Messianic Education Trust
    B'har/B'Chukkotai  
(Lev 25:1 - 27:34)

Vayikra/Leviticus 25:19   The land will give her fruit and you will eat to fullness, and you will dwell securely on her.


This verse appears to partly repeat and follow closely on from the previous one: "You shall observe My laws and faithfully keep My rules, that you may live upon the land in security" (Vayikra 25:18, JPS). Who Is ...

Hirsch: Rabbi Samson Raphael Hirsch (1808-1888 CE), German rabbi, author and educator; staunch opponent of the Reform movement in Germany and one of the fathers of Orthodox Judaism
Hirsch comments on the similar phrases "you will dwell in the land securely" (v. 18) and "you shall dwell securely on her" (v. 19) to say that the former "is the assurance of political security abroad", while the latter is "the certainty of physical development of prosperity at home." He adds, "Our 'dwelling' itself, the way we live and dwell will give us this certainty, will have the effect that we require neither means of defence against enemies nor measures of security against failure of crops." He refers to the promises that The Name ...

HaShem: literally, Hebrew for 'The Name' - an allusion used to avoid pronouncing the Tetragrammaton, the so-called 'ineffable' name of G–d
HaShem gives - for example, "All these blessings shall come upon you and take effect, if you will but heed the word of the L-RD your G-d ... The L-RD will put to rout before you the enemies who attack you; they will march out against you by a single road, but flee from you by many roads. The L-RD will ordain blessings for you upon your barns and upon all your undertakings: He will bless you in the land that the L-RD your G-d is giving you" (D'varim 28:2,7-8, JPS) - that if the Jewish people faithfully keep the commandments and observe all the regulations of the Torah that HaShem will protect us and provide for us in every way. Our very way of life, the things we do and say, the justice and fairness between the people and in the Land, will be a witness to the peoples around and will guarantee HaShem's favour and blessing: "And all the peoples of the earth shall see that the L-RD's name is proclaimed over you, and they shall stand in fear of you" (v. 10, JPS). Hirsch concludes "equally so the way we eat, the precautions we take with our food, will bring about the blessing of plenty"; that our careful keeping of the dietary laws and the obligation to feed and provide for the poor is in itself a means of continuing HaShem's blessings upon the people and the Land.

The Who Is ...

Ba'al HaTurim: Rabbi Yaakov ben Asher (1269-1343 CE), born in Cologne, Germany; lived for 40 years in and around Toledo, Spain; died en route to Israel; his commentary to the Chumash is based upon an abridgement of the Ramban, including Rashi, Rashbam and Ibn Ezra; it includes many references to gematria and textual novelties
Baal HaTurim points out that the word - to satiety, sufficiency, fullness - appears here, in the next chapter - "You will eat as much food as you want and live securely in your land" (Vayikra 26:5, CJB) - and earlier in the Torah when Israel is comparing desert life unfavourably with the Egypt they had just left: "There we used to sit around the pots with the meat boiling, and we had as much food as we wanted" (Shemot 16:3, CJB). In all three cases, they "mention satiety in connection with food - bread or fruit - for it speaks of a nation in a place of settlement." Eating to the full is a blessing that comes with being settled in a land and not being constantly on the move, with the ability to steadily farm a land to raise livestock and grow crops, with - at least in the later two cases - being "in one's place" and not liable to disturbance and disruption.

Confirming that, Baruch Levine adds that "along with security will come fertility and abundance". He points out that " - plenty, satiety - is a term with an interesting history in the Ancient Near East. It occurs in royal inscriptions relating the achievements of kings who provided well for their peoples1. In the Hebrew Bible, it frequently pertains to G-d's promise of blessing, since G-d is the ultimate provider of His people." Rashi connects the security with the weather: "this means that you will have no worry of a year of drought"; G-d will look after the weather so that drought conditions will not threaten the people and the agriculture will flourish to produce enough food for all. The Who Is ...

