We must understand the paragraph divisions in Torah, which are inspired by the Spirit and preserved by Moses and the Jewish scribes (but discarded by the English translators), are key to help us understand what God is trying to tell us. He wants to be understood, and has provided these helps to aid us! We must also understand how the Spirit teaches through Torah by common theme.
Today is the 131st Sabbath of the triennial cycle: parashah (Torah portion) Sichon / King Sihon, Deu 2:31 – 3:22. Read Deu 2:31 – 3:22 at Bible Gateway, or Deu 2 and 3 from the Hebrew Bible in English.
Deu 2:31 – 3:22 ends with a parsha stumah, a weak paragraph division.
Outlining the parsha:
Deu 2:31-37 – the Lord delivered Sihon and his cities to Israel;
Deu 3:1-10 – the Lord delivered Og and his cities to Israel;
Deu 3:11 – Og was a giant;
Deu 3:12-17 – the land on the far side of the Jordan was given to Reuben, Gad, and the half tribe of Manasseh;
Deu 3:18-22 – the land on the near side of the Jordan will be given to Israel also.
We see a different teaching tool in this parsha than we have seen before. There still seems to be a central axis – that Og king of Bashan was a giant. But the two points on either side of the axis, instead of mirroring each other in reverse order, repeat each other. In front of the axis, we see the repeat almost word for word, that YHVH delivered Sihon to Israel, and YHVH delivered Og to Israel. Behind the axis, we see the repeat that as the land on the far side of the Jordan was given to the 2-1/2 tribes, the land on the near side of the Jordan will also be given to the remaining tribes.
The theme of this parashah seems to be, victory in the face of giants!
The Lord is building the pattern of victory into the hearts of the 2nd generation, so that they will go in and possess the land! The outcome is already assured for them, all that has to now happen is their hearts and minds have to get into alignment with what the Lord desires to do, so that they will go in and possess, unlike the unbelieving generation.
“You must not fear them, for YHVH your Elohiym Himself fights for you.” Deu 3:22
The Hebrew word for fear, is yare, ary, yud resh aleph, a primitive root. The yud is the arm and closed hand, meaning to work, to throw, or to worship. The resh is the head of a man. The aleph is the ox head; it means strong, power, or leader. What the man fears, the pictographs seem to be saying, is what the man bows his head to in worship as greater than himself.
If Joshua fears the Canaanites or the giants who inhabit the Land, then he is bowing his head in worship to them as greater than himself. YHVH is telling him not to fear them, because He Himself will be fighting for Israel. YHVH Himself will cause those inhabitants to bow their heads in worship to YHVH, for He is greater than they are!
10/11/09 Update: As I went back through this parashah, to study out the greater paragraph from Deu 1:1-3:29, I discovered that this parashah also forms a chiastic structure, besides the structure discussed above:
1A 2:31-33 – YHVH has given the land of Sihon to Israel to posses, even though Sihon fought them, Israel defeated him;
1B 2:34-35 – Israel fought him and took his cities, his women, children and livestock;
1C 2:36-37 – Israel possessed the land of Sihon from one boundary to the other;
1D 3:1-10 – (repeat of 2:31-37) Israel possessed the land of Og from one boundary to the other;
1E 3:11 – Og was a giant;
–> X 3:12-13a – the land was given to Reuben, Gad, and half Manasseh;
2E 3:13b – the land was the land of the giants;
2D 3:14-15 – half Manasseh possessed the land of Og from one boundary to the other;
2C 3:16-18a – (repeat of 3:14-15) Reuben and Gad possesed the land of Sihon from one boundary to the other;
2B 3:18b-19 – the 2-1/2 tribes will fight with their brothers, and their wives, children and livestock will remain in their cities;
2A 3:20-22 – YHVH has given the Land to Israel to possess, for YHVH fights for them; Israel will defeat them; stumah.
We see a slightly different central axis with this structure than the previous structure, but the theme remains the same – that the tribes inherited their possession, just as YHVH had promised, giants notwithstanding!