This week’s Parasha is Ki Teitzei, translated: “When You Go Out”. It covers Deuteronomy 21-25:19. In these chapters, we find 72 of the Torah’s 613 commandments.
Chapter 21 includes the command that when you went to war against your enemy, and the Lord delivered them into your hands; if you saw a beautiful woman, and were attracted to her, you were permitted to take her as your wife. But, there were restrictions. First, you had to have her head shaved, her nails trimmed, her fine clothes removed, and you were not to defile her for at least a month. This gave her a chance to mourn. It was an affirmation of her personhood. You might reconsider after such a long time of waiting whether she is still appealing to you. If after this time, you still desired to marry her, you were permitted to do so. Otherwise, you were to release her and she was free to go where she wanted.
Chapter 21 continues with the rights of the first born. The first-born son is to get a double portion. No allowance is made for parental favoritism. This is a reflection of what happened with Jacob. Jacob’s first wife, Leah, bore him children. His second wife, Rachel, whom he loved, bore children to whom Jacob showed favor over Leah’s children. The first born son, regardless of the wife who bears him, is to inherit a double portion from his father.
In Chapter 21, verse 18, we are instructed what to do about a stubborn, rebellious son who will not obey his father or mother, who refused to listen to them when disciplined. His father and mother are to bring him to the elders at the gate. If the elders find him to be this way, they are to stone him to death. This absolutely isn’t speaking about a young child (after all, the rebellious son is described as “a glutton and a drunkard”); nor is this speaking of a son or daughter who does something wrong and is repentant. This is describing someone hard of heart, unrepentant and consistently unwilling to accept correction.
Consider the severity of this in the Law. Yet, in Luke Chapter 15, Yeshua told the parable of the prodigal son; a rebellious, stubborn son who demanded his inheritance, left with it, squandered it and was reduced to having to sleep among pigs. He came home a stinking mess. Yet, he repented. There lies the difference. God welcomes back the repentant one. God mourns his loss, welcomes him back, and shows him His love. Is this any different than how our Lord redeems us when we’ve walked on the wrong road, realized our sinful mistake, then came to our senses and repented? That is the beauty of the mercy and grace of God.
We also have another of the laws Moses gave. If a man is guilty of a capital offense and is put to death, and his dead body is hung on a tree, his body is not to be left on the tree overnight. He was to be buried before night fall. Hanging on a tree signified that he was under God’s curse. We also see in this a connection to our Lord Yeshua, who was also hung on a tree/cross. In Galatians Chapter 3, Paul wrote, “Messiah redeemed us from the curse of the Law by becoming a curse for us, for it is written: “Cursed is everyone who is hanged on a tree”, so that in Messiah Yeshua the blessing of Abraham might come to the Gentiles so that they might receive the promised Spirit through faith”. Jesus wasn’t hung on a tree because of any wrongdoing on his part, but rather because of what we have done. He took our place and received the curse that we deserve. It is important for us to remember that we are pardoned by His action. Isaiah 53:5 says, “He was pierced for our transgressions and crushed for our iniquity. The chastening for our well-being was upon Him and by His wounds we are healed”.
In Chapter 22, God reminds us that we are to help our brothers and sisters. If a fellow Israeli’s ox or sheep has gone astray, you are not to ignore the situation, but to make sure they are guided back to their master. This is a reminder going back to Leviticus 19, about loving our neighbor as ourselves.
The parasha continues with condemnations against sexual immorality. If a man takes his wife and falsely accuses her, saying she had not been a virgin, he is to be whipped and fined, and he can never divorce her. If, however, the charges prove to be true, the wife is to be put to death for sexual immorality. In the case of adultery by mutual consent, both are to be put to death. If a man rapes a woman, the man is to be put to death. Adultery was and is still a sin.
The Mighty God also commanded Israel that no Ammonite or Moabite was to be permitted to enter the assembly of Adonai, even to the tenth generation. Why was it that the Ammonites and Moabites were excluded from the congregation of the Jewish Nation? It is because they were among the worst pagan worshippers ever found on earth. You see, this isn’t about ethnicity. What this is really about is false religion. Those who twist the Word of God do not belong in the House of the Lord.
An outstanding exception to the Moabite exclusion from Israel was Ruth, who through her faith and loyalty, went on to become an ancestor of King David and of our Messiah! In the story of Ruth, Boaz became the kinsman redeemer, a foreshadowing of Jew and Gentile being drawn together in Yeshua, our ultimate Kinsman redeemer.
But it is a reminder that in marriage both husband and wife must be of one and the same faith. Paul tells us in 1 Corinthians 5:6 that “a little leaven leavens the whole batch” to remind us that we must be equally bound together in marriage, and follow the Word together. Brothers and sisters, it never works when we think we can “change” an unbelieving spouse. This is not God’s way, this is our way and it is disobedience. We must not marry unless or until the other person is fully following Yeshua. When two are joined, they are joined in the Lord as well.
In Matthew 5:27-30, Yeshua defined adultery to the extent that even if someone looked at a woman with lustful thoughts, they were guilty of this sin. This should convict all of us in this room. Let’s take heed at what we look at and how we dress so that others might not be tempted. And let’s keep our thoughts on the Lord, because Satan cannot turn our head if we are in the Lord. Are your thoughts focused squarely on the Lord?
Another thought, do you listed to the Rabbis messages during the week and ponder them? In closing, let me ask you a question. As we work our way through the Torah teachings week by week, when you listen, do you see yourself in these examples, or do you think it applies only to others? Let us reflect this week on not allowing anything to distract us away from our first love and loyalty to God. Let’s determine to ask Him for strength. Just as the prodigal son came to his senses and repented and returned, let us repent and return to the straight and narrow path. God watches us, but others watch us also. Let us be an example to others who might be weak and in need.