), the blessings on the pastures, hills, meadows and valleys. “Your paths drip with abundance” (verse 11b). The NIV translation replaces “paths” here with “carts.”
Green’s Literal Translation says “tracks.” The Nelson Study Bible says, “The picture is of wagon tracks across the heavens, where the ‘cart’ of God’s mercies sloshes abundance on the earth below” (note on verses 11-13).
God’s marvelous outpouring of material and spiritual blessings through the year were celebrated with great rejoicing during His annual festivals-particularly during the fall festivals. But those blessings and celebration are only a small foretaste of what awaits in the wonderful Kingdom of God to come.
As already mentioned, the author of Psalm 66 is not given in the title, though David seems rather likely. The perspective in the first part of the song (verses 1-12) is from the plurality of God’s people (using the pronouns “us” and “we”), while the latter part (verses 13-20) is from a singular perspective (using “I” and “me”).
In the spirit of the previous psalm, the psalmist calls on the whole earth to praise God and acknowledge His awesome works (verses 1-3a) and then, to God, prophetically says that in the future “all the earth shall worship You” and “submit themselves to You” (verses 3b-4).
The psalm calls on all to come and see the great things God has done and is doing for people (verse 5)-to witness and experience it firsthand or to look into what is recorded in Scripture. God delivered Israel from Egypt by parting the Red Sea and making a dry-land passage to freedom (verse 6). God also dried up the Jordan River so that “all Israel crossed over on dry ground, until all the people had crossed completely over the Jordan” (Joshua 3:17). Yet in declaring this message to the world at the time of Christ’s return, the wording here could also refer to the parallel crossings over water on dry land that will occur at that time-when “the Lord will utterly destroy the tongue of the Sea of Egypt…[and] shake His fist over the River [Euphrates]…and make men cross over dryshod” (Isaiah 11:15).
God’s people are able to declare that He “has preserved our lives and kept our feet from slipping” (verse 9, NIV) even though He has tested them (verse 10). The tests are likened to the refining of silver, to being captured (perhaps imprisoned), to being afflicted on the back (perhaps through the lash or in bearing burdens) and to suffering oppression-in summary, “We went through fire and water, but You brought us out to a place [or state] of abundance” (verse 12, NIV). As God says through Isaiah of His intention to preserve His people: “When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and through the rivers, they shall not overflow you. When you walk through the fire, you shall not be burned, nor shall the flame scorch you. For I am the Lord your God, the Holy One of Israel, your Savior” (Isaiah 43:2-3).
On the occasions of personal deliverance, the psalmist promises to bring thank offerings (verses 13-15). And he will talk about the wonderful things God “has done for me” (verse 16, NIV). Whereas verse 5 called on all to “come and see” God’s works toward humanity, the psalmist now directs those who have been stirred to fear and honor God to “come and hear” his individual witness (verse 16)-what God has done for one, for him, and will also do, it is implied, for each of them.
Then notice the realization of verse 18, which is an implicit warning to others hearing this witness: “If I regard iniquity in my heart, the Lord will not hear me.” This is in a present or continuing sense. The NIV renders this verse in the past tense, as expressive of what had occurred in this episode: “If I had cherished sin in my heart, the Lord would not have listened.” Either way, we are told here that the harboring of sin, failing to confess it and forsake it, and the nurturing of sinful thoughts will thwart effective prayer. We find this important message in other passages of Scripture as well (see Proverbs 15:29; 28:9; Isaiah 1:15; 59:1-2).
Conversely, the apostle John tells us: “Beloved, if our heart does not condemn us, we have confidence toward God. And whatever we ask we receive from Him, because we keep His commandments and do those things that are pleasing in His sight” (1 John 3:21-22). Psalm 66 expresses this very confidence, the psalmist stating in verses 19-20 that God on this occasion has certainly listened to his prayer and has not rejected it nor withheld His hesed-His steadfast love and mercy.
Neginoth in the superscription of Psalm 67 likely means, as the NKJV translates it here and in other places, “stringed instruments.”
George Knight’s Daily Study Bible Series commentary Psalms says: “Obviously this psalm was composed for public worship. Perhaps it belonged particularly to the autumn harvest festival [i.e., the Feast of Tabernacles or Ingathering] (see verse 6)” (comments on verses 1-7). This he takes from the RSV, which renders verse 6 as “The earth has yielded its increase,” whereas other translations understand the verb here as future tense—”shall yield.” Of course, the annual harvest does portray a future harvest, as was pointed out with respect to Psalm 65, which begins the current grouping of psalms—and that is certainly a major theme here as well.
The song opens with a prayer for God’s mercy and blessing and that His face would shine—smile in favor—on His people (67:1). As previously pointed out in regard to Psalm 31:16, the language here is taken from the priestly blessing of Numbers 6:25 (see also Psalm 4:6; 44:3; 80:3, 7, 19; 119:135). The Zondervan NIV Study Bible says that this song’s “content, form and brevity suggest that it served as a liturgical [i.e., worship service] prayer of the people at the conclusion of worship, perhaps just prior to (or immediately after) the priestly benediction” (note on Psalm 67).
“God’s blessing on his people (as well as his saving acts in their behalf) will catch the attention of the nations and move them to praise (65:2)” (same note). Indeed, this is a rather exciting thought within the psalm. Note the repetition in the refrain of 67:3 and verse 5. The excitement here is not just for the increased praise for God, but for the fact that all peoples will be able to rejoice when they experience the establishment of His righteous government over all nations. In their happiness over this certain hope, God’s people are expressing love for all mankind.
Given all this, the focus of verse 6 is clearly future. The earth yielding its increase speaks not only of God’s great agricultural provision in the world to come, but of the great harvest of humanity that will then take place—to the “ends of the earth” (verse 7), as the nations learn to properly fear and respect Him and His people are vastly blessed as never before.
In Psalm 68 David calls on God to deal with His enemies and for the righteous to rejoice in His triumph. The first half of the psalm (to verse 18) reviews God’s historic acts on behalf of the Israelites, progressing from the wilderness of Sinai to the conquest of the Promised Land. Verse 18 carries the meaning forward to Christ’s day, as we will see, and then the second half of the psalm “looks forward with expectations of God’s continuing triumphs until the redemption of his people is complete and his kingly rule is universally acknowledged with songs of praise” (Zondervan NIV Study Bible, note on Psalm 68).
In Psalm 68:4 God’s name is given as “Yah” (see also Isaiah 12:2), a shortened form of Yhwh, usually transliterated as Yahweh. This longer form, replaced in most Bible versions with the word “Lord,” is the third-person form of the name that God gave in the first person in Exodus 3:14. In that verse God gave a long version of this name, “I AM WHO I AM,” as well as a short version “I AM.” Just the same, the third-person form Yhwh means “He Is Who He Is,” while the shorter form Yah means “He Is” or “He Who Is.” This short form appears in the names of many people in the Bible, such as Elijah (i.e., Eli-Yah), Isaiah (i.e., Yitza-Yah) and Jeremiah (i.e., Yerem-Yah).
Psalm 68:5-6 expresses God’s special concern for the orphan and widow and His care to make those who are lonely part of families. His desire is to help those in need, which brings us to the next clause in verse 6—delivering the oppressed. Actually, the specific wording here—of bringing those who are bound into prosperity but the rebellious to desert exile—probably relates, given the context of the verses that follow, to God’s merciful deliverance of the Israelites from Egyptian bondage and their subsequent rebellion and wilderness wanderings (see also 66:10-12).
God still continued to provide for His people. Psalm 68:8-9 appears to paraphrase a few lines from the Song of Deborah in Judges 5:4b-5 about God providing rain to the Israelites in the Sinai desert. The provision of rain also ties the psalm to Psalm 65:9-10. God’s “inheritance” (Psalm 68:9) is a reference to Israel (see Deuteronomy 9:29)—synonymous in the next verse with His congregation and the poor for whom He provided (Psalm 68:10).
Verses 11-14 speak of God granting victory to Israel in its battles against the armies of various kingdoms on the way to subduing the Promised Land. Zalmon in verse 14 is a mountain near Shechem in northern Israel (see Judges 9:46-48). Bashan (Psalm 68:15) is a high plateau northeast of the Sea of Galilee. It was part of the territory of King Og when the Israelites came to the land. “Mountain” in these verses seems to symbolize land and dominion. That is, the mountain of Bashan is the land or kingdom of Bashan. God says it is now a mountain of His (verse 15)—that is, it is incorporated into His dominion as part of the Kingdom of Israel. The mountain’s peaks (verse 16) would represent its various sub-kingdoms or city-states. These peaks are erupting, like volcanoes, with envy against the takeover by God and His people. God, however, says He desires to dwell in this mountain—the Promised Land—forever.
Yet, depending on when David wrote this psalm, the mountain of God could perhaps be more specifically identified as Mount Zion—of which the whole land of Israel is an extension (just as Zion, the Mountain of the Lord’s House, will, after Christ’s return, represent both Jerusalem and the whole Kingdom of God). For it is in Jerusalem that God has chosen to dwell: “For the Lord has chosen Zion; He has desired it for His dwelling place: ‘This is My resting place forever; here I will dwell, for I have desired it'” (Psalm 132:13-14).
With this in mind, consider Psalm 68:17. It mentions God’s vast chariot army, and then notice how the NRSV translates the second half of the verse: “The Lord came from Sinai into the holy place.” The Hebrew wording here is difficult, but this meaning fits well in context. That is, what has gone before in the account has shown the progress from the wandering in the wilderness to the permanent establishment of God within His sanctuary in Israel—probably on Mount Zion.
The first phrase in the next verse, “You have ascended on high” (verse 18), would fit with the idea of God’s entourage moving from lower surrounding lands to the heights of Israel (especially in the sense of ascending to the place that was to represent the spiritual peak among the nations of the earth). The mountain of God, we have seen in other psalms, represents the heavenly Zion as well—just as it does here. Indeed, there is much more to this verse.
In the New Testament, the apostle Paul notes something remarkable about this passage. He quotes from it in Ephesians 4:8. Then, in verse 9, he asks: “Now this, ‘He ascended,’—what does it mean but that He also first descended…?” Paul realizes that this verse refers to God, who dwells in the highest heaven. So how can He be portrayed as ascending to a higher place or station? Only if He first descended—and this Paul explains as prophetic of God coming down from heaven as a human being, Jesus Christ, to then later ascend back up to heaven to reassume His divine majesty. We will see more about Paul’s explanation of this when we come to the book of Ephesians in the Bible Reading Program.
The next phrase in Psalm 68:18, also referred to by Paul, “You have led captivity captive,” finds an earlier parallel in the Song of Deborah: “Arise, Barak [the leader of Israel’s army], and lead thy captivity captive” (Judges 5:12, KJV). In that passage, the NKJV translates the phrase simply as, “Lead your captives away.” Indeed, the idea here seems merely to be: “Take those you have captured and lead them away as captive.” Many see in this a sort of victory procession (compare Psalm 68:24-25). The NIV, similar to the NRSV, renders the phrase in Psalm 68:18 as “You led captives in your train.” However, it is not clear if the captives here are humiliated and paraded enemies (compare also Colossians 2:15) or those whom God has converted to His truth—themselves victorious with God in the procession (compare Psalm 69:33; Romans 6:16-22; Ephesians 3:1).
