Ki Tetse-When You Go Out Deuteronomy 21:10-25:19
Mostly Devarim (Deuteronomy) is a book of reminders of laws and statutes given previously and is preparation for entering the promised land. If these commandments and list of admonitions had been adhered to perfectly, then it would seem that the results would be a society that is absolutely pleasing to the Holy One of Israel. Situations regarding inheritance, rebellious children, capital punishment, property rights, clothing adornment, bird eggs, parapets, horticulture, fabric usage, marital and sexual relations, standards for the illegitimate, regulations regarding their relations with the neighbouring peoples, nocturnal emissions, sanitation, slave relations, promiscuity, lending restrictions, vow commitments, agricultural allowances, kidnapping, leprosy situations, prompt payment of wages, judicial regulations, treatment of widows and orphans, proper punishment laws (lashings), sibling relations, equal weights and measures, handling the Amalek (their enemy) problem just to name some of the details.
Moshe prescribes principles of domestic life, family laws, laws of equity, relationship of employer and worker, exercise of justice for the stranger, the orphan, the widow; kindness to animals and justice to their owners in regard to livestock; honesty and integrity in weights and measures. It actually contains a total of seventy-four positive and negative commandments.
Moshe gives a number of additional laws here that are to be observed as part of the new society, including rules about maintaining the purity of the military camp; prohibitions about returning an escaped slave; the duty to pay a worker on time; the proper treatment of a debtor and the prohibition against charging interest on a loan; the laws of divorce; the penalty of 39 lashes for transgression of a Torah prohibition; and the procedures for yibbum (“levirate marriage”) of the wife of a deceased childless brother. The degrading chalitzah ceremony (“removing of the shoe”) is explained for the case of a brother-in-law who is unwilling to marry the wife of his deceased brother.
In this Torah portion we see a plethora of laws concerning many seemingly small details regarding human life. As we make our way back to a more biblically-based lifestyle and orientation we begin to see that Yahweh cares about the details of our lives. Matthew Henry in his commentary says of these various laws: “God’s providence extends itself to the smallest affairs, and his precepts do so, that even in them we may be in the fear of Yahweh, as we are under his eye and care...If we would prove ourselves to be God’s people, we must have respect to his will and to his glory, and not to the vain fashions of the world. Even in putting on our garments, as in eating or in drinking, all must be done with serious regard to preserve our own and other’s purity in heart and actions.” (22: 5-12)
Many of the laws of Yahweh’s penal code are preventative in nature. Such is the case with the wayward and rebellious son. In ancient Israel there were no prisons since it was the goal of Yahweh’s Torah-laws to root out evil before it spread endangering society. Parents’ love for Yahweh must supersede that of their children to uphold His standards and to prevent them from going down the path of faithlessness and rebellion (21:18-21) Many of the mitzvot (commands) appearing in Parshat Ki Tetzei deal with relationships between men and women, several dealing specifically with marriage. According to the beginning of the Talmudic Tractate Kiddushin, the first verse of chapter 24 - when a man takes a wife” - serves as the textual basis for the contracting of marriages.
A society depends upon the faith people place in one another. Without people feeling that they can rely upon one another that others are looking out for what belongs to me and I must look out for what belongs to them society collapses in suspicion, selfishness, and bitter contention” (A Torah Commentary For Our Times, vol. 3, p. 149). On the passage of returning lost property, one rabbinical commentator states: “The commandment to return lost property is ‘fundamental’ and that ‘all society depends upon it.’ In this respect let us not forget the second half of the shema: You shall love your neighbor as yourself. It is not just a matter of one person taking care of another’s possessions or of ‘loving’ another. What is important here is the critical matter of ‘trust’ among human beings. 22:1-4
The Essence of Iniquity
Yahweh has given to us the model for living righteously in accordance with His principles and in harmony with our fellow-man. Using our own reasonings against complying with them, is in effect lawlessness. By rendering them of non-effect in our lives and thereby placing ourselves above Yahweh’s Torah-law, we become a law unto ourselves, which scripture identifies as iniquity. This is humanism: every man doing what is right in his own eyes, instead of obeying Yahweh whatever the cost. The bottom line is, is Yahweh master of our life, or have we placed self on the throne of our life? The essence of sin is living in independence of God, establishing for ourselves what is right and wrong in our own eyes and thereby being ‘as god’. It was our rebellious sin nature which is bent on going our own way that took Him to the torture stake.
