Some Thoughts from Eikev

Chabad’s Eikev in a Nutshell commentary on Deuteronomy 8:3 makes the following statement, 

“Their forty years in the desert, says Moses to the people, during which G‑d sustained them with daily manna from heaven, was to teach them “that man does not live on bread alone, but by the utterance of G‑d’s mouth does man live.”

As many of you know, Yeshua quoted Deuteronomy 8:3, to the devil when tempted by him.

And when the tempter came to him (Yeshua), he (the devil) said, “If You are Ben-Elohim, tell these stones to become bread.” But he (Yeshua) replied, “It is written, ‘Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that comes from the mouth of God.’”

Matthew 4:3-4

Often when we read these Scriptures, we focus upon “every word that comes from the mouth of God.” Such a focus is proper—so much so that Rav Shaul would remind Timothy,

All Scripture is inspired by God and useful for teaching, for reproof, for restoration, and for training in righteousness, so that the person belonging to God may be capable, fully equipped for every good deed. 

2 Timothy 3:16-17

But something else common to both Deuteronomy 8 and Matthew 4 is that Hashem is the source of the affliction or temptation suffered by Bnei Israel and Yeshua.

You are to remember all the way that ADONAI your God has led you these 40 years in the wilderness—in order to humble you, to test you, to know what was in your heart, whether you would keep His mitzvot or not. He afflicted you and let you hunger, then He fed you manna—which neither you nor your fathers had known—in order to make you understand that man does not live by bread alone but by every word that comes from the mouth of ADONAI.

Deuteronomy 8:2-3

Then Yeshua was led by the Ruach into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil.

Matthew 4:1

Notice, the stated reason for the affliction or maybe more appropriately “the testing,” was “in order to humble you, to test you, to know what was in your heart, whether you would keep His mitzvot or not.” HaShem did not need to “test” the people to know what was in their hearts, as King David tells us, “… He knows the secrets of the heart” (Psalm 44:22). No, HaShem was not the one that needed to know the people’s hearts; they needed to know their own hearts. Jeremiah illuded to this when he wrote, “The heart is deceitful above all things, and incurable—who can know it” (Jeremiah 17:9) 

Rav Shaul reminded the believers in Corinth about Israel’s testing and what it meant,

Now these things happened to them as an example, and it was written down as a warning to us—on whom the ends of the ages have come. Therefore, let the one who thinks that he stands watch out that he doesn’t fall. No temptation (trial, testing, or affliction) has taken hold of you except what is common to mankind. But God is faithful—He will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you can handle. But with the temptation He will also provide a way of escape, so you will be able to endure it.

1 Corinthians 10:11-13

Both Bnei Israel in the wilderness and each of us today need to know what is in our hearts. We need to know whether we will keep His mitzvot or not. Very often, the only way to know whether or not we will keep the commandments of the LORD is when we are tested. Also, like Bnei Israel in the wilderness, we need to know and to be assured of the fact that HaShem knows our weaknesses and that his tests are for our betterment and improvement. Hashem’s testing not only strengthens our faith in him but also helps us learn though obedience and practice to be victorious over life’s trials and afflictions that come our way. Through Hashem’s “tests” or those thrown at us from this world, we would do well to embrace and internalize HaShem’s affirmation to Israel, and by extension to us, through the prophet Jeremiah,

For I know the plans that I have in mind for you,” declares ADONAI, “plans for shalom and not calamity—to give you a future and a hope.

Jeremiah 29:11

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

** This week’s Torah portion is Eikev is Deuteronomy 7:12-11:25 and the suggested reading from the Besorah is Matthew 3:16-4:4.

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