We study the Torah according to the triennial cycle every Sabbath. (Why?)
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 132nd Sabbath of the triennial cycle: parashah (Torah portion) Vaetchanon /Pleaded, Deu 3:23 – 4:24. Read Deu 3:23 – 4:24 at Bible Gateway, or Deu 3 and 4 from the Hebrew Bible in English.
Deu 3:23-29 ends with a parsha p’tuchah, or a strong paragraph division.
This is the first p’tuchah paragraph division in Deuteronomy, so that Deu 1:1-3:29 is teaching a single overarching theme.
Deu 4:1-24 ends with a p’tuchah. This means that Deu 4:1-24 is teaching a single overarching theme.
Before we look at this parashah, let us look at the strong paragraph which is formed by Deu 1:1 – 3:29:
Deu 1:1-2:1 stumah: failure of the unbelieving generation;
Deu 2:2-8 stumah: pass by the possession of Esau;
Deu 2:9-16 stumah: pass by the possession of Moab;
Deu 2:17-30 stumah: pass by the possession of Ammon, but posses the possession of Sihon;
Deu 2:31-3:22 stumah: victory in the face of giants!
Deu 3:23-39 p’tuchach: YHVH forbids Moses from entering the Land.
Since this forms a single paragraph from the Lord’s perspective, we have to look for the topic or theme that is being taught. At first glance, we are left scratching our heads, but we have to remember that there is no unintentional word in Torah. This paragraph is this way for a reason, YHVH has a purpose! We just have to look, meditate, and ask the Holy Spirit, our Teacher, to teach us, until we see it. At this point sometimes I have to go away and keep meditating on what I have read, and come back. Sometimes I have to come back, and come back, and come back. 🙂
This is why the Word of YHVH is like hidden treasure. It is hidden, that means not everyone who is just casually looking can see it. How many people have dismissed Torah or other sections of Scripture because upon a casual first glance they see nothing? But for the one who seeks as for hidden treasure, he finds treasure!
Upon reflection, I think the whole thing forms another chiastic structure:
1A 1:1-36 – the unbelief of the 1st generation;
1B 1:37-39 – Moses will not go in, but Joshua will go in, the children will go in;
1C 1:40-46 – Amorites defeat rebellious unbelieving Israel;
1D 2:1-9 – Esau possesses his possession for YHVH has given it to him;
1E 2:10-23 – the giants who have been previously destroyed;
1F 2:24-30 – YHVH commands Israel to take the land from Sihon;
1G 2:31-36 – Sihon of Heshbon defeated;
–> X 2:37 – Israel did not go near wherever YHVH our God forbade us;
2G 3:1-7 – Og of Bashan defeated;
2F 3:8-10 – Israel took the land from the two kings;
2E 3:11-13b – Og was a giant in the land of the giants; he was destroyed;
2D 3:14-20 – Israel possesses his possession for YHVH has given it to him;
2C 3:21-22 – YHVH defeated the Amorites, and will defeat the Canaanites – do not fear them;
2B 3:23-28 – Moses will not go in, but Joshua will go in, he will cause (the children) to inherit it;
2A 3:29 – Beth Peor represents the idolatry of the 1st generation.
This is so interesting, because when you work out the structures, the central axis does not always turn out to be what man would have chosen it to be. The lesson here, is the obedience of not doing what YHVH tells you not to do, is just as important as the obedience of doing what YHVH tells you to do. Be content with the possession YHVH has given us for a possession.
There is something interesting in the matching pairs of 1A and 2A. It seems as if unbelief and idolatry are being equated. Upon reflection, aren’t they? No one believes nothing, everyone believes something. Even atheists believe that nature was their creator instead of YHVH. Their unbelief of YHVH does not mean they are in a faith vacuum, but their faith, their belief, is in something other than YHVH. When we believe not YHVH, we are believing the word of something else – often YHVH’s enemies. Belief in something other than YHVH is idolatry.
I also saw something interesting in the matching pairs of 1B and 2B. In 1B, Deu 1:37-39, it is told that Moses will not go in to the Land, but Joshua will go in, and the children, whom the 1st generation said would be a prey, would go in. In 2B, Deu 3:23-28, it is told again, that Moses will not go in, but that Joshua will go in, and Joshua will cause them to inherit it. Who is them? The children of 1:39! The second time YHVH tells Moses he will not go in but that Joshua will, it is 38 years later (Deu 2:14). The children are now grown and are adults.
The interesting part about this, is that Moses, who represents the Law, cannot go in the Promised Land. But Joshua, which is the anglicized form of the Hebrew name Yeshua, who represents grace through faith, will go in to the Land, and moreover Yeshua will cause the children to inherit it! It kind of makes you think in a new way, Yeshua’s words in Mat 19:14, “Let the little children come to Me, and do not forbid them; for of such is the kingdom of heaven.”
Back to parashah vaetchanon: as I was outlining this parsha, I noticed that it formed a chiastic structure.
1A 3:23-24 – greatness and uniqueness of YHVH;
1B 3:25-29 – the Lord forbids Moses from entering the Land;
1C 4:1-8 – observe the statutes and judgments; beware idolatry; we are YHVH’s nation;
–> X 4:9-13 – remember Sinai and the Ten Commandments;
2C 4:14-24 – observe the statutes and judgments; beware idolatry; we are YHVH’s nation;
2B 4:21-22 – the Lord does not allow Moses to enter the Land;
2A 4:23-24 – take heed against idolatry, for YHVH is a consuming fire and a jealous God.
The central axis or central point is from Deu 4:9-13, remember Sinai and the Ten Commandments! The day we heard the voice of YHVH speak the Ten Commandments which He commanded us to perform, the day we saw no form, but saw the mountain consumed with fire, and the voice of YHVH thundering out of the fire – that is what we are not to let depart from our hearts, and we are to teach this to our children and grandchildren also!
The part about teaching to the next generation is mentioned twice. Anytime something is repeated in Torah, that is the Spirit trying to get your attention about that thing. He is pointing to this with a neon flashing sign, saying, IMPORTANT! IMPORTANT! This is here for a reason! Don’t miss this! I think He wants us to never forget the day of Sinai, or the Ten Commandments, and He wants us to diligently teach that day and those Commandments to our children also.
The Hebrew word, teach, is the primary root yadah, a yud, dalet, ayin. The yud is the ancient pictograph of an arm and closed hand, thus it means to work, to throw, or to worship. The dalet is the door, thus to enter, to hang, to go through. The ayin is the eye, thus to see, to watch, or to know, i.e., we say, “I see!” when we understand something. So the pictographs seem to be saying, that God’s definition of teaching children, is that by causing them to do, we help them to enter into knowing or understanding.
This is way more than just learn to repeat the Commandments by memory. This means, cause your children to DO the Commandments, so that they may enter into knowing them.