Parashat Shoftim provides a constitution — a basic societal structure — for the Israelites. The parashah sets out rules for judges, kings, Levites, prophets, cities of refuge, witnesses, war, and unsolved murders.
This week’s haftorah is the fourth of a series of seven “Haftarot of Consolation.” These seven haftarot commence on the Shabbat following Tisha b’Av and continue until Rosh Hashanah.
In the Apostolic writings, the theme is repentance and preparing the way for the coming of Messiah.
The fifth portion of the book of Devarim/Deuteronomy is Shoftim, which means “Judgements.” This is the 48th Torah Portion.
Torah Portion: Deuteronomy 16:18-21:9
Haftorah Portion: Isaiah 51:12-52:12
Apostolic Writings: John 1:19-27, Acts 3:19-23
You can read or listen to the Haftarah and Apostolic portions below:
Isaiah 51:12 – 52:12
“I, yes I, am the one who comforts you! Why are you afraid of a man, who must die; of a human being, who will wither like grass? You have forgotten HaShem, your maker, who stretched out the heavens and laid the foundations of the earth. Instead, you are in constant fear all day because of the oppressor’s rage, as he prepares to destroy! But where is the oppressor’s rage? The captive will soon be set free; he will not die and go down to Sh’ol; on the contrary, his food supply will be secure. For I am HaShem your G-d , who stirs up the sea, who makes its waves roar — HaShem-Tzva’ot is my name. I have put my words in your mouth and covered you with the shadow of my hand, in order to plant the skies [anew], lay the foundations of the earth [anew] and say to Tziyon, ‘You are my people.’” Awake! Awake! Stand up, Yerushalayim! At HaShem’s hand you drank the cup of his fury; you have drained to the dregs the goblet of drunkenness. There is no one to guide her among all the sons she has borne. Not one of all the children she raised is taking her by the hand. These two disasters have overcome you — yet who will grieve with you? — plunder and destruction, famine and sword; by whom can I comfort you? Your children lie helpless at every street corner, like an antelope trapped in a net; they are full of HaShem’s fury, the rebuke of your G-d . Therefore, please hear this in your affliction, you who are drunk, but not with wine; this is what your Lord HaShem says, your G-d , who defends his people: “Here, I have removed from your hand the cup of drunkenness, the goblet of my fury. You will never drink it again. I will put it in the hands of your tormentors, who said to you, ‘Bend down, so we can trample you,’ and you flattened your back on the ground like a street for them to walk on.”
Awake! Awake, Tziyon! Clothe yourself with your strength! Dress in your splendid garments, Yerushalayim, the holy city! For the uncircumcised and the unclean will enter you no more. Shake off the dust! Arise! Be enthroned, Yerushalayim! Loosen the chains on your neck, captive daughter of Tziyon! For thus says HaShem : “You were sold for nothing, and you will be redeemed without money.” For thus says HaShem Elohim : “Long ago my people went down to Egypt to live there as aliens, and Ashur oppressed them for no reason. So now, what should I do here,” asks HaShem , “since my people were carried off for nothing? Their oppressors are howling,” says HaShem , “and my name is always being insulted, daily. Therefore my people will know my name; therefore on that day they will know that I, the one speaking — here I am!” How beautiful on the mountains are the feet of him who brings good news, proclaiming shalom , bringing good news of good things, announcing salvation and saying to Tziyon, “Your G-d is King!” Listen! Your watchmen are raising their voices, shouting for joy together. For they will see, before their own eyes, HaShem returning to Tziyon. Break out into joy! Sing together, you ruins of Yerushalayim! For HaShem has comforted his people, he has redeemed Yerushalayim! HaShem has bared his holy arm in the sight of every nation, and all the ends of the earth will see the salvation of our G-d . Leave! Leave! Get out of there! Don’t touch anything unclean! Get out from inside it, and be clean, you who carry HaShem ‘s temple equipment. You need not leave in haste, you do not have to flee; for HaShem will go ahead of you, and the G-d of Isra’el will also be behind you.
Here is Yochanan’s testimony: when the Judeans sent cohanim and L’vi’im from Yerushalayim to ask him, “Who are you?” he was very straightforward and stated clearly, “I am not the Messiah.” “Then who are you?” they asked him. “Are you Eliyahu?” “No, I am not,” he said. “Are you ‘the prophet,’ the one we’re expecting?” “No,” he replied. So they said to him, “Who are you? — so that we can give an answer to the people who sent us. What do you have to say about yourself?” He answered in the words of Yesha‘yahu the prophet, “I am The voice of someone crying out: ‘In the desert make the way of HaShem straight!’” Some of those who had been sent were P’rushim . They asked him, “If you are neither the Messiah nor Eliyahu nor ‘the prophet,’ then why are you immersing people?” To them Yochanan replied, “I am immersing people in water, but among you is standing someone whom you don’t know. He is the one coming after me — I’m not good enough even to untie his sandal!”
“Therefore, repent and turn to G-d, so that your sins may be erased; so that times of refreshing may come from the Lord’s presence; and he may send the Messiah appointed in advance for you, that is, Yeshua. He has to remain in heaven until the time comes for restoring everything, as G-d said long ago, when he spoke through the holy prophets. For Moshe himself said, ‘HaShem will raise up for you a prophet like me from among your brothers. You are to listen to everything he tells you. Everyone who fails to listen to that prophet will be removed from the people and destroyed.’