The next clause in Psalm 68:18 says, “You have received gifts among men.” Paul in quoting this seems to reverse it, saying that God “gave gifts to men” (Ephesians 4:8)—referring to the apportioning of spiritual gifts to Christ’s followers (verses 7, 11-16). The Expositor’s Bible Commentary states: “Paul does not cite either MT [the Masoretic Text] or LXX [the Septuagint]…. Some have claimed that, under the inspiration of the Spirit, Paul felt free to amplify the meaning of the Psalm, since the giving is implicit in the receiving for. But it seems more probable that the apostle was drawing on an ancient oral tradition reflected in the Aramaic Targum on the Psalter and the Syriac Peshitta version, both of which read, ‘Thou hast given gifts to men.’ Early rabbinical comments applied the verse to Moses when he received the Law on Sinai so as to bring it to the people” (note on Ephesians 4:8, emphasis added). Zondervan notes on this verse: “Paul apparently takes his cue from certain Rabbinic interpretations current in his day that read the Hebrew preposition for ‘from’ in the sense of ‘to’ (a meaning it often has) and the verb for ‘received’ in the sense of ‘take and give’ (a meaning it sometimes has—but with a different preposition…).” Of course, God receives from people only what He has already given them or produced in them—so Paul’s understanding was certainly correct in any case.
Verse 19 of Psalm 68 continues in the theme of God providing for His people: “Blessed be the Lord, who daily loads us with benefits.” However, it is possible that the latter clause should be rendered, as in the NRSV, “who daily bears us up” (i.e., carries us), or, as in the NIV, “who daily bears our burdens.”
But those who oppose God will not fare so well in the end (verses 21-23). Crushing enemies in blood under foot (verse 23) recalls Psalm 58:10. As there, this is not to relish the destruction of others but to portray a meting out of justice on those who refuse to repent.
In these verses, we are moving beyond ancient Israel’s subjugation of the Promised Land to the future subjugation of the earth to God’s Kingdom at Christ’s coming. As we saw, Psalm 68:18, besides representing the establishment of the ancient sanctuary in Jerusalem, also represented the resurrection and ascension of Jesus Christ to the heavenly sanctuary. Yet it also represents the ascension of Christ to the throne of the earth in His Kingdom (as in Psalm 47), when the future temple is established at Jerusalem (see 68:29).
Verse 30 is probably to be interpreted by verses 31-32, so that “beasts of the reeds” (verse 30)—likely descriptive of the crocodile and hippopotamus of the Nile—represents Egypt and Ethiopia (verse 31) and “the herd of bulls with the calves of the peoples” (verse 30) represents the various “kingdoms of the earth” (verse 32), both great and small. Though initially rebuked, most will soon become part of a great chorus of nations praising God (see verses 32-35), as was called for in the previous psalm.
With Psalm 69 we come to the final group of psalms in Book II (Psalms 69-72). The Zondervan NIV Study Bible comments on these four psalms: “Book II of the Psalter closes with a cluster of three prayers and an attached royal psalm-in perfect balance with its beginning (…Ps 42-45). These three prayers [69-71] were originally all pleas of a king in Israel [stated to be David in the superscriptions of 69 and 70] for deliverance from enemies (apparently internal) determined to do away with him. They all contain certain key words that are found elsewhere in Book II only in Ps 42-44 and in the seven psalms (54-60) placed at the center of the Book. Another link between Ps 69-71 and 42-44 is the placement of a short psalm at the center of each triad. These placements have the appearance of deliberate editorial design. In the former cluster Ps 43 has been artificially separated from 42…while in the latter cluster Ps 70 repeats (with some revision) Ps 40:13-17 and was probably intended to serve as an introduction to Ps 71. The attached prayer for the king [also referred to as the king’s son] (Ps 72) stands in similar relationship to Ps 69-71 as Ps 45 stands to Ps 42-44 and brings Book II to its conclusion. Thus, as with Ps 45, its placement here hints at a Messianic reading of the psalm already by the editors of the Psalter…. It should be further noted that in Ps 65-68 all peoples on earth are drawn into the community of those praising God…. Here in Ps 69 all creation is called to join that chorus (v. 34), and Ps 72 envisions that all peoples and kings will submit to the son of David (vv. 8-11) and be blessed through his reign (v. 17)” (note on Psalms 69-72).
Yet the resounding praise in Psalm 69 does not come until the end. Most of the psalm constitutes an urgent prayer by David for deliverance while lamenting over life-threatening circumstances and enemy persecution. While he meant himself as the sufferer, this was also prophetic. “The authors of the N[ew] T[estament] viewed this cry of a godly sufferer as foreshadowing the sufferings of Christ; no psalm, except Ps 22, is quoted more frequently in the N[ew] T[estament]” (note on Psalm 69). As The Nelson Study Bible states: “This highly messianic psalm presents a remarkable description of the sufferings of Jesus Christ. Whereas Ps. 22 describes Jesus’ physical sufferings, Ps. 69 focuses more on His emotional and spiritual suffering. Yet like Ps. 22, this psalm was written by David approximately a thousand years before the events it describes. Both psalms begin with the sufferings of David but have their full meaning in the sufferings of Jesus. For these reasons, the apostles in the New Testament acknowledge that David was a prophet of God (Acts 2:30)” (note on Psalm 69).
David likens his anguish to sinking in mud and deep water, being swallowed by the ocean deep or the pit-that is, the grave (verses 1-2, 14-15). This imagery was also used in Psalm 40 (see verse 2), another messianic psalm quoted in the New Testament. Psalm 40 is part of the cluster of psalms closing Book I of the Psalter, just as Psalm 69 is part of the cluster of psalms closing Book II. A further link here can be found in the fact that the very next psalm, Psalm 70, is, as was noted above, a reprise of Psalm 40:13-17-and it seems like a quick summary of Psalm 69.
David has sought God so earnestly, through crying and constant prayer, that he says, “My throat is dry; my eyes fail while I wait for my God” (verse 3). While the latter expression may denote in part his eyes being swollen from crying, it probably also has to do with diminished joy and hope. (For more on the metaphor of eyes failing, see the Bible Reading Program comments on Psalm 38.)
David is wearied by his host of enemies who, he says, “hate me without a cause” (69:4). We saw this same description earlier in Psalm 35:19 and will see a similar one in Psalm 109:3-5. As pointed out in the Bible Reading Program comments on Psalm 35, this baseless antagonism was prophetic of Jesus Christ’s experience-as He specifically declared it to be (John 15:25).
David does confess sins to God, but his point here is to say that God knows his enemies aren’t opposing him for this reason (Psalm 69:5). As in other messianic passages, Jesus does not share the fault of sin-yet He did suffer for sins (the sins of others, including David’s).
In verse 6, the implication is that others on David’s side are praying for him. David prays that none of these will suffer shame and discouragement as a result of what happens to him. Indeed, Jesus no doubt prayed for His disciples this way in the time before His trial, crucifixion and death. In David’s case, he was asking for God to rescue Him and thereby demonstrate that those who were praying for Him were in the right. In Jesus’ case, He would have been asking for His disciples to be helped through what was happening until they were completely vindicated when God truly rescued Jesus from death by resurrecting Him. We should learn a lesson from the fact that Christ was not preserved from death but was ultimately saved out of it. If God does not deliver us from some circumstance in the here and now, we should not let that discourage us. Indeed, God is always alongside the believer, whether He rescues him now or not.
David further states: “For Your sake I have borne reproach…and the reproaches of those who reproach You have fallen on me” (verses 7, 9). He is speaking here of the life of the righteous in general terms-of which his present circumstance is only an example. The godly suffer when they turn away from the world to obey God. They often go through difficulties not of their own doing: “Yet for your sake we face death all day long; we are considered as sheep to be slaughtered” (Psalm 44:22, NIV). As Jesus told His followers: “Blessed are you when they revile and persecute you, and say all kinds of evil against you falsely for My sake. Rejoice and be exceedingly glad, for great is your reward in heaven, for so they persecuted the prophets who were before you” (Matthew 5:11-12)-David having been one of these prophets. Jesus Himself was, of course, the premier example of being hated for following God.
In describing his devotion to God for which he is persecuted, David says, “Zeal for Your house has eaten me up” (verse 9). David was consumed with wanting to honor God-filled with desire to serve God’s tabernacle and God’s nation and to build God’s temple. Christ’s disciples recognized this passage as applying to Him after He ran the moneychangers out of the temple of His day-evidently already having understood Psalm 69 to be a messianic psalm (see John 2:17). God’s people today should have this same zeal for His house, which at this time is His Church (see 1 Timothy 3:15).
David was in sore grief, which in itself became something for others to ridicule (verses 10-11). He was scorned by many at all levels of society-from “those who sit in the gate” (city elders) to drunk commoners singing mocking bar songs about him in the taverns (verse 12). Jesus also faced such contempt.
In verses 13-18 David returns to pleading with God to rescue him-“speedily,” he asks (verse 17), trusting that he is praying “in the acceptable time” (verse 13)-also translated “in the time of your favor” (NIV). Considering the messianic nature of this psalm, it is interesting that God will later declare that He has heard His Servant (representative of both the Messiah and Israel) “in an acceptable time” (Isaiah 49:8; see also 2 Corinthians 6:2).
David can’t find anyone to comfort him (Psalm 69:20). Consider that Jesus’ disciples abandoned Him during His trial and suffering so that the only ones to turn to for pity were His adversaries and other onlookers, and they gave him none. David further states that those from whom he sought comfort instead gave him “gall” (denoting a bitter substance) to eat and, for his thirst (compare verse 3), vinegar to drink (verse 21). David was here employing “vivid metaphors for the bitter scorn they made him eat and drink when his whole being craved the nourishment of refreshment and comfort” (Zondervan, note on verse 21). Yet this was prophetic of what Christ experienced, both figuratively and literally (see Matthew 27:34, 48; Mark 15:23, 36; Luke 23:36; John 19:28-29).
For their mistreatment of him, amounting to defiance of God, David calls on God to curse his enemies with punishment (Psalm 69:22-28). Verse 25, combined with Psalm 109:8, is understood in the New Testament as prophetic of Judas Iscariot no longer having a place among the apostles following his treachery and suicide (see Acts 1:20). Indeed, we should understand David’s words here more as a prophecy of judgment on God’s enemies than as a model to follow in our own prayers. Jesus gave us the pattern of what to say during persecution when He was being executed: “Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they do” (Luke 23:34). We are to pray for our enemies (Matthew 5:44)-the best thing we can pray for being that they will repent.
Of course, there are circumstances where it is proper to seek God’s intervention and justice against those who refuse to repent.
