“When you go out to war against your enemies, and Adonai your God hands them over to you, and you take prisoners…” (Deuteronomy 21:10).
The War Zone
When Isra’el goes to war and a soldier brings back a captive woman he is attracted to, she must follow Adonai’s instructions for joining the community. She is to go into the man’s house, shave her head, cut her fingernails, and remove her captive garments. For an entire month she is to mourn her parents before consummating the marriage relationship. If the man tires of the woman after a time, he is not to sell her or treat her like a slave because he has defiled her.
“If a man has recently married his wife, he is not to be subject to military service; he is to be free of external obligations and left at home for one year to make his new wife happy”
(Deuteronomy 20:7, 24:5).
Men who are engaged or recently married are exempt from war. In the recent skirmishes between Isra’el and the Palestinians, I have read at least one story of a newly engaged man being killed in the war. His fiancé was left alone to marry another man. These events bring grief for the ‘widow’ and the young man’s family, but had they followed the Torah regulation, the man and woman would be married, setting up their home, and maybe even having a child who would take the man’s name into the next generation.
Punishment for a rebellious child, who refused to accept responsibility even after discipline, was death. Rebellion is willful insubordination. A rebel, according to the dictionary, is an ‘insurgent, mutineer, terrorist, and freedom fighter.’ Consider what happened on a ship when there was mutiny! A child, like a mutineer, could incite the family and the community into rebellion. Terrorist children within the nation of Isra’el would not be tolerated nor would freedom fighters!
The description of the rebellious child, however, is not a terrorist, but a son who lives wildly and gets drunk. This drunken son is taken to the leaders at the city gate where he is stoned. This implies that everyone in the city knew of this child’s rebellious behavior and his unwillingness to change or ‘all the men of his town would not be allowed to stone him to death’ (Deuteronomy 21:18-21).
If someone committed a capital crime like murder, adultery or blasphemy, they were put to death. If death was by hanging on a tree, the body must not remain on the tree all night, but must be buried the same day. This person has been cursed by Elohim (Deuteronomy 21:22-23).
A scroll called the Temple Scroll was found among the Dead Sea Scrolls. It contained the halakah or the legal interpretations to Torah regulations. From about 530 BCE until the destruction of the Temple in 70 CE, anyone who was found guilty of treason or blasphemy was hung on a tree before the people he had betrayed, and before Adonai who he had blasphemed. While hanging the tree, he is accursed by Elohim and men.
The Essenes, a sect of Judaism that protected the Hebrew scrolls by hiding them in the caves at Qumran, had strict halacha based on Torah and maintained this legal regulation for a blasphemer. The Sadducees, who were the ruling authority and controlled the Temple in Yeshua’s day, obviously maintained this position for a blasphemer as this is their argument for condemning Yeshua. The Pharisees leaned more toward stoning a blasphemer as the first course of action, followed by hanging on a tree. All three sects would have viewed crucifixion, hanging on a tree, as being a curse.
“The Messiah redeemed us from the curse pronounced in the Torah by becoming cursed on our behalf; for the Tanakh says, “Everyone who hangs from a stake [tree] comes under a curse” (Galatians 3:13).
The ‘Curse of the Torah’ = Legalism
“A curse on anyone who does not confirm the words of this Torah by putting them into practice. All the people are to say, ‘Amen!’” (Deuteronomy 27:26)
Those who do not put into practice the instructions found in Torah are cursed. By dying on the cross, Yeshua removed the curse of Torah, not the Torah.
Torah, which is holy and its commandments that are just and good, still serves two purposes: to define sin and to sanctify people to become ‘Kadosh l’Adonai’ (Romans 7:12). Legalistic outward observance of Torah perverts both of these purposes and destroys Torah.
No one is justified in the eyes of Adonai by obeying Torah because its first purpose is to point out sin (Romans 3:20). Trying to be justified before Elohim by ‘legalistic’ outward observance of Torah is not based on faith, but a distortion of “anyone who does these things will attain (eternal) life through them” (Romans 10:5). No one has or ever will receive eternal life by keeping the commands of Torah. It is not because no one can keep them, but because that was not the intent of Torah.
“For neither being circumcised [Jew} nor being uncircumcised [non-Jew] matters; what matters is being a new creation” (Galatians 6:15).
Through our faith in Yeshua’s work on the cross, we have been released from the ‘law of sin and death.’ The first purpose of Torah –– to point out our sin –– has been accomplished.
After one is born again by the Spirit, the ‘spiritual’ Torah takes on its second purpose, to sanctify a people for Adonai. Through the Ruach haKodesh, the Torah is taken from stone tablets and written on hearts of flesh. Adonai’s people no longer follow ‘the letter of Torah’ by an outward obedience, but obey through a change of heart grounded in love for Adonai and our neighbor. Once we are new creations, the Torah becomes the light for our path and the Ruach haKodesh convicts us of our sin and leading us to repent so we become ‘Kadosh l’Adonai’ (John 17:17).
