Devarim "Words" Part One
This Torah portion gives many geographic locations and people-groups, discussing the Israelites' relationship to these lands and peoples. Significant is the summary of the borders of Israel, extending all the way to the "Great River" Euphrates, which in the spiritual realm is the Source of the River from Heaven that flows from beneath the Throne.
The Israelites' struggles to enter the Land can be understood as an illustration of the journey back to the Lower Garden, and eventually, resurrection. Throughout the portion, as throughout the Torah and Writings, giants are mentioned. The giants' role in the Torah and the Writings is to hold and guard spiritually significant territory.
Rashi says this portion was taught in the 70 languages of Babel (the world). This may explain another rabbinic comment that the blessing of "add to you a thousand times yourselves..." in 1:11 refers to the Days of Messiah. This lends a prophetic value to the exiles who hear the call back to the Land of Israel.
The Feast of Sukkot (Tabernacles) has a special significance for the nations (Ze 14:16-18) in the Days of Messiah, and the 70 bulls offered at Sukkot in Temple times were on behalf of the nations. In fact, Jewish tradition says this about the representative number of 70:
The Jew, who believes in one Creator, believes that all of the diverse elements of this universe are basically united to serve the purposes of the one God, Who gives order to the world. Israel is at the center of this world order, and the supreme tribunal of this nations, the Great Sanhedrin, convenes in the Temple, which is the spiritual center of the earth.
Each of the seventy members of this august body is symbolic of one of the world's seventy nations, and the seventy-first member, the chief justice, represents Israel, the nation which controls the order of all other peoples. (Ramban, Numbers 11:16, quoted in The Tehillim, p. 745)
One might say, "But that's rabbinic commentary. It's not in the Torah portion." There may be hints in the portion that guided the rabbis' thinking about the need to represent the 70 nations in the Sanhedrin. The opening verse of Devarim names the location points in the wilderness:
These are the words which Moses spoke to all Israel across the Jordan in the wilderness, in the Arabah opposite
. (Dt. 1:1)
Suf is a reed (writing/measuring utensil); Paran is a red mountain enclave of Edom; Tophel is to smear over and whiten with un-tempered plaster
; Laban is white; Di-zahav is a place abounding with gold. Look at the amazing chiasm:
a) Suf (reed)
b) Paran (Messiah's return)
c) Tophel (watery plaster, whiten)
c) Laban (white)
b) Hazeroth (trumpeting for Messiah's return)
a) Dizahav (golden reed)
In a chiasm, match the letters to their mirrors. Dizahav (a), the abundance of gold, mirrors Suf (a), the measuring reed, which is gold in Revelation 21:15. It measures Jerusalem, the Golden City, which has an abundance of gold:
And he that talked with me had a
to measure the city, and the gates thereof, and the wall thereof.
The original Suf was the Sea of Reeds where Israel cried out in fear; the Final Suf, or the golden reed, measures the abundance of faithful gold in the Golden City of Jerusalem. The reed measures both faithlessness and faith.
Paran (b) is the marching point from which Israel begins to conquer the Land of Israel with the fire and glorious "horns" of the Torah:
And he said, The LORD came from Sinai, and rose up from Seir unto them;
he shined forth from mount Paran, and he came with ten thousands of saints: from his right hand went a
fiery law for them. (Dt 33:2)
God [Eloha] came from Teman, and the Holy One from mount Paran. Selah. His glory covered the heavens, and the earth was full of his
brightness was as the light; he had horns coming out of his hand: and there was the hiding of his power. Before him went the
pestilence, and burning coals went forth at his feet. He stood, and
measured the earth: he beheld, and drove asunder the nations; (Ha 3:3-6)
Paran's chiastic mate is (b) Hazeroth, or more properly,
Chatzerot. Miriam was placed in seven-day quarantine at Chatzerot (stockades) when she was struck with a pestilence of leprosy. In spite of her error, Miriam is precious to her Father and Israel, and she is held safe until she is purified from leprosy in seven significant days. She was a praiser in Israel who would not be left behind. The number of purification is 7 in Revelation as well. Some will be surrounded with salvation as they praise, and some will be judged with pestilence. Pestilence is like davar (word), except voweled
dever (pestilence), another contranym. Either obey the davar or suffer the dever!
Chatzar the verb (Strong's 2690) means to surround as with a stockade, and is related to
chatzotzer, to trumpet. The trumpeting word is used in relation to the Levitical priestly services, singing, praise, and going to war. The (b) of the chiasm describes initiation of war against the nations with God at the head, accompanied by trumpets, or it describes locations of failing faith that brought judgment.
The (c) is the heart of the chiasm. It simplifies the message of the Israelite journey as well as the journeys of those from among the nations. Israel may choose Laban, who tested Jacob's faith and eventually impelled him to return to the Land of Israel, the Land of his fathers. The hardship purified Jacob and made him white. The alternative is to merely be smeared over with un-tempered plaster,
tophel(c). Ezekiel 13:10-15 and 22:28 describe this watery whitewash as insufficient for Israel's purification. For instance:
Thus I will spend My wrath on the wall and on those who have plastered it over with whitewash; and I will say to you, 'The wall is gone and its plasterers are gone...' (13:15)
Her prophets have smeared whitewash for them, seeing false visions and divining lies for them, saying, 'Thus says the Lord GOD,' when the LORD has not spoken. (22:28)
The (c), or heart of the chiasm, describes the message of Revelation, the Wrath of the Lamb and judgment on such evildoers as the False Prophet. If one's faith was only an outer, watery, flaky whitewash, the Wrath of the Lamb will expose the lies. If the testing of one's faith has driven him or her back to the faith of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, Messiah Yeshua will be at the head of that army marching on the Golden City.