This, however, does not mean wishing people out of God’s Kingdom forever. David’s prayer about blotting his enemies out of the book of life and that they not be written with the righteous (Psalm 69:28) might seem to imply this-leaving them utterly hopeless. Yet we should consider that what David was really saying here is that God would not accept these enemies as they were at that time-giving them eternal life in spite of the evil they had done. And in fact God does not do this. None of the enemies David speaks of here may ever receive eternal life in God’s family-until, that is, their repentance, acceptance of Christ’s atonement for their sin and their transformation into wholly new people. The people they were will never be in the Kingdom of God. (Even David’s old self-which, frankly, was his greatest enemy-will not be in God’s Kingdom. And so it is with all of us today.) Indeed, knowing David’s character as a man after God’s own heart, we can be confident that if one of those of whom he spoke here sincerely repented and begged him for mercy, he would have shown it-making it clear that he did not mean that they should never be able to repent.
David’s statement in verse 29, “But I am poor and sorrowful,” again calls to mind Psalm 40: “But I am poor and needy” (verse 17), which is repeated in Psalm 70:5. As before, “poor” in this context does not mean financially indigent but, rather, broken in spirit (humbled) and in great need of help-as Jesus Christ also was in His fatal circumstances.
Yet David is confident of God’s intervention, declaring that he will praise and thank God (69:30)-stating that the proper attitude is what God desires more than the ritualism of the sacrificial system (verse 31), as David also stated in Psalm 40 (verse 6) and in other psalms.
The humble seeking God on his behalf will then rejoice (69:32-33)-just as Christ’s followers would later rejoice after His resurrection (and just as all His followers today will rejoice after His return in power and glory to rule all nations).
Verse 34, as pointed out earlier, calls on all creation to join in praising God. And verses 35-36 speak of the salvation and restoration of Zion and Judah. David may have been referring to present circumstances-perhaps to Jerusalem and outlying towns taken over by enemies during Absalom’s or Sheba’s rebellion afterward reverting to David and those loyal to him. Yet some contend that David did not write these words-seeing the specific reference to Judah and the need to rebuild its cities (in a literal sense) as an indication that verses 34-36 were added to David’s psalm by a later king in Jerusalem, such as Hezekiah at the time of Assyria’s invasion. That could be. In any case, the words here likely refer not just to ancient Zion, but prophetically to spiritual Zion today (God’s Church) and to Jerusalem at the time Christ returns to establish God’s Kingdom.
We are to read
Mark 6:33 – 12:17
In Mark 6:56 we read about ht ehme of His garment. As we have just read about this in the story of Saul and David at engedi you must now read the entire article at https://sightedmoon.com/sightedmoon_2015/?page_id=129 Under the Shadow of His wings. The Tallit.
In Mark I will let you read it yourself but I want to share with you one thing Mark 9:49
Yahshua taught, “Ye are the salt of the earth; but if the salt loses its savor, wherewith shall it be salted? It is thenceforth good for nothing, but to be cast out, and to be trodden under the foot of men” (Mathew 5:13). I often wondered why Yahshua compared his followers to “salt.” So I decided to ponder on this scripture so that I could get a better understanding. And here is what came to me.
Salt is a seasoning used to enhance the flavor of food. So should we as believers go forth and preach the gospel of Yahshua, just as salt enhances the flavor in food, we are to enhance everyone we come in contact with. We as believers should be seasoning the world around us with love. We are called to make a difference. “Ye are the salt of the earth.” It only takes a little salt to enhance the flavor of food. Just a little kindness to a hurting soul, can enhance that persons heart from sorrow to gladness. Just a smile could brighten some ones day. “Ye are the salt of the earth.” So let us go forth as believers encouraging others instead of tearing them down. Let us be true examples of Yahshua, so that others will see Yahovah’s goodness in us, and be drawn into the Kingdom of Yahovah.
We live in a time of confusion. Sin seems to be running rampant. If Yahovah were to ask if he could find at least 10 righteous people in your city, so that he might spare it from destruction, what would He find? We believers are called to be the “salt” of the earth. As we go each of us into the world, shaking a little salt here and there, we can influence and preserve our world. We can also preserve the world around us through prayer. Believers are called to pray, and how powerful the prayer of a righteous “salty” child of Yahovah. “The effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much” (James 5:16).
Salt Causes Thirst
Whenever I eat anything salty, I become extremely thirsty, and the only thing that will quench my thirst is water. So it should be for us believers. We have one of the greatest opportunities given unto man. To share the gospel of Yahshua, what more could be so rewarding, than to see a person set free. The world is full of thirsty people. Nothing but torah can satisfy that thirst. The word of Yahovah tells us, “out of our bellies will flow rivers of living waters” (John 7-37-38). We have been given authority by Yahovah to share in leading men to torah. As we speak the word of Yahovah in love, we create a thirst in those around us, a thirst to know Yahshua and the Torah. The more they thirst after righteousness, the more of an opportunity we have to share with them.
What happens when Salt lose its flavor?
“But if the salt loses its savor, It is thenceforth good for nothing, but to be cast out, and to be trodden under the foot of men.” I know from experience that salt does not lose its flavor from sitting around in the cabinet for long periods of time. The only way salt can lose its flavor is if it tampered with, or in other words contaminated. So it is with us believers. The only way we can lose our “savor” is if we allow ourselves to become contaminated by the things of this world. If we are not careful to keep our minds on Yahshua, avoiding spending time in prayer, studying the word, meditating on Yahovah’s word, we open ourselves up to the things of this world. When we allow the worlds systems to enter our hearts and minds, we can no longer be effective as Kingdom builders. We lose our “saltiness,” and we are no longer equipped to enhance, encourage, or preserve others.
Salt is in a category all by itself. It’s unique. So are the children of Yahovah. We are a “chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people belonging to Yahovah” (1 Peter 1:9). As disciples of Yahshua we are called to make a difference in this world. To bring about positive change for the kingdom of Yahovah, to take a stand for righteousness, we are not called to compromise the gospel of Yahshua to fit mans way of thinking. We are disciples of Yahshua, and as his disciples, we are to be examples to this world just as Yahshua was when he was here on earth. We are called to live a life of humility, kindness and most importantly love one another for that is required of every Christian called by Yahovah. http://hubpages.com/hub/Salt12
The 613 Mitzvot
We are also going to continue to study the 613 laws of Torah which we can read at http://www.jewfaq.org/613.htm
We are doing 7 laws each week and but because I am away there will be 35 Mitzvot to look at. We shall study laws 184-219. We also have commentary, with editing from me, again from http://theownersmanual.net/The_Owners_Manual_02_The_Law_of_Love.Torah
Employees, Servants and Slaves
184. Not to delay payment of a hired man’s wages (Lev. 19:13) (CCN38).
(184) Do not delay payment of a hired man’s wages. “You shall not cheat your neighbor, nor rob him. The wages of him who is hired shall not remain with you all night until morning.” (Leviticus 19:13) Delaying payment (not just for wages, but for anything) is a form of oppression, and Yahweh considers it evil. To withhold payment of a legitimate debt, even temporarily, is seen by God as robbery. I’ve been on both sides of this equation, as an employer and as an employee (and as both contractor and client). I’ve felt the anguish of not knowing if the check was going to arrive on time, of not knowing if I’d be able to feed my family because some bureaucrat was holding my wages “all night.” I’ve also witnessed the puzzled gratitude of my suppliers when I paid what I owed them several weeks early. I can tell you from experience, doing business God’s way is a lot more fun.
185. That the hired laborer shall be permitted to eat of the produce he is reaping (Deut. 23:25-26) (CCA65).
(185) The hired laborer shall be permitted to eat of the produce he is reaping. “When you come into your neighbor’s vineyard, you may eat your fill of grapes at your pleasure, but you shall not put any in your container. When you come into your neighbor’s standing grain, you may pluck the heads with your hand, but you shall not use a sickle on your neighbor’s standing grain.” (Deuteronomy 23:24-25) The rabbis have blown it big time here (and in the next two mitzvot) by applying this precept to hired laborers. Could it be they were trying to engineer a loophole? Sure, I’ll pay you: you can eat your fill of my produce while you’re harvesting my crop, but don’t expect a penny more. This is not about employees, but about “neighbors,” that is, fellow Israelites or strangers who were passing through and got hungry. (Yahshua and His disciples fell into this category from time to time.) As the text plainly indicates, this is part of God’s “welfare” system—it’s designed to take care of travelers and wayfarers. As we saw during our discussion of Yahweh’s provision for the poor (Mitzvot #41-50), God provided the land and its increase; it was therefore His prerogative to make it available to whomever He chose—to the landowner first, but also to those in immediate need.
We read of Yahshua doing this very thing in Matthew 12:1 At that time Jesus went through the grainfields on the Sabbath. And His disciples were hungry, and began to pluck heads of grain and to eat.
186. That the hired laborer shall not take more than he can eat (Deut. 23:25) (CCN187).
(186) The hired laborer shall not take more than he can eat. “When you come into your neighbor’s vineyard, you may eat your fill of grapes at your pleasure, but you shall not put any in your container. When you come into your neighbor’s standing grain, you may pluck the heads with your hand, but you shall not use a sickle on your neighbor’s standing grain.” (Deuteronomy 23:24-25) There is a wonderfully practical balance here between the rights of the landowner and the needs of the wayfarer. The “neighbor” could walk through a field or vineyard and help himself to as much as he could carry—in his stomach (which only holds about a quart). No sickle or pruning hook, no container to haul away the booty, no equipment at all other than your bare hands and digestive tract would be allowed; this wasn’t a raid God was authorizing—it was charity. Thus there were practical limits to the impact such “harvesting” could have on the farmer’s crop. Again, the precept has absolutely nothing to do with relations between a landowner and his hired laborers.
187. That a hired laborer shall not eat produce that is not being harvested (Deut. 23:26) (CCN186).
(187) A hired laborer shall not eat produce that is not being harvested. “When you come into your neighbor’s vineyard, you may eat your fill of grapes at your pleasure, but you shall not put any in your container. When you come into your neighbor’s standing grain, you may pluck the heads with your hand, but you shall not use a sickle on your neighbor’s standing grain.” (Deuteronomy 23:24-25) Pardon me, Maimonides. Your agenda is showing. This is not about making sure your field hands aren’t getting overpaid. This is about reflecting Yahweh’s mercy, sharing God’s bounty, recognizing His provision, and emulating His generosity. It’s the very antithesis of the ugly attitude of imposing submission on those who find themselves beneath you on the economic scale in this world.
188. To pay wages to the hired man at the due time (Deut. 24:15) (CCA66).
(188) Pay wages to the hired man at the due time. “You shall not oppress a hired servant who is poor and needy, whether one of your brethren or one of the aliens who is in your land within your gates. Each day you shall give him his wages, and not let the sun go down on it, for he is poor and has set his heart on it; lest he cry out against you to Yahweh, and it be sin to you.” (Deuteronomy 24:14-15) Is there an echo in here? This is the same precept we saw under Mitzvah #184. We shouldn’t be too surprised to find a lot of the same things first mentioned in Exodus, Leviticus, and Numbers to be repeated in Deuteronomy, for it is the record of Moses’ delivering the Law to a whole new generation of Israelites—whose rebellious parents had died in the wilderness. Here we are told (as if we didn’t know) why the hired laborers were to be paid promptly: they were poor, and their “hearts were set” on receiving what they had earned with the sweat of their brow. Been there; done that. Most of us have cried out in distress to Yahweh at some point, seeking protection from someone’s abuse. I would simply note here that being the oppressor somebody is complaining to God about would be a very, very bad thing.
