Messianic Education Trust
    Ki Tetze  
(Deut 21:10-25:19)

D'varim/Deuteronomy 24:4b   And you shall not cause the land that the L-rd your G-d is giving you as an inheritance to sin.

View whole verse and interlinear translation ...

This admonition comes as the final phrase in a block of verses that prohibit a man marrying a woman that he has previously divorced and she has been married to another man. Fred marries Jane, but after some time he divorces her; Jane then marries Bill, but either Bill doesn't like her and divorces her, or Bill dies. Can Fred now remarry Jane? The Torah's answer is 'no', that would be an abomination to 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. Fred could have remarried Jane if she hadn't been married to Bill in between. A number of the commentators say that this provision is enacted to prevent wife-swapping; the Who Is ...

Ramban: Rabbi Moshe ben Nachman of Gerona or Nachmanides (1194-1270 CE), Spanish rabbi, author and physician; defended Judaism in the Christian debates in Barcelona before making aliyah
Ramban says that "wife-swapping results in great sin." 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 notices the way that our phrase is juxtaposed with the following verse, which starts with the phrase, "If a man will take a wife" (D'varim 24:5). From this he concludes that "it is his wife who saves a man from sin" and points to "House and wealth are inherited from fathers, but a prudent wife is from the L-RD" (Proverbs 19:14, ESV) to say that "while a man may inherit a house and an income, he is dependent on HaShem for a good wife."

The first verb in the phrase - , a Hif'il 2ms or 3fs affix form of the root , to miss one's aim, to stumble, to sin - is only used in this form once in the Hebrew Bible. Either of the two PGNs1 are possible: she - the twice-divorced woman - shall not cause the land to sin, or you - Israel - shall not cause the land to sin. Ibn Ezra says that while both are possible and can make sense, "the translation 'you' is correct; this is a commandment to Israel." The What Is ...

Sifrei: An early composite midrash/commentary on B'Midbar and D'varim; probably composed around the time of the Mishna (200CE); known and referenced in the Talmud; the B'Midbar portion from the school of R. Simeon, the D'varim portion from that of R. Akiva
Sifrei adds that "this is directed to admonish the court concerning this" (Ki Tetze 270). Rabbi 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 sums up the importance of preventing sin in the Land: "You, the Jewish Nation, through its representatives the Bet Din has to see to it that, on the land that G-d has given us for His Torah to become something real, the moral height of the Torah does not become encroached upon, so that the Land does not gradually go to ruin under the moral sins of its inhabitants."

The prophet Jeremiah seems to hear HaShem saying the same thing, that re-marriage in this way defiles the Land - "If a man divorces his wife, and she leaves him and marries another man, can he ever go back to her? Would not such a land be defiled? Now you have whored with many lovers: can you return to Me? -- says the L-RD" (Jeremiah 3:1, JPS) - but then applies it directly to HaShem's relationship with His people: if they wander off and start serving other gods, sacrificing to them, calling on their names, how can they return to Him? Wouldn't that be an abomination? That is not the only way that the Land becomes defiled. Earlier, the Israelites are told, "Do not degrade your daughter and make her a harlot, lest the land fall into harlotry and the land be filled with depravity" (Vayikra 19:29, JPS)); Jeffrey Tigay points out that "that encourages the people to sin and brings sin upon the Land by bringing it under the influence of prostitution."

It seems clear that the things that the nations do - which, of course, includes idolatry and sexual immorality, but is certainly not limited to those offences alone - defile nations and the lands where they live. Speaking to the Israelites when they were still at Mt. Sinai, HaShem urged His people not to follow in the ways of the nations, nor allow others to do those things once they were in possession of the Land that He way going to give them: "Do not defile yourselves in any of those ways, for it is by such that the nations that I am casting out before you defiled themselves. Thus the land became defiled; and I called it to account for its iniquity, and the land spewed out its inhabitants. But you must keep My laws and My rules, and you must not do any of those abhorrent things, neither the citizen nor the stranger who resides among you; or all those abhorrent things were done by the people who were in the land before you, and the land became defiled. So let not the land spew you out for defiling it, as it spewed out the nations that came before you" (Vayikra 18:24-28, JPS). The seven nations that the Israelites were to dispossess did all of those things, defiling themselves and the Land, so that it was as if the Land itself were expelling those peoples.

Yet Rav Sha'ul also makes it clear that the people of G-d also seem to do these things; quoting Isaiah - showing that it is by no means a recent phenomenon - he writes: "You who boast in the law dishonor G-d by breaking the law. For, as it is written, 'The name of G-d is blasphemed among the Gentiles because of you'" (Romans 2:23-24, ESV). This also broadens the scope of what brings sin into the Land - it is more than just the original, obscure to some, issue of remarrying a divorced wife - and how we define the land itself: it seems to apply to a wider geographical area than just the physical land of Israel. More, if "the land" is what G-d has given us to be our inheritance, what does that mean for believers in Messiah Yeshua? We need to reshape the question and ask: what is our inheritance and how do we avoid defiling it?

