“See, I am setting before you today a blessing and a curse — the blessing, if you listen to the mitzvot of Adonai your God that I am giving you today; and the curse, if you don’t listen to the mitzvot of Adonai your God, but turn aside from the way I am ordering you today and follow other gods that you have not known” (Deuteronomy 11:26-28).
In Hebrew, ‘see’ is re’eh and is the imperative singular like a parent telling a child to ‘see’ something by saying, “Look!” The singular means that one individual’s response to the commandments will affect the blessing or cursing of the entire nation of Isra’el –– each person is accountable to the others. The words ‘seer’ or ro’eh means ‘shepherd’ and is derived from the same root as ‘see.’
The word ‘blessing’ in Hebrew is barakah and means ‘to kneel.’ In Jewish thought, the purpose of making a barakah is to ‘kneel before Elohim’ and bless Him as the source of all blessing increasing awareness of Him. When a barakah is made at a meal, the Creator of the food is blessed, not the food.
In general Hebrew blessings begin: ‘Blessed are you Adonai our God, King of the Universe ….’ The blessing for bread is completed with: ‘who brings forth bread from the earth.’ If blessing wine, the blessing is completed with: ’who brings forth the fruit of the wine.’ Our family meal time barachah is completed with: ‘who creates the various kinds of foods.’
One of my favorite Hebrew blessings is called the Shehecheyanu meaning ‘who has given us life.’ While walking down the stairs near the Temple Institute in the Old City of Jerusalem, a Jewish man stopped me, took my hand, and asked if he could bless me. He blessed me with the Shehecheyanu:
Baruch atah Eloheinu melek ha’olam, she-echeyanu, ve’qi’eh’manu ve’higiy’anu lazman hazeh.
Blessed are You, Adonai our God, King of the Universe, who has granted us life,
sustained us and enabled us to reach this season.
It was the perfect blessing for my first visit to Jerusalem, and the perfect blessing for Isra’el as they arrived at the place where they would cross the Jordan and enter the Promised Land. Only because of Adonai who had given them life, sustained them for 40 years in the wilderness, and enabled them to reach that season in time, did they enter the Land of Promise.
The Hebrew word for ‘curse’ is alah. Like blessings, curses were invoked in the name of Elohim. This is why Balaam wanted Balak to curse the Israelites. A curse is more than a loss of blessing, it is a powerful use of words or actions to destroy a soul. When spoken, a curse actually invites demonic activity into the lives of those being cursed and the cursor. Curses are so serious that children who curse their parents are to be put to death (Deuteronomy 5:16). An undeserved curse will return on the one who cursed (Proverbs 26:2). When Yeshua cursed the fig tree, it withered up and died (Mark 11:20-21). When cursed, Yeshua says to speak a blessing in return (Luke 6:28).
Alla in Hebrew means ‘curse’ and is similar to the Arabic Allah who is the ‘god’ of Islam.
Blessings and curses result from our faithfulness to Adonai’s commandments. When we keep the Sabbath day as commanded by Elohim, we receive the blessing of rest and put aside the slavery to the never-ending cycle of work. If one chooses not to remember the Sabbath day as Elohim commanded, they lose the blessing of rest and are cursed in a never-ending enslaved cycle of work.
Hebrew Word Pictures
See or re’eh – ראה – resh, alef, hey
– highest authority first strength, revealed
Blessing or barakah – ברכה – bet, resh, kaf, hey
– family highest authority covers, behold
Curse or alah – אלה – alef, lamed, hey
– first strength urges forward revealed
Mount Gerizim and Mount Ebal
Mount Gerizim and Mount Ebal are mountains west of the Jordan River ‘in the direction of the sunset’ in Canaan near the ‘Pistaschio trees of Moreh.’ These mountains sit in the West Bank near the city of Nablus or Shechem. Mount Ebal is on the northern side of the valley and Mount Gerizim is on the southern.
Pistachio trees, like the Almond, blossom and produce early fruit. These particular Pistachio trees were near Shechem where Abraham had passed, and where the sons of Isra’el committed murder to avenge the dignity of their sister. The specific place was named moreh meaning ‘to teach.’ When the Israelites crossed the Jordan, between the mountains Gerizim and Ebal where there was a grove of Pistachio trees, they would have a time of teaching. They were to put blessings on Mount Gerizim and curses on Mount Ebal as they learned Adonai’s rules for living in the Land of Promise.
