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(Deut 21:10-25:19)

D'varim/Deuteronomy 21:10   When you will go out to war against your enemies, and the L-rd your G-d gives them into your hand

Early commentators on this verse suggest that it is referring to optional wars, after the main conquest of the Land (Sifrei 211). This is implied by the following instructions regarding the taking of captives when compared to D'varim 20:16 at the end of last week's parasha stating that no captives are to be taken from the cities and nations in the Land (Mizrachi). The verse also uses the verb , you go out, implying a war initiated by Israel outside its boundaries, compared to 2 Chronicles 11:4 and Jeremiah 32:5, both of which say "when you fight your enemies".

It is interesting that the verse starts with the word , which is most often translated 'for' and less often 'when' or 'because'. Most translations choose 'when' in this context as it better expresses the optional nature of the conflict. If it is translated 'for', however, the verse takes on a different emphasis: for you will go out to war against your enemies, and the L-rd your G-d will give them into your hand. Now it has a sense of inevitability about it, which more accurately reflects the history of Israel and the Middle East, both in Bible times and even the modern day. It also speaks into the spiritual life as well as the physical.

Peter the Apostle writes, "Your adversary, the devil, prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour" (1 Peter 5:8, NASB). This is a definite statement of expectation, as is Rav Sha'ul's warning that, "our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the powers, against the world forces of this darkness, against the spiritual forces of wickedness in the heavenly places" (Ephesians 6:12, NASB). Both Kefa and Sha'ul know that there is a battle on, that we will be engaged in warfare against spiritual enemies. Even Yeshua speaks of the certainty of times of trial: "Woe to the world because of the things that cause people to sin! Such things must come" (Matthew 18:7, NIV), or as The Message puts it: "Hard times are inevitable!" The Message

Just as Moshe could tell our people in the desert that G-d would give their physical enemies into their hands, so spiritual victory is assured. Yeshua told the talmidim that "the gates of Hades shall not overpower" (Matthew 16:18, NASB); Rav Sha'ul told the Ephesians, "when the evil day comes, you will be able to resist; and when the battle is won, you will still be standing" (Ephesians 6:13, CJB); Kefa tells us to "Resist [the devil], firm in your faith" (1 Peter 5:9, NASB) and Ya'akov adds, "Resist the devil and he will flee from you" (Ya'akov 4:7, NASB).

Further Study: Joshua 7:2-12; Luke 17:1-4

Application: When you are hard-pressed, remember that difficulties and battles are an inevitable part of our lives as believers. But take the battle out to the enemy, in G-d's power, and know that victory is certain - our G-d will give our enemies into our hand.

© Jonathan Allen, 2004

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