189. To deal judicially with the Hebrew bondman in accordance with the laws appertaining to him (Ex. 21:2-6) (affirmative).
(189) Deal judicially with the Hebrew bondman in accordance with the laws appertaining to him. “If you buy a Hebrew servant, he shall serve six years; and in the seventh he shall go out free and pay nothing. If he comes in by himself, he shall go out by himself; if he comes in married, then his wife shall go out with him. If his master has given him a wife, and she has borne him sons or daughters, the wife and her children shall be her master’s, and he shall go out by himself. But if the servant plainly says, ‘I love my master, my wife, and my children; I will not go out free,’ then his master shall bring him to the judges. He shall also bring him to the door, or to the doorpost, and his master shall pierce his ear with an awl; and he shall serve him forever.” (Exodus 21:2-6) This is only incidentally a precept about temporal master-slave relationships. In actuality, it is an elaborate metaphor of our ability and privilege to choose Yahweh. First, we see the ubiquitous six-plus-one pattern here, which should by now tell us instantly that Yahweh is instructing us about His plan for mankind—six thousand years of “work” and a millennium of “rest.”
Next, we learn an often-misunderstood lesson about liberty: freedom is neutral. It’s not important in itself; what’s significant is what you’re freed from. Who is the master from whom you wish to be released? Release from the service of a cruel taskmaster would be a good thing, of course. But be advised: escape may be more difficult than it looks. Parts of your old life of servitude could be hard to leave behind. This is obviously a metaphor for the service of Satan, a life of sin. Our acquaintances and addictions are part of our old life: if we aren’t prepared to let them go, we will never be truly free.
On the other hand, what if your Master is kindhearted and generous? What if He has given you “everything that pertains to life and godliness?” What if the work you’ve been given to do has been a joy to perform, significant and fulfilling? And what if you’ve built a family within His household with whom the bond of love is sweet and enduring? If, as the poet said, “Freedom’s just another word for nothing left to lose,” then perhaps liberty is not necessarily such a good thing after all. I’m speaking, of course, of having Yahweh/Yahshua as a master. Some of us have spent years in the service of God: we could conceivably say to ourselves, “I’ve paid my dues—I’m through.” But retiring from this life is like leaving the best job in the world—how could we possibly top it? (The paycheck ain’t so great sometimes, but the benefits and retirement plan are to die for.) Freedom from Christ is like freedom from health, love, security, from life itself—it’s something no sane man would want. It’s no accident that every letter writer in the New Testament called Himself a servant of Christ at one point or another (Paul, James, Peter, and Jude did so in their salutations, and John spoke incessantly of “keeping His commandments,” which is what a servant does above all else.)
So what do we do when confronted with our “freedom” from the God we love? According to the passage at hand, we have the option of declining to leave. We can approach the doorpost (Hebrew: mezuzah: the place where God’s word was to be displayed—see #21) and ask the Master—Yahshua—to pierce our earlobe with an awl. In this we are following our Messiah: the piercing is voluntary, involving blood and pain, but the Master subsequently adorns our wound with a golden ring, the symbol of eternity in the service of the King.
190. Not to compel the Hebrew servant to do the work of a slave (Lev. 25:39) (negative).
(190) Do not compel the Hebrew servant to do the work of a slave. “If one of your brethren who dwells by you becomes poor, and sells himself to you, you shall not compel him to serve as a slave. As a hired servant and a sojourner he shall be with you, and shall serve you until the Year of Jubilee. And then he shall depart from you—he and his children with him—and shall return to his own family. He shall return to the possession of his fathers.” (Leviticus 25:39-41) I find it fascinating that Yahweh never forbade slavery. He regulated it, mitigated its abuses, incorporated a temporary form of it into His welfare system, and used it as a springboard for His metaphors about service, but He never outlawed it. Perhaps He wanted us to come to grips with the fact that this side of heaven, we’re all “slaves” to something or other, whether good or evil, God or Satan.
This mitzvah has less to do with the type of work assigned to the bondservant than with the attitude of the master. A slave was property: you could buy or sell him, and if someone injured or killed him, it was the master who was reimbursed. But Israelites were not to “own” their brothers. If a man became poor and “sold himself” into the service of a fellow Israelite, he did not become a “slave,” but rather an indentured servant—sort of a “contract laborer.” He was not “owned” by the master, but was sort of “leased.” There was a term during which he would serve the master in exchange for a financial consideration—paid up front to satisfy a debt or support the man’s family. The master was to treat him as he would any hired laborer—with respect and dignity.
Most significantly, there was a time limit to his period of service. Leviticus 25 is all about the Jubilee, a once-every-fifty-year (i.e., once in a lifetime) occurrence, and thus we are being given a picture here of being granted release from our labors at the end of our lives: not our physical lives, but our lives as slaves—our lives bound to sin. Our freedom from that condition is pictured by Jubilee. There is, however, a variant on this Law that releases the bondservant after six years. “If your brother, a Hebrew man, or a Hebrew woman, is sold to you and serves you six years, then in the seventh year you shall let him go free from you.” (Deuteronomy 15:12) As a practical matter, Yahweh didn’t want Israelites selling themselves into bondage for their entire lifetimes. So the Sabbath year represents a sort of mini-Jubilee, in which many of the same things (debts, lands, servitude) were released. In the Sabbatical year, the once-in-a-lifetime picture is lost, but Yahweh’s mercy, forgiveness, and provision are seen even more clearly.
191. Not to sell a Hebrew servant as a slave (Lev. 25:42) (negative).
(191) Do not sell a Hebrew servant as a slave. “…For they are My servants, whom I brought out of the land of Egypt; they shall not be sold as slaves.” (Leviticus 25:42) Continuing the thought from the previous mitzvah, we see that Yahweh’s instructions concerning Israelite bondservants prohibited their being re-sold as ordinary slaves. The stated reason was that they were actually Yahweh’s servants first (being Israelites and believers), and only bondservants to their earthly masters in a secondary role. The lesson for Christians should provide confidence and comfort: once we are Yahweh’s servants—once we have asked the master to pierce our earlobe with His awl against the doorpost of testimony—we will never again be “sold” into sin. Satan can never own us. This is about as strong an evidence for “eternal security” as it gets. I should hasten to add, however, that since we are servants of God, He has the right to administer discipline as He sees fit. Read the story of David in II Samuel, I Kings, and I Chronicles. If Yahweh did not hesitate to discipline one so close to His own heart when he sinned, we should expect nothing less.
192. Not to treat a Hebrew servant rigorously (Lev. 25:43) (negative).
(192) Do not treat a Hebrew servant rigorously. “…You shall not rule over him [an Israelite bondservant] with rigor, but you shall fear your God.” (Leviticus 25:43) A direct parallel is drawn between the fear—the reverence—of Yahweh and the treatment of one’s bondservants. As we saw in #191, the servant is primarily Yahweh’s; he is only being “loaned” to his earthly master, who is also a servant of Yahweh’s. In effect, the “master” was being told not to mistreat the servant of Another. As believers, we need to remember that we all serve the same God. We may find ourselves higher or lower in the “pecking order,” but mercy rolls downhill. If we have received mercy, we should dispense mercy.
193. Not to permit a gentile to treat harshly a Hebrew bondman sold to him (Lev. 25:53) (negative).
(193) Do not permit a gentile to treat harshly a Hebrew bondman sold to him. “He shall be with him as a yearly hired servant, and he shall not rule with rigor over him in your sight.” (Leviticus 25:53) As we have seen, this entire chapter concerns the law of Jubilee. Here we see what is to happen if the indentured servant’s master is not an Israelite, but a gentile living in the Land. Let’s pick up the narrative in verse 47: “Now if a sojourner or stranger close to you becomes rich, and one of your brethren who dwells by him becomes poor, and sells himself to the stranger or sojourner close to you, or to a member of the stranger’s family, after he is sold he may be redeemed again.” This, the law of redemption, is the main point of the passage—not the gentle treatment of Jewish servants. “One of his brothers may redeem him; or his uncle or his uncle’s son may redeem him; or anyone who is near of kin to him in his family may redeem him; or if he is able he may redeem himself….” The servant’s family can, at any time, buy back the man’s “contract” from his master. In other words, even though he has sold his services to another, the bondservant still belongs to Yahweh. He himself cannot be sold.
How is the redemption price determined? “Thus he shall reckon with him who bought him: The price of his release shall be according to the number of years, from the year that he was sold to him until the Year of Jubilee; it shall be according to the time of a hired servant for him. If there are still many years remaining, according to them he shall repay the price of his redemption from the money with which he was bought. And if there remain but a few years until the Year of Jubilee, then he shall reckon with him, and according to his years he shall repay him the price of his redemption. He shall be with him as a yearly hired servant, and he shall not rule with rigor over him in your sight….” As we saw with land that was sold/leased to another, value is determined by how much productivity can be expected between now and Jubilee. The closer the time, the less the bondservant is worth to the master.
“And if he is not redeemed in these years, then he shall be released in the Year of Jubilee—he and his children with him. For the children of Israel are servants to Me; they are My servants whom I brought out of the land of Egypt: I am Yahweh your God.” (Leviticus 25:47-55) Is there more to this than meets the eye? I believe there is. We now live in “the times of the Gentiles.” Israel has “sold herself” into bondage because of the spiritual poverty she has endured since her national rejection of Yahshua at Calvary. Yahweh is not (at present) dealing with His people Israel in any direct way. But that’s about to change. The most ubiquitous prophetic theme in the entire Bible is the eventual restoration of Israel to a place of fellowship with Yahweh through Yahshua their King—an earthly thousand-year Messianic Kingdom.
And when will that begin? On Jubilee—the ultimate Jubilee—commencing with the Day of Atonement spoken of in Zechariah 12:10 in which Israel will at last recognize her Messiah. As time marches toward this prophetic rendezvous, the Jews’ “value” to the world will be whittled away until there’s nothing left, just as stated in the law of Jubilee. As Daniel put it, “When the power of the holy people has been completely shattered, all these things shall be finished.” (Daniel 12:7) A mere five days after this Day of Atonement, after the remnant of Israel has watched their Messiah annihilate their enemies at the Battle of Armageddon, the definitive Feast of Tabernacles will usher in the Millennial reign of Yahshua. The year, unless I’ve misread the obvious signs, will be 2033—two thousand years, forty Jubilees, since Christ paid the required price to redeem us all from our service to Satan. In the intervening years, some Jews, perceiving that they had been released, left their old master. The rest continued their servitude in ignorance, working for their adversary until released by the Law of Jubilee.
All of this sheds new light on the significance of the mitzvah we originally started out examining, “He shall not rule with rigor over him in your sight.” Even though Israel has been in bondage for the last two millennia, their gentile overlords have been warned by Yahweh not to treat them harshly. They have rarely listened.
