There is a commandment given to Israel that once every 7 years, during the Festival of Sukkot, they should assemble ALL the people to hear the Torah read to them. (Deuteronomy 31:10-12). Chazal (a Hebrew acronym that means, “our sages of blessed memory”) instituted a continuous cycle of reading the Torah. They defined weekly sections so that Jews would be reading and hearing Torah every single week and complete the 5 Books of Moses in a set time. The teachers I learned under taught me to follow the yearly Torah cycle and I discovered that Chabad divides their Torah study into daily aliyot. When the Torah portion is read in its entirety on Shabbat in the synagogue, there are seven sections, seven aliyot. The Chabad tradition is to study one aliyah each day, starting Sunday and going through to Shabbat. One who does this can get a double dose of the same Torah Portion each week.
It’s time to explore Torah Portion Eikev 7:12-11:25, aliyah by aliyah.
Aliyah 1: Deuteronomy 7:12-8:10
Deuteronomy 7:12 Because you are listening to these rulings, keeping and obeying them, HaShem your G-d will keep with you the covenant and mercy that he swore to your ancestors.
The Patriarchs weren’t perfect, but HaShem considers them to have been faithful and true. Him asking the Children of Israel, their descendants to act similarly under a more well-defined set of rules feels like a natural progression and not like something out of reach. I speculate this means that as a nation, Israel has a margin of error or sin they can be in while still being considered obedient.
Deuteronomy 7:13 He will love you, bless you and increase your numbers; he will also bless the fruit of your body and the fruit of your ground — your grain, wine, olive oil and the young of your cattle and sheep — in the land he swore to your ancestors that he would give you.
Moshe is assuring Israel that the promises made to the Patriacrchs will be fulfilled in them as long as they are obedient.
Deuteronomy 7:14 You will be blessed more than all other peoples; there will not be a sterile male or female among you, and the same with your livestock.
I have heard that people often turned to idols and false gods to ensure their fertility. Is that part of the reason the Matriarchs were infertile, to see if the couples would turn aside to another god to see their desire for children to be met? HaShem’s covenant relationship with Israel guards against the kind of status that leads people to idolatry. Is that a contradiction?
Deuteronomy 7:15 HaShem will remove all illness from you — he will not afflict you with any of Egypt’s dreadful diseases, which you have known; instead, he will lay them on those who hate you.
This is a fulfillment of cursing those who curse Israel, GEN 12:3
Deuteronomy 7:16 You are to devour all the peoples that HaShem your G-d hands over to you — show them no pity, and do not serve their gods, because that will become a trap for you.
In my Daily Devar series I have discussed this idea in the context of the book of Joshua. I think an analogy can be made between entering the Land of Israel and entering Heaven and that in order to do both, we must rid ourselves of all other attachments and false gods because no one can serve two masters, we must actively choose HaShem in every aspect of our lives and trust in Him, so that we will have permanent communion with Him.
Deuteronomy 7:17 If you think to yourselves, ‘These nations outnumber us; how can we dispossess them?’
This calls back to the evil report from the 10 spies, NUM 13:32
Deuteronomy 7:18 nevertheless, you are not to be afraid of them; you are to remember well what HaShem your G-d did to Pharaoh and all of Egypt —
I think this is another reason why HaShem hardened Pharaoh’s heart: to have a great body of work to show His might to Israel as time went on.
Deuteronomy 7:19 The great ordeals which you yourself saw, and the signs, wonders, strong hand and outstretched arm by which HaShem your G-d brought you out. HaShem will do the same to all the peoples of whom you are afraid.
That is a wonderfully assuring promise.
Deuteronomy 7:20 Moreover, HaShem your will send the hornet among them until those who are left and those who hide themselves perish ahead of you.
I wonder if the hornet was an especially scary prospect in that time and place. Not that they aren’t scary now, but it rings slightly odd to my ears more than 3,300 years removed from then.
Deuteronomy 7:21 You are not to be frightened of them, because HaShem your is there with you, a great and fearsome G-d.
Deuteronomy 7:22 HaShem your G-d will expel those nations ahead of you little by little; you can’t put an end to them all at once, or the wild animals will become too numerous for you.
Why wouldn’t HaShem just cause the animals issue to not be a problem? His arm is not too short!
Deuteronomy 7:23 Nevertheless, HaShem your G-d will give them over to you, sending one disaster after another upon them until they have been destroyed
These 7 nations must have been very wicked with how hard HaShem is coming down on them.
Deuteronomy 7:24 He will hand their kings over to you, and you will wipe out their name from under heaven; none of them will be able to stand against you until you have destroyed them.
This is a great pep talk. I bet the people felt very confident after hearing this.
Deuteronomy 7:25 You are to burn up completely the carved statues of their gods. Don’t be greedy for the silver or gold on them; don’t take it with you, or you will be trapped by it; for it is abhorrent to HaShem your G-d.
This is an odd and ominous warning. How can the mere gold and silver of these idols cause Israel to stumble?
Deuteronomy 7:26 Don’t bring something abhorrent into your house, or you will share in the curse that is on it; instead, you are to detest it completely, loathe it utterly; for it is set apart for destruction.
Is this only about idols?
Deuteronomy 8:1 All the mitzvot I am giving you today you are to take care to obey, so that you will live, increase your numbers, enter and take possession of the land HaShem swore about to your ancestors.
What is the defined purpose of Torah obedience given here? Receiving blessing and success in everything that HaShem promised the Patriarchs.
Deuteronomy 8:2 You are to remember everything of the way in which HaShem led you these forty years in the desert, humbling and testing you in order to know what was in your heart — whether you would obey his mitzvot or not.
The tests and trials Israel went through were to see how much they loved HaShem.