“All of us like sheep have gone astray, each of us has turned to his own way; but Yahweh has caused the iniquity of us all to fall on Him. .. .. .. He was cut off out of the land of the living for the transgression of my people, to whom the stroke as due? .. .. .. Therefore, I will allot Him a portion with the great, and He will divide the booty with the strong; because He poured out Himself to death, and was numbered with the transgressors; yet He Himself bore the sin of many, and interceded for the transgressors” “For You do not desire sacrifice; else would I give it: You delight not in burnt offering. (51:17) The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit: a broken and a contrite heart, O God, You wilt not despise.” Isaiah 53: 6, 8,12; Psalms 51:16
All of our service for Him and worship does not compensate for humble submission to His will to obey the statutes and judgements of God. There is no special status which places anyone above keeping His commandments. We can be someone special however, and have a part in Yahweh’s eternal plan and share in the glory of His will being done on earth as it is in heaven, simply by being obedient. We cannot otherwise partake in His kingdom purposes.
As Yeshua said, “Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ shall enter into the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father in heaven. Many will say unto Me in that day ‘Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in Your name, cast out demons in Your name, and done many wonders in Your name?’ And then I will declare unto them, ‘I never knew you; depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness. Therefore whoever hears these sayings of Mine and does them, I will liken him to a wise man who built his house on the rock” Matthew 7:21-24
Yahweh does not actually need us to fulfil His eternal plan, He doesn’t need you or me to get His job done! He has an eternal plan and whether or not we obey His statutes and judgements, whether or not we clean up our acts and return to Him in repentance, whether or not we go out and come in when we’re told, He will work out His eternal plan with, or without us. He doesn’t depend on your or my obedience, or your or my ministry to get the job done, but whether we do or not will determine our eternal destiny. When we are submitted to Yahweh in the right manner, we’ll do the things He likes and we’ll make ourselves available to be used by Him. When we’re submitted to Him we’ll be gathered under the shadow of His wings.
What do you do personally with laws about women wearing mens-type clothing, mixed fibres in clothing, lending without interest; caring for the widows and orphans, personal hygiene, family purity laws (e.g. men not having physical relations with their wives during their cycles), removing blood from all meat before eating it, men wearing beards, faithfully tithing, eating only kosher meats, keeping Yahweh’s Sabbaths (weekly and annual); etc.? These are lifestyle changing laws, many of which go contrary to the culture of our society. We are called to be a kadosh, set-apart, special and peculiar (i.e., treasured) people before Yahweh. We need to examine what progress we are making to bring our lives into conformity to His standards of righteousness.
Rebellion in Society
The originators of a family are the parents, who are analogous to a vine, and the offspring are compared to the grapes. The quality of the vine will determine its produce. When a man and woman enter into marriage, it is extremely important that they have similar views and mutual goals for the family they hope to raise. Unfortunately, the husband and wife sometimes do not see eye to eye in their aspirations for their children. The Torah is telling us that when a child is exposed to a “kol aviv” - “a father’s voice” - and a “kol imo” - “a mother’s voice” - each one telling the child different things, it is possible that the child, receiving mixed signals, may end up being wayward and rebellious.
“If an ish (man) have a stubborn and rebellious son, who will not obey the voice of his ‘ab (father), or the voice of his ‘em (mother), and, though they chasten him, will not listen to them; then shall his ‘ab and his ‘em lay hold on him, and bring him out to the elders of his city, and to the gate of his place; and they shall tell the elders of his city, This our son is stubborn and rebellious, he will not obey our voice; he is a glutton, and a drunkard. All the men of his city shall stone him to death with stones: so shall you put away the evil from the midst of you; and all Yisrael shall hear, and fear.” Deuteronomy 21:18-23
This appears like a cruel and heartless act especially if you are a loving parent. Take a closer look at what we are being told here. First of all careful reading of this passage clearly informs us that the subject is not your ordinary child. It could seem from the text that the judges simply took the parents word as to the condition of the child and immediately passed judgment and had the child stoned to death but cases were always judged on the testimony of two or three witnesses. Deut.17:6-7 A thorough investigation of the situation had to follow the charges supported by eye witnesses to the conduct of the child. The fact that the ‘ab and ‘em chastened him/her, obviously countless of times due to stubbornness and rebellion, clearly indicates that these parents tried everything possible to correct their child so as to get them back on the right track. Nothing obviously worked. In total exasperation and frustration over the situation and the condition of their child; stubborn, rebellious, a glutton and a drunkard (remember these charges), they bring him/her to the Shoftim who were always available at the gates of each city.