194. Not to send away a Hebrew bondman servant empty handed, when he is freed from service (Deut. 15:13) (negative).
(194) Do not send away a Hebrew bondman servant empty-handed when he is freed from service. “If your brother, a Hebrew man, or a Hebrew woman, is sold to you and serves you six years, then in the seventh year you shall let him go free from you. And when you send him away free from you, you shall not let him go away empty-handed; you shall supply him liberally from your flock, from your threshing floor, and from your winepress. From what Yahweh has blessed you with, you shall give to Him. You shall remember that you were a slave in the land of Egypt, and Yahweh your God redeemed you; therefore I command you this thing today.” (Deuteronomy 15:12-15) Justice says: You agreed to work for six years for “X” amount of money. You were paid and you have fulfilled your contract. You’re free to go, but you will receive nothing more. Mercy says: Your poverty forced you to sell your services for six long years, and you have faithfully fulfilled your contract. But now you’re no better off than you were when you started, so as a bonus, your former master will “stake you” so you can begin anew—food, supplies, opportunities: whatever it takes to get an honest, hardworking man like you on your feet for good.
As I said before, mercy trumps justice in God’s book. Rectitude is good, but love is infinitely better. It’s a fine thing to be correct, but Yahweh prefers us to be compassionate. Beyond that, if this, like the previous mitzvah, has a prophetic component to it, it would be demonstrated in any of a hundred passages like this: “Thus says Yahweh Almighty: ‘Behold, I will lift My hand in an oath to the nations, and set up My standard for the peoples. They shall bring your sons in their arms, and your daughters shall be carried on their shoulders. Kings shall be your foster fathers, and their queens your nursing mothers; they shall bow down to you with their faces to the earth, and lick up the dust of your feet. Then you will know that I am Yahweh, for they shall not be ashamed who wait for Me.’” (Isaiah 49:22-23) The restoration of Israel will ultimately be an international affair, with the redeemed gentile survivors of the tribulation joyously aiding in the final regathering and restoration of Yahweh’s people to the Land of Promise. I realize that represents a 180-degree turnabout from their attitude today, but today the nations serve Satan, not Yahweh. And like I said, that’s all about to change.
195. To bestow liberal gifts upon the Hebrew bondsman (at the end of his term of service), and the same should be done to a Hebrew bondwoman (Deut. 15:14) (affirmative).
(195) Bestow liberal gifts upon the Hebrew bondsman or bondwoman (at the end of their term of service). “If your brother, a Hebrew man, or a Hebrew woman, is sold to you and serves you six years, then in the seventh year you shall let him go free from you. And when you send him away free from you, you shall not let him go away empty-handed; you shall supply him liberally from your flock, from your threshing floor, and from your winepress. From what Yahweh has blessed you with, you shall give to him. You shall remember that you were a slave in the land of Egypt, and Yahweh your God redeemed you; therefore I command you this thing today.” (Deuteronomy 15:12-15) This, of course, is merely the affirmative restatement of #194’s negative mitzvah. As we have seen so often in precepts concerning mercy or redemption, there is a reason attached to the commandment: Yahweh has blessed us, restored us, and given us freedom and prosperity. As far as it is within our powers, we are to do the same for our fellow man.
196. To redeem a Hebrew maid-servant (Ex. 21:8) (affirmative).
(196) Redeem a Hebrew maid-servant. “If a man sells his daughter to be a female slave, she shall not go out as the male slaves do. If she does not please her master who has betrothed her to himself, then he shall let her be redeemed. He shall have no right to sell her to a foreign people, since he has dealt deceitfully with her.” (Exodus 21:7-8) This is a subset of the law of redemption designed to protect women from abuse. The word translated “go out” (Hebrew: yoset) is “used of going forth from one’s homeland into exile.” (B&C) Thus it doesn’t mean, Keep your female bondservants indoors, but rather, There are different rules in effect for female bondservants. The obvious problem was the potential for sexual abuse. Harlotry, especially selling one’s daughter into this life, was strictly forbidden: “Do not prostitute your daughter, to cause her to be a harlot, lest the land fall into harlotry, and the land become full of wickedness.” (Leviticus 19:29) There were, of course, many legitimate non-sex-related roles for female bondservants to fulfill in a master’s household, so the practice of “leasing” one’s daughter into indentured servitude was not forbidden.
It was inevitable, however, that occasionally a man who had brought a female bondservant into his household would notice her qualities and decide she would make a good marriage partner—either for himself or for his son (see #198). In that case, if she failed to please her master after the betrothal, he could no longer treat her as an ordinary slave girl, but would be required to let her family redeem her. He was specifically prohibited from selling her to a foreign master.
Of course, slavery and indentured servitude aren’t terribly common any more. So is this precept obsolete? No. Once again, think prophetically. Israel has fallen into spiritual poverty, and has sold her daughters into the service of the world. Yahweh is announcing here that they cannot be sold to Satan; He reserves the right to redeem them—to restore them to His family. The “daughters of Jerusalem” have not pleased their masters in exile, but they are under Yahweh’s protection. He has already paid the price of their redemption. We now await their realization that they are free to go back home.
197. Not to sell a Hebrew maid-servant to another person (Ex. 21:8) (negative).
(197) Do not sell a Hebrew maid-servant to another person. “If a man sells his daughter to be a female slave, she shall not go out as the male slaves do. If she does not please her master who has betrothed her to himself, then he shall let her be redeemed. He shall have no right to sell her to a foreign people, since he has dealt deceitfully with her.” (Exodus 21:7-8) This is the negative counterpart to the previous mitzvah. Maimonides is padding the list again.
198. To espouse a Hebrew maid-servant (Ex. 21:8-9) (affirmative).
(198) Espouse a Hebrew maid-servant. “…If she does not please her master, who has betrothed her to himself, then he shall let her be redeemed. He shall have no right to sell her to a foreign people, since he has dealt deceitfully with her. And if he has betrothed her to his son, he shall deal with her according to the custom of daughters. If he takes another wife, he shall not diminish her food, her [i.e., the betrothed bondservant’s] clothing, and her marriage rights. And if he does not do these three for her, then she shall go out free, without paying money.” (Exodus 21:8-11) Continuing the thought from the previous mitzvah, we see that the rabbis have done some judicious editing, and have therefore missed the whole point.
There are some big “ifs” here. If the female bondservant is “wife material,” then she is no longer bondservant material. You can’t have it both ways. In the same way, Israel, who has become the bondservant of the world through her spiritual bankruptcy, had (and has) the opportunity to be betrothed to the Master (Yahweh), or to His Son (Yahshua), in which case she would cease to be a bondslave, but would become a wife with all the rights and privileges of any wife—no matter what she was formerly. And what was that provision about “another wife?” It’s pretty obvious, this side of Calvary. Yahweh is referring to the Church, the Ekklesia—the other woman, His second wife, the bride of Christ. The Law here is flatly stating that if (actually, when) Israel accepts Yahweh’s marriage proposal, she will not be a second-class wife—a concubine, as it were—but will be a real wife, loved equally with her sister, the Church. As always with metaphors, if you put too much stress on them they’ll start to fray around the edges, but the central truth remains: God loves both Israel and the Ekklesia, even though Israel has sold herself into bondage temporarily.
199. To keep the Canaanite slave forever (Lev. 25:46) (affirmative).
(199) Keep the Canaanite slave forever. “Moreover you may buy the children of the strangers who dwell among you, and their families who are with you, which they beget in your land; and they shall become your property. And you may take them as an inheritance for your children after you, to inherit them as a possession; they shall be your permanent slaves.” (Leviticus 25:45-46) This one must have driven nineteenth-century abolitionists crazy. Is Yahweh promoting slavery? Not really, although for the sake of His illustration, He is permitting it. Yahweh is making a distinction here between those who would be set free through the law of Jubilee (the central subject of Leviticus 25), and those who would not. In other words, this is a lesson about the eternal status of non-believers.
Yahweh’s people, represented here by Israel, are protected by the Law of Jubilee: every fifty years they are granted total forgiveness. God through His Law redeems them from their bondage and debt. “Strangers,” however, are representative of those who are not under Yahweh’s protection; therefore the general amnesty of Jubilee does not apply to them. I hasten to note that this is not a statement defining one’s salvation or damnation based on race or culture. As I’ve said till I’m blue in the face, Israel’s job was and is to bear the signs of Yahweh’s redemptive plan—and this is one of them: they’re playing the role of the saved, whether or not they are actually followers of Yahweh as individuals. In the same way, the “strangers” are cast in the role of the unsaved. The point is simply that unbelievers will remain in bondage permanently. There will be no day of grace for them because they have no covenant relationship with Yahweh. Jubilee’s forgiveness is for God’s people, not Satan’s.
200. Not to surrender a slave, who has fled to the land of Israel, to his owner who lives outside Palestine (Deut. 23:16) (negative).
(200) Do not surrender a slave who has fled to the land of Israel to his owner who lives outside Palestine. “You shall not give back to his master the slave who has escaped from his master to you. He may dwell with you in your midst, in the place which he chooses within one of your gates, where it seems best to him; you shall not oppress him.” (Deuteronomy 23:15-16) Unlike Maimonides, Yahweh doesn’t actually specify the origin of the slave or his master here, for a very good reason. This is a poignant picture of flight from the oppression of slavery under sin to a new life under Yahweh’s protection. One dealing with a runaway slave had three logical options: he could return the slave to his former master, re-enslave the runaway for his own use, or set him free. Yahweh is hereby commanding His people to take door number three.
This is, at its core, a scathing denunciation of religion—all sorts of organized religious practice. Most people follow what they were taught as children: whether their parents were Hindus or Buddhists, atheists or Muslims, Catholics or Protestants, they naturally start out doing and believing the same kinds of things their parents did. But now and then, a person notices the neshamah, the “God-shaped vacuum” within him and endeavors to delve beyond the humdrum going-through-the-motions existences being lived by those around them. At this point, they have “escaped from their masters.” But what happens to them? All too often, they are simply re-enslaved into something worse than the existence from which they were fleeing. If a nominal Muslim looking for a deeper faith doesn’t leave Islam, he becomes a terrorist or suicide bomber. The Buddhist seeker ceases being a productive member of his society and becomes a holy parasite, a monk, a living contradiction of outward asceticism achieved through total self-absorption. And what happens to those who wish to turn to Yahweh? As often as not, they are told to exchange their slavery to sin for another form of servitude—rules, rituals, and traditions, or worse, submission to ecclesiastical tyranny under self-appointed religious leaders. As Yahshua put it, “Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you travel land and sea to win one proselyte, and when he is won, you make him twice as much a son of hell as yourselves.” (Matthew 23:15) But the Torah says to stop oppressing the runaway slave; let him enjoy his freedom. “Jesus answered [the Pharisees], ‘Most assuredly, I say to you, whoever commits sin is a slave of sin. And a slave does not abide in the house forever, but a son abides forever. Therefore if the Son makes you free, you shall be free indeed.’” (John 8:34-36)
201. Not to wrong such a slave (Deut. 23:17) (negative).
(201) Do not wrong a runaway slave. “You shall not give back to his master the slave who has escaped from his master to you. He may dwell with you in your midst, in the place which he chooses within one of your gates, where it seems best to him; you shall not oppress him.” (Deuteronomy 23:15-16) The rabbis have drawn a distinction here between not returning a runaway slave to his owner and treating him well. Okay, whatever. More specifically, the Law says not to treat him as a second-class citizen because he used to be a slave, but accept him without prejudice. I personally know two pastors with checkered pasts—drugs, crime, prison—who are now serving Yahshua with enthusiasm and gratitude. Where would their congregations be if Christians had held their former bonds of slavery against them? If Yahweh has redeemed a person, if he has fled from his old life of slavery to sin, then according to Yahweh, he may “dwell in our midst.” Let’s face it: we have all been slaves at one time or another. If we exclude the one with obvious sins in his past, we must exclude ourselves as well. To the heavenly Gardener, the best slug in the yard is pretty much the same as the worst one.