The Place with His Name
“You are to come to the place where Adonai your God will put His name. He will choose it from all your tribes; and you will seek out that place, which is where He will live, and go there”
Adonai gave Isra’el a place to worship Him so they would not serve the Canaanite gods. At the place where ‘I Am’ put His name, the Tribes of Isra’el would bring their offerings, sacrifices, and tithes. They would eat in His presence and rejoice because of His blessings.
They were not to offer burnt offerings anywhere else, only in the place where Ehyeh Asher Ehyeh put His name. They could slaughter meat for food wherever they lived according to how they had been blessed. They were not to eat blood, but pour it out on the ground.
“Just take care not to eat the blood, for the blood is the life, and you are not to eat the life with the meat. Don’t eat it, but pour it out on the ground like water. Do not eat it, so that all things will go well with you and your children after you as you do what Adonai sees right” (Deuteronomy 12:16).
Book of Second Opinion
“You will not do things the way we do them here today, where everyone does whatever in his own opinion seems right…” (Deuteronomy 12:8).
We have a family joke whenever we encounter someone who believes their opinion has far greater weight than the D’var Elohim. We say they are quoting from the ‘Book of Second Opinion,’ and sometimes we even add a chapter and verse.
The ‘Book of Second Opinion’ gives everyone the freedom to do what is right in their own eyes rather transforming their behavior to the commandments of Elohim. This isn’t freedom in Christ, it is apostasy from the Torah or ‘lawlessness.’ Of course, each person has a different halacha or way of expressing the commandments of Elohim, but ‘expression’ is different from situational ethics and the ‘Book of Second Opinion Chapter 2, verse 18.’
‘Apostasy’ in Greek is apostasia and means ‘to turn away, pervert, and divorce.’ Vine’s Expository Dictionary of Biblical Words defines apostasy as ‘a declension from apostolic teachings.’ ‘Declension’ means ‘a condition of decline or moral deterioration.’ This definition of ‘declension’ is actually found under ‘Sabbath’ in new testament words. According to Vine’s, apostasy is ‘turning way, perverting and divorcing oneself’ from the Torah: the teachings and instructions of Adonai, Yeshua, and the apostles.
Sha’ul describes the ‘great apostasy’ to the Thessalonians: “For the Day [of Adonai] will not come until after the Apostasy has come and the man who separates himself from Torah has been revealed, the one destined for doom. He will oppose himself to everything that people call a god or make an object of worship; he will put himself above them all, so that he will sit in the Temple of God and proclaim that he himself is God” (2 Thessalonians 2:3-4).
Apostasy isn’t just a denial of Yeshua (Jesus), it is turning away and divorcing oneself from Torah, one of the foundations of faith. Without a solid foundation, the whole building will fall and crumble. Some translations say, ‘man of lawlessness’ because this ‘man’ will deny Torah. Those who separate themselves from Torah are like this ‘lawless man’ and apostatize from the faith. Those who are sanctified, set-apart and ‘Kadosh l’Adonai’ not only remain faithful to Yeshua, but also obey the commandments of Elohim (Revelations 14:12).
“Many will say to Me [Yeshua] on that day [when I judge them], ‘Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in Your name, and driven out demons in Your name, and done many miracles in Your name?’ And then I will declare to them publicly, ‘I never knew you; depart from Me [you are banished from My presence], you who act wickedly [disregarding My commands]’” (Matthew 7:22,23, AMP).
The Israelites cannot have a ‘Book of Second Opinion’ when they enter the Promised Land because ‘they have not yet arrived at the rest and inheritance that Adonai was giving them’ (Deuteronomy 12:9). This concurs with Yeshua’s words regarding the duration of the Torah (Matthew 5:17-20). Until there is a new heaven and new earth with the New Jerusalem, no one will enter in the eternal Kingdom with the inheritance promised by ‘I am.’ Torah is still in force, and the ‘Book of Second Opinion,’ whether written by Jewish sages or church fathers is just opinions.
Adding and Subtracting
“Everything I am commanding you, you are to take care to do. Do not add to it or subtract from it” (Deuteronomy 13:1).