The biblical implications of the charges made against the child of stubbornness, rebellion, gluttony and drunkenness are all direct affronts to Yahweh Himself when parents are teaching their children His principles. Such a child is set upon rebellion against Yahweh and the judgement to be administered is for the preservation of a righteous community by removing the leaven from the midst of it. This was to prevent the inevitable crimes which he would commit if allowed to enter into society as an adult. The phrase “stubborn and rebellious” in Hebrew has the implication of one who throws off the authority of both parents and Yahweh God. It is not simply a ‘naughty child’, and the expression of a ‘glutton and a drunkard’ is more than eating and drinking in excess, it is literally a lifestyle of riotous debauchery - a person who has no control over his passions and his life.
There are no recorded instances of this judgement being executed. The decree itself was a preventative measure and a strong incentive for parents to fulfill their obligation to teach their children and instill in them the Torah and also cautioned the children, knowing the ultimate judgement that awaited them if they continued in rebellion (Deut. 6:6-9). We have the results of this principle not being applied today in laws favouring children over their parents. As a result laws actually punish the parents who try to strongly discipline stubborn and rebellious children. These are the chaotic results of our disobedience to His laws.
In Luke 7:34, Yeshua alludes to this passage when He says, “The Son of Man has come eating and drinking, and you say, ‘Behold, a gluttonous man and a drunkard…’” These are two of the criteria the Torah requires for putting a rebellious son to death. Yeshua was contrasting His approach to piety with that of John the Immerser. Unlike Yeshua, John practiced a severe asceticism and ate only locusts and honey, whereas Yeshua ate and drank freely. The same people who criticized Yeshua for eating and drinking freely, regarded John’s behavior as demonic. Regarding John’s asceticism, Yeshua remarked, “For John the Immerser has come eating no bread and drinking no wine, and you say, ‘He has a demon!’” (Luke 7:33) In other words, the opponents of the gospel of repentance dismissed John on the basis that he was an ascetic, and they dismissed Yeshua because He was not an ascetic. Accusing Him of being a glutton and drunkard, they attempted to associate Him with the rebellious son of Deuteronomy 21.
Co-laborers with Him”
The children of Israel were to be a holy nation with just laws and a righteous judicial system which was covered in the previous parasha, Shoftim. The logical next step in the process of building a nation based on righteousness, would be to regulate how individuals relate to each other. It is for this purpose that KiTeitzei recites all these commandments. We all as children of our heavenly father need to come under His discipline and be corrected that He may receive us as true sons.
“For consider Him who endured such hostility from sinners against Himself, lest you become weary and discouraged in your souls. You have not yet resisted to bloodshed striving a against sin. .. .. My son, do not despise the chastening of Yahweh, nor be discouraged when you are rebuked by Him; For whom Yahweh loves He chastens, and scourges every son whom He receives” Hebrews 12: 3-4, 5-6
Yeshua was judged and found guilty in the Roman court of justice by the testimony of false witnesses and executed by the hand of Rome’s might. In this regard, Yeshua was initially charged with blasphemy by the Jewish leaders of His day (Matt. 26:65; Mark 14:64; John 10:33) - an offence that was punishable by stoning (Lev. 24:11-16). However, the provision made in the Law for an offender to be “hung on a tree” was used to justify the sentence of death by Roman crucifixion (Matt. 27:31; Mark 15:13-4; Luke 23:21; John 19:6, 15). He stood in for us when it should have been us who should have been placed on the tree to die for our sin. The Father loved us so much that He asked His Son to die in our place because He knew only the death of His Son could wipe the slate clean. Paul wrote, “Messiah redeemed us from the curse of the law by becoming a curse for us - for it is written, “Cursed is everyone who is hanged on a tree” (Gal. 3:13). The Apostle Peter also had this in mind when he wrote: “The God of our fathers raised Yeshua, whom you killed by hanging him on a tree” (Acts 5:30; cp. Acts 10:39-40); and, “He himself bore our sins in his body on the tree, that we might die to sin and live to righteousness. By his wounds you have been healed.” (1 Peter 2:24).