202. Not to muzzle a beast, while it is working in produce which it can eat and enjoy (Deut. 25:4) (CCN188).
(202) Don’t muzzle a beast while it is working: allow it to eat and enjoy. “You shall not muzzle an ox while it treads out the grain.” (Deuteronomy 25:4) Yes, Yahweh is concerned with the welfare of animals as well as of men. This precept, however, is not talking exclusively about “livestock rights.” Paul quoted this twice (in I Timothy 5:18 and in the following passage) to demonstrate that one who works in ministry has a right to derive a living wage from such work. This is why we have salaried pastors today. Note, however, that although the ox had a right to munch on some grain as he worked, he was not given the deed to the wheat field, nor was he given the authority to plow the whole thing under and put up trendy condos to sell at an obscene profit to rich yuppies. Rather, his “living” was predicated on his participation in providing nourishment to the community.
Paul wrote to the believers at Corinth about his rights as an Apostle (rights he freely relinquished in order to avoid becoming a stumbling block): “Don’t we have the right to live in your homes and share your meals? Don’t we have the right to bring a Christian wife along with us as the other disciples and the Lord’s brothers and Peter do?” This sentence sets the remuneration bar high enough to support one’s family, not just a subsistence wage for the pastor himself. “Or is it only Barnabas and I who have to work to support ourselves? What soldier has to pay his own expenses? And have you ever heard of a farmer who harvests his crop and doesn’t have the right to eat some of it? What shepherd takes care of a flock of sheep and isn’t allowed to drink some of the milk? And this isn’t merely human opinion. Doesn’t God’s law say the same thing? For the law of Moses says, ‘Do not keep an ox from eating as it treads out the grain.’ Do you suppose God was thinking only about oxen when he said this? Wasn’t he also speaking to us? Of course he was. Just as farm workers who plow fields and thresh the grain expect a share of the harvest, Christian workers should be paid by those they serve….” I couldn’t have said it better myself. It’s handy when scripture provides commentary on scripture, don’t you think?
“We have planted good spiritual seed among you. Is it too much to ask, in return, for mere food and clothing?” Paul’s point is that spiritual nourishment should be rewarded with physical sustenance. Yet he didn’t capitalize on that principle. “If you support others who preach to you, shouldn’t we have an even greater right to be supported? Yet we have never used this right. We would rather put up with anything than put an obstacle in the way of the Good News about Christ….”
He then reminds us that this is nothing new in God’s economy: “Don’t you know that those who work in the Temple get their meals from the food brought to the Temple as offerings? And those who serve at the altar get a share of the sacrificial offerings. In the same way, the Lord gave orders that those who preach the Good News should be supported by those who benefit from it.” (I Corinthians 9:4-14 NLT)
Vows, Oaths and Swearing
203. That a man should fulfill whatever he has uttered (Deut. 23:24) (CCA39).
(203) A man should fulfill whatever he has uttered. “That which has gone from your lips you shall keep and perform, for you voluntarily vowed to Yahweh your God what you have promised with your mouth.” (Deuteronomy 23:23) This points out something few understand these days: when you say something, you’ve said it before Yahweh Himself. If you make any “statement of fact,” it’s as if you’re “swearing on a stack of Bibles.” You’ve automatically “sworn” that your words are true. If you’ve said you’d do something, your words are a promise you’ve made to God—even if you weren’t promising anything to Him, but merely to some other human. Yahweh, in short, expects us to keep our word, to tell the truth—whether we’re “under oath” or not. A promise to the least of men is a promise to Him.
Not surprisingly, Yahshua sounds irritated as he discusses the hypocrisy of swearing on this or that as though the greater the thing sworn upon, the more truthful the statement must be: “You have heard that the law of Moses says, ‘Do not break your vows; you must carry out the vows you have made to the Lord.’ But I say, don’t make any vows! If you say, ‘By heaven!’ it is a sacred vow because heaven is God’s throne. And if you say, ‘By the earth!’ it is a sacred vow because the earth is his footstool. And don’t swear, ‘By Jerusalem!’ for Jerusalem is the city of the great King. Don’t even swear, ‘By my head!’ for you can’t turn one hair white or black. Just say a simple, ‘Yes, I will,’ or ‘No, I won’t.’ Your word is enough. To strengthen your promise with a vow shows that something is wrong. (Matthew 5:33-37 NLT). That’s pretty clear, isn’t it?
204. Not to swear needlessly (Ex. 20:7) (CCN29).
(204) Do not swear needlessly. “You shall not take the name of Yahweh your God in vain, for Yahweh will not hold him guiltless who takes His name in vain.” (Exodus 20:7) It’s interesting that this verse was chosen to support the idea of not swearing needlessly: it has almost nothing to do with taking oaths. As we saw in the previous mitzvah, in fact, it is God’s will that we don’t swear at all (that is, don’t make vows or give testimony that must be backed by things that are more reliable than our own word). The “need” for swearing or taking an oath should never arise.
But since the rabbis brought it up, let’s look at what the actual Hebrew words of this most enigmatic of the Ten Commandments really means: “You shall not take (nasa: lift up, accept, advance, bear, tolerate, respect, regard, or yield to) the name (shem: the position, individual nature, designation, honor, authority, character, mark, fame, name, reputation, or report) of Yahweh your God (elohiym: supreme and mighty one, deity) in an evil (shav: destructive, beguiling, false, evil, ruinous, idolatrous, harmful, devastating, wasteful, immoral, deceptive, or dishonest) way. For Yahweh will not exonerate (naqah: cleanse, acquit, hold blameless, or leave unpunished) him who accepts (nasa: lifts up, accepts, advances, bears, or tolerates) His character (shem: position, individual nature, designation, honor, authority, character, mark, fame, name, reputation, or report) being used in a deceptive (shav: destructive, evil, devastating, desolate, wasteful, beguiling, immoral, idolatrous, false, deceptive, or dishonest) way.” (Exodus 20:7)
The Third Commandment therefore has nothing to do with taking oaths or swearing (not directly, at least), and everything to do with using the name of God—Yahweh—properly and with respect. The unfortunate English translation of the Hebrew word shav (destructive, false, evil, ruinous, idolatrous, harmful, devastating, wasteful, immoral, deceptive, dishonest, etc.) as “vain” (which in this context means empty or frivolous) is part of the problem. This erroneous word choice has led generations of people to believe that saying the name of God (a name most people don’t even know) in a flippant or irreverent way is what He’s prohibiting here. They believe that the commandment merely means that we shouldn’t say things like “God damn it” or “I swear to God….” While profanity—using His name in a common or disrespectful way or taking Him lightly—is indeed a bad thing, implied here and warned against explicitly elsewhere in scripture, the Third Commandment has a far deeper meaning: we are not to accept or advance anything that is false, deceptive, or destructive in Yahweh’s name, or associate these things with His character, or say that they’re His word. He won’t ignore it when we choose to worship counterfeit gods, for He is holy—separate from His creation.
In a remarkable and tragic miscalculation (and I’m probably being far too kind here—it smells more like purposeful and satanic deception) the rabbis eventually took this verse to mean that the name “Yahweh” couldn’t be spoken at all, for fear of inadvertently “taking it in vain.” The inevitable result was that the nation of Israel eventually forgot who their God was. Jews today call Him HaShem—“the Name.” And the loss was not confined to Israel: virtually every English Bible translation consistently renders the revealed name of God (Yahweh, which means: “I am”) as “the LORD”—neither a translation nor transliteration; it’s a blatant fraud. Thus Christians usually don’t know who God is, either. Not by name, anyway. It’s enough to make you swear.
205. Not to violate an oath or swear falsely (Lev. 19:12) (CCN31).
(205) Do not violate an oath or swear falsely. “You shall not swear by My name falsely, nor shall you profane the name of your God: I am Yahweh.” (Leviticus 19:12) This is more serious than the rabbinical wording suggests. “Swearing by Yahweh’s name falsely” is tantamount to “profaning” the name (shem: the character or reputation) of God. The Hebrew word for “to profane” is chalal: “to bore, that is, by implication, to wound, to dissolve; figuratively to profane a person, place or thing, to break one’s word.” (S) In other words, when we as believers in Yahweh don’t keep our word, we are inflicting wounds upon the very reputation of our God in the eyes of the world. Paul pointed out the damage such hypocrisy causes: “You who make your boast in the law, do you dishonor God through breaking the law? For ‘the name of God is blasphemed among the Gentiles because of you,’ as it is written.” (Romans 2:23-24; cf. Ezekiel 36:22-23)
Yahshua also had something to say about breaking your word, and it wasn’t pretty: “Blind guides! How terrible it will be for you! For you say that it means nothing to swear ‘by God’s Temple’—you can break that oath. But then you say that it is binding to swear ‘by the gold in the Temple.’ Blind fools! Which is greater, the gold, or the Temple that makes the gold sacred?” Tell you what: Let’s take the Temple out of the equation. Look out for a guy named Titus Vespasian. “And you say that to take an oath ‘by the altar’ can be broken, but to swear ‘by the gifts on the altar’ is binding! How blind! For which is greater, the gift on the altar, or the altar that makes the gift sacred? When you swear ‘by the altar,’ you are swearing by it and by everything on it. And when you swear ‘by the Temple,’ you are swearing by it and by God, who lives in it. And when you swear ‘by heaven,’ you are swearing by the throne of God and by God, who sits on the throne.” (Matthew 23:16-22 NLT) His point, as usual, was to stop playing games with the truth. Our “yes” should mean yes, and our “no” should mean no.
206. To decide in cases of annulment of vows, according to the rules set forth in the Torah (Num. 30:2-17) (CCA40).
(206) Decide in cases of annulment of vows according to the rules set forth in the Torah. “If a man makes a vow to Yahweh, or swears an oath to bind himself by some agreement, he shall not break his word; he shall do according to all that proceeds out of his mouth. Or if a woman makes a vow to Yahweh, and binds herself by some agreement while in her father’s house in her youth, and her father hears her vow and the agreement by which she has bound herself, and her father holds his peace, then all her vows shall stand, and every agreement with which she has bound herself shall stand. But if her father overrules her on the day that he hears, then none of her vows nor her agreements by which she has bound herself shall stand; and Yahweh will release her, because her father overruled her.” (Numbers 30:2-5) There are other specific cases, which we’ll look at in a moment, but I think we can see what’s going on from these first few verses. Note first that the rabbinical mitzvah is one hundred percent correct for a change: follow the Torah. Good call, guys. The most striking thing about this passage is there are slightly different rules for women than there are for men in the matter of making vows. The knee-jerk reaction of the feminists, of course, is to cry “foul!” But as usual, Yahweh is using our family relationships to teach us deeper truths about His love, protection, and covenants. This has nothing to do with “keeping women in their place.”