Human nature loves to add to or take away from the D’var Elohim because it allows humanity to be ‘god’ and remain sinful, not perfecting holiness out of reverence for Adonai. Re-defining sin from breaking Elohim commandments to whatever we like or don’t like in the behavior of another person has become the standard for righteousness.
There are denominations that don’t allow music or dancing when the Scriptures clearly encourage these powerful ways to worship ‘I Am.’ Some denominations consider drinking a sin when the Bibles says that getting drunk, not consuming a glass of wine, is a sin. They forget that Yeshua changed water into wine, and blessed two cups of wine at his Pesach seder.
A cautionary statement about adding to or subtracting from the D’var Elohim needs to be addressed. Taken literally, adding would mean that the first five books of the Hebrew Scriptures are the only valid Scriptures. This is not true. Yeshua read from the Prophets in a synagogue validating their ‘addition.’ He used the Prophets and the Psalms to explain his suffering, death, and resurrection to his disciples. He quoted Psalm 22 on the cross. Some of Yeshua’s teachings came directly from the Talmud or oral teachings. Peter and Jude quote from the Book of Enoch, and the Book of Jasher is quoted by Joshua –– both books removed from today’s Bibles. Adding and subtracting needs to be discerned rightly and according to the revelation of Truth encompassing all Scripture.
“For Adonai your God is testing you, in order to find out whether you really do love Adonai your God with all your heart and being. You are to follow Adonai your God, hear him, obey his mitzvot, listen to what he says, serve him and cling to him; and that prophet or dream is to be put to death, because he urged rebellion against Adonai your God … in order to seduce you away from the path Adonai your God ordered you to follow” (Deuteronomy 13:4-6).
The False Prophet
Adonai warns about those who use dreams to cause a rebellion against Him. John says to ‘test the spirits’ because not every spirit comes from Elohim (1 John 4:1). Because the D’var Elohim is readily available to everyone, it should be easy to test the prophet or the wolf wearing a sheep coat. Most believers, however, do not study the Scriptures for themselves and lack the knowledge to ‘test the spirits.’
The punishment for a false prophet was death. Since there is no longer a governing court to render justice to the false prophet, rebellious leaders are given a platform, a television show or a youtube channel. Some wolves wearing fleece have mega churches with bank accounts that make them appear righteous, but their twisted teachings and feel-good doctrines deceive everyone who listens them (2 Timothy 3:1-8).
“You are the people of Adonai your God. You are not to gash yourselves or shave the hair above your foreheads in mourning for the dead, because you are a people set apart as holy for Adonai your God. Adonai your God has chosen you to be his own unique treasure out of all the peoples on the face of the earth” (Deuteronomy 14:1-2).
This command about false prophets wasn’t new for Isra’el; it had been given 40 years earlier. Now, it became a reminder to the Israelites that when they entered the Promised Land, they were not to act like the nations –– tattooing and cutting themselves as ritual worship of other gods. Isra’el is Elohim’s unique treasure in all the earth. How we treat the tabernacle of our souls is of great importance to Adonai.
“Because you are a holy people to Adonai your God, you are not to eat anything disgusting”
Because Isra’el is a holy people, set-apart for Elohim, they were given dietary instructions. The regulations did not mention health and wellness because they were faith-based works of obedience. Sha’ul taught, “We do not abolish Torah by faith. Heaven forbid! On the contrary, we confirm Torah” (Romans 3:31). The Greek word for ‘confirm’ is histemi and means ‘make it stand.’ Leviticus 11 lists the animals that Adonai called ‘clean’ to eat and what He called ‘unclean’ and disgusting. It is faith which confirms His instructions; it is faith make makes His instructions stand thousands of years later.
‘Heaven forbid’ is an idiom for ‘a curse be upon it.’
“Every year you must take one tenth of everything your seed produces in the field, and eat it in the presence of Adonai your God. In the place where he chooses, to have his name live you will eat the tenth of your grain, new wine and olive oil, and the first born of your cattle and sheep, so that you will learn to fear Adonai your God always” (Deuteronomy 14:22-23).
The significance of obeying this command was to fear Elohim forever. The tithe consisted of one-tenth of the produce, grain, wine, olive oil, cattle, and sheep to be eaten in the presence of Adonai. It was not given weekly at a church service, but was brought once a year to Jerusalem. If the distance was too far to travel with the produce or livestock, then it was exchanged for money and used to buy the items necessary to fulfill the command at the Temple. Remember the moneychangers? This was their job, and they perverted it by taking over court of the Gentiles so thatYeshua overturned their tables.