“Thus, my brothers, you have been made dead with regard to the Torah through the Messiah’s body, so that you may belong to someone else, namely, the one who has been raised from the dead, in order for us to bear fruit for God. For when we were living according to our old nature, the passions connected with sins worked through the Torah in our various parts, with the result that we bore fruit for death. But now we have been released from this aspect of the Torah, because we have died to that which had us in its clutches, so that we are serving in the new way [of obeying Torah] provided by the Spirit and not in the old way of outwardly following the letter of the law” (Romans 7:4-6).
“The Torah of the Spirit, which produces this life in union with Messiah Yeshua, has set me free from the “law” of sin and death. For what the Torah could not do by itself, because it lacked the power to make the old nature cooperate, God did by sending his own Son as a human being with a nature like our own sinful one [but without sin]. God did this in order to deal with sin, and in so doing he executed the punishment against sin in human nature, so that the just requirement of the Torah might be fulfilled in us who do not run our lives according to what our old nature wants but according to what the Spirit wants. For those who identify with their old nature set their minds on the things of the old nature, but those who identify with the Spirit set their minds on the things of the Spirit. Having one’s mind controlled by the old nature is death, but having one’s mind controlled by the Spirit is life and shalom. For the mind controlled by the old nature is hostile to God, because it does not submit itself to God’s Torah — indeed, it cannot” (Romans 8:2-7).
“Being circumcised [Jew] means nothing, and being uncircumcised [non-Jew] means nothing; what does mean something is keeping God’s commandments” (1 Corinthians 7:19).
Women Dressed Like Men
“A woman is not to wear men’s clothing, and a man is not to put on women’s clothing, for whoever does these things is detestable to Adonai your God” (Deuteronomy 22:5).
Cross-dressing is detestable to Adonai. This verse that convicted me to change my own personal wardrobe. I had fallen into the western dress code that blurs the difference between men and women, masculinity and femininity. When I realized that my husband and I had the same clothes, especially flannel shirts, I went through my closet and removed anything that was similar to his and began dressing more feminine, wearing skirts, blouses, and dresses. Soon after my personal revelation, I realized I had been dressing my young daughter in overalls and clothing similar to my son, even hand-me-downs. I changed her wardrobe immediately too. Over the years, the blurring between sexes has increased exponentially in western culture and the consequences are enormous.
I found another Hebrew translation for Deuteronomy 22:5 interesting. There is some question as to its accuracy, but it adds a different perspective to ‘cross-dressing.’
“Never cause or force a warriors [sic] weapon to be used by a woman or weak person; neither dress warriors [sic] armor on a woman or weak person for to Adonai, God of Host, disgusting is such that do so.”
According to this translation, a woman should not dress in military armor or carry a soldier’s weapon. This puts a different perspective on women dressing like men, and allowing women to not only be in the armed forces, but also participate in combat. The Hebrew word towebah, means ‘disgusting’ and is the same word used for eating ‘unclean’ foods. The blending of the male and female gender has progressed from dressing similarly to women being a part of the military –– both in America and Isra’el –– and it could be ‘disgusting’ to the Creator who made us male and female and sent men off to war, not women.
“You are not to wear clothing woven with two kinds of thread, wool and linen together”
Linen, which comes from flax, was always used for the priestly garments (Leviticus 6:10). Linen is a symbol of being ‘Kadosh l’Adonai.’ When the prophet Ezekiel was being shown the measurements for the Millennial Temple, the ‘man in bronze’ held a flax measuring cord. In Ezekiel’s Temple, those who are descendants of Zadok will serve Yeshua wearing linen (Ezekiel 44:18). The Bride of Messiah is given ‘fine linen’ as a wedding dress to wear at the wedding feast of the Lamb (Revelation 19:8).
John had a vision of Yeshua in Revelation and his hair was snow-white like wool. The prophet Isaiah says that our sins will be washed white as wool. Wool, which comes from a sheep, is a symbol of redemption. In Revelation, the redeemed masses are given white ‘wool’ robes washed in the blood of the lamb very different from the ‘fine linen’ of the saints (Revelation 7:14, 22:14).
Adonai desires purity even when it involves fabric, seeds, and animals. The Israelites mixed the ‘holy’ and the ‘profane’ when they made the golden calf. The congregation in Laodicea mixes the ‘holy’ and ‘profane’ and becomes lukewarm. Sha’ul tells the congregation in Corinth not to become unequally yoked, believer with unbeliever. Mixing the righteous and unrighteous does not result in a pure faith, a pure love or a pure walk before Elohim.