Basically, this is the rule: men who make vows must keep them. Period, end of story. However, under certain circumstances, women’s vows may be annulled by the men whom Yahweh has assigned to protect them—their husbands or fathers. But there are limits even here. A protector has only a limited time to annul the vow his wife or daughter has made: he must decide on the day he hears of the matter; he may not “sleep on it.” This would have the effect of weeding out the “annulment material” to obviously frivolous, emotionally driven vows. Examples we might relate to: (1) A daughter vows to quit the cheerleading squad in order to spend more time on her studies—Dad knows there are pros and cons to weigh here; he would probably honor his daughter’s decision and let the vow stand. (2) A daughter promises to kill herself if Johnny doesn’t ask her to the big dance—Dad doesn’t have to think about it; he’ll annul the vow immediately.
Moses lists several other cases, all of which are similar: “If indeed she takes a husband, while bound by her vows or by a rash utterance from her lips by which she bound herself, and her husband hears it, and makes no response to her on the day that he hears, then her vows shall stand, and her agreements by which she bound herself shall stand. But if her husband overrules her on the day that he hears it, he shall make void her vow which she took and what she uttered with her lips, by which she bound herself, and Yahweh will release her. Also any vow of a widow or a divorced woman, by which she has bound herself, shall stand against her.
“If she vowed in her husband’s house, or bound herself by an agreement with an oath, and her husband heard it, and made no response to her and did not overrule her, then all her vows shall stand, and every agreement by which she bound herself shall stand. But if her husband truly made them void on the day he heard them, then whatever proceeded from her lips concerning her vows or concerning the agreement binding her, it shall not stand; her husband has made them void, and Yahweh will release her. Every vow and every binding oath to afflict her soul, her husband may confirm it, or her husband may make it void. Now if her husband makes no response whatever to her from day to day, then he confirms all her vows or all the agreements that bind her; he confirms them, because he made no response to her on the day that he heard them. But if he does make them void after he has heard them, then he shall bear her guilt.” (Numbers 30:6-15)
Okay, so what’s the point of all this? God isn’t saying, “Women are silly, emotional creatures who need a man around to keep them from doing stupid things.” Anybody who’s ever known a man knows that women don’t have a monopoly on stupid. This isn’t about men and women—it’s about Yahweh and us. As we have seen, He has ordained a structure for the family that symbolizes the relationship we share with Him. In this metaphor, Christ is the Head of the family, and we believers are His bride. Or put another way, Yahweh is our Father, and we are His children. The Father/Husband gives us a great deal of freedom, but because He loves us He’s willing to protect us from our own emotions, doubts, faults, wishful thinking, and yes, even stupidity. At one end of the spectrum, men say, “I love you, Father. I promise never to let you down again,” and they mean it; but He knows they won’t keep that promise, no matter how hard they try. On the other end of the spectrum, men go through periods of despair when God seems a million miles away, and in their darkest moments they deny that He even exists. But Yahweh is patient and merciful, willing to open the door of His kingdom to repentant, seeking hearts even at the eleventh hour. Did you catch the Messianic overtones in the last sentence? “If he does make [the vows] void after he has heard them, then he shall bear her guilt.” Our Protector (Yahshua) will bear the guilt we have incurred through our rash oaths and actions—actually, He already has.
207. Not to break a vow (Num. 30:3) (CCN184).
(207) Do not break a vow. “If a man makes a vow to Yahweh, or swears an oath to bind himself by some agreement, he shall not break his word; he shall do according to all that proceeds out of his mouth.” (Numbers 30:2) Whether a man’s vow is to Yahweh or to another man, he must not break his word. In point of fact, a vow to a person is a promise before God—He sees no difference. Of course, no one is forcing you to give your word. So consider carefully what you promise to do, including the implied promises of daily life—the “written-between-the-lines” stuff. Stand behind your workmanship. Be on time. Read the contract. Give your employer a full day’s work for a full day’s pay. Don’t take out a loan if you’re not sure if you can repay it—and that includes slapping down your credit card for something beyond your budget.
208. To swear by His name truly (Deut. 10:20) (affirmative).
(208) Swear by His [Yahweh’s] name truly. “You shall fear Yahweh your God; you shall serve Him, and to Him you shall hold fast, and take oaths in His name.” (Deuteronomy 10:20) When we take oaths, when we give our word, we are doing it before Yahweh, whether we realize it or not. As we saw in the Matthew 5 and 23 passages quoted above (#203 and 205), the Jews of Yahshua’s day had developed a complicated hierarchy of things you could “swear on” that gave you greater or lesser wiggle room in your truthfulness, depending on how exalted the object of the oath was perceived to be. Yahshua and Moses both condemned this practice. Here Moses says, in so many words, “When you swear, do it in Yahweh’s name. That way, you’ll be serious about telling the truth.” Of course, the rabbis subsequently arranged it so you couldn’t even speak His name, which made taking oaths on it a little difficult. But the verse at hand makes it clear: God’s people were to revere Him, serve Him, cling to Him, and appeal to Him as the absolute standard of truth.
209. Not to delay in fulfilling vows or bringing vowed or free-will offerings (Deut. 23:22) (CCN185).
(209) Do not delay in fulfilling vows or bringing vowed or free-will offerings. “When you make a vow to Yahweh your God, you shall not delay to pay it; for Yahweh your God will surely require it of you, and it would be sin to you. But if you abstain from vowing, it shall not be sin to you. That which has gone from your lips you shall keep and perform, for you voluntarily vowed to Yahweh your God what you have promised with your mouth.” (Deuteronomy 23:22) For the umpteenth time: keep your word. Fulfill your promises. Perform your vows promptly. Don’t make promises you can’t keep, and if you can avoid it, don’t make commitments based on uncertain future events, for you don’t know what will happen tomorrow. Whatever you say or do will be weighed against Yahweh’s perfect standard of righteousness, so don’t take these matters lightly.
The Sabbatical and Jubilee Years
210. To let the land lie fallow in the Sabbatical year (Ex. 23:11; Lev. 25:2) (affirmative) (CCI20).
(210) Let the land lie fallow in the Sabbatical year. “When you come into the land which I give you, then the land shall keep a sabbath to Yahweh. Six years you shall sow your field, and six years you shall prune your vineyard, and gather its fruit; but in the seventh year there shall be a sabbath of solemn rest for the land, a sabbath to Yahweh. You shall neither sow your field nor prune your vineyard. What grows of its own accord of your harvest you shall not reap, nor gather the grapes of your untended vine, for it is a year of rest for the land. And the sabbath produce of the land shall be food for you: for you, your male and female servants, your hired man, and the stranger who dwells with you, for your livestock and the beasts that are in your land—all its produce shall be for food.” (Leviticus 25:2-7). As we have seen (#170, 171, 190-193, 199), the entire 25th chapter of Leviticus instructs the Children of Israel about the Sabbatical year and its heavy-duty, industrial-strength cousin, Jubilee. On the surface, this is a simple, low-tech way to ward off soil depletion. If the Sabbath was practiced faithfully, the land could be expected to produce more bountiful crops in six years than it would in seven if worked all the time without a break. Beyond that, it taught the Israelites to trust Yahweh. It took real faith to abstain from planting, or gathering the volunteer crop, and relying instead on Yahweh to make the provision of the previous years sufficient for their needs. In other words, the Law of the Sabbath Year flies in the face of human logic. It requires faith, just as abstaining from gathering manna on the Sabbath day required faith on the part of the exodus generation. It’s the same lesson, scaled up.
Sadly, there’s no Biblical indication that Israel ever systematically kept the Law of the Sabbath Year or Jubilee. As a matter of fact, the Israelites’ eventual expulsion from the land was due in part to their failure in this very thing. We read in II Chronicles 36:20-21: “And those who escaped from the sword he [Nebuchadnezzar] carried away to Babylon, where they became servants to him and his sons until the rule of the kingdom of Persia, to fulfill the word of Yahweh by the mouth of Jeremiah, until the land had enjoyed her Sabbaths. As long as she lay desolate she kept Sabbath, to fulfill seventy years.” In other words, the Jews had neglected the Sabbatical Year and Jubilee for 490 years.
Was God really that concerned about soil nutrient depletion, or was there something else, something deeper, at stake here? Yahweh often comes down hard on Biblical “players” when they mess up His pictures. For example, Moses was denied entrance to the promised land because he struck the rock (a picture of Christ) instead of speaking to it to obtain life-giving water, as he had been told to do (Numbers 20:7-13). And I think that’s what’s going on here. Israel’s failure to let the land enjoy its sabbaths destroyed a picture, a prophetic metaphor, of something Yahweh was trying to teach us about His plan of redemption. The whole idea of the Sabbath Year was to trust God for our provision when it seemed more logical to work for it ourselves. If we apply this principle to our reconciliation with Yahweh, it all becomes clear. Every religion on earth says you’ve got to work for it, either with the giving of alms, or the performance of rituals, or the practice of self denial, etc. But Yahweh says, “In the end, you can’t work for it. You can only trust Me to provide for you.” Provide what? Eternal life—an everlasting relationship with our loving Heavenly Father.
But what’s the meaning of the six-plus-one formula? We saw it in God’s description of the creation, and again in the Fourth Commandment (the Sabbath day), and now here in the Sabbath Year. What is Yahweh’s point? Taking into account Psalm 90:4 and II Peter 3:8, where the principle is stated that with Yahweh one day is as a thousand years and a thousand years is as one day, it appears that God is telling us about the timing of His redemptive plan. Man will have six thousand years to work, learn, grow, and figure things out. But on the seventh day (i.e., the seventh millennium) our work will be superfluous. We will enter the Kingdom through the graciousness of the King, or not at all.
211. To cease from tilling the land in the Sabbatical year (Ex. 23:11) (affirmative) (Lev. 25:2) (CCI21).
(211) Cease from tilling the land in the Sabbatical year. “Six years you shall sow your land and gather in its produce, but the seventh year you shall let it rest and lie fallow, that the poor of your people may eat; and what they leave, the beasts of the field may eat.” (Exodus 23:10-11) If you’ll recall from the previous mitzvah, what grew voluntarily, either grain or fruit, was to be left unharvested during the Sabbatical year. This mirror passage in Exodus refines our understanding a bit. It seems that though the landowner wasn’t to harvest what grew of its own accord for profit, the poor could still gather what they needed to keep body and soul together. It makes sense: since they didn’t own the land, it didn’t matter how bountiful the crops had been in the previous years—they still didn’t have any reserves. The rules, presumably, were unchanged from other years—they couldn’t harvest with a sickle as if they owned the place. But neither they nor the beasts of the field would starve to death, either.