Every three years the tithes were collected in the villages and given to the Levites. These tithes would be their sustenance and wage for serving at the Altar and teaching the Israelites Torah.
“And Yeshua entered the temple [grounds] and drove out [with force] all who were buying and selling [birds and animals for sacrifice] in the temple area, and He turned over the tables of the moneychangers [who made a profit exchanging foreign money for temple coinage] and the chairs of those who were selling doves [for sacrifice]” (Matthew 21:12, AMP).
In Jerusalem, there are still money changers. They exchange currency: dollars to shekels.
“At the end of every seven years you are to have a sh’mittah” (Deuteronomy 15:1).
At the sh’mittah, all debt was abolished whether with a native Israelite or a foreigner. Slavery between brothers was dissolved unless the slave wanted to remain in the house of his owner. The owner would then take an awl and pierce through his ear and the man would remain his slave forever.
During the sh’mittah, no planting or harvesting of the land was to be done. The land was to settle or rest, only bringing forth what naturally grew for food. If Isra’el obeyed this command, they would receive a blessing.
Piercing the ear was a sign of permanent slavery (James 4:4).
“You will lend money to many nations without having to borrow, and you will rule over many nations without their ruling over you…. Guard yourself against allowing your heart to entertain the mean-spirited thought that because the seventh year, the year of sh’mittah is at hand, you would be stingy toward your needy brother and not give him anything. God will bless you in all your work, in everything you undertake – for there will always be poor people in the land. That is why I am giving you this order. You must open your hand to your poor and needy brother in your land” (Deuteronomy 15:6, 9-11).
Moshe’s last words remind the Israelites about the ‘appointed times’ or mo’edim. With his final words, he names the place that bears Adonai’s name – Yerushalayim.
The Israelites were to keep Passover in the month of Aviv. They were to sacrifice the Passover offering only in the place where Adonai put His name, not in any other place.
They were to eat bread without chametz for seven days for the Feast of Unleavened Bread. It was to be known as ‘the bread of affliction’ and a reminder of the exact day the Israelites left Egypt.
They were to count seven weeks from the day the barley harvest began. On that day, they were to present a voluntary offering and rejoice in the presence of Adonai celebrating the Feast of Weeks.
They were to keep the Feast of Tabernacles for seven days in the fall after they gathered the produce of the threshing floor and winepress. They were to rejoice before Adonai for seven days.
For each these mo’edim, Pesach, Shavuot and Sukkot, all Israelite men were to appear in the presence of Ehyeh Asher Ehyeh at the place where He put His Name – Jerusalem.
Yeshua and the Blessings
“Prompted by the Spirit, he went into the Temple courts; and when the parents brought in the child Yeshua to do for him what the Torah required, Shim‘on took him [Yeshua] in his arms, made a b’rakhah to God…” (Luke 2:27-28).
“He asked them, ‘How many loaves do you have? Go and check.’ When they had found out, they said, ‘Five. And two fish.’ Then he ordered all the people to sit down in groups on the green grass. They sat down in groups of fifty or a hundred. Then he took the five loaves and the two fish, and, looking up toward heaven, made a b’rakhah” (Mark 6:37-41).
“Then Yeshua took the loaves of bread, and, after making a b’rakhah, gave to all who were sitting there, and likewise with the fish, as much as they wanted” (John 6:11).
“However, when Yeshua saw it, he became indignant and said to them, ‘Let the children come to me, don’t stop them, for the Kingdom of God belongs to such as these. Yes! I tell you, whoever does not receive the Kingdom of God like a child will not enter it!’ And he took them in his arms, laid his hands on them, and made a b’rakhah over them” (Mark 10:14-16).
“Also he [Yeshua] took a cup of wine, made the b’rakhah, and gave it to them, saying, ‘All of you, drink from it! For this is my blood, which ratifies the New Covenant, my blood shed on behalf of many, so that they may have their sins forgiven’” (Matthew 26:27-28).
“He led them out toward Beit-Anyah; then, raising his hands, he said a b’rakhah over them; and as he was blessing them, he withdrew from them and was carried up into heaven” (Luke 24:50-51).
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