These scriptures relate to a person whose sin is worthy of death, if he is hung on a tree, his body is to be taken down and buried that same day so that the land is not defiled by the accursed person (21:22-23). This is what happened to Yeshua the Messiah, but He suffered this death because of our sin of rebellion, not His own! We were the ones who were rebellious, acting like gluttons and drunkards in our rebellious attitude towards our heavenly Father, by disobeying Him even when He took the time to teach us His ways over and over.
According to the Mishnah (Sanhedrin 6:4), a pole with a horizontal beam was erected and the dead man’s hands were bound and slung over the beam, leaving the body suspended. In so doing it served as a warning to others. Besides the shame and degradation of this manner of death, the one so executed would be unable to fall to their knees as a final act of repentance before God, thereby implying that they were under the irrevocable curse of God.
Yahweh has two main plans that are work, for people individually and collectively as a nation. The first is his plan for individuals and requires our participation and of course our cooperation. How we as individuals as part of the greater community respond to these commands (mitzvot) effects our personal future, our communal future and over the short term, our nations future. Our responsibility as children of God is to participate in His eternal plan by adhering to His commandments. In doing so we will bring harmony to our lives and be CO-laborers with Him in accomplishing His will on earth.
Construction of Houses
When you build a new house, you shall make a parapet (MA’AKEH) for your roof, so you will not place blood (DAMIM) in your house if one falls from it (Deut. 22:8). Although the word MA’AKEH has no parallel in the Tanach, it is clear from the context that it refers to an enclosure around the roof, a parapet or guardrail. It is a provision for taking account for not being liable for another’s death. “You shall not stand by while your fellow’s blood is shed” Leviticus (Vayikra) 19:16 We are obligated to be concerned, beyond our own health and safety, with the health and safety of our fellow members of society.
In the “Laws of the Murderer and Protecting Life”, chapter 11, the Jewish sage Rambam codifies some of the details of these laws: Any house that is at least four cubits by four cubits, and is used for dwelling, requires the construction of a sturdy ma’akeh of ten handbreadths’ height. By extension, one must erect a sand wall around his well or cistern. One is similarly obligated to remove or repair every hazard: “R. Nathan says: Whence is it derived that nobody should breed a bad dog in his house, or keep a wobbly ladder in his house? From ‘and you will not place blood (DAMIM) in your house’” (Bava Kamma 15b).
When a man hath taken a wife, and married her, and it come to pass that she find no favor in his eyes, because he hath found some uncleanness in her [Stone Edition Tanach: found in her a matter of immorality; found her offensive in some respect] then let him write her a bill of divorcement, and give it in her hand, and send her out of his house. And when she is departed out of his house, she may go and be another man’s wife. And if the latter husband hate her, and write her a bill of divorcement, and giveth it in her hand, and sends her out of his house; or if the latter husband die, which took her to be his wife; Her former husband, which sent her away, may not take her again to be his wife, after that she is defiled; for that is abomination before Yahweh: and thou shalt not cause the land to sin, which Yahweh your Elohim giveth thee for an inheritance. (24:1-4)
Divorce laws and a Get.
This verse forms the basis of the divorce laws of the Torah and the actual get or bill of divorce which was a written document that a husband gave to his wife because of some immoral activity on her part. (ASE Chumash, p. 1058). Yahweh himself divorced Israel and gave her a ‘get’ because of her unfaithfulness to him, though he never remarried. The prophetic implications of this are astounding in light of Yahweh’s divorce of unfaithful Israel and his eventual remarriage to her made possible by Yeshua’s death on the cross.