Is there a counterpart to the “poor” in Yahweh’s plan of redemption as pictured in the Law of the Sabbatical Year? Perhaps. The “poor” of the earth are those who haven’t formed a saving relationship with Yahshua—not those actively opposed to Him, but rather the merely “lost,” the searching, the hungry. They see the servants of the Landowner (Yahweh) working busily doing “religious things” most of the time: giving alms, gathering for worship, seeking for the Master’s lost sheep—that sort of thing. Though the servants know about and rely on His grace, this fact is sometimes hard for outsiders to see because of all their busyness. But the Landowner instructs them to occasionally leave the work and trust His provision—to favor Mary over Martha. If the “servants” do this, the “poor” will have an opportunity to see the trusting relationship the servants have with their Master. If, however, the servants ignore the Landowner’s directives and keep on practicing “churchianity,” the trust that should be evident will be hidden, and the poor will remain hungry and destitute.
212. Not to till the ground in the Sabbatical year (Lev. 25:4) (negative) (CCI22).
(212) Don’t till the ground in the Sabbatical year. “In the seventh year there shall be a sabbath of solemn rest for the land, a sabbath to Yahweh.” (Leviticus 25:4) This is merely the negative statement of affirmative Mitzvot #210 and #211. It’s not really a separate precept.
213. Not to do any work on the trees in the Sabbatical year (Lev. 25:4) (negative) (CCI23).
(213) Do not do any work on the trees in the Sabbatical year. “[In the seventh year] you shall neither sow your field nor prune your vineyard. (Leviticus 25:4) This isn’t a separate precept either. Yahweh didn’t provide an exhaustive list of the things you couldn’t do during the Sabbatical year because His intended meaning was quite clear and simple: Don’t provide for yourself—I will provide for you. Just relax and trust Me. His precepts are usually detailed enough for us to understand the concept, but not so detailed that “religious practice” is required to carry them out. That is man’s fault.
214. Not to reap the aftermath that grows in the Sabbatical year, in the same way as it is reaped in other years (Lev. 25:5) (negative) (CCI24).
(214) Do not reap the aftermath that grows in the Sabbatical year in the same way it is reaped in other years. “What grows of its own accord of your harvest you shall not reap, nor gather the grapes of your untended vine, for it is a year of rest for the land.” (Leviticus 25:5) Maimonides, it seems, is trying to pull a fast one here. Yahweh is not talking about not harvesting the aftermath, that which is left over after the first pass by the reapers. He’s saying “During the Sabbatical Year, leave the fields, vineyards and orchards untended—period.” For that matter, even in a normal year, going back over the fields with a fine-tooth comb wasn’t supposed to be done, because the gleanings were to be left for the poor. See Mitzvah #41: “…nor shall you gather any gleaning from your harvest.” (Leviticus 23:22) If we trust Yahweh, we won’t obsess over every bushel—or every dollar. When we purposely let some of our income “slip through our fingers” in the interests of our fellow man, trusting God to look after us anyway, Yahweh is honored.
215. Not to gather the fruit of the tree in the Sabbatical year in the same way as it is gathered in other years (Lev. 25:5) (negative) (CCI25).
(215) Do not gather the fruit of the tree in the Sabbatical year in the same way it is gathered in other years. “You shall neither sow your field nor prune your vineyard. What grows of its own accord of your harvest you shall not reap, nor gather the grapes of your untended vine, for it is a year of rest for the land.” (Leviticus 25:4-5) Again, the precise wording of the rabbinical mitzvah is calculated to provide a possible loophole for the landowner. The “way it is gathered” has nothing to do with it. God’s precept is clear: don’t harvest your crop at all during the Sabbatical year. The poor may come in and gather the volunteer crop to sustain themselves, but no work is to be done by the landowner or his staff, and no profit is to be made from the bounty of the land. “The seventh year you shall let [your land] rest and lie fallow, that the poor of your people may eat; and what they leave, the beasts of the field may eat. In like manner you shall do with your vineyard and your olive grove. (Exodus 23:11) The principle applies equally to all of the fruit of the soil—grain fields, orchards, vineyards, and olive groves. We are to be reminded that all of this is a gift from Yahweh. We have nothing that He did not provide. Including our salvation.
216. To sound the Ram’s horn in the Sabbatical year (Lev. 25:9) (affirmative).
(216) Sound the Ram’s horn in the Sabbatical year. “Then you shall cause the trumpet of the Jubilee to sound on the tenth day of the seventh month; on the Day of Atonement you shall make the trumpet to sound throughout all your land. And you shall consecrate the fiftieth year, and proclaim liberty throughout all the land to all its inhabitants. It shall be a Jubilee for you.” (Leviticus 25:9-10) The ram’s horn, or shofar, was not blown to inaugurate the Sabbatical year (as the mitzvah says), but rather Jubilee—the fiftieth year, or more to the point, a special Sabbath year immediately following the seventh Sabbatical year in the series. (We’ll discuss Jubilee more fully under mitzvot #221-226.) Although Yahweh’s mandated calendar year began in the spring (on the first day of Nisan, two weeks before Passover—see Exodus 12:2), Yahweh set the beginning of Jubilee at the sixth miqra, the Day of Atonement, on Tishri 10—in the fall. It should be noted that this is not the day celebrated as “Jewish New Year,” a.k.a. Rosh Hashanah, which is a rabbinical error left over from the Babylonian captivity set to coincide with the fifth miqra, the Feast of Trumpets. Sufficiently confused?
We need to ask ourselves: what’s the connection (in Yahweh’s mind) between Jubilee and the Day of Atonement? As we shall see, Jubilee is the day of liberty—a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to have the slate wiped clean. Debts are forgiven, captives are set free, and lands revert to their original owners. And the Day of Atonement is its spiritual counterpart: the sins of the nation of Israel were covered—atoned for, counted as having been satisfied—through the sacrifices offered on this day, once each year. What we see is a picture of total freedom, total forgiveness, provided by Yahweh through the sacrifice of His Anointed, Yahshua, in the year 31 A.D. Yahshua Himself predicted this in His Nazareth sermon recorded in Luke 4:16-21, in which He applied Isaiah 61 to Himself. That was 28 A.D. which was a Sabbatical year.
“Jubilee,” by the way, is a transliteration of the Hebrew yobel, meaning “the blast of a horn, specifically the signal of trumpets; hence the instrument itself and the festival thus introduced:—jubilee, ram’s horn, trumpet.” (S)
217. To release debts in the seventh year (Deut. 15:2) (CCA64).
(217) Release debts in the seventh year. “At the end of every seven years you shall grant a release of debts. And this is the form of the release: Every creditor who has lent anything to his neighbor shall release it; he shall not require it of his neighbor or his brother, because it is called Yahweh’s release.” (Deuteronomy 15:1-2) Part of the Sabbatical Year program was the general release of debts. There are some underlying assumptions that need to be kept in mind, of course: first, this was designed to be done within the borders of the Land, among Israelites exclusively, in the simple, closely knit agrarian society that existed in the centuries after the exodus. It’s clear from the verses immediately following these that gentile borrowers were not to be released from their debts (see #57 and 58). Second, it’s also pretty clear that the precept was never intended to be pressed into service in a society with the culture of debt to which we have subjected ourselves today. Yahweh wasn’t advocating buying a new car on credit or running up the balance on your credit card just before the Sabbath year so you’d be “forgiven” under the Law. This wasn’t a license to steal. Third, there were no such things as institutional lenders in those days. If someone borrowed some money or provisions from his neighbor, it was because he had fallen on hard times—presumably through no particular fault of his own (laziness, drunkenness, etc.), and apparently as a temporary condition—as in “Loan me a few shekels until the barley harvest.”
Still, I’d like to see those who insist that we must all keep the letter of the Torah in order to work our way into Yahweh’s good graces toe the line on this one. They’re generally all too happy to abstain from pork, wear the tsitzit, and worship on the seventh day—and deride those who don’t. But loaning freely and then turning around and forgiving the debts just because a date on the calendar has passed is generally considered to be too much to ask. Sorry, guys. You can’t have it both ways. Even Maimonides, who weasels out of the underlying principle in favor of the letter of the Law every chance he gets, has this one right.
It’s the underlying principle, of course, that runs no risk of being rendered obsolete by changing times and cultural shifts. It’s the underlying principle that will endure forever with “every jot and tittle” intact. In the case of the Law of the Sabbatical Year, the principle is that the day is coming when all who belong to Yahweh will be forgiven their debts and freed from their chains.
218. Not to demand return of a loan after the Sabbatical year has passed (Deut. 15:2) (CCN57).
(218) Do not demand return of a loan after the Sabbatical year has passed. “At the end of every seven years you shall grant a release of debts. And this is the form of the release: Every creditor who has lent anything to his neighbor shall release it; he shall not require it of his neighbor or his brother, because it is called Yahweh’s release.” (Deuteronomy 15:1-2) Maimonides is extrapolating here, but okay, he’s made a good point. A debt forgiven under this Law is not just postponed for a year. It’s eliminated, erased from the books, permanently expunged. Yahweh holds no grudges. If he has forgiven our sins, they are indeed forgiven, past, present, and future, never to be remembered or used against us ever again. The only way this is possible is that the debts are not technically forgiven—rather, they’re paid off. If a bank “writes off” a bad debt, the loss is eventually spread over the whole customer base in the form of higher interest rates (or if the government has absorbed the loss, in the form of a hidden tax called inflation). Everybody pays; everybody suffers. But in God’s economy, the debt isn’t written off. Rather, God’s own Son has paid our debt Himself—paid it off in full with the most valuable commodity in existence, His own blood.
219. Not to refrain from making a loan to a poor man, because of the release of loans in the Sabbatical year (Deut. 15:9) (CCN56).
(219) Do not refrain from making a loan to a poor man because of the release of loans in the Sabbatical Year. “Beware lest there be a wicked thought in your heart, saying, ‘The seventh year, the year of release, is at hand,’ and your eye be evil against your poor brother and you give him nothing, and he cry out to Yahweh against you, and it become sin among you. You shall surely give to him, and your heart should not be grieved when you give to him, because for this thing Yahweh your God will bless you in all your works and in all to which you put your hand. For the poor will never cease from the land; therefore I command you, saying, ‘You shall open your hand wide to your brother, to your poor and your needy, in your land.’” (Deuteronomy 15:9-11) We’ve already seen this passage in the context of taking care of the poor (#51). It should be an embarrassing indictment to the preachers of the “Health and Wealth” doctrine (i.e., that God wants all His followers to be rich and successful in every way, and if you’re not, you haven’t shown enough faith—by giving generously so this TV ministry of ours might stay on the air; hallelujah, praise Jee-suzz). In stark contrast with this sort of foolishness, Yahweh says, “The poor will never cease from the land.” Why does He allow some of His followers to suffer poverty while He blesses others with riches? It should be obvious by now: He wants those of us that He’s blessed with this world’s goods to give freely to His children without them, for by doing so, we are reflecting the attributes of the God whose mercy has been freely given to us.
In the context of the prophetic underpinnings of the Sabbatical Year, the lesson seems clear: as the time grows short, let us not cease to freely distribute the real wealth—the truth concerning the salvation Yahweh has made available to us. The “poor” in this case are those without this truth—the lost world. As with Yahweh’s entire “welfare” program, the poor aren’t forced to accept a handout. They are, rather, to be active participants in their own redemption. Belief is their prerogative. Remember, Yahweh never abridges our right to choose Him—or not to.