Thursday, August 6, 2015

Parashat Eikev ("because") Deut. 7:12-11:25 by Jon Eaton

Parashat Eikev ("because")  Deut. 7:12-11:25  by Jon Eaton
In Parashat Eikev, Moses continues his summary speech to the Israelites.  It begins: "Because (eikev- עֵקֶב) you heed these judgments, and guard and do them, the LORD your God will keep with you the covenant and the steadfast love that he swore to your fathers."

Most translations interpret the first line as “If” rather than “because, “Wherefore it shall come to pass, IF ye hearken to these judgments”  KJV.   I guess they are suggesting that as long as the Israelites obey the commandments of the Torah, they will prosper in the land they are about to conquer, just as the LORD promised to their forefathers.   But when “Eikev” is translated as “because”, it is certainly a lot more hopeful of success; maybe even prophetic of a time when Israel will fully obey the commandments.

The parashah begins with the call to harken / listen (i.e., shema': שָׁמַע) and guard (i.e., shamar: שָׁמַר) the judgments given in the Torah. This would be in stark contrast to Adam in the Garden of Eden who was to 'Shema' the instruction to 'Shamar' the Garden.   He did not do either.  He failed his duty to Guard the Garden by allowing the Serpent access into the Garden and then after failing as the Guard, then continued to sin by ignoring the instruction to not eat of the fruit of the knowledge of good and evil.   When people ask me who sinned first, it was definitely the man.  

The Israelites are being given the same instruction.  Shema and Shamar the Torah. In response, HaShem would Shamar the covenant and the mercy that he swore to their fathers. 

In particular, I would like to focus on verses 22 to 23 of Deuteronomy 7 which states, “You shall not be terrified of them; for the Lord your God, the great and awesome God, is among you. And the Lord your God will drive out those nations before you little by little; you will be unable to destroy them at once, lest the beasts of the field become too numerous for you. But the Lord your God will deliver them over to you, and will inflict defeat upon them until they are destroyed.”

We read clearly in verses 22 to 23 that He often does NOT give us all of the Land instantly because of our good behaviour.  No, sometimes we need to learn how to grow into an area.   If we take the Land too quickly, then wild animals come and undo the blessing.   Patience is also part of obedience.    Stay obedient and allow the Lord to increase your tent.  As the prophet Isaiah stated, “Enlarge the place of your tent, And let them stretch out the curtains of your dwellings; Do not spare; Lengthen your cords, And strengthen your stakes. For you shall expand to the right and to the left, And your descendants will inherit the nations, And make the desolate cities inhabited.”  Isaiah 54:2-3.

Far too often we think of the Lord as “karma”.  If we are good and obey, then we will have instant success!  But that would suggest that it is our own righteousness that has brought us success.  Moses warned the Israelites.  Do not think in your heart, after the Lord your God has cast them out before you, saying, ‘Because of my righteousness the Lord has brought me in to possess this land’; but it is because of the wickedness of these nations that the Lord is driving them out from before you.  Deut 9:4

To prove his point, Moses then recounted to the people a list of their recent sins. Even after directly hearing the Voice of the God at Sinai, their fathers provoked the LORD with the Sin of the Golden Calf.  Then the people complained about the lack of meat, then they complained about the lack of water, the people rebelled against the commandment of the LORD to take the Land (the Sin of the Spies), thus forcing the nation into 40 years of exile.  PHEW…. Moses concluded his rebuke with “you have been rebellious against the LORD from the day that I knew you."

Truly HaShem is faithful when we have been faithless. 

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