Weekly Thoughts – Ki Teitzei

Often Yeshua-believers are so concerned about soteriology, the doctrine and process of eternal salvation, and spiritual realities that daily needs and concerns are minimalized or disregarded all together. This week’s parasha, Ki Teitzei, Deuteronomy 21:10 – 21:19, pretty much shows that if Yeshua-believers were following dictates of all Scripture, this accusation would not be so.

Drawing from Chabad’s summary of this week’s reading, we see that Ki Teitzei contains seventy-four commandments, statutes, and mitzvot, more than any other single Torah portion. This collection contains the law of a rebellious son, the obligation to bury the dead without undue delay, the requirement to return a found object, the prohibitions against causing pain to any living creature and against prostitution, the laws of marriage and divorce, the procedure of the Levirate marriage, and the obligation to eradicate the memory of Amalek. While this summary is by no means a complete list of all seventy-four mitzvot recorded, it captures the important point that HaShem is concerned about the everyday relationships and actions of humanity. Note, however, that some of the mitzvot pertain specifically to the Jewish people and more specifically to the land of Israel.

The passage that really got me thinking about HaShem’s concern for everyday life is found in Deuteronomy 25:15-16.

You must have a full and honest weight and a full and honest measure, so that your days may be long on the land that ADONAI your God is giving you. For all who do these things, all who do injustice, are detestable to ADONAI your God.

The obvious reason for the importance of honest weights and scales is found in earlier passages from the Torah. Dishonest scales constitute theft as it is written, “Do not steal” (Exodus 20:15) and constitute fraud as it is written, “Do not cheat one another…” (Leviticus 25:17). However, another aspect of dishonest weights and scales is more intriguing; the purchaser, the one receiving the result of such dishonesty, often never realizes that they have been defrauded, or by the time they do realize it, it is too late to do anything about it. In Mishlei (Proverbs), there are numerous citations that warn against dishonest weights and measures. One of the most straightforward is Proverbs 20:23, “Unbalanced weights are detestable to ADONAI, and dishonest scales are wicked,” which repeats the warning of Deuteronomy 25:16.

Interestingly, Deuteronomy 25 is not the first time dishonest weight and measures are mentioned in Scripture. In the Holiness Code in the book of Leviticus it’s written,

You must not be dishonest in judgment—in measurements of length, weight or of quantity. You are to have honest balances, honest weights, honest bushel-measure and an honest gallon.

Leviticus 19:35-36

Therefore, it is clear that HaShem is concerned about honesty and integrity in the marketplace. These verses in Deuteronomy and Leviticus, reminded me of the beginning of last week’s parasha, Shoftim, where the word justice is emphasized.

Judges and officers you are to appoint within all your gates that ADONAI your God is giving you, according to your tribes; and they are to judge the people with righteous judgment. You are not to twist justice—you must not show partiality or take a bribe, for a bribe blinds the eyes of the wise and distorts the words of the righteous. Justice, justice you must pursue, so that you may live and possess the land that ADONAI your God is giving you.

Deuteronomy 16:18-20

Not only does HaShem expect honesty and integrity in the marketplace, he expects it, in fact he demands it, in the halls of justice as well. Now for a stern warning, just because both Deuteronomy 16 and 25 link proper behavior and actions with longevity in the land of Israel, do not suppose that the mitzvot only apply to Bnei Israel or the land of Israel. To do so would suggest that the ideas of honoring parents and not committing adultery or murder are only enforceable on the Jewish people because they were given to them at Sinai. The principles are universal. Perverted justice is wrong anywhere it exists, and improper scales or in more modern lingo, false advertising, is equally wrong. So, as Peter C. Craigie wrote in his commentary on Deuteronomy,

Just as the administration of justice was to conform to the highest moral standards (16:18-20), so too commercial activities were to be conducted in accord with rigid ethical principles; in both cases the result would be long life in the promised land.

Peter C. Craigie. The Book of Deuteronomy (NICOT). Wm. Eerdmans, Grand Rapids, 1976. Apple Books.

In the Apostolic Writings (NT), Peter also addresses the idea of longevity and a good life stating,

For the one who loves life, wanting to see good days, must keep his tongue from evil and his lips from speaking deceit. He must turn away from evil and do good. He must seek shalom and pursue it. For the eyes of ADONAI are on the righteous and His ears open to their prayer, but the face of ADONAI is against those who do evil.

1 Peter 3:10-12 (see Psalm 34:13-15)

Not only does he hear the prayer of the righteous, but the psalmist writes that he hears the cry of those who have little to no voice.

You hear, ADONAI, the desire of the meek. You encourage them and incline Your ear. You vindicate the orphan and oppressed…

Psalm 10:17-18

When Yeshua quoted the prophet Isaiah in Luke 4, he affirmed his concern and care for those oppressed and in need. However, in doing so, Yeshua affirmed not only a concern for their spiritual condition, but that he was and remains concerned about their physical condition as well. Hence as he traversed the land from the Galilee to Judea, he physically healed the sick, restored sight and hearing and even brought the dead back to life, returning a son to his mother and a brother to his sisters.

Rav Shaul (Paul), approached proper behavior from a different direction, that of judges, lawyers and merchants which can be extended to police and politicians, 

Serve with a positive attitude, as to the LORD and not to men—knowing that whatever good each one does, this he will receive back from the LORD, whether slave or free.

Ephesians 6:7-8

In other words, regardless of one’s position, we should serve properly, interacting with others righteously and truthfully, because it is the right thing to do. And then, as we practice righteousness, honesty and integrity in our dealings with others, the affirmation of HaShem through the prophet Isaiah will be fulfilled, “The result of righteousness will be shalom and the effect of righteousness will be quietness and confidence forever” (Isaiah 32:17).

* Unless otherwise noted, all Scripture references are from the Tree of Life (TLV) Translation of the Bible. Copyright © 2015 by The Messianic Jewish Family Bible Society.

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