Sforno: Rabbi Ovadiah Sforno (1470-1550 CE), Italian rabbi, philosopher and physician; born in Cesena, he went to Rome to study medicine; left in 1525 and after some years of travel, settled in Bologna where he founded a yeshiva which he conducted until his death
Sforno neatly puts physical and food-source security together, wryly commenting, "you will not bear the shame of hunger among the nations for you will not have to travel to their lands to buy produce"; not only will you not be ashamed that your own land does not produce enough, but your physical security will be protected by not having to go abroad at all!

As believers in Messiah Yeshua, can or should we expect the same principles to apply to us: that G-d has promised to provide for us, both in terms of food and physical security, but that that provision is dependent upon our obedience to Him and lifestyle witness before the unbelieving world?

Yeshua's words to the disciples are recorded in both Matthew's and Luke's gospels: "Therefore do not be anxious, saying, 'What shall we eat?' or 'What shall we drink?' or 'What shall we wear?' For the Gentiles seek after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them all. But seek first the kingdom of G-d and His righteousness, and all these things will be added to you" (Matthew 6:31-33, ESV) and "And do not seek what you are to eat and what you are to drink, nor be worried. For all the nations of the world seek after these things, and your Father knows that you need them. Instead, seek His kingdom, and these things will be added to you" (Luke 12:29-31, ESV). In both cases, Yeshua urges the disciples not to be concerned about the provision of basic life-needs: food, drink, clothing. The Gentiles or nations - here probably a term meaning those who are not part of Israel, so not in covenant relationship with G-d - are concerned about these things but, Yeshua states, G-d already knows that His followers need them so - His words imply - will provide them. Then follows the condition: these things will be provided if the disciples are in obedience to G-d's instructions. Matthew uses the conjunction , 'and/but' and stresses seeking both the kingdom of G-d and G-d's righteousness, while Luke chooses , 'however, nevertheless' and mentions only the kingdom. Both use an imperative plural form of the verb , whose plain meaning is "seek or look for", but often has the more intense idea of "try to obtain, desire to possess" and even "request or demand". When we strive for or aim at enlarging and establishing G-d's kingdom - by obeying His commands, by living visibly as disciples and publicly acknowledging His authority in our lives - then He will provide for our needs. In both cases, the words 'but' or 'instead' followed by "and these things will be added to you" make the condition clear: we cannot expect G-d to provide for our needs unless we are doing what we have been told.

Peter too expresses the same relationship: "Humble yourselves, therefore, under the mighty hand of G-d so that at the proper time He may exalt you, casting all your anxieties on Him, because He cares for you" (1 Peter 5:6-7, ESV). It as we humble ourselves under G-d's hand, obeying Him and mirroring Messiah Yeshua to those around us, that we can expect Him to raise us up, covering our cares and anxieties because He cares and provides for us. His provision does not fail and He does not turn away from us, for "He who watches over Israel will neither slumber nor sleep" (Psalm 121:4, NIV) and "He stands alongside a needy person to defend him from unjust accusers" (Psalm 109:31, Bibel(CJB)). The place of fertility and abundance, the place of growth the yield, seeing the kingdom grow and experiencing G-d's blessings is in Messiah Yeshua and obeying His instructions: "I am the vine; you are the branches. Whoever abides in Me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from Me you can do nothing ... If you keep My commandments, you will abide in My love, just as I have kept My Father's commandments and abide in His love" (John 15:5,10, ESV).

1. - For example, the Karatepe inscription (an 8th century BCE bi-lingual inscription in Phoenician and Hieroglyphic Luwian; Karatepe is a neo-Hittite city in Cilicia) contains the text: "And in my days the Danunians had everything (that was) good, and plenty (of grain), and fine food; and I filled the granaries of Pahar."

Further Study: 1 Kings 3:5-14; Mark 10:29-30; Philippians 4:6

Application: Are you in times of trial or locked in a famine-feast cycle? Know that G-d's best place for you is in His hand, as you seek His face and follow His commands. Reach out to Him and come into that place of blessing today.

© Jonathan Allen, 2012



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