Virgins in Isra’el
Women who were virgins and still had their sexual purity were completely dependent on their fathers, husbands, and brothers for protection and provision. In a patriarchal system, women especially needed protection from potential abuse. The regulations in Deuteronomy chapters 22 and 23 brought honor to the women in Isra’el. Israelite men were commanded to treat their women differently from the nations around them. No man or woman was to take part in ritual prostitution at a pagan temple because worshiping Adonai was to be different from the worship of other gods and that included protecting virgin women from emotional, physical, and spiritual abuse.
There are regulations for a man with two wives, one loved and the other unloved. These verses perfectly describe the situation of Jacob who married Leah, but loved his wife Rachel. His unloved wife gave him a firstborn son named Reuben while Rachel’s firstborn was Joseph. As per the instruction, Jacob did not give Joseph, the son of the wife he loved, Reuben’s firstborn blessing. Because Reuben slept with Jacob’s concubine, he lost the blessing and a double portion was given to Joseph through his sons Manasseh and Ephraim (Deuteronomy 21:15-17).
Brother Marries Brother’s Wife – Levirate Marriage
A brother is to marry his brother’s wife if he dies without children. This describes what happened between Judah and Tamar. When Judah refused to give Tamar his third son, she created a plan that would give her a child and keep the name of her husband’s lineage alive. This is why Judah commended Tamar for her righteousness.
“Also you are to have an area outside the camp to use as a latrine. You must include a trowel with your equipment, and when you relieve yourself, you are to dig a hole first and afterwards cover your excrement. For Adonai your God moves about in your camp to rescue you and to hand over your enemies to you. Therefore your camp must be a holy place. Adonai should not see anything indecent among you, or he will turn away from you” (Deuteronomy 23:13-15).
I used this verse when potty training my toddlers. We have always lived with a septic system. I showed them the distance from the toilet through the pipes in the basement that went out of the house to the septic tank to show them how our excrement went out of the camp so our home would be a holy place. When we lived in the Rocky Mountains, we did a lot of back-country camping and the use of a trowel was vitally important –– also a regulation of Adonai.
He Wants Me Back Syndrome
“In such a case her first husband, who sent her away, may not take her again as his wife, because she is now defiled. It would be detestable to Adonai, and you are not to bring about sin in the land Adonai your God is giving you as your inheritance” (Deuteronomy 24:4).
If a man divorces his wife and she remarries another man, but divorces again (or is widowed), the first husband may not take her back. Though it may sound harsh, it is for the protection of the woman not to be repeatedly defiled. Marital defilement is not allowed in the community of Isra’el.
The Fatherless and the Widow
When harvesting grain, olives, and grapes, no one is to go back to their field for a missing sheaf, beat the tree for the last olives or return to the vineyard. Everything left in the field, on the tree, and on the vine is left for the orphan and the widow. This is Adonai’s way of providing for those who have no provider –– a husband or a father. By commanding this, Adonai becomes the Husband and the Father providing for the widow and orphan.
“You are not to have in your pack two sets of weights, one heavy, the other light. You are not to have in your house two sets of measures, one big, the other small. You are to have a correct and fair weight, and you are to have a correct and fair measure” (Deuteronomy 25:13-15).
Though this is specific to measuring produce, there is a spiritual aspect to this command: we must not weigh people differently. James tells believers not to give more honor to the rich than to the poor (James 2:6). The weights of human value are always measured wrongly and with different standards. Even when it comes to righteous judgment, we are not to be a respecter of persons, but judge fairly and honestly with justice.
“Therefore when Adonai your God has given you rest form all your surrounding enemies in the Land Adonai your God is giving you as your inheritance to posses, you are to blot out all memory of ‘Amalek from under heaven. Don’t forget” (Deuteronomy 25:19).
Yeshua and the Seven Brothers
“That same day, some Tz’dukim came to him. They are the ones who say there is no such thing as resurrection, so they put to him a sh’eilah: ‘Rabbi, Moshe said, If a man dies childless, his brother must marry his widow and have children to preserve the man’s family line.’ There were seven brothers. The first one married and then died; and since he had no children, he left his widow to his brother. The same thing happened to the second brother, and the third, and finally to all seven. After them all, the woman died. Now in the Resurrection — of the seven, whose wife will she be? For they all married her.”’
“Yeshua answered them, ‘The reason you go astray is that you are ignorant both of the Tanakh and of the power of God. For in the Resurrection, neither men nor women will marry; rather, they will be like angels in heaven’” (Matthew 22:23-30).
“Yeshua said to them, ‘Isn’t this the reason that you go astray? Because you are ignorant both of the Tanakh and of the power of God? For when people rise from the dead, neither men nor women marry — they are like angels in heaven’” (Mark 12:24-25).
“Yeshua said to them, ‘In this age, men and women marry; but those judged worthy of the age to come, and of resurrection from the dead, do not get married’” (Luke 20:34-35).
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