Deuteronomy 8:3 He humbled you, allowing you to become hungry, and then fed you with man, which neither you nor your ancestors had ever known, to make you understand that a person does not live on food alone but on everything that comes from the mouth of HaShem.
Did you know that nearly every two of three verses in the writings of the Apostles, from Matthew to Revelation are quotes of the Hebrew Scriptures? No wonder Messiah used this and other verses to overcome the Satan in the desert. May we have the strength to do the same!
Deuteronomy 8:4 During these forty years the clothing you were wearing didn’t grow old, and your feet didn’t swell up.
What a neat miracle. The way Chazal explains this, the clothes and sandals grew with people as they aged, though a more practical and slightly less miraculous explanation would be that all the people who died as time went on passed their garments on to the living. Either way, the clothing lasted 40 years in the wilderness. That is amazing.
Deuteronomy 8:5 Think deeply about it: HaShem was disciplining you, just as a man disciplines his child.
A disciple is one who learns to imitate his master and walk in his ways. Discipline must be related to discipleship, at least in English. I would have to look at the Hebrew to see a link there, but I won’t just now. I would argue that HaShem was teaching the wilderness generation how to love, care for and meet the needs of those who depend on you. Yes there was punishment, but the majority of the time was the Father peacefully pasturing the flock of Israel through the desert.
Deuteronomy 8:6 So obey the mitzvot of HaShem your G-d, living as he directs and fearing him.
The Wilderness sojourn was like an extended childhood or apprenticeship, now the Master is sending off Israel to self-rule and actively choose to live a godly life.
Deuteronomy 8:7 For HaShem your G-d is bringing you into a good land, a land with streams, springs and water welling up from the depths in valleys and on hillsides
Israel is being set up for success and blessing.
Deuteronomy 8:8 It is a land of wheat and barley, grapevines, fig trees and pomegranates; a land of olive oil and honey
I believe these are the 7 species of the Land of Israel. Fun fact: the honey here is from dates, not from bees. They are used in traditional celebrations and they were all offered together in the Tabernacle and Temple, I think as the gift of First Fruits brought after Passover, during the Feast of Unleavened Bread.
Deuteronomy 8:9 a land where you will eat food in abundance and lack nothing in it; a land where the stones contain iron and the hills can be mined for copper.
This is a proof that material wealth is not innately evil. The plan was for Israel to have abundance. Yes it is material and not monetary, but produce and ore can be turned into money.
Deuteronomy 8:10 So you will eat and be satisfied, and you will bless HaShem your G-d for the good land he has given you.
The blessings are a tangible reminder to bless and thank the Almighty for His goodness.
Aliyah 2: Deuteronomy 8:11-9:3
Deuteronomy 8:11 Be careful not to forget HaShem your G-d by not obeying his mitzvot, rulings and regulations that I am giving you today.
It is your responsibility to actively cling to G-d and not forget about Him and to choose to love Him, just like any real relationship.
Aliyah 3: Deuteronomy 9:4-29
Deuteronomy 9:5 It is not because of your righteousness, or because your heart is so upright, that you go in to take possession of their land; but to punish the wickedness of these nations that HaShem your G-d is driving them out ahead of you, and also to confirm the word which HaShem swore to your ancestors, Avraham, Yitz’chak and Ya‘akov.
I love the humility this verse engenders. in English humility is related to humiliation and this verse is a great example of why. The current generation is insulted and made to see that they should be meek and grateful because in spite of their faults HaShem will be with them for their Ancestor’s sake.
Aliyah 4: Deuteronomy 10:1-11
Deuteronomy 10:2 I will inscribe on the tablets the words that were on the first tablets, which you broke; and you are to put them in the ark.
I love that HaShem points out to Moshe that HE is the one who broke the original tablets.
Aliyah 5: Deuteronomy 10:12-11:9
Deuteronomy 10:16 Therefore, circumcise the foreskin of your heart; and don’t be stiffnecked any longer!
If you thought “circumcision of the heart” was a new concept or something that had only been revealed after Messiah Ben Joseph, you can let go of that notion and dive into the Word and see for yourself how disciplining yourself to follow the example of Messiah, living a life of Torah is evidence of a circumcised heart. The Father doesn’t change (MAL 3:6; HEB 13:8) he has always wanted a deep intimate relationship with Man.
Aliyah 6: Deuteronomy 11:10-21
Deuteronomy 11:12 It is a land HaShem your G-d cares for. The eyes of HaShem your are always on it, from the beginning of the year to the end of the year.
Seeing that HaShem doesn’t change, this is still true today. As a lover of G-d, you should connect yourself to the Land of Israel as well, as that is where his focus still is today.
Aliyah 7: Deuteronomy 11:22-25
Deuteronomy 11:22 For if you will take care to obey all these mitzvot I am giving you, to do them, to love HaShem your G-d, to follow all his ways and to cling to him
Following Torah is the definition of loving and clinging to your Heavenly Father. Most Christians today actually live out the majority of the Torah even if they do not know the specific commandments they are following because they are followers of Messiah. When you truly love the Almighty you want to be with Him and be like Him and Messiah shows us the way to do that, so keep following in the footsteps of Messiah.
Before I go, I want to answer questions raised at the beginning of this session. These are my opinions, based on my time studying under various teachers and while I try to set aside any commentaries while examining each aliyah, I will allow myself to bring some back in for this section. I will disclose where I am getting these ideas where relevant.
- Were the matriarchs tempted by fertility idols? [DEU 7:14]
- Does scripture tell how to love the LORD? [DEU 11:22]
- Do idols hold power? [DEU 7:25]
That concludes my journey through Eikev for the year 5782.
I hope these words have been a blessing to you.
May our Heavenly Father give you peace and joy.
This is Matthew and I am Walking In Liberty.