The word uncleanness or immorality is the Hebrew word ervah (Strong’s #6172) which according to The Theological Wordbook of the Old Testament refers simply to nakedness or the resulting shame therefrom. Strong’s Expanded Concordance adds to this definition: an indecent thing or figuratively the idea of disgrace or blemish. According to Strong’s this word is used in a various ways in the Hebrew Scriptures (OT) with reference to shameful sexual exposure or nudity as in the case of unlawful cohabitation (Lev. 18:6), or the shame resulting from Israel’s spiritual adultery (Lam. 1:8); or any “indecent thing” that represents defilement or uncleanness resulting from the misuse of the physical body (e.g. uncleanness [due to not burying human excrement] in the military camp, or violation of any laws of sexual abstinence, or being in a state of impurity from sexual cohabitation or nocturnal emissions). With regard to Deuteronomy 24:1 Strong’s comments, “ervah appears to bear this emphasis on any violation of the laws of purity if a groom is dissatisfied with his bride ‘because he hath found some uncleanness in her,’ he may divorce her. Obviously this evidence is not of previous cohabitation (adultery), since such a sin merits death (Deut. 22:13ff)."
The verse in 24:1 neither specifically states, nor implies that this is the first marriage for both of them. This is underscored by the Torah’s use of the Hebrew word ishah (wife or woman) in verse one as opposed to either the words bethulah or almah both of which lexically have stronger references to a virgin, youthful bride or young maiden as opposed to the more generic term ishah. Therefore, based on the generic meaning of the word ervah (as discussed above) a broader meaning than actual immorality is implied as to why the husband was compelled to “put his wife away”.
Laws regarding Sexual Immorality. A man who falsely accuses his bride of being unfaithful to him before their marriage is to receive lashes and a fine. If the charges prove correct, however, the wife is to be stoned. If a woman commits adultery, both she and the man involved are to be killed. One should not marry his father’s wife, or a member of Ammon or Moab. Adultery and a lustful heart seriously endanger the soul and can lead one to eternal perdition.
The Priesthood of the Firstborn
“If a man has two wives, the one loved and the other unloved, and both the loved and the unloved have borne him children, and if the firstborn son belongs to the unloved, then on the day when he assigns his possessions as an inheritance to his sons, he may not treat the son of the loved as the firstborn in preference to the son of the unloved, who is the firstborn, but he shall acknowledge the firstborn, the son of the unloved, by giving him a double portion of all that he has, for he is the firstfruits of his strength. The right of the firstborn is his”. Deuteronomy 21:15-17
The first born son (haBen habechor) is to inherit a double portion from his father, regardless of the status of the mother. This passage is given in Scripture on how the inheritance of the firstborn is to be passed on. In several situations man conspired to bypass this and in others God chose who would be the inheritor of the promise. Allowing man his free will Yahweh determines the fulfilment of His purposes, knowing in advance the disposition and the choices each person will make. This was the case with Jacob and Esau, where Esau defaulted in his calling of being the firstborn and Jacob inherited the blessing. This was established by Yahweh’s foreknowledge before they were born - Genesis 25:23
Esau’s fate was sealed before he was even created because God knew what was in his heart from before his conception. We are told Esau grew up to despise his birthright and the events worked out that Jacob obtained the birthright. Genesis 25:34 Strongs gives the meaning for ‘despise’ as - 0959 hz"B’ bazah (102b) Origin: a prim. root Usage: careless(1), contempt(1), despicable(1), despise(5), despised(32), despises(2), disdained(1), disdained*(1)
The reality is God knew Esau’s heart as well as Jacobs. Though Jacob used fleshly methods to obtain the inheritance, Yahweh knew Jacob was the one who would seek after the things of the kingdom and therefore was qualified to receive the inheritance. This also happened in the passing of the blessing of the firstborn from Reuben (firstborn of Jacob), to Ephraim the youngest son of Joseph and it would seem this particular commandment would fit the situation with Reuben and Joseph perfectly for two reasons. Firstly Reuben defaulted in his sexual sin and thereby defiled his father’s marriage-bed whereas in contrast Joseph was proven under testing in this area and secondly, Joseph was the firstborn son of Rachel the beloved wife of Jacob.