Wow. That's a lot of prophecy for one opening verse, but it doesn't even scratch the surface!
Although each place-name hints to earlier prophecies in the Torah, let's focus on Paran. Paran is "a place of caverns," from a root
paar, meaning to glorify, beautify, ornament, or gleam. It has a related word, which means "to trumpet." In a strange twist of the word, however, it also means "go over the boughs."
When thou beatest thine olive tree,
thou shalt not go over the boughs again: it shall be for the stranger, for the fatherless, and for the widow. (Dt 24:20 KJV)
When you beat your olive tree,
do not remove all the splendor behind you; it shall be for
the convert, the orphan, and the widow."
Paar, the root of Paran, is a contranym, a word that is its own opposite. It means both to glorify and to strip the glory. The instruction does NOT appear in the Deuteronomy 24 references to gleanings of grapes or grain! This does not mean that the choice fruits of grain or grapes should not be left to the stranger, orphan, and widow, for one can use the olive splendor as a paradigm by which one also leaves some of the crop's "splendor" to the stranger, orphan, and widow. The anomaly, however, accents the special role of the olive to the stranger, orphan, and widow. In Part Two, we'll examine the widow's role in Song of Songs and Revelation.
It is the olive fruit's oil that produces the splendor (gleaming) of the olive tree. Rashi understands it as a "corner" to be left for gleaning. Since a tree is not a typical geometric shape, Jewish literature places the tree's corner at the top. The choice olives at the very top of the tree receive the most brutal sun, and they are harder to reach. This describes the nations.
In Song of Songs, the beloved is sun-darkened from working in the fields because her brothers were angry with her. While her dark color is beautiful because it is evidence of her hard work, another tradition is that the dark color is from having to labor among idolators, who worship the sun. Her Beloved wants to restore her to the "daughters of Jerusalem."
For the estranged one who has been afar off, the crowning splendor of the olive tree is reserved for her to glean when she returns. If the place-name of Paran, the splendor reserved for the stranger and widow, is paired with the first place-name, Suf, a prophetic theme emerges, for Yam Suf, the Sea of Reeds, can be voweled differently to produced Yom Sof, Last Day. Zechariah, the prophet who predicts the nations' eventual submission and celebration of the Feast of Sukkot, also prophesies of the "two olive trees":
...also two olive trees by it, one on the right side of the bowl and the other on its left side.
Then I said to him, 'What are these two olive trees on the right of the lampstand and on its left?' (Ze 4:3, 11)
The two olive trees appear in other places in Scripture, giving more information about their prophetic roles. In the Temple, two olive-wooden doors beautified the entryway:
So he made
two doors of olive wood, and he carved on them carvings of cherubim, palm trees, and open flowers, and
overlaid them with gold; and he spread the gold on the cherubim and on the palm trees. (1 Ki 6:32)
This description hints to the place Dizahav, or abundance of gold, the newly-faithful generation who are described crossing Jordan to take possession of the Land. The two cherubim along with trees and flowers hint that the doors represent the entry back to the Lower Garden. The Book of Revelation also recalls the two olive trees, the measuring reed, and the nations:
Then there was given me
a measuring rod like a staff; and someone said, "Get up and
measure the temple of God and the altar, and those who worship in it. Leave out the court which is outside the temple and do not measure it, for it has been given to the nations; and they will tread underfoot the holy city for forty-two months. And I will grant authority to my two witnesses, and they will prophesy for twelve hundred and sixty days, clothed in sackcloth."
These are the two olive trees and the two lampstands that stand before the Lord of the earth. And if anyone wants to harm them,
fire flows out of their mouth and devours their enemies; so if anyone wants to harm them, he must be killed in this way.
These have the power to shut up the sky, so that rain will not fall during the days of their prophesying; and they have power over the waters to turn them into blood, and to strike the earth with every plague, as often as they desire. (Re 11:1-6)
While the identity of these two witnesses is debatable, clues point to Moses and Elijah. Moses produced those same plagues, and Elijah shut up the sky so that it wouldn't rain. Together, they represent the Torah and the Prophets, who spoke with Yeshua on the Mount of Transfiguration. Unlike the flaky prophets described in Ezekiel, the prophecies of these two witnesses have real firepower. They will unpeel flaky faith and expose those who cannot withstand the fiery Torah in the right hand of Messiah when he marches with his holy ones from Paran to the Holy City.
War trumpets are already sounding. The giants will rise up to fight. Find out why the giants are such a huge problem in Part Two of Devarim.
Michael Jasmund on Unsplash
(see Creation Gospel Workbook Five: Bereishit, Torah portion Bereishit)
it also means "foolish"