Some suggest that our inheritance in Messiah is heaven, but this cannot be so. For a start, Peter says that our inheritance "is imperishable, undefiled, and unfading, kept in heaven for you" (1 Peter 1:4, ESV); it cannot both be heaven and be kept in heaven. Yeshua tells the disciples to "Lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys" (Matthew 6:20, NASB), while Rav Sha'ul encourages the early church, "Whatever work you do, put yourself into it, as those who are serving not merely other people, but the Lord. Remember that as your reward, you will receive the inheritance from the Lord" (Colossians 3:23-24, CJB), implying that we are to invest in our inheritance. It is significant that the only time Yeshua uses the Greek word - inheritance, possession, property2 - in the gospels is in the parable of the vineyard that has been let to bad tenants; "When the tenants saw the son, they said to each other, 'This is the heir. Come, let's kill him and take his inheritance!'" (Matthew 21:38, CJB). Yeshua identifies Himself as the Son and so the heir; the inheritance belongs to Him. This is confirmed by G-d who "has spoken to us by His Son, whom He appointed the heir of all things, through whom also He created the world" (Hebrews 1:2, NASB). In Messiah, we are children of G-d, so Rav Sha'ul can say that "if we are children, then we are also heirs, heirs of God and joint-heirs with the Messiah" (Romans 8:17, CJB). Our inheritance is part of Yeshua's inheritance, as Sha'ul explains: "In Him we have obtained an inheritance" (Ephesians 1:11, ESV); in Him, we "were sealed with the promised Holy Spirit, who is the guarantee of our inheritance until we acquire possession of it" (vv. 13-14, ESV). If the Ruach is the down-payment, then the full inheritance must be relationship with G-d Himself, which we now have in part: "The L-RD is my portion; therefore I will wait for Him" (Lamentations 3:24, NIV).

The inheritance is not yet ready, either for Yeshua or for us. While Father God has "qualified you to share in the inheritance of the saints in light" (Colossians 1:12, ESV), we are like Avraham and the other heroes of faith who "not having received the things promised, but having seen them and greeted them from afar" (Hebrews 11:13, ESV), nevertheless obeyed G-d and answered His call. But, and to make sure that there is no mistake, Sha'ul uses the words, "you may be sure of this", it is also clear that "everyone who is sexually immoral or impure, or who is covetous (that is, an idolater), has no inheritance in the kingdom of Messiah and G-d" (Ephesians 5:5, ESV). So the same sorts of offences as were described in the Torah still have a defiling effect, such that we may lose our standing in Messiah and our share in His inheritance.

Twice Sha'ul gives two lists of sins (1 Corinthians 6:9-10, Galatians 5:19-21) - a broad spectrum from sexual immorality and idolatry, to drunkenness, envy and anger - the regular practice of which preclude anyone from an inheritance in the kingdom of G-d. These are the thing that defile and that will cause our inheritance to reject us. Yeshua taught His disciples that "the things that proceed out of the mouth come from the heart, and those defile the man. For out of the heart come evil thoughts, murders, adulteries, fornications, thefts, false witness, slanders" (Matthew 15:18-19, NASB). If we participate in these, then we bring sin into our lives, our inheritance and our relationships; we and they become defiled.

No-one ever said that life in the kingdom of G-d was a bed of roses. We have to actively engage with G-d, with the work that He is doing in our lives and the lives of those around us, so that we "work out your salvation with fear and trembling" (Philippians 2:12, NASB). Let us not be cast down, focusing on the lists of things that we should not do, but instead stride forward, being encouraged as we follow Yeshua, knowing that He is our righteousness and seeking always to serve and honour Him.

1. - PGN stands for "Person, Gender and Number", where person is first (I, we), second (you) or third (he, she, they); gender is masculine, feminine or common; and number is singular or plural.

2. - Warren C. Trenchard, Complete Vocabulary Guide to the Greek New Testament, Zondervan 1998

Further Study: Isaiah 55:6-7; Psalm 76:26-28; 1 Corinthians 15:58

Application: Are you guarding your inheritance against being defiled by sin? How could you work with G-d today to close any loopholes and focus more clearly on walking as Yeshua did and "being found in Him" (Philippians 3:9)?

Comment - 16:14 24Aug15 Tom Hiney: The best way to invest in our inheritance is to emulate Enoch in Gen 1 and to walk with God. Ruach is necessary for this to be possible. We need to ask for the guidance and strength of the Holy Spirit. Thus only can we have the perseverance to remain sons of G-d the Father and heirs of G-d the Son.

© Jonathan